First Amendment

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]

Build-a-gun!

This is absurd. Over the past month, the United States hasn’t been able to go a full week without a devastating public shooting — but we still have stuff like this rising from the collective woodwork.

Meet Cody Wilson, a University of Texas Law student and founder of Wiki Weapon, a new venture aiming to merge the growing popularity of 3D printers, the internet age, and deadly weaponry.

Step right up, get your cheap, do-it-yourself gun right here. And while you’re at it, why don’t you just shoot me in the face, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Gun Is Your Gun, This Gun Is My Gun: A 2L’s Quest To Make Printable Firearms”

Sydney Spies

Remember Sydney Spies, the teenage dream from Colorado who fought valiantly to get her provocative pictures featured in her high school yearbook, all in the name of free expression? Despite the threat of a lawsuit and national media coverage, all of Spies’s racy photos were rejected — but she was able to earn a spot in Americans’ hearts (and spankbanks) around the country.

The young Hollywood hopeful landed a small role in an upcoming SyFy movie, and her mother, Denise “Miki” Spies, was preparing to ship her daughter out to Los