Eastern Michigan University

* Musical chairs (White House hottie edition): Michael Gottlieb, former associate counsel to President Barack Obama, is joining the Washington, D.C. office of Boies Schiller & Flexner. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* The search is on for jurors to serve in the criminal trial for Bernie Madoff’s former employees, but in a case of guilt by association, it’s proving to be a difficult exercise. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* “Democracy is not on autopilot,” said Justice Kennedy at Penn Law. Just because we have a Constitution doesn’t mean it will prevail — which is being evidenced by our government now. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

* Because no one could be more “non-essential” than a law student during this mess, the government shutdown is taking a toll on their externship placements throughout the district. [National Law Journal]

* The Princeton Review’s annual law school rankings are out, and boy, have things changed — including the schools with the best career prospects. We’ll have more on this news later today. [Chicago Tribune]

* Cooley Law is teaming up with Eastern Michigan University to offer joint degrees. But we thought Cooley was teaming up with Western Michigan University. Is Cooley infiltrating all Michigan schools? [MLive.com]

Judge Jeffrey Sutton

Over the weekend, Mark Oppenheimer wrote an interesting New York Times piece about the Sixth Circuit’s recent ruling in Ward v. Polite (PDF). In that case, Judge Jeffrey Sutton — noted feeder judge, judicial hottie, and possible SCOTUS nominee in a Republican administration — handed a (partial) victory to Julea Ward, an evangelical Christian who sued various teachers and administrators at Eastern Michigan University, where she had been studying counseling.

Here’s a concise summary of the facts, from the opening to Judge Sutton’s opinion (which is wonderfully clear; he’s great at explaining complex legal issues to large lay audiences; see also his Obamacare opinion):

When the university asked Ward to counsel a gay client, Ward asked her faculty supervisor either to refer the client to another student or to permit her to begin counseling and make a referral if the counseling session turned to relationship issues. The faculty supervisor referred the client. The university commenced a disciplinary hearing into Ward’s referral request and eventually expelled her from the program. Ward sued the university defendants under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Ward claimed that her expulsion violated her free speech and free exercise rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the university, but the Sixth Circuit reversed. At the same time, the Sixth Circuit held that Ward wasn’t entitled to summary judgment in her favor either: “At this stage of the case and on this record, neither side deserves to win as a matter of law.” So perhaps we’ll end up with a trial.

Who’s in the right here, Ward or the university? Let’s discuss….

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