Donald Verrilli Jr.

This morning the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the challenge brought by Shelby County, Alabama, to the Voting Rights Act. I’m not really concerned with the particulars of the argument as articulated by the attorneys (U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli for the government, Bert Rein arguing for Shelby County), or the substance of the justices’ questions. The Court has been jonesing to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain jurisdictions to “preclear” changes to their election laws with the federal government to be sure that they aren’t racially discriminating against minorities.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems to subscribe to the butthurt view that after 400 years of the enslavement and oppression of African-Americans in this country, now the only way to protect the rights of minorities is to make sure white people don’t feel discriminated against. Justice Anthony Kennedy seems to think he can make policy for the rest of the country, even though Citizens United should have shown him that he has no idea how the real world works. And the other three conservatives on the Court, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, think that racial equality involves keeping your mouth shut while majorities do whatever they want.

The conservatives have the votes to overturn one of the most successful weapons against racism in this country, and I can’t say I’m really surprised that conservatives are eager to take this away.

But is anybody else getting a little sick and tired of Justice Antonin Scalia’s constant grandstanding? I don’t know if it was getting passed over for Chief Justice or if he’s really pissed he didn’t get to decide who won the 2008 presidential election, but isn’t his whole “conservative intellectual hero” act starting to interfere with his job as “impartial member of the judiciary”?

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* As President Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage continues to “evolve,” we’re left wondering what exactly Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will say come Supreme Court oral arguments showtime in late March. [New York Times]

* “This is a chilling document.” The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived: the DOJ memo about the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial policy, the legal justification of drone strikes against American citizens, was leaked. [NBC News]

* In the litigation blame game, the Department of Justice has a lawsuit cooking against Standard & Poor’s, the supposed “key enablers of the financial meltdown,” over the agency’s mortgage bond ratings. [Reuters]

* Many pieces from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s massive art collection were auctioned off on Friday for $528,120. The failed firm’s creditors must be chomping at the bit as they wait to receive the proceeds. [Blog of Legal Times]

* You must remember Cynthia Brim, the Chicago judge who was declared “legally insane.” She’s too insane to be found guilty of a battery charge, but not quite insane enough to lose her reelection bid. [Chicago Tribune]

* Apologies to those with disabilities in California, but this ruling has given the Law School Admissions Council free reign to continue to flag your applications if you got extra time on the LSAT. [National Law Journal]

* GW Law School is adding a new question to its application to gauge the LGBT status its applicants. Not sure how this will affect cratering applications, but drink more of the Kool Aid if it makes you feel better. [GW Hatchet]

* Here’s some sage advice from our managing editor: “If you’re not okay with working for free, don’t take the internship.” Or, in the alternative, you can sue, and win a fat settlement check. [International Business Times]

Only two things are certain in life: death and taxes.

The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Chief Justice John Roberts has upheld the individual mandate. But not under the Commerce Clause. Instead, Roberts has said that the law can proceed under Congress’s ability to tax.

It’s a tax. That thing that Democrats were trying so hard not to do so Republicans couldn’t call Obama a “tax and spend” Democrat is now called a tax by the Supreme Court. And now it’s a victory. Until the GOP starts saying that Obama “raised your taxes.”

I LOVE AMERICA. It’s so funny sometimes.

Oh, we’re going to have more coverage after the jump, including the vote breakdown (and other updates)….

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So far this year, we haven’t had any huge commencement kerfuffles over graduation speakers at law schools. Last year, you’ll remember that Michigan Law was in a tizzy over Dean Evan Caminker’s pick of Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a commencement speaker. Portman is one of those anti-marriage equality types, and Michigan Law students actually organized a walkout to protest his divisive views.

This year, Michigan has gone with a much more conservative choice.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog has published his annual list of law school commencement speakers. Michigan Law’s choice is boring, but let’s see if we can’t find somebody else on this list to get excited about…

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Not the alleged hot-dog hooker.

