Elections

“[O]ne familiar with the profound debates that ushered our Federal Constitution into existence is bound to respect those who remain loyal to the ideals and dreams of ‘Our Federalism.’ The concept does not mean blind deference to ‘States’ Rights’ any more than it means centralization of control over every important issue in our National Government and its courts. The Framers rejected both these courses. What the concept does represent is a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States. It should never be forgotten that this slogan, ‘Our Federalism,’ born in the early struggling days of our Union of States, occupies a highly important place in our Nation’s history and its future.”

– Justice Hugo Black, Younger v. Harris

Our Federalism. Our dear Federalism. Justice Black described this vaunted principle when deciding in 1971 that federal courts must show some restraint when interfering with state criminal prosecutions.

“Our Federalism,” though, only works when you work it. The many conservatives (myself included) who trumpet these principles in briefs, articles, and opinions ought to view this not simply as an academic matter but as a personal political responsibility as citizens.

For all the caterwauling on all sides about national politics and for all the petticoat-clutching over Our Federalism, it is shameful when those same folks can’t name a single member of their city council or school board or state supreme court. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When ‘Our Federalism’ Turns Into ‘Somebody Else’s Federalism': Why Local Elections Matter”

Off-year primary day was yesterday. For political junkies, last night was kind of like the Hall of Fame game that kicks off the NFL preseason and signifies that football is back. For non-junkies, last night was a pointless exhibition.

The big national story from last night was don’t f**k with the NRA. I think we all knew that already, but two Colorado Senators were recalled for passing tough gun legislation in a state with enough mass shootings to be a province in Syria. The always excellent Election Law Blog puts these results in context. Essentially, these votes will give purple state Democrats even more reason to react to the NRA like most people react to an armed mugger: “Please, take my legislative agenda, just don’t hurt me.”

So ends my coverage of mythical places west of the Hudson. Here in New York City, we had a pretty big slate of primaries yesterday. Every primary is a lesson for the politicians, but this election cycle was also a lesson for political prosecutors. Those who seek to rise to power based on their skills at seeking justice for aggrieved citizens can learn a lot from yesterday’s results.

See if you can finish the joke: A black guy, a police commissioner, and Eliot Spitzer walk into a bar…

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‘This herpes thing is less embarrassing than my 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian.’

* Want to know what they call the Supreme Court attorney who deals with requests for stays of execution? The death clerk. Paging John Grisham, because this guy’s nickname would make a great book title. [New York Times]

* “If you’re going to sue, it’s better to sue earlier rather than later.” Probably why battleground states like Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are in a tizzy over their election laws. [Washington Post]

* WikiLeaks or it didn’t happen: Bradley Manning’s lawyer has demanded that seven years be cut from his client’s prospective sentence due to allegations of improper treatment while in military custody. [The Guardian]

* Michigan Law’s Sarah Zearfoss, she of Wolverine Scholars fame, finds media coverage about the awful job market for recent law grads “really frustrating.” Try being unemployed. [Crain's Detroit Business (reg. req.)]

* Kris Humphries is being sued for allegedly giving a girl herpes. But alas, the plaintiff seems to have no idea who actually gave her the herp — four John Doe defendants are identified in the complaint, too. [Star Tribune]

* “Given the police idiocy, one wonders where the boobs really are.” A nude model who was arrested during a body-painting exhibition in Times Square won a $15K false-arrest settlement from the cops. [New York Post]


Seriously?

* The bassist of The Vandals, an 80s punk band famous for songs like “Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government),” is running for judge in southern California. Man, I would love to see his campaign video. [The Atlantic]

* Congratulations to Judge Morgan Brenda Christen, the first Alaskan woman to join the Ninth Circuit. [Courthouse News]

* It’s hard out here for a transfer student. [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Can a judge force you to turn over your Facebook status updates? Inquiring minds want to know when you ate your grilled cheese sandwich, and when you fed your cat. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Do you think the Divorce Hotel takes a AAA discount? Are they available for corporate retreats? Do you need to book a separate bedroom for the kids? [Legal Blog Watch]

* Take note, future political candidates: when the going gets tough, the tough get going change their legal name to a website URL. [Legal Juice]

At the end of last week, I wrote about an interesting campaign video for Jim Foley, an attorney running for a state judge position in Olympia, Washington. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought about it — was it ridiculous, or awesome, or both? But the longer the video’s rap hook stays in my head, the more sure I am of how great it is.

