First Amendment

(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

On August 7, 1782, near the end of the American Revolution, General George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart. Today, the Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded or killed in action. This week, On Remand looks back at the Purple Heart’s evolution, and the stories of two men who proudly wore the medal. But had they earned it?

Breaking with the European practice of honoring only high-ranking officers, General Washington recognized that in America “the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is… open to all.” So, Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit” for remarkable or extraordinarily loyal soldiers. Per Washington’s instructions, the badge depicted a purple heart with lace trimming to be worn over the left breast. After the Revolutionary War, however, the award faded away.

In 1932, to commemorate Washington’s 200th birthday, General Douglas MacArthur revived the Badge of Military Merit as the “Purple Heart.” At that time, injury in battle was just one consideration in awarding the Purple Heart. Later, to distinguish it from another award, physical injury became the Purple Heart’s sole requirement. Yet, some have worn the medal without meeting that requirement….

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Juggalo Washington

* The Insane Clown Posse is appealing their loss in the “Juggalos aren’t gang members” case. F**king lawsuits, how do they work? [Lowering the Bar]

* After losing before the Supreme Court, the University of Texas affirmative action admissions program looked to be in serious trouble. But the Fifth Circuit just ruled that the UT policy met the strict-scrutiny analysis mandated by the Court. The lesson for Abigail Fisher is once more, “How about you get better grades instead of whining?” Or at least “Get politically connected.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Apple agrees to a conditional $450 million settlement with the NYAG’s office in the e-book suit. So you might get some money back from the 50 Shades of Grey purchase. [Reuters]

* The Manassas city police have decided not to engage in kiddie porn pursuant to a warrant. Good for them. [Washington Post]

* “Judges are not deities. They are humans.” Let’s not tell Lat, the shock might kill him. [Katz Justice]

* Maybe it’s time lawyers started looking out for each other. This is a theme we’ve touched on before. [Law and More]

* The hell? Parents arrested for letting their 9-year-old go to the park alone? Suffocating parenting is bad enough without the government expecting it of parents. [Slate]

* CPAs are suing the IRS because the regulation of tax preparers lacks Congressional approval. Because we need more folks off the street claiming to be tax preparers. [TaxProf Blog]

* Lawyer and former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon is under investigation by the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel for basically being a dick on Twitter. As Ken White notes, the First Amendment is all about giving guys like this a forum. [Slate]

The Supreme Court released its opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, holding that the HHS contraception mandate violates an employer’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, even when the employer is a for-profit corporation closely held by individuals who object to the mandate on religious grounds. Following the decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer zone case, Hobby Lobby is the second case in a week where the Court told us how much each side of a fundamentally divided issue can ask of the other, under the law. They are hard cases to talk about without questioning the good faith or good sense of the other side. Nearly everyone thinks either Hobby Lobby or McCullen was a bad decision.

The only thing more frustrating than a bad high-profile Supreme Court decision may be the public’s response to any high-profile Supreme Court decision. For proof, one need only look as far as some of the tweets on SCOTUSblog’s Twitter feed….

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Exploding courthouse toilet = products liability attorney’s dream.

* Funny that SCOTUS just struck down a law imposing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, yet it heavily enforces its own buffer zone. Some call it “supreme irony.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Despite the slacking demand for legal services — down by 8.8 percent in terms of billable hours — members of the Am Law 100 still managed to keep their heads above water. [Am Law Daily]

* Lorin Reisner, chief of the criminal division of S.D.N.Y.’s USAO and Preet Bharara’s right-hand man on Wall Street convictions, is leaving for greener pastures at Paul Weiss. Congrats! [Reuters]

* New York State’s highest court has rejected New York City’s ban on gigantic drinks that was previously proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Go on, have yourself a nice Quadruple Big Gulp. [Bloomberg]

* When the long arm of the law flushes the toilet, it sometimes explodes, raining down jagged shards of justice. But on a more serious note, we’re happy no one was hurt at this courthouse. [Billings Gazette]

The Supreme Court ruled today in McCullen v. Coakley that a Massachusetts law creating a buffer zone around abortion clinics violates the First Amendment. The law criminalized standing on a public sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility, with narrow exceptions for employee and law enforcement access. Eleanor McCullen, the lead plaintiff, is a grandmother in her late seventies who stood on sidewalks near clinics in order to initiate quiet, one-on-one conversations with women seeking abortions. The Court held today that the buffer zones created by the law burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s interests.

The Court was unanimous in its judgment that the law violates the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion speakers such as Eleanor McCullen. So, why is McCullen so disappointing to conservatives?

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(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

Five years ago yesterday, Eastman Kodak took our Kodachrome away. On June 22, 2009, the company announced that, after seventy-four years of production, it would no longer make Kodachrome, the world’s first successful color film. This week, On Remand looks back at the camera film that gave us those nice bright colors and greens of summers, Kodak’s antitrust battles, a sordid suit involving Penthouse magazine photos, and a law student’s $100,000 case over two missing rolls of film.

