Federalist Society

Righteous-IndignationThe public learned this week that the Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit dismissed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.   The order followed a year-long investigation by Special Counsel Jeffrey Bellin.  The roughly 70-page Report of the Special Committee appears nonpartisan, thorough, and fair.

The complaint stemmed from a lecture Judge Jones gave to the University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society chapter in February 2013.  Among the complainants’ claims was that, during her lecture, Judge Jones suggested she believed that members of certain races were predisposed to commit violent crimes.  With no recording of the event, witnesses disagreed about exactly what she said.  Was she talking about genetic determinism?  Or was she only referring to the objective fact that, for whatever reason, our nation’s prisoners are disproportionately black and Latino?  The subsequent independent investigation concluded that “whatever she said initially, it is clear that Judge Jones used the question-and-answer period to clarify that she did not adhere to such views,” rejecting the complaint’s version of her speech. The D.C. Circuit cleared her of all of the charges of misconduct, including this one.

When the complaint was first filed, I defended Judge Jones. Defending her was relatively easy….

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Judge Edith Jones

I did not say such things because I have never believed them and have never said them.

– Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, denying she made offensive comments attributed to her by an ethics complaint. A panel of federal judges dismissed the complaint, but various civil-rights groups and legal ethicists are appealing the dismissal.

A Chick-fil-A meal (photo by David Lat).

Joe here. You’re minding your own business, checking your law school email in lieu of listening to the lecture, when an invitation catches your eye. It’s from the local Federalist Society chapter and they’re hosting an event on marriage equality. Fed Soc puts on good events, and unlike a lot of the issues out there, marriage equality is an issue where the organization might have a fair and respectful debate. After all, this is the organization of Ted Olson and Richard Posner as much as it’s the organization of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. There’s room under that ideological tent. But you open the email to see an oversized Chick-fil-A logo. Shock jock tactics.

To say that Staci and I disapproved would be an understatement.

Now imagine the event were not about marriage equality. Would it be acceptable to serve Chick-fil-A at a talk on gun control? On eminent domain? Is there ever a time where Chick-fil-A is a “content neutral” noshing option?

I say no. David says yes. We let you in on our argument about this….

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Chick-fil-A: tastes like hate?

Every year, law students find themselves at odds with each other thanks to the convenience of school-wide listservs. Where else can you spew all of your vitriol at classmates with just the click of a button? Welcome to law school, folks.

Perhaps the most storied law school listserv belongs to Northwestern University School of Law, where the “PC Police” live to serve. As we’ve noted in the past, “[t]he school seems to have a number of students who are easily offended. Some of the kids there overreact at the slightest provocation.”

So what happens when something that’s actually offensive occurs? For example, what do you think would happen if a conservative student group like the Federalist Society were to host a debate on same-sex marriage, with food catered by Chick-fil-A? As you can imagine, students lost their minds…

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* Amanda Bynes is deemed mentally competent to stand trial. I’d seek a second opinion. [TMZ]

* Male bosses are more popular than female bosses according to Gallup. This probably reveals persistent chauvinism in the workplace, but given Gallup’s track record the last couple of elections, female bosses may well be beloved. [The Careerist]

* Competing construction experts tussle over the proper way to build a parking garage. The correct answer is: in a way that doesn’t fall down. [The Expert Institute]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens offer their second installment addressing how to fix the legal profession. This time the target is the law school model. Join the revolution! [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Here’s Corporette’s Suit of the Week! [Corporette]

* If you’re representing a defense contractor, it’s a lot easier to export their wares these days. But the system isn’t fully reformed yet. [Breaking Defense]

* The Society for Chinese Law is hosting an evening of food and drinks featuring a panel of professionals from major law firms. [Society for Chinese Law at Columbia Law School]

* For those who missed (or only followed along on Twitter) the Fed Soc debate between Professor Randy Barnett and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on whether judges are too deferential to legislatures, the full video is available after the jump. [Volokh Conspiracy]

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Is belief in old St. Nick unreasonable?

