Constitutional Law

You’ll probably still be able to get into law school, even if these weren’t your grades.

* Michelle Friedland, a Munger Tolles partner, has been confirmed to the Ninth Circuit. Congratulations! This marks the first time in years that the court has had a full slate of 29 judges, which is also pretty cool for law nerds. [Legal Times]

* L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is probably going to be flopping around just like LeBron now that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a former Cravath attorney, has launched a full court press against him. [Am Law Daily]

* This is something completely new and different. The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit against North Carolina over its ban on gay marriage saying it restricts its clergy’s religious freedom. [New York Times]

* Dear Low Grades, High Hopes: You don’t need an addendum to your law school application. You’ll get in everywhere you apply — they’re desperate to fill their seats. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was arrested yesterday alongside his wife after she “picked a fight” with him. Given how “disorderly” things were, perhaps all he wanted to hear was the sound of silence. [CNN]

That’s what some people are saying.

It’s a brutal attack on an attorney running for governor, blasting him for representing criminal defendants. How can he protect battered women when he helped their abusers beat the rap? How indeed. Oh, and it’s not just that he helped their abusers, he did so for money. Because counseling the accused for fees in this country is where all the money is. It’s a seedy racket no way at all as admirable as, I don’t know, lobbying elected officials for political favors at the expense of the citizenry. If only this guy was smart enough to take hundreds of thousands to poison rivers and streams he wouldn’t be such a scumbag.

This ad is just goddamned brilliant at connecting the disingenuous dots for the easily duped.

And this message was “approved” — ultimately — by a former prosecutor who’s now being investigated by the office he once led….

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Tax Day was earlier this week. Like many Americans, I said some prayers — and a few curses — and hoped that Turbo Tax made sense of my mid-year move from D.C. to Texas, my investment roll-overs, my handful of I-9s and W-2s. I did my damnedest to be “true, correct, and complete,” as the IRS insisted. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted via Twitter that he has “absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate,” though, of course, he didn’t say that he knew that they weren’t accurate.

Campaign for Liberty, Ron Paul’s 501(c)(4) organization, announced this week that it’s actually pretty sure that its tax recent filings are incomplete, even if true and correct. (Two out of three ain’t bad?) According to C4L, the organization refused to divulge the names of its donors when it filed its IRS 990 forms. The IRS fined Campaign for Liberty just shy of $13,000, plus growing interest for each day the fine goes unpaid.

How did Campaign for Liberty respond? Not as you might expect….

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In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Friday, Justice Stevens wrote about his proposal to correct the Second Amendment. His proposal to “add five words” to the Second Amendment to fix it comes from his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution (affiliate link).

It’s a worthy endeavor for a former justice to examine the Constitution and propose the changes that judicial interpretation alone cannot reach (or at least are not reaching for political reasons). However, if his solutions to the other five amendments are as dumb as his answer to the Second Amendment, we’re all in trouble….

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Katherine Heigl

* A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit seemed a bit torn as to the constitutionality of Utah’s same-sex marriage ban during oral arguments yesterday. This one could be a contender to go all the way to the Supremes. [New York Times]

* Another concussion lawsuit has been filed against the National Hockey League by a group of former players, this time alleging a culture of “extreme violence.” The pleadings are a bit… odd. We’ll have more on this later today. [Bloomberg]

* “We’re not going back to 2006 anytime soon,” says NALP executive director Jim Leipold. The legal sector lost lots of jobs in the recession, and they’re not likely to come back. Happy Friday! [National Law Journal]

* It’s never too soon to start writing your law school application essay. Please try not to bore the admissions officers — make sure you have a “compelling” topic. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Katherine Heigl (remember her?) probably needed some cash, so she filed a $6M lawsuit against Duane Reade for posting a picture of her carrying one of the drugstore’s bags on Twitter. [Hollywood Reporter]

Do you think I whipped him enough?