After Kodachrome’s release in 1935, photographers quickly adopted it. No previous film had portrayed color as realistically as Kodachrome. As the film choice of professional and amateur photographers alike, Kodachrome captured key moments in vivid color: the Hindenburg explosion in 1936, Tenzing Norgay at the top of Everest in 1953, President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Don Draper’s wedding day. But by 2009, even Steve McCurry, the photographer chosen by Kodak to receive the last roll of Kodachrome film, had switched to digital. When McCurry — who captured the famous “Afghan Girl” photo for National Geographic magazine using Kodachrome film — finished the last roll, he hand-delivered it to the only place in the U.S. that could develop it: Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas….

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That’s what an attorney for The Dirty is saying in a letter that TMZ calls “the most sarcastic letter we’ve ever seen in the 9 years of TMZ.” The Dirty may be best known among our readers from the ongoing Sarah Jones saga, in which a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader turned high school teacher was convicted of sleeping with her student and sued The Dirty after the site claimed she’d slept with every member of the Bengals team. Which was obviously false, because when Jones worked there the Bengals were incapable of scoring like that.

Now The Dirty provoked the ire of Casper Smart, Jennifer Lopez’s ex. Smart has generated a lot of rumor-mongering over the past few weeks, with the most salacious starting in the comments section of The Dirty, where two transsexuals claimed they hooked up with Smart. J.Lo’s love may not cost a thing, but that love might cost a J.Lo — or so the argument goes.

Smart says this isn’t true and did what any self-respecting quasi-celebrity would do: he wrote a threatening letter to The Dirty. The Dirty’s counsel responded with all the sarcastic righteous rage you’d expect….

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Despite the ever-growing ways that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates what Americans can consume, FDA does not currently regulate genetically modified food. The State of Vermont wants to step in.

This week, Vermont will become the first state to mandate labeling of food products containing ingredients from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It would require retailers of raw agricultural commodities to clearly and conspicuously label GMO-sourced food with the words “produced with genetic engineering.” (Think ears of corn in your supermarket’s produce section.) Producers of packaged food products must label their products with similar language if any ingredient contained in the product comes from a genetically modified source. (Think of that 56-ingredient protein bar sitting on your desk.)

The bill passed the Vermont House and Senate, and Governor Peter Shumlin just signed it into law yesterday. The law is scheduled to take effect in July 2016.

Why are some people so lathered up about eating ingredients that come from genetically modified crops? “Monsanto” has become a dirty word, with nouveau-hippie parents washing out their kids’ mouths with biodegradable, SLS-free soap when they hear them say it. Unfortunately, much public debate conflates genetic modification, exposure to pesticides, and all sorts of other “unnatural” stuff related to food.

Ironically, genetic modification of seeds aims to make crops more resistant to pests, disease, and drought, thus reducing the need for conventional chemical pesticides and increasing crop yields. A growing world population demands innovation to produce more crops with fewer resources. Billions of people need to eat. Too many GMO opponents seem to picture Dr. Frankenstein when they should be picturing Gregor Mendel or Mother Teresa. (Or, to be fair, Walter De Jong.)

That, however, is only the beginning of what’s foolish about Vermont’s new law . . . .

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Kathryn Ruemmler

* Boies Schiller announced it will be working with Hausfeld LLP for the limited purpose of creating a new practice group that will allow the firms to co-represent professional athletes. (Sorry, college athletes, you don’t count yet.) [Bloomberg]

* It’s highly likely that departing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler will return to her former stomping grounds at Latham & Watkins. Imagine how many pairs of shoes she’ll be able to buy with her Biglaw money. [Washington Post]

* Governor Andrew Cuomo is so desperate to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York that he recently inked a $350K deal with Foley & Lardner to convince the team’s future owners to stay put. [Buffalo News]

* The Above the Law Top 50 Law School Rankings are virtually ungameable, but Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency proposes a novel way deans can try: by lowering tuition. GASP! [Law.com (reg. req.)]

* Marc Randazza, one of the preeminent lawyers on First Amendment rights (who happens to represent us from time to time), thinks what happened to Don Sterling was “morally wrong.” Interesting theory. [CNN]

We among the chattering classes give short shrift to the effects of those opinions we espouse. Take, for instance, gay marriage. This website was one of many that advocated fairly passionately in support of legal gay marriage. In a vaccum, of course, this was a sound position to take on the matter. In a vacuum, everything just sounds like “VVVRRRRRRGGGRRRRRRRR-WWWWWWWOBBLEOBBLEVVVVRRRRR!!!!”

But we do not live in vacuums, do we kids? No. Our floors are filthy. And so it is that gay marriage is now legal and heterosexuals are forced to break big rocks all day, waiting for the day that their homo overlords stop with the disco dancing and the fornicating. This is the bed we’ve made.

I suppose I should get to the sporting point of this discursion before I lose the 3 or 4 people who read these posts. Of late, the internet and even this small cyber space have beaten up on the NCAA something fierce. The organization — full of sports and money, signifying nothing — is a convenient target for scorn. And the recent drive to unionize the Northwestern football team, covered on this site and others, has galvanized into a sort of fait accompli about the end of amateurism, that traveshamockery of Orwellian gobbledygook. But if the Northwestern football players were successful in their legal fight, what would that really mean? What would the world of college sports look like if the jocks finally avenged their tragic defeat depicted in the non-fiction film Revenge of the Nerds?

Let’s talk powerful athletes…

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