So, imagine our pleasant surprise here at ATL when we got an email over the weekend from Jim Foley himself. He provided a couple of interesting details about his campaign ad: who’s the mysterious rapping woman? Who were the boys sharing his delicious stew? What exactly are the lyrics to the song?

Keep reading to learn all this and more…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Holy Moley, We Heard From Jim Foley (In Case You Forgot, He’s Running For Judge in the City of Oly)”

When you consider what would make a qualified state judge, what comes to mind? Empathy, lots of in-court experience, evenhandedness, fairness?

Pssh. I think we all really want a judge who bench presses in a tank top with his name on it, builds boats at his house, and knows how to cook a stew. A colorful bowtie and rapping hype-girls are also important, of course.

That’s why Jim Foley, an attorney in Olympia, Washington, has created the wonkiest campaign ad we have seen in a while. Love it or hate it, watch the video and you will be singing, “Holy moley, I hear Jim Foley is running for judge in the city of Oly,” for the rest of the afternoon.

Let’s take a look at the clip….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Is Either the Best or Worst Judicial Campaign Ad Ever”

For a couple of centuries, we thought that American elections were precise: People voted; the government counted each vote; we knew which candidate received how many votes.

In the year 2000, we learned that elections are approximations. Votes are miscounted; chads dangle; we don’t in fact know precisely who received how many votes. Elections are a human process after all, and they can’t bear the weight when we insist on precision within the margin of error.

So, too, with litigation. I recently spoke to one of our outside litigators who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth for several weeks. He told me that one of his clients had run into a now-typical e-discovery disaster: His client had overlooked some documents; a computer system had automatically deleted some other documents; when the client corrected the situation, it did so imperfectly; the judge (who came from a government background and had no experience in private civil litigation) was quick to spy “bad faith.” Why, this outside lawyer asked, don’t judges appreciate the difficulties presented by e-discovery?

My thesis (for today, anyway) is that e-discovery is like elections: It’s an approximation, and participants in litigation (parties, counsel, courts) should understand that it may not bear the weight when the judicial system insists on precision within the margin of error . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Why Are Elections Like E-Discovery?”

Yesterday, we told you about the racial tension gripping Harvard Law School as they prepared to elect a new student government president. And by “gripping,” I mean “annoying the hell out of the HLS students who are trying to study.”

Despite calls to postpone yesterday’s election, the balloting proceeded as planned. We also invited Above the Law readers to vote for the new Harvard Law student leader.

It seems like both communities are in agreement. Cloying d-bags who throw around allegations of racism and impropriety have no business securing open bar events for thirsty law students….

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Unbeknown to most of us, when Ted Kennedy died Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren became the last liberal with balls. While other Democrats have been desperately trying to keep themselves in the good graces of Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren has been standing toe-to-toe with the bankers.

It therefore seems only appropriate that Warren is now running for Ted Kennedy’s old Senate Seat. She will officially announce her candidacy sometime today.

If she wins the nomination (if Martha Coakley runs again, Warren won’t even have to “campaign” for the nomination, she’ll run primary ads saying “Again? How stupid are you?”), the battle between Warren and the incumbent, Senator Scott “the Body” Brown, will be interesting.

But let’s say that the last Democrat can win in one of the last liberal bastions. It’ll mean another solid win for liberal women law professors during the Obama administration…

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Mmm... gridlock.

If you like gridlock (and as lawyers, you should love gridlock) last night was a big night for you. Thanks to a divided Congress and a weakened President, we shouldn’t be seeing any national legislation for some time. And even as Republicans enjoyed gains in state legislatures around the country, in many cases the State Attorney General office landed in the hands of Democrats. So even if something does managed to get passed, expected it to be gummed up in the courts for a good long while.

Looking at the contested races for Attorney General around the country, we’re seeing that the Tea Party message will still hasn’t been developed into a coherent strategy as to how government lawyers should approach their jobs.

One of the biggest State AG races was in New York, where Democrat Eric Schneiderman scored a victory over well funded city Republican, Dan Donovan. The weakness of Tea Party darling Carl Paladino at the top of the New York Republican ticket didn’t help Donovan’s chances.

In California, a very close A.G. race is showing a slight lead for Democrat Kamala Harris, over Republican Steve Cooley. They’re still counting absentee ballots out there, it’s that close.

But whatever, it’s easy to discount Democrat resilience in New York and California. But outside NYC and L.A., where the ostensibly real Americans live, the top lawyer races were split and didn’t support the “tsunami theory” of Republican domination being pushed by the mainstream media folks…

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