Constitutional Law

If you’re trapped in the office on this Friday after Thanksgiving — or, just as bad, stuck at a distant relative’s house with nothing to do — Professor Hadley Arkes of Amherst College and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit are here to help.

Last weekend, at the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society, Professor Arkes and Chief Judge Kozinski debated whether natural law should inform constitutional law. Let’s check out their most interesting debate….

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Justice Antonin Scalia

Congress has its job and we have ours…. They can’t tell us to set aside rules of logic!

– Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking over the weekend at the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society. He was responding to a question as to whether Congress could pass laws dictating how judges interpret the law.

(Additional highlights from Justice Scalia’s speech, after the jump.)

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Justice Samuel Alito

Where did we go wrong?

– Justice Samuel A. Alito, imagining the reaction of Yale Law School professors to the fact that he and Justice Clarence Thomas were, for a time, the two YLS graduates on the Supreme Court. Justice Alito delivered the keynote address last night at the annual dinner of the Federalist Society.

(Additional highlights from Justice Alito’s speech, after the jump.)

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* Everyone wants to know who Obama will appoint to the high court during his second term as president. Our very own David Lat chimed in with his suggestions on this panel of notable Supreme Court watchers. [BuzzFeed Politics]

* “If you are writing a biography and either you or your subject are married to a third person, and you have sex, you have done something wrong.” Well, that’s one way to reduce the amount of scandal in your life. [Instapundit]

* Who is the shirtless FBI agent who allegedly sent a sexy picture to Jill Kelley of the Petraeus Pentagon — a picture that got him kicked off the case — and how bodacious is his bod? [Business Insider]

* There is no “best way” to ask for a raise, especially in this economy. But if you’re feeling sassy, you can take some of this sound advice. [Corporette]

* Apologies to all you Beliebers, but California’s Paparazzi Law was just invalidated as unconstitutional. [Cheat Sheet / Daily Beast]

* A time when you really shouldn’t have to yell, “Don’t tase me, bro!”: when you’re trying to use a garden hose to prevent your house from catching fire. [Legal Blog Watch]

Left to right: Alex Kozinski and Diarmuid O’Scannlain.

This week is an exciting one for conservative and libertarian legal nerds: the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society starts tomorrow. I’ll be attending and covering the proceedings; if you see me, please say hello. (If you haven’t registered for the conference in advance, you can still register at the door.)

As always, the conference will overflow with legal luminaries. This year, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most notable names — Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (for whom I clerked) — will be making presentations. Chief Judge Kozinski will debate Professor Hadley Arkes about natural law and constitutional law, while Judge O’Scannlain will moderate a panel about religious liberty.

To whet your appetite, let’s read more about both of these judges and some recent First Amendment fun at the Ninth Circuit….

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This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.

(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)

In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.

Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in an opinion written by a prominent conservative jurist, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, just voted to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The court issued its 2-1 decision just three weeks after hearing oral argument, which is extremely fast for a case of this complexity and importance….

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David Otunga

* “Enough is enough.” Come on, Togut, did you really think all of the Dewey drama was going to end just because the judge approved your settlement plan? Now he’s trying to get the former partners committee disbanded. This won’t end well. [Am Law Daily]

* Covington & Burling was disqualified from representing Minnesota in the state’s anti-pollution case against ex-client 3M over a conflict of interest. A “conscious disregard” of professional duties? This is 1L stuff, really. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

* Remember J. Michael Johnson, the former dean of Louisiana College Law who resigned for a “great job offer” before the school even opened? He’s now senior counsel for the ultraconservative Liberty Institute. [Alexandria Town Talk]

* “If you’ve been hit by a table, ladder, or chair, call David Otunga.” What has this Harvard Law grad turned WWE wrestler been up to, aside from filming commercials at criminal defense firms? [City Sentinel]

* “The argument is absolutely absurd.” An ex-high school coach accused of having sex with a student wants Oklahomas’s ban on student-teacher relationships overturned as unconstitutional. [Alva Review-Courier]

Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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Justice Scalia (left) and Judge Posner

Responding to a Supreme Court Justice who calls one a liar requires special care in expression.

– Judge Richard Posner, in a cover email introducing his written response to Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent “You lie!” accusation.

(More about this tiff, which we’ve been covering quite closely here at Above the Law, after the jump.)

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