Don Verrilli

Eric Holder

Now that Eric Holder has announced his departure as attorney general, talk has turned to who his successor will be — and should be. Early buzz has centered around Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, but there are other compelling candidates as well, including lots of legal luminaries that Above the Law readers will recognize.

Who will be our nation’s next AG? And who should be the next AG? Let’s discuss….

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President Obama formally announced the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week. Filling the position ordinarily poses a political challenge, but installing Holder’s successor will be particularly rancorous. And we have Eric Holder himself to thank for that.

With Congressional midterm elections weeks away, confirmation hearings for a new AG any time soon seemed unlikely at first. However, Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that he intends to urge the confirmation process onward. “Definitely, we should have confirmation hearings as quickly as possible in the Senate,” Leahy told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Changes to Senate rules allow debate to end over executive and judicial branch nominees (except for nominees for Supreme Court vacancies) with a simple majority vote, rather than a supermajority of 60 votes. At least until the January 2015 session, when the Senate can revisit the rule change, Senators cannot filibuster the vote on Eric Holder’s potential successor. No matter what shifts occur after the upcoming elections, Republicans hold only 45 seats in the Senate until January 2015. So, Democrats acting quickly hold an advantage. However, Democratic senators facing dicey election contests may not be enthusiastic about their party’s push for hearings before the election.

The AG confirmation process opens a new battlefield in the war between supporters of President Obama and his critics. The battle to confirm Eric Holder’s successor promises to be messy. Senate Republicans will treat the process as a referendum on everything President Obama has done — possibly everything his critics suspect he might want to do. Washington politics makes this sort of fight possible. The timing of Holder’s resignation, a few weeks ahead of Congressional midterm elections, makes this plausible. But Eric Holder himself made this battle necessary.

So, how did Holder generate so much bad blood?

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Kamala D. Harris is ‘by far, the best looking attorney general.’

* Solicitor General Don Verrilli may be a frontrunner to replace Eric Holder as attorney general, but the competition seems to be stiff. Kamala Harris, anyone? [USA Today]

* FBI Director James Comey is annoyed by Apple and Google marketing their encryption prowess for privacy’s sake — it’ll “allow people to place themselves beyond the law.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* White & Case just hopped aboard the onshore outsourcing train with its announcement that it would open a services center in Tampa, Florida. The move will create about 100 jobs, but we’d love to know how many it’s negating. [Tampa Bay Times]

* Slater & Gordon, the world’s first publicly traded law firm, has been on an “acquisition spree” in England. Earlier this month, it picked up a patent practice, and now it’s in talks with a litigation shop. [Am Law Daily]

* “Law school is a major gamble,” and people are more informed, but that somehow isn’t stopping people from applying. This is a great article to read if you’re still considering going all in. [New York Observer]


NPR has a breaking scoop. Sources report that Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation today.

Holder is one of the longest-serving members of Obama’s cabinet. People have called him the most “racially divisive” AG in history. In related news, he’s also African-American, a fact that has really seemed to piss some people off.

It’s been a few weeks without a manufactured “scandal” landing on his desk, so maybe now is a good time to go back to private practice and make millions of dollars?

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* Poe’s The Raven, if the narrator was a midlevel associate working on Christmas. Excerpt: As of someone slowly rapping, rapping at my office door. “‘Tis the janitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my office door — Likely here to clean the floor.” Ha. [Law Poetry]

* In the wake of Greece, a Satanist wants to open a government meeting with a Satanic prayer. When reached for comment, Dick Cheney said he was flattered. [Broward Palm Beach New Times]

* Dan Snyder is just awful. Now he’s sent a cease and desist letter to LaVar Arrington because Arrington describes himself as a “Redskins great.” Because if anyone around here is going to needlessly slur indigenous people, it’s going to be Dan Snyder. [Deadspin]

* Speaking of cease and desist letters, the one we talked about yesterday — sent over a bad Amazon review — has resulted in Amazon yanking the seller’s license. [ArsTechnica]