* While Dewey’s former culture gets roasted on a spit, and the seemingly unending drama gets turned into a montage of living lawyer jokes, we’re still waiting for the final punchline. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]

* Don Verrilli tried so hard, and got so far (depending on who you ask), but in the end, it doesn’t even matter. When Linkin Park lyrics apply to your oral argument skills, you know you’re kind of screwed. [New York Times]

* The 9/11 arraignments went off without a hitch this weekend. And by that, we mean that it was a 13 hour hearing filled multiple interruptions, and grandstanding about “appropriate” courtroom fashion. [Fox News]

* In a “re-re-reversal,” Judge Jerry Smith, on a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, reinstated Planned Parenthood’s injunction against Texas without even so much as a homework assignment. [Dallas Observer]

* The It Gets Worse Project: if you thought that the Law School Transparency debt figures were scary before, then take a look at them now. Six figures of debt just got a lot harder to swallow. [National Law Journal]

* Scalia gets busted on a case of hot-dog hooking. No, not that Scalia. A woman from Long Island has been accused, for the second time, of selling swallowing foot-longs in the back of her food truck. [New York Post]

I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Except in Arizona, where I slam your head into the golden door till you beg for mercy.

If you either listened to or read a good recap of yesterday’s SCOTUS arguments about the Arizona immigration law, and saw a mainstream media report about it, you are probably pulling your hair out. What seems to me as the most likely and reasonable compromise to the issue is being treated like a victory for the state’s radical immigration approach.

It seems there was consensus on the Court to allow Arizona officials to check the immigration status of people they’ve already arrested as a matter of state enforcement of already established federal law. I can live with that.

But here’s what’s not happening: the Court doesn’t seem to be endorsing the aggressive “show me your papers” approach that would lead to somebody writing the diary of Anita Franco. And the Court isn’t even taking up the racial profiling question, leaving that argument open for future debate. That’s a big, huge “technicality” that means we likely haven’t seen the last of the Arizona immigration debate.

I guess “SCOTUS Stakes Out Reasonable Compromise While Dodging Racial Issue” doesn’t make for a good mainstream headline. Instead, we’ve got: “Arizona Beats Obama While Verrilli Gets Punched In The Crotch By A Latina.”

Which begs the question: Does Don Verrilli still want this job?

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Today, if you use the names Sonia Sotomayor, they would probably figure out I was a citizen.

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking during today’s oral arguments in Arizona v. United States, in which the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

(Justices on both sides of the political spectrum appeared unsympathetic to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. More harsh words that the justices had for him, after the jump.)

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They say that March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. And in the case of last month’s legal happenings, that saying held true for the most part. Because even stuttering lambs are still gentle creatures, right?

All in all, March was filled with excitement (of the sexual variety) and disappointment (of the layoff variety) for lawyers. We even got a lesson in how to (and how not to) argue before the Supreme Court.

So who are our nominees for March’s Lawyer of the Month competition?

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Carter Phillips

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare overhaul last week, we discussed the case with veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin‘s Washington, D.C. office, is a renowned Supreme Court litigator. He has argued 75 cases in front of the high court, more than any other attorney in private practice.

Check out our conversation below. He had a lot of insightful comments about the performances of Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli, the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and even a few jokes…

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After a rough week, a near consensus has emerged that Obamacare has a murky future. Liberal pundits are reeling: Dahlia Lithwick is palpably depressed, and Jeffrey Toobin — so recently heard predicting that the ACA would be upheld by an 8-1 majority — is now characterizing the proceedings as a “train wreck for the Obama Administration, and it may also be a plane wreck.” On the other hand, Philip Klein of the avowedly right-wing Washington Examiner encapsulated the opposition’s mood of gleeful triumphalism when he tweeted, “Clement channeled Michael Jordan, Verrilli channeled Scott Norwood.” (But see: Elie’s lonely defense of the Solicitor General.)

Before the arguments commenced, we asked our readers for their opinions and predictions on the case: Will SCOTUS uphold the ACA? Should it? 1,100 of you weighed in.

After the jump, we’ll look at the results of our survey, and sample some representative reader comments. (Here is an example of a non-representative reader comment: “I hope the law is overturned. I am a Christian Scientist and have not been to the doctor in 40 years.”)

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