Election Law

Today is Constitution Day. Today we celebrate a group of racist, white, male landowners finalizing a brilliant document that could be changed to overcome their parochial limitations.

I’m not the kind of guy to chestily proclaim that America is the greatest country on Earth, but I’ll put our organizing legal document up there with anyone’s. I’ve read a lot of constitutions (3L Comparative Constitutional Law finally paying off), and I’m always impressed by our document’s ability to allow for so many different and fractious opinions on how the country should operate. Whether or not you believe in a “living” constitution in the Brandies sense of the word, that our constitution is still alive is damn impressive. As written, our president and our presidential front-runner couldn’t even vote. Half the country went to WAR to get out of the constitution, and when they lost, we didn’t even say, “Okay, let’s start over so this never happens again.” We fixed the constitution after the Civil War, but we didn’t bother to fix the South. Amazingballs.

One of the main strengths of our constitution lies in its amendment process. The thing can be changed, quite easily actually, so long as everybody agrees. And it turns out that we don’t agree very much.

To honor this document, some of us at Above the Law wanted to look at the surprising instances since 1787 when we all agreed. The Bill of Rights doesn’t count. And the Civil War amendments don’t count because, well, we didn’t really all “agree” so much as half of us got their asses kicked and had to eat it. So let’s go with any amendment after the first 15. You could make a compelling case that American political thought can be explained by which of those first 15 Amendments are the most important to you or to your life (and if you read that and thought “the 8th,” I feel so goddamn sorry for you).

But while the latter amendments aren’t likely to show up on a 1L’s list of “amendments I know by number,” they define our modern polity almost as much as the first ten. Let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about our moddable constitution…

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* Law student sends naked selfie to her father. Hilarity ensues. [Inside Edition]

* “Is insider trading bad?” Asking for a friend. [The Atlantic]

* Judge catches law firm cheating on the page limit. Apparently, Judge Carl Barbier was well-versed in the “slightly less than double-spaced” trick. [NPR]

* What’s the matter with (statutory interpretation in) Kansas? [KSN]

* You may have heard that technology is going to gut the market for low-level lawyering. If not, here’s a wakeup call. [Forbes]

* This year’s MacArthur genius grant recipients. Is your name on the list? SPOILER: No. But a William Mitchell Law professor is. [New York Times]

* Steve Klepper’s fair-minded and favorable review of Lat’s forthcoming book, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). [Maryland Appellate Blog]

Oscar Pistorius

* Following the divisive decision in Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights cases may be heading back to the SCOTUS sooner than we thought. Thanks, Texas and Wisconsin. [USA Today]

* Bienvenidos a Miami? Cities compete to be designated as sites where global arbitration matters are heard. Miami is an up-and-comer, but New York is king. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Thanks to anonymous donors, the reward for info related to FSU Law Professor Dan Markel’s murder has been raised to $25,000. Not a single suspect has been named since his death. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* After losing the Democratic primary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Professor Zephyr Teachout drank some gin and tonics like a boss before returning to her class at Fordham Law to teach property. [New York Times]

* Try as he might, the Blade Runner just can’t outrun the law: Oscar Pistorius might have been cleared on the murder charge he was facing, but now he’s been found guilty on a culpable homicide charge. [CNN]

* This probably goes without saying, but don’t smuggle drugs into prison. This grandpa apparently failed that lesson. [Legal Juice]

* Town gets fed up and just sues every single citizen. [Lowering the Bar]

* A city lawyer heads out to the country to woo a pretty maid. At least this song gets it right and the lawyer fails. [Legal Cheek]

* Some thoughts on trademark law and post-parody fashion, from Professor Charles Colman. [U. Penn Law Review]

* Attorneys took different approaches to litigating slavery. Nothing really funny here, it’s just interesting. [The Faculty Lounge]

* James Sherwin of SOR Solicitors made this infographic about patents in Europe (and where Ireland fits in). In case you ever wanted to know if Europe’s intellectual property set up is as crazy as America’s. [SOR-Solicitors]

* Maybe you weren’t excited about Hofstra Law School, but did you hear they now have bean bag chairs in the library? Well, that changes everything! [Virtual Library Cat's Eye View]

* An interview with Peter Kalis on the future of Biglaw, in which he states, “I cross bridges and burn them behind me.” Flame on! [Forbes]

* This essay sums up so much about the state of America through the lens of the killing of Michael Brown. [The Concourse]

* While we focused on the tale of Judge Mark Fuller, who spent some time in jail on a domestic violence accusation, he may be part of a trend — Judge Lance Mason was charged with felonious assault after allegedly punching and biting his wife while they were driving. Biting? [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* Have you ever wondered how every law school can give its students “excellent” educations? [The Legal Watchdog]

* Failed Mississippi candidate Chris McDaniel is challenging a bunch of votes. Including his own lawyer’s. [Wonkette]

* Tim Corcoran, President of the Legal Marketing Association, chides state bar associations for meddling with the evolution of the legal profession. Video after the jump…. [Mimesis Law]

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently issued two rulings upholding 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, a state law requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places. The court ruled that mandating ID does not place a substantial burden on voters, nor does it create an unreasonable regulation on elections. The Seventh Circuit is still considering a challenge to the same law, however. In April, Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that the law unduly burdens some voters, particularly low-income ones, and violates the Voting Rights Act. This week, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed motion to lift the injunction created by Judge Adelman’s earlier ruling.
Wisconsin’s court battles reflect the nationwide debate about voter ID laws. Proponents of the laws argue that abuse is rampant, ID laws make a clear statement that corruption is intolerable, and requiring photo identification is a minimal burden.

