Election Law

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to a charge related to illegal campaign contributions in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. D’Souza, a conservative commentator, Reagan White House policy adviser, and Christian apologist, is widely known for his documentary film 2016: Obama’s America. D’Souza faces up to sixteen months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 23.

The case involved D’Souza’s use of “straw donors” when his own campaign contributions reached their legal limit. He encouraged two people close to him to each donate to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. D’Souza promised to reimburse them for the donations. According to a press release by the Department of Justice, “Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions.”

D’Souza’s defenders and critics can apparently agree on several points:

(1) D’Souza committed the crime.
(2) D’Souza committed the crime in an astonishingly ham-fisted way. (There’s nothing sly about handing over cash the day after a conversation like that. D’Souza might as well have delivered the money in a box marked “Campaign Finance Law Violation.”)
(3) The government is making an example of him.

What each side means by “making an example of him” is what makes this case more interesting . . . .

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* For the third year in a row, Skadden has topped the list of the Biglaw firms GCs love to pay, the firms with the best brands. Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins rounded out the top three. Congratulations! [PRWeb]

* A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law yesterday, noting that it “only tenuously serve[d] the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud.” Ouch. Sorry about that, Scott Walker. [Bloomberg]

* Hot on the heels of the release of the second annual ATL Law School Rankings, we’ve got a list of the law schools where graduates reportedly have the least amount of debt. We’ll have more on this news later today. [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]

* It was kind of like the night of the living dead in Oklahoma last night, where an execution was botched so badly the defendant attempted to rise up off the table. That must have been horrific. [New York Times]

* Here’s an eligible bachelor alert: After being suspended from practice for six months for filming “upskirt” videos of women in public, this in-house lawyer has been reinstated. [Legal Intelligencer (reg. req.)]

* Poor Justice Lori Douglas. Not only are her kinky S&M pictures floating around somewhere online, but the man who took them — her husband, Jack King — just died. RIP, good sir. [CTV Winnipeg News]

* NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a former Cravath lawyer, fouled L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of the league, but people are questioning whether his punishment was legal. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

Jodi Arias

* Retired Justice John Paul Stevens isn’t exactly too thrilled about the Supreme Court’s opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC: “The voter is less important than the man who provides money to the candidate. It’s really wrong.” [New York Times]

* Neil Eggleston, a Kirkland & Ellis partner who served as a lawyer in the Clinton administration, has been named as replacement for Kathryn Ruemmler as White House Counsel. Please, Mr. Eggleston, we need to know about your shoes. [Associated Press]

* The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says the D&L trial could last for four months or more. Dewey know who one witness could be? Yup, the partner who allegedly shagged a spy. [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to the turn of the tide in DOMA-related litigation, a gay widower from Australia is petitioning USCIS to approve his marriage-based green card application, 39 years after it was first denied. [Advocate]

* Here are three reasons your law school application was rejected: 1) you’re not a special snowflake; 2) your LSAT/GPA won’t game the rankings; and 3) LOL your essay. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* No, Jodi Arias didn’t get Hep C in jail and file a lawsuit to get a restraining order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Nancy Grace. We have a feeling we know who did. We’ve missed you, Jonathan Lee Riches. [UPI]

* Remember to enter the Sixth Annual Law Revue competition. The submission deadline is Thursday at 5. [Above the Law]

* Johnny Depp subpoenaed in a murder case. He’ll finally pay for what he did to basic dignity in that Lone Ranger movie. [TMZ]

* Speaking of murder, a court in Pakistan has dropped the attempted murder charges that had been filed against a 9-month-old baby. Maggie Simpson nods in approval. [NBC News]

* The difference between this student note and your student note is that this one is guiding Department of Justice policy. [Wall Street Journal]

* Professor Susannah Pollvogt identifies the key issues raised in the Kitchen v. Herbert oral argument. [Pollvogtarian]

* The Income Tax turns 100. You’re looking fabulous. [TaxProf Blog]

* The fallout from Heartbleed continues. Here are a few legal websites affected by the glitch. [ATL Redline]

* Jon Stewart has some choice words for the Gibson Dunn report that Chris Christie commissioned and that not-so-surprisingly came out in Christie’s favor. Video after the jump…. [Comedy Central]

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* Want to see a really terrible version of 12 Angry Men? Watch it in Louisiana or Oregon, the two states that allow criminal convictions even when jurors are holding out. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to fix that, let’s see if they will. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Speaking of 12 Angry Men, this chart of the Dungeons & Dragons alignments of each juror is entertaining. [Imgur]

* The judge in the Janice and Ira Schacter kerfuffle invoked Above the Law in her decision as proof that the accusations against Ira Schacter were in the public eye. Thanks for specifically promoting us over the rest of the NY media Justice Laura Drager! [NY Post]

* Watch a bunch of law students talk about cats on Facebook. Will it end in douchebag posturing and threats of lawsuits? Of course it will! [Legal Cheek]

* “Volunteer Liquor Commissioner” was disciplined for operating a Facebook page for people complaining about the police. He’s suing. Better question is what does a “Volunteer Liquor Commissioner” even do? [IT-Lex]

* Allegations that Disney ripped off the trailer for Frozen from an animated short. They should really let it go. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chief Justice John Roberts says he’s a minimalist. He’s wrong. [Election Law Blog]

* Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP. The IRS decided to keep going with the old product. So now your tax records are at risk. Enjoy the fruits of budgeting with anti-IRS legislators! [TaxProf Blog]

* DEA Administrator decides to up the ante on the stupidest argument against marijuana legalization ever: it’s harmful to dogs. The DEA’s plan to ban chocolate is still in draft. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Everyone’s up to date on the Florida lawyer and right-wing congressional candidate with the vampiric cosplay rape fantasies, right? Okay good. [Gawker]

* Jurors say police used excessive force but that the beating didn’t injure the plaintiff. In other news, Florida has a senility problem. [The Florida Times-Union]

* Did anybody notice that Chief Justice Roberts — the author of Shelby County — opened McCutcheon by labeling the right to participate in electing leaders as fundamental with absolutely no irony? [Reuters]

* Anti-gay job discrimination may already be illegal. [Slate]

* The bad economy pits criminal defense lawyers against each other. They shouldn’t do that. [Katz Justice]

* The SEC doesn’t have to abide by the Brady rule and Mark Cuban’s not happy about it. [Wall Street Journal]

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cupid’s Arrow Strikes Eich: OkCupid, Mozilla’s CEO, And Campaign Finance Laws”

* 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]

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