* Come on, lawyers. Clean up after yourselves. Especially if you’re just leaving Molly all over someone else’s car. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Guy in Alabama killed his wife, three dogs and a parrot after she sent a critical text. I know this is a tragedy, but as I saw the story all I could think is the parrot was somehow completely to blame. [AL.com]

* There’s still a slave plantation in the United States and it’s terrifying. [Policy Mic]

* Sometimes it’s worth remembering that we have it very easy as lawyers compared to some in other parts of the world. A lawyer representing a professor accused of blasphemy in Pakistan was gunned down last night. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* A conversation with Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. The full interview is available after the jump… [California Lawyer]

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Gwyneth Paltrow

* After forcing Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act could force for-profit corporations to pay for employees’ abortions, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed rather pleased with himself. [New York Times]

* Sidley Austin just hired a major M&A heavy hitter away from General Electric’s legal department. Congratulations to Chris Barbuto. We suppose he can make it rain as outside counsel now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Because there’s no time too soon for an ambulance airplane chaser, the beginnings of the first lawsuit lodged against Malaysian Air after Flight 370’s probable crash was filed in court yesterday. [Bloomberg]

* UC Hastings and Iowa are the latest law schools to offer 3+3 accelerated degree programs. What a great recruiting tool for Iowa, which recently saw enrollment levels plunge by 40 percent. [National Law Journal]

* One month after the internet exploded with rumors of Gwyneth Paltrow having an affair with entertainment lawyer Kevin Yorn, the star announced her split from her husband. Coincidence? [New York Daily News]

Supreme Court arguments are off and running, and the Supremes wasted no time in getting to the fun stuff. In this instance, it’s McCutcheon v. FEC, the case billed as Citizens United II: Electric Boogaloo. The conservative wing of the Court is expected to side with McCutcheon in its continuing war to make American elections safe for multi-millionaires.

Anyway, the oral argument was marked by the usual humorous sniping amongst the justices and lots of fun exchanges where counsel and the conservative justices worked overtime to subordinate reality to ideology. Up to and including Justice Scalia arguing that $3.5 million isn’t that much money for one individual to spend on an election.

Here are 3 immediate, largely stream-of-consciousness thoughts based on reading the transcript (available at the end of the post) coming out of this oral argument:

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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* I’ll get into this more tomorrow (unless Fisher drops), but Washington & Lee’s third year “experiential learning” program has met with underwhelming results in terms of job placement. Theories abound as to why, but this is basically why I say (a) the third year is useless, and (b) stop telling me what your law professors can do, and start telling me what your career services officers are doing. [Law School Cafe via Tax Prof Blog]

* I guess they didn’t like the way they looked. [Yahoo Finance]

* Hey, it’s another article beating up on Don Verrilli. I’m going to be really happy for him when he leaves, makes a ton of money, and sticks it all in his ears. [Forbes]

* An insider trading loophole big enough to drive a material non-public truck through it. [Dealbreaker]

* Husch Blackwell gets bigger in Texas. [Kansas City Star]

* Roy Cho, the Kirkland & Ellis associate currently running for Congress, gets a coveted endorsement — from the Wu-Tang Clan. [NJ.com]

* A nice review for Marcia Coyle’s new book, The Roberts Court (affiliate link). It’ll be fun to see how the Court looks at this moment in time, before what will surely be viewed as legacy-defining decisions on race and gay rights coming any minute now. [Seattle Times]

* Justice Ginsburg is optimistic about the future of women on the court. She’s also optimistic about the future of skeletons on the court, and she’s super-excited about the possibility of downloading her brain into a robotic body so that she can keep her job forever. [Blog of the Legal Times]

Looking back, the part of last week’s arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court that stands out most for me is the last hour (DOMA merits) — a fitting finale to two days of historic argument on same-sex marriage.

The way things unfolded, the last hour is why we all came. It is why people slept on the sidewalk for days. It is why Americans tuned in and logged on for updates. It is why the attorneys signed up to argue.

We were there to discuss the future of marriage in this country, how different people see it, and where state and federal governments fit in.

The Prop 8 argument went to those core issues the day before, but in fits and starts. A muddy hybrid of standing and merits.

The last hour of DOMA went there and stayed there. Merits were the only thing on the menu, and we ate it up….

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