Elena Kagan

There is a 64 percent probability that at least one Supreme Court justice will die in the next four years….

– The ABA Journal, offering a rather grim assessment of the health and wellness of the justices of the nation’s highest court, based on Slate’s Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator. (You may want to start taking bets.)

There are four of us [on the Court] from New York City. We have every borough covered except for Staten Island; we’re waiting for that Staten Island judge.

– Justice Elena Kagan, speaking last night with Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic for the seventh annual Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture, “Law and Justice,” at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

(Read more about Justice Kagan’s remarks, in which the former Harvard Law School dean called a certain T14 school a TTT, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Keep Waiting
(And: Justice Kagan Disses A Top Law School)

Don’t be fooled by her smile; Justice Kagan knows how to benchslap.

Don’t be fooled by her smile; Justice Kagan knows how to benchslap.

* Kagan, J., benchslapping. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* I think I’d get this if I understood gymnastics. [Associate's Mind]

* Some people think IBR is pointless, but if you disagree, check out this petition. [We the People: Your Voice in Government]

* Partner readers, check out this new podcast (featuring law firm consultant Ed Wesemann and yours truly). [Attorney Search Group]

* Our annual Law Revue Video Contest is still a few months away, but if you like making legally themed videos, keep an eye on this contest (more details forthcoming, including info on the prizes). [Federal Bar Association]

* Speaking of contests, we welcome your votes in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (under “News/Analysis”). [ABA Journal]

* And speaking of Above the Law, the deadline for applying for our writer/editor position and our internship is tomorrow — so act now if interested! [Above the Law]

‘I’m coming for you, SCOTUS.’

Legal elites fared well on election night. For example, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is now Senatrix-elect Elizabeth Warren, after expertly landing Langdell Hall on top of Scott Brown (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little pickup truck too!”). As a Divacrat — I support strong, strident, brilliant (sorry Sarah Palin) women, regardless of their political party — I’m already fantasizing about Clinton/Warren in 2016.

Joining Warren on the Senate floor will be another great legal mind who spent some time in Cambridge, Harvard law grad and former SCOTUS clerk Ted Cruz. The Morgan Lewis partner is one of several current or former Biglaw attorneys who won office on Tuesday. (For more, see Am Law Daily.)

The biggest winner of the evening, of course, is also a legal elite: President Barack Obama. He’s a former law professor, like Warren; an HLS grad, like Cruz; and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Things don’t get much more elite than that.

And in the legal world, things don’t get much more elite than the United States Supreme Court. This brings us to today’s question: What will a second Obama term mean for the Supreme Court?

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Is Kagan turning to the dark side?

The news from the Supreme Court this morning isn’t about affirmative action or campaign finance or health care for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today’s news is the gossip that (conservative) Antonin Scalia and (liberal) Elena Kagan apparently enjoy each other’s company. In our polarized political climate, it’s news that Scalia and Kagan have gone hunting together, without trying to kill each other.

Yeah, you heard that right, hunting. Scalia took Kagan hunting. Scalia has now corrupted one of the liberal justices into murdering defenseless animals for sport. When reached for comment, Scalia said of Kagan “I could feel her anger. It gives her focus, makes her stronger.”

Kagan can’t go out like this. If she’s going to start killing things for amusement, it’s got to be part of a deal where she makes Scalia do something, I don’t know, compassionate and human. You know? Or at the very least, she’s got to take him to a gay bar in Chelsea or something….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Now That Scalia Has Corrupted Kagan, What Progressive Pastime Should Kagan Make Scalia Do?”

Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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Justice Elena Kagan

There is not a single member of this Court, at a single time, who has made a decision, who has cast a vote, based on do I like this president, do I not like this president … will this help the Democrats, will this help the Republicans? It is just not the way any member of the Court thinks.

– Justice Elena Kagan, discussing what she believes to be a misplaced public perception that members of the Supreme Court allow their political leanings to guide their judicial decision-making, in remarks delivered at the University of Michigan Law School.

How many justices can you name?

Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t name even a single member of the Supreme Court.

– a depressing conclusion drawn from a recent FindLaw telephone survey on the Supreme Court.

(What else can be learned from the absurd results of this survey?)

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Justice Elena Kagan

Sounds like a dumb law.

– Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, commenting during her confirmation hearings on Senator Tom Coburn’s attempt to compare the Affordable Care Act to a hypothetical law requiring consumption of fruits and vegetables.

(Senator Coburn wondered if such a law would violate the Commerce Clause. In response, Kagan noted that “whether it’s a dumb law is different from … the question of whether it’s constitutional.”)

The Supreme Court session starts at 10:00 a.m. At 9:55, a tall man with broad shoulders and little neck — a man with an ear piece running out of the back of his suit coat — tells everyone in the Courtroom to be quiet and stay in their seats until the session is over. The room quiets.

This is the calm before the storm. No one expects any of this term’s true blockbusters to be announced today – there will be no health care decision, no ruling on the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act, no ruling on whether Arizona gets to codify its very strong dislike of immigrants.

During this time, those who watch the Court are scanning for signs of either discord or harmony. Even a concert at the Court invites scrutiny of which Justice is chummier with which other Justice. The Supreme Court watching world is like a group of eight-year-olds in the week before Christmas, sniffing the presents under the tree and trying to hunt through their parents’ closets. It’s dignified.

The Courtroom is silent after the broad man quiets us. And then, growing louder, we hear voices. Male voices. And laughter, booming male laughter, as the Chief and Justice Scalia emerge through the parted curtains, and Court is called to order.

What does the laughter mean? Is Obamacare all but destroyed? Is a secret deal finally sealed? Or did the Chief Justice share a bit of ribald humor from his native Indiana?

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