First Amendment

The title is phrased like a joke, because this whole story plays like a joke: full of misunderstandings and dumb decisions. Hm. Typing that out made me realize that also describes most of the weekends of my adult life if you just add the phrase, “I’ll have another Manhattan.”

We set the stage for this joke in my home town of Portland, Oregon, and the campus of the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. Last week, Chief Justice John Roberts visited the school to judge a moot court competition.

But the real controversy began after the Chief skipped town and the Dean started monkeying with the press coverage of the event — and blaming his actions on the Supreme Court…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Chief Justice, a Dean, and a Newspaper All Walk Into a Censorship Scandal”

Many lawyers keep blogs on the side. Most talk about amusing happenings in the legal community. But a few like to use the blog as a forum to describe their own legal careers.

But blogs like this raise numerous questions, such as, “Does the blog constitute an advertisement?,” and, “Does the blog violate client confidentiality?” and, “Why doesn’t the blog have more LOLcats?”

Now the Virginia Supreme Court has issued a ruling that settles some of these questions and opens the door for more lawyers to join the blogging community, at least in Virginia. And there’s a decent chance the U.S. Supreme Court will look at this case too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Virginia Supreme Court Officially Blesses Above the Law”

* Dewey know how much money this failed firm has run up on its tab for legal advisers since May? It’s quite the pretty penny — $14.8 million — and that amount actually includes some pretty ridiculous fees and charges, like $21,843 for photocopies. [Am Law Daily]

* Everyone’s glad that we didn’t nosedive over the fiscal cliff, but the people who are the most excited about it seem to be Biglaw partners. This wasn’t the best bill, and more uncertainty means more work, which means more money. [National Law Journal]

* It looks like we’re never going to find out what the Justice Department’s legal justification was for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, because a federal judge upheld the validity of its secret memo. [New York Times]

* Everyone flipped out over Instagram’s money filter, but they’re keeping relatively quiet about this mandatory arbitration provision. Quick, post some pseudo-legalese on your Facebook wall. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Good news, everyone! Thanks to this ruling, in Virginia, you can be as nasty and negative as you want to be on Yelp without fear that your voice will be censored… kind of like the Above the Law comments. [All Things D]

* Seven out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices were silent when it came to the passing of Robert Bork. Justice Antonin Scalia, of course, issued a public statement, as did liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (surprise!). [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* No one ever really doubted that it would take an army of Biglaw lawyers from the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell, Shearman & Sterling, and Wachtel Lipton to handle a monumental deal like the proposed $8.2 billion NYSE/ICE merger. [Am Law Daily]

* Can you coach with Nick Saban and be a Miller Canfield partner at the same time? No. But you can sue (and win!) when the firm allegedly forces you out due to its “culture of fear and intimidation.” [Detroit Free Press]

* Justice Rolando Acosta, who wrote the opinion upholding the dismissal of the class action case against NYLS, rates well among his peers as a nominee for the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]

* Peter Madoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but the judge will probably let him go to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah before shipping him to the pokey. [Bloomberg]

* Merry Christmas, now go f**k yourself. A federal judge has given a woman in Louisiana free rein to display holiday lights on her roof in the form of an extended middle finger. God bless America. [CBS 3 Springfield]

Judge Mike Norman

I told my preacher I thought I led more people to Jesus than he had but, then again, more of my people have amnesia. They soon forget once they get out of jail.

– Judge Mike Norman, commenting on the rather unusual sentences he hands down in his courtroom. Last week, Judge Norman gave a 17-year-old who pleaded guilty to manslaughter a deferred sentence, provided that the teen goes to church each week (among other conditions).

Left to right: Alex Kozinski and Diarmuid O’Scannlain.

This week is an exciting one for conservative and libertarian legal nerds: the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society starts tomorrow. I’ll be attending and covering the proceedings; if you see me, please say hello. (If you haven’t registered for the conference in advance, you can still register at the door.)

As always, the conference will overflow with legal luminaries. This year, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most notable names — Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (for whom I clerked) — will be making presentations. Chief Judge Kozinski will debate Professor Hadley Arkes about natural law and constitutional law, while Judge O’Scannlain will moderate a panel about religious liberty.