Opponents of voter ID laws contend that voter fraud is rare, but voter suppression is likely. At the Washington Post, Justin Levitt argues that his extensive, nationwide research of election fraud reveals only 31 incidents since 2000. Levitt points out that more than 1 billion ballots have been cast in that time. Allegations of voter intimidation or suppression are common, though what counts as a criminal offense or civil rights violation may be hard to define. Physical threats obviously count. Jim Crow’s shameful legacy of literacy tests and poll taxes obviously do. Willful disinformation campaigns do. Whether insisting on photo identification, which may be more difficult for people in some communities to provide, counts as voter suppression is a much closer call.

Both sides offer up horror stories. True the Vote trumpets allegations of misconduct on one side, while the NAACP insists that election officials continue to suppress minority votes on the other. Mostly the discourse drops to the level of anecdote. Too often, the deciding factor reduces to which seems more plausible to you personally — that people who shouldn’t vote do, or that people who should don’t?

Where does the conversation go from there?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Battling Anecdotes With Symbols: Why The Voter ID Debate Goes Nowhere”

* The New York Court of Appeals put the hurt on defunct firms seeking unfinished business fees from former partners who left for greener pastures. Sorry, I didn’t follow ATL protocol: “Dewey think firms should collect unfinished business fees?” [WSJ Law Blog]

* We reported on the Tinder lawsuit yesterday. Here’s a collection of all the messed up texts involved. [Valleywag]

* Facebook’s lawyer is now calling the emotional manipulation study it recently conducted “customer service.” Dear Internet: Despite all your rage, you’re still just rats in a cage. [The Atlantic]

* So if you’re studying for the MPRE, blow jobs aren’t the preferred legal fee. [Legal Profession Blog]

* How did your last cell phone bill look? Because the FTC says T-Mobile knowingly added hundreds of millions of charges on. At least that girl in pink was cute, huh? [USA Today]

* BNP Paribas is confident it can pay its record fine. [Dealbook / New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Putin accused the U.S. of trying to use the BNP fine to blackmail France into turning its back on Russia. Because conspiracy theories are awesome. [Bloomberg]

* Lawsuit filed because right-wingers totally miffed that black people voted for a Republican. [Sun Herald (Mississippi)]

* As I noted yesterday over at Redline, the defense in the NCAA trial is putting up some terrible witnesses. Here’s another example. The NCAA’s expert wrote a textbook. The NCAA might have wanted to check it out before bringing him on to help defend themselves IN AN ANTITRUST CASE. [Twitter / Stewart Mandel]

* Elie and I got in a spirited discussion with Slate’s Jordan Weissmann over my edits to his piece on law schools. And it looks like some outside observers took notice. [Law and More]

* The case for grade inflation. [The Atlantic]

* In Wisconsin, a Scott Walker supporter allegedly voted for his boy 5 times. His defense is ripped from a Days of Our Lives script. [CBS News]

* Our mates at Legal Cheek have the ideal follow-up to our World Cup guide: Which last 16 World Cup team is your law firm? As a QPR fan, I’ll tip my hat to their Harry Redknapp quote. [Legal Cheeks]

* Overpreparing for a simple meeting. [What Should Law Bros Call Me]

* An 11th Circuit PIP nightmare. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Hong Kong lawyers protesting what they see as China meddling. Honestly can you blame China? Ever since Hong Kong let Batman just swoop in and grab that guy, you can’t really trust the Hong Kong legal system. [Reuters]

* Donald Sterling allegedly threatened to kill Shelly Sterling’s lawyer. Look Don, threatening to kill lawyers will certainly help your image, but you may be too far gone. [New York Daily News]

* “Tagger arrested for tagging courtroom while awaiting prosecution for tagging.” [Lowering the Bar]

* You know public law schools are more expensive today than in 1985. But just how much more expensive may absolutely shock you. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Law school tutor seems creepily excited about making students cry. [Sunshine and Potatoes]

* 17 bizarre lawsuits. I don’t know, I view the people making sure I get every delicious inch of my meatball sub as heroes. [Crime Wire]

* Dallas just threw its support behind reparations for slavery. Because obviously they didn’t bother to read the resolution. Democracy in action! [Gawker]

* J. Christian Adams misunderstands an election law. This shocks me not at all. In the past, he complained to me that Pam Karlan didn’t understand voting rights based on a panel I covered. She’s now the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Voting Rights and Adams is still spouting off (affiliate link) about how the DOJ is bending over to service the Black Panthers. [Election Law Blog]

* Did you know the history of drones in America dates back to the Civil War? Well, now you do. And knowing is some proportion of the battle. Infographic below…. [Criminal Justice Degree Hub]

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Ed. note: Above the Law will not be publishing on Monday, May 26, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

* Who cleans up after Godzilla rolls into town? I figure it’s Damage Control. [The Legal Geeks]

* So we all know University of Texas Law admits politically-connected students with bad grades and scores. But did you know they let in someone with a 128 on the LSAT? ONE. TWENTY. EIGHT. [Watchdog.org]

* Do we even need the Supreme Court? Well, that’s one way to get RBG to retire. [Huffington Post]

* Seriously, the Boston Public School system is eliminating its history department. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Yesterday I talked about a devastating takedown of the latest National Review article contending that sexual assault is no big deal. Perhaps I crowned a champion too soon, because this is an even better whipping of that article. [Concurring Opinions]

* Wait, ID laws ultimately suppress voter turnout? What a surprise! [Election Law Blog]

* The last word in the death penalty debate after the jump… [The Onion]

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