One of the great things about religious liberty is the ability to believe unreasonable things.

– Professor Andrew Koppelman of Northwestern Law, speaking yesterday at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention, on a panel about religious freedom.

(If you’re curious, a little explanation appears after the jump.)

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Justice Clarence Thomas in conversation with Judge Diane Sykes.

Over the past few years, some amazing speakers have appeared at the Thursday evening dinner of the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. Last year, Justice Samuel A. Alito offered a very funny look back at his time at Yale Law School. In 2010, Justice Antonin Scalia engaged in a spirited and wide-ranging conversation with legal journalist Jan Crawford.

Last night’s event will be tough to top. Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking with Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit, delivered remarks that were “equal parts hysterical, poignant and inspiring,” as Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett noted on Twitter.

I was lucky enough to attend, seated just one table away from the stage. Here’s my account of the evening (plus a few photos)….

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

Conservative and libertarian judges on the Ninth Circuit — yes, they exist — have been showing the East Coast a lot of love lately. Last month, my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, delivered the Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at the Heritage Foundation (an excellent speech that you can watch here). Later this week, Judge O’Scannlain and one of his colleagues, Judge Carlos Bea, will make appearances at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention.

And yesterday, the ringmaster of the Ninth Circuit himself, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, delivered a talk at Yale Law School entitled “The Immigrant Experience and Judging.” He spoke to a packed house in YLS’s largest classroom.

Here are some highlights from his remarks….

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* Just in time for Halloween, here’s a real Night of the Living Dead scenario. In Ohio you only have 3 years to challenge a ruling that you’re legally dead. After that, regardless of how f**king “alive” you are, you have to stay dead. [WTAE]

* Remember the epic Ninth Circuit benchslap oral argument? Well, the government read the writing on the wall and has confessed error and vowed to use the video of the oral argument as a training tool for its attorneys. We hope they’ll consider using the ATL write-up as supplemental reading material. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Corporette offers some good advice on how to write great cover letters. A good start is not writing one like this guy we profiled awhile ago. [Corporette]

* A fund has been set up to help the man injured in the alleged hit-and-run involving a Hastings student. [We Pay]

* Law schools tell us they’re moving toward a model encouraging practical skills… and keep hiring more professors without any practical skills. #fail [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Does anyone remember 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford? Let’s say you do. Here are revised lyrics for 1Ls. [Law Prof Blawg]

* Infographic telling us what we all knew — the bubble done burst. [Online Paralegal Programs]

* The Ole Miss FedSoc has readopted Colonel Reb, the now departed Ole Miss mascot, who the student body rose up and tried to replace with Admiral Ackbar solely because the collected student body figured out this was racist (prompting one of my friends to create this brilliant image). So as Elie asks, “Is it really news that the Ole Miss FedSoc is raceist?” [Ole Miss]

* A visit with Bill Coleman Jr., the first African-American Supreme Court clerk. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* More about the Stephentown incident in which 300 kids broke into a guy’s house and live-tweeted the $20,000 in damage they did. Some parents have threatened to sue him for identifying the kids who ruined his house — because blaming the victim is awesome! [IT-Lex]

* Today in contrarian arguments, fracking could solve the global water crisis. [Breaking Energy]

Earlier this week, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced this year’s roster of MacArthur Fellowship recipients — the winners of the so-called “Genius Grants.” According to the Foundation, it awards the prestigious grants to those who “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.” MacArthur fellows receive $625,000 stipends, with no strings attached . . . except, you know, continuing to be brilliant.

Past MacArthur Genius Grant winners include minds as diverse as paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould; computer scientist and physicist Stephen Wolfram; writers like Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; filmmaker Errol Morris; cognitive scientist Amos Tversky; dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp; philosopher Richard Rorty; drummer and jazz composer Max Roach; statistician Persi Diaconis; literary critic Harold Bloom; and composer John Zorn. Basically, it’s a hell of a fantasy dinner-party guest list.

One of this year’s MacArthur geniuses is a lawyer. Who is it?

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