Election Law

After yesterday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Supreme Court found that aggregate contribution limits violate the First Amendment, campaign finance is back in the spotlight. In October, when the Court heard oral arguments for McCutcheon, I wrote about why I thought Shaun McCutcheon should prevail and why “rumors of democracy’s death are greatly exaggerated.” Others apparently still believe the rumors.

Something else this week delivered grist for the mill, as the country considers how political causes ought to be funded. Mozilla, the nonprofit foundation responsible for the Firefox browser and other open-source ventures, promoted Brendan Eich to CEO last week. California law required the public report of Eich’s 2008 contribution to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the ballot measure amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Prop 8, of course, eventually gave rise to the Supreme Court’s decision last term in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Eich’s financial support of Prop 8 has now given rise to a slew of woes for Eich and Mozilla.

Half of Mozilla’s board members quit, protesting a CEO with a history of activism against same-sex marriage. Some Firefox app developers decided to boycott Firefox projects until Eich is removed from his position. Twitter has been, well, atwitter with criticism.

Then, earlier this week, the dating site OkCupid rerouted all of its users accessing its site from a Firefox browser to a message that began, “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The message goes on to read, “Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

OkCupid’s arrow struck deep. What Eich now faces raises questions about political expression and association, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions, and the consequences of both….

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* Professor Rick Hasen drops knowledge bombs all over the “subtly awful” decision in McCutcheon. [Slate]

* Another firm joins the “CV Blind” approach of assessing future lawyers without looking at their grades. So go ahead and blow off that third-year course if this trend continues. [Legal Cheek]

* In case law schools needed another study to make them feel better about driving up costs, here’s a new study that says schools that hire hotshot professors improve faculty productivity. [TaxProf Blog]

* Med students are mistreated. Boo hoo. At least you bastards get jobs when you graduate. And they were mistreated by the hospitals they worked with? Try a Biglaw firm right before a deadline and then stow your whining. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Education Department moves to prohibit the practice of colleges barring lawyers from institutional sexual assault hearings. In other news, colleges have been getting away with keeping lawyers out of hearings about potentially criminal acts. [Inside Higher Ed]

* The BARBRI public interest fellow contest is now underway! Watch the videos and cast your vote by April 7. [BARBRI]

* Strip club company thought it could build a theme restaurant based on the movie Talladega Nights. More after the jump… [Bloomberg]

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Let’s buy a senator!

[This] is a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opin­ion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.

– Justice Stephen Breyer, issuing a scathing dissent in the Supreme Court’s decision in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case. Today, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision to strike down aggregate limits on campaign contributions from individuals to federal political candidates.

* Here’s a blast from the past: Susan B. Anthony’s indictment for voting in the 1872 election. Turns out she was a woman. Who knew? [Slate]

* The New Yorker has a cartoon that hits the current state of Biglaw right on the head. [The New Yorker]

* People arguing for Crimea’s right to secede and join Russia may want to check out how much support the pro-Russia party got the last time they voted. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Key lessons that lawyers can learn from Google. Sadly, “make your logo a cool doodle” didn’t make the list. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* The long-serving Chief Deputy County Clerk of New York resigned after being disciplined. But what in the world was really going on over there? The web is tangled indeed. [WiseLawNY]

* Idaho considering allowing guns on campus. Because armed students can stop campus shootings. It’s not like trained professionals ever make shootings worse. Rank amateurs should be just fine. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Matt Levine describes how Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP should have taken a lesson from its clients and not used email so much while discussing possible frauds. [Bloomberg View]

* Should we be paying law student externs? Well, yeah, we should. That’s also the conclusion of Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Speaking of Jay Edelson, his most recent high-profile case is a class action charging the now-defunct Mt. Gox — which stood for “The Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange” — with fraud in its loss of hundred of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins. Hopefully he’s not getting a contingency in Bitcoin… because he could end up with about 20 cents for all his trouble. [PC World]

* The Legal Geeks have a podcast analyzing the legal issues involved in the recent Agents of SHIELD episode and podcast with Judge Matthew Sciarrino. [The Legal Geeks]

* Senator Ted Cruz continues discounting the value of a Harvard Law degree. This time on the subject of voting rights. [Election Law Blog]

* The Center for Public Integrity has won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for its work on the black lung controversy. We previously discussed CPI’s work examining the lengths Jackson Kelly went to in fighting to deny benefits to dying victims. Congratulations on the award and the great work! [Center for Public Integrity]

* The picture after the jump is probably not an appropriate way to talk about slavery.