– a question allegedly asked by Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants of his current wife after the attorney allegedly struck his son with a belt more than 10 times. After his ex-wife filed a criminal complaint, Plants was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. Plants is trying to get the charge dismissed because he claims he was “acting within a constitutionally protected right to control his child.”

“But otherwise you’re good to serve on this jury, right?”

* What’s a good excuse for getting out of jury duty? Apparently not “having a heart attack RIGHT NOW!” [Lowering the Bar]

* The hits from the CATO amicus brief keep on coming. They commit a footnote to mocking Chief Justice Roberts. [Election Law Blog]

* The Attractive Convict is suing over the use of her mugshot in banner ads. Your redemption is coming, Scumbag Steve! [IT-Lex]

* David Healey, formerly of Weil Gotshal and currently of Fish & Richardson, is filming a movie based on his earlier book. And it stars Sean Young! That’ll work well. [Times of Sicily]

* Does a public-school donor’s request to thank God in an inscription constitute an Establishment Clause violation? [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Supreme Court will hear the case of the NC Dental Board’s efforts to limit the teeth-whitening industry to dentists. Will this ruling spell trouble for state bar associations applying a death grip to all legal services? [WRAL]

Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will cover celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

Dax Shepard somewhat recently wrote in the Huffington Post of his support of the legislation signed into law in September aimed at curbing paparazzi from aggressively photographing children. Interesting. How could such a law comport with the First Amendment? Though there are several more paparazzi regulations that an organization called the Paparazzi Reform Initiative seek to enact, SB 606 is noteworthy because it was signed into law and because Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry were public supporters — they even testified before California’s Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of the bill.

Although it was previously illegal for a person to intentionally harass a child because of his parent’s employment (really? weird), SB 606 made it so that actually photographing or attempting to photograph a minor without his parent’s consent in a way that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” is harassment and punishable in the county jail for up to one year. The new language essentially specifies that if the conduct that seriously alarms the child is photographing him, then it is illegal, thereby implicating the First Amendment….

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* The D.C. Circuit just spanked the FCC and its net neutrality rules for the second time in a row, but at least the court was polite enough to give the agency a reach-around by saying that it had authority to govern broadband providers. [National Law Journal]

* Current and former judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote a strongly worded letter in opposition to Obama’s proposed surveillance reforms. Apparently they don’t want their secret workload to increase. [Washington Post]

* Oooooooklahoma, where gay marriage comes sweepin’ down the plain! A federal judge ruled that the Sooner state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, issuing a stay pending the obvious appeal to come. [BuzzFeed]

* California can prevent LSAC from notifying law schools when prospective law students were given extra time on the LSAT. LSAC values its ability to discriminate, so expect an appeal. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Yo, Kanye West, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish… I’m sorry, but Coinye had one of the best bitcoins of all time. ONE OF THE BEST BITCOINS OF ALL TIME. [MoneyBeat / Wall Street Journal]

In too many ways, 2013 was a year that vindicated the long-standing paranoia of many Americans, particularly the more conservative. A bewildering number of stories littered the news that seemed to confirm exactly the sort of gross government overreach that previously sounded like a delusion of someone whose eyes were scanning the skies for black helicopters. In spring 2013, for example, we learned that the IRS had been targeting the 501(c)(3) applications of conservative and libertarian organizations, apparently based solely on their political and philosophical affiliations. Nothing in 2013, though, fanned the flames of political paranoia quite like revelations of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.

In Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, decided in February, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Amnesty International’s constitutional challenge to a portion of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. In its 5-4 opinion, the Court found that Amnesty lacked Article III standing, in part because the plaintiffs could not show that they had necessarily been targeted for surveillance. When Edward Snowden later disclosed details of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, civil libertarians experienced something of a Pyrrhic victory. Standing would not be a problem in many future lawsuits because the revelation of PRISM established that millions of Americans had been subject to some NSA spying. The only question was whether that surveillance amounted to a violation of the law.

As we leave 2013 and 2014 dawns, some new developments have emerged . . . .

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