To whet your appetite, let’s read more about both of these judges and some recent First Amendment fun at the Ninth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “First Amendment Fun at the Ninth Circuit”

* Shashank Tripathi appears to be behind the fake tweets about the flooding of the New York Stock Exchange. Is that protected speech or (wait for it) DID HE JUST SAY “FIRE” IN A CROWDED THEATER??????? [Gigaom]

* But to be clear, Romney is free to lie as much as he wants. Political speech, even misleading speech, is clearly protected. [ABA Journal]

* Court is back in session. Kinda. [National Law Journal]

* Will Election Day get washed away? [CNN]

* Just to be clear, because I know “low information” voters are easily confused, “Government” are the people going around trying to help you out in the storm. “PRIVATE BUSINESS,” in this case insurance companies, are the ones looking to screw you over and profit from the disaster. [New York Times]

* If you want to help the victims of Sandy (instead of just staring at pictures of their suffering like I do), you can. [Red Cross; NY Cares; Humane Society]

* Only now, at the end, do you understand the true power of Disney. Skadden helps Disney buy Star Wars. Now Lucas’s failure is complete. [Am Law Daily]

I had packed up my things and was about to turn off the light. That’s when the phone rang here at the Circumcision Law Desk. The shrill tone of the ring sounded more urgent than usual. I put down my box of Pulitzers and picked up the receiver.

“Hell-” “You’ve gotta write quick, Mister! Gawker ran a story on circumcision and it’s crazy!” I replied that I was too old for this game. Tracking down every circumcision tip had left me a hollow shell of a man. But the kid was insistent. “What about the babies???” Now you listen here, you sniveling punk, I said. I was never in it for the babies. Heck, I never could figure out just what I thought about circumcision. Mutilation, health, hygiene, aesthetics. The whole racket made my head spin. And that’s when the young punk said something that set me on my present course.

“There might be a lawsuit. Some Jews are crazy-mad about a new regulation passed by the City of New York and they’re threatening all kinds of holy hell over it. It’s not that New York is outlawing circumcision. It’s not about that. It’s that… well, it’s that some of these Jewish folks do something.” Out with it! “I can’t… I don’t wanna say… It’s that these Jewish fellas, some of them… Well…”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Circumcision, Anti-Semitism, And You (Part Deux)”

Scalia v. Posner meets Mean Girls

* Someone was finally able to liken the Scalia v. Posner debate to a suitable situation: bitchy mean girls fighting each other in a middle school cafeteria. Seriously, only the inclusion of “like” throughout the entirety of the dialogue could’ve made it better. [lawprofblawg]

* Who pays your law professors’ salary? The obvious answer is law students, since professorial wallets are padded by tuition dollars. But what happens when IBR comes into play and loan debts are forgiven? Then the answer shifts to the taxpayers. [PrawfsBlawg]

* When Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers died, everyone was expecting that a lawsuit would be filed, but no one really thought that it would be one based on contract law. [New York Law and Legal Analysis Blog]

* What kind of case “really turn[s] on” everyone’s favorite First Amendment lawyer? Free speech cases that are riddled with challenges, of course, and questions about what does and doesn’t constitute porn. [Vegas Inc]

* You must be wondering where Above the Law fell on this ranking of the 15 Most Influential Law Blogs. We won’t give it away, but let’s just say that we now share something in common with Cooley. [Business Insider]

* “[S]ome dude with the munchies is getting a little legal education.” That’s what we thought when one of our top searches last week was “pictures of tacos” — and not even “duck tacos,” but regular ones. [Search Party]

* New Zealand’s Parliament has passed the first stage of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers were apparently inspired by President Obama’s public support of the issue. [Huffington Post]

* The trial of a Florida teen accused of impersonating a physician assistant is underway. Among other things, he allegedly dressed in scrubs, used a stethoscope, and performed CPR on a patient. Apparently, just because you’ve seen it on Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do it in real life. [ABC News]

* “And to my son, I bequeath my playlist of one-hit wonders and my season pass to Breaking Bad.” Marketwatch tackles the tricky question of who owns your digital music (and e-book) collections after you die. [Marketwatch / WSJ]

* A New Mexico criminal defense attorney, David “Chip” Venie, was charged yesterday with allegedly shooting a man in the leg at his law office. Oh, and Venie’s wife filmed the whole thing on her cell phone, including the unarmed victim holding out his empty hands. [ABA Journal]

* Lawyers for the Amish men and women charged with forcibly cutting the beards and hair of their “perceived enemies” say they were motivated by compassion, not hatred. Sometimes you’ve just got to let someone know her haircut’s not doing her any favors. [NY Times]

* In First Amendment news, the D.C. Circuit court has invalidated an FDA regulation requiring cigarette companies to place warning labels on packages. Is this a victory for free speech, or for big tobacco? [The Atlantic]

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