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* Upskirt photos not illegal in Massachusetts. The spirit of Kennedy lives on! [Mass Live]

* The investigation continues into whether Judge Mike Maggio, who might be the infamous Geauxjudge, suffers from a bad case of the Internet Crazies — but in the meantime, his campaign for the Court of Appeals took a hit. [Arkansas Times]

* Speaking of judicial ethics, Judge Kimberly Brown has been removed from the bench in Indiana. She’s only the third judge ever to be permanently removed from the job. [Indy Star]

* Wachtell Lipton partner Ricky Mason and his wife, Hoboken mayoral candidate Beth Mason, have been charged with several election-law violations. Uh-oh. [PolitickerNJ]

* Which state just ruled that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in texting… even if you’re texting about a heroin deal? [IT-Lex]

* Dewey love the judge’s name in the Barclays suit over the dead firm’s debts? Yes. Because “Popplewell” is an awesome name. [The Lawyer]

* The data are in, and the top college grads have passed an all-important math test: they figured out law school is a bad deal. [Associate's Mind]

* Yet another Florida law school dean has stepped down. This is what happens when you take a job in a state full of retired people. [Daily Business Review]

* Obamacare has been credited — and bashed — for a lot, but are we underselling its role in reducing prison populations? [Sentencing Law and Policy]

“But otherwise you’re good to serve on this jury, right?”

* What’s a good excuse for getting out of jury duty? Apparently not “having a heart attack RIGHT NOW!” [Lowering the Bar]

* The hits from the CATO amicus brief keep on coming. They commit a footnote to mocking Chief Justice Roberts. [Election Law Blog]

* The Attractive Convict is suing over the use of her mugshot in banner ads. Your redemption is coming, Scumbag Steve! [IT-Lex]

* David Healey, formerly of Weil Gotshal and currently of Fish & Richardson, is filming a movie based on his earlier book. And it stars Sean Young! That’ll work well. [Times of Sicily]

* Does a public-school donor’s request to thank God in an inscription constitute an Establishment Clause violation? [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Supreme Court will hear the case of the NC Dental Board’s efforts to limit the teeth-whitening industry to dentists. Will this ruling spell trouble for state bar associations applying a death grip to all legal services? [WRAL]

“Best amicus brief ever” might not be saying much. Parakeets are pretty indifferent to the liners of their cages.

Every now and then, though, we come across amicus briefs that are a little unusual or interesting. Like one with somewhat surprising or high-profile signatories — say, NFL players, or leading Republicans in favor of gay marriage. Or one that takes the form of a cartoon. Or one that’s just bats**t insane.

Today we bring you an amicus brief that will make you laugh out loud — which shouldn’t be surprising, given that it’s being submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a leading humorist….

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Two days ago, a protestor stood up during oral arguments at the Supreme Court to tell the justices that they created a legally sanctioned plutocracy with their decision in Citizens United. The whole thing was caught on camera because one was smuggled into the courtroom, which was almost more interesting than the protest itself.

It was pretty exciting. Justice Ginsburg almost woke up for it.

Now the Supreme Court protestor has spoken, and here’s what he had to say….

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* The Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA will proceed to trial in June barring settlement. Football writer/genius Spencer Hall put it best when he described the hearing as “a judge looks at amateurism and says ‘this is bulls**t’ in legalese.” [Sports Illustrated]

* McCutcheon will usher in even more campaign finance excess, but could alleviate gridlock. Plutocracies are efficient! [Election Law Blog]

* Hold the phone! Coerced confessions aren’t admissible? Next thing you’ll tell us is waterboarding is illegal. Thanks Obama. [New York Law Journal]

* Juror who couldn’t stop using Facebook didn’t cause a mistrial because he didn’t post any details about the case. In other news, he really needs a goat in FarmVille you guys, so if anyone can hook him up, that’d be great. (Alternative heading for this one: “11 Angry Men, 1 ‘Likes This’”) [IT-Lex]

* Disbarred lawyer mistakenly allowed to serve as a judge. But only for about 16 years, so it’s all cool. [Washington City Paper]

* “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the [Baby Boomer] lawyers.” [Law and More]

* A California lawsuit argues that pro-teacher policies in the state are hurting education. The defendants point to the fact that California’s educational administration and funding in the state is best described as a “sh*tshow.” Experts are fighting it out with some novel metrics. [The Expert Institute]

* * Elie talks about the new ad for cameras in the Supreme Court and the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases on Legalese It! with Mike Sacks. Video embedded below… [Huffington Post Live]

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