Constitutional Law

I nearly did not write this post this week. (I’ll pause while some of you wish that ‘nearly’ weren’t a part of that sentence.) I started the week with a mild toothache. By the time I reached my dentist on Tuesday morning, that niggling pain had bloomed into an infection that spread from my tooth to my jaw bone to the soft tissue of my face. Despite oral penicillin (and Vicodin!), I developed a high fever, the left side of my face swelled to grotesque proportions, and my jaw seized shut. I ended up in an ER on IV antibiotics.

While portions of the federal government ground to a halt due to insufficient funds, I held ice packs to my head and prayed quiet prayers about septicemia and the relative impermeability of the blood-brain barrier. Vaguely, in the background, I knew Congress and the president were arguing about health care. About funding the PPACA. Obamacare.

My heart goes out to folks harmed by the federal government shut-down this week. I also agree with those who are dismayed that Capitol Hill can’t reach a consensus sufficient to end the current crisis. It’s their job to find workable agreements, after all. That much, I hope most of us can agree on. Since we’re not here to agree, let’s talk a bit about Obamacare, the source of this week’s trouble in Washington . . . .

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]

* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]

* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]

* No debacles here, contrary to past precedent: Kasowitz Benson poached two superior legal minds from NBCUniversal and welcomed them to the firm to open an entertainment litigation practice. [Bloomberg]

* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]

Mark Cuban

* If the government shuts down and then defaults on its debt, Wall Street worries that it would “shake the foundations of the global financial system.” Hooray for political asshattery! [DealBook / New York Times]

* At least six of the Supreme Court’s judicial precedents are up for reconsideration in the upcoming Term, and high court commentators think the resulting decisions could be a mixed bag. [National Law Journal]

* Apparently low-income New Yorkers’ legal problems are “not worthy of a ‘real lawyer,’” or at least that’s the message that will be given if non-lawyers are allowed to provide legal services. [New York Law Journal]

* Sorry, lady, not enough prestige. A Brazilian journalist was allegedly on the receiving end of some “extremely violent” police behavior at Yale Law School after attempting to interview Justice Joaquim Barbosa at a private event. [The Guardian]

* Mark Cuban’s insider trading case is heading to trial today, but we genuinely wonder how he’ll be able to convince a jury that he’s “humble and affable,” rather than the “master of the universe.” [Boston Herald]

* The death toll of the latest mass shooting at the Navy Yard is 13 (including the gunman, military contractor Aaron Alexis), and people are rallying for stricter gun control laws before we’ve even had time to mourn. When will we ever learn? [New York Times]

* Today is Constitution Day, and Justice Antonin Scalia would like to remind you to celebrate — except if you think it’s a living document. If that’s the case, you can just “[f]ugget about the Constitution,” because that thing is dead, baby. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Please sir, we want some more! The Judiciary Conference has been forced to plea poverty to President Barack Obama due to its teeny tiny itsy bitsy post-sequestration budget. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congrats to Kimberley Leach Johnson, the first woman to climb to the very top of the ladder at Quarles & Brady. That makes her the only eighth woman currently leading a Biglaw firm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* And congrats to Matt Johnson, outgoing chief counsel to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on his return to the private sector. He’ll be taking his talents to the lobbying firm, McBee Strategic Consulting. [The Hill]

* From second career choices to no career choices: if you want to go to law school after working in another field, you should consider if it will help or hinder your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Lady Gaga

* You skip over the footnotes when you’re reading for class, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t think you should. She’s a proponent of the most important footnote in all of constitutional law. [New Yorker]

* New York will modify its pro bono requirement for LL.M. students to allow public service completed outside the country. Well, so much for closing the state’s justice gap. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the government-initiated trademark infringement actions over “Don’t Mess With Texas.” Like “I <3 NY," the Lone Star State's slogans are off limits. [New York Times]

* WUSTL Law Dean Kent Syverud didn’t mind advocating for halving professors’ salaries. He just stepped down to become Syracuse University’s president — for much higher pay. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* You can sue Lady Gaga for overtime pay all you want, but you do not want to face her wrath. The pop star is due in court in early November where she’ll tell a judge “exactly what f**king happened.” [Daily Mail]

* The hits keep on coming for Curt Schilling. Now the SEC has woken up and decided to probe the $75 million he secured from the state of Rhode Island (already the subject of another suit). Maybe he can fake another bloody sock to generate some sympathy. [Bloomberg]

* Apple sold a “Season Pass” to Breaking Bad Season 5 and then refused to honor the second half of the season to its subscribers, prompting an Ohio doctor to file suit for $20, with hopes of building a class action. Look, Apple needed that money; Tim Cook is desperate these days. [Deadline: Hollywood]

* Speaking of Apple, the Federal Circuit looks like it’s going to give Apple another crack at its claim that Google ripped off the iPhone patents, citing “significant” errors on the part of the last judge to rule on the dispute: Richard Posner. You come at the king, you best not miss. [Wall Street Journal]

* And last, but definitely not least, Apple’s new fingerprint ID will be the death of the Fifth Amendment. Discuss. [Wired]

* A film chock-full of unsanctioned footage and insulting knocks on Disney has been picked up for distribution. This is your official warning that it’s time to prepare the beauty pageant pitch for the Disney execs. [Grantland]

* Elie smash, Charlotte Law School. [NPR Charlotte]

* The International Association of Young Lawyers conference will feature a speed dating session (on page 6). Really hard-hitting program there. [International Association of Young Lawyers]

* Congratulations to the 49 firms honored for meeting all of WILEF’s criteria for Gold Standard certification at today’s awards gala! [Women in Law Empowerment Forum]

On Tuesday night, President Obama asked Congress to delay a vote authorizing military action against Syria. During the same speech, however, he reserved what he claims is his right as commander-in-chief to act independently if Congress fails to go along with his proposals.

Sen. Bob Corker, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, earlier said that members of the administration would be “far better off if they seek authorization based upon our national interests, which would provide the kind of public debate and legitimacy that can only come from Congress.”

Better off? A unique legitimacy coming only from Congressional approval? Is that just a helpful suggestion to the president or a claim of actual authority?

Let’s all hope for diplomatic solutions with the Assad regime. Let’s hope for consensus at home. But let’s also hope for thirty-hour work weeks, traffic-free commutes, and calorie-free cheese. Then, let’s talk about who gets to decide where American forces go when push comes to shove….

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Over the last two decades, a dedicated Supreme Court bar has gained prominence, focusing on arguing the increasingly few cases before the justices each term. These lawyers face fierce competition in persuading clients to hire them, participating in a not-so-glamorous competition known in the industry as a “beauty contest.” At these lawyerly pageants, attorneys competing to take the case make their pitch and try to persuade the client that their firm is the best suitor.

In my new book, Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (affiliate link), I go backstage and look at two of the most high-profile beauty contests in Supreme Court history: who would represent (1) the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and (2) twenty-six states in their respective challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare.

How did these litigants go about choosing their counsel? Which lawyers and law firms got passed over?

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Scalia/Ginsburg: coming soon to an opera house near you?

We recently shared with you a fascinating, legally themed musical project: Scalia/Ginsburg, an opera about two of the U.S. Supreme Court’s leading lights, by award-winning composer Derrick Wang.

Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg, longtime colleagues and good friends, don’t share much in terms of jurisprudence but do share a love of opera. It’s fitting, then, that their Con Law clashes will serve as the basis for a new operatic work.

Where did Wang come up with the idea for an opera about these two distinguished jurists? As it turns out, Wang is not only a composer but a law school graduate. Where did he go to law school, and why?

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Pope Gregory XIII be RACEIST.

A Catholic lawyer, a Jewish lawyer, and a Muslim lawyer all walk into a bar. The Muslim lawyer says, “I’m filing an injunction to stop this den of sin from serving alcohol.” The Jewish lawyer says, “I’m suing you for working on the Sabbath.” The bartender looks at the Catholic lawyer and says, “Jesus, what do you want?” The Catholic lawyer says, “How the hell should I know? But I’ll take a scotch while you wait for an answer.”

It’s not every day that you see a person specify that they want a lawyer who is from a certain religious background. Law is generally a secular profession. Sure, Moses is the first law giver in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but the only God most lawyers consult before deciding whether or not to take a case is the one bathed in green.

Still, when you are a whack-job on Craigslist who is trying to mount an assault on the calendar, I suppose the only way you’re going to get help is with the aid of a true believer.

Yeah, you heard me right, I’m talking about a guy who wants to sue… somebody… over the calendar

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Crusader Requires A Jewish OR Muslim Lawyer: Apparently We’re Going After The 16th-Century Vatican In SCOTUS!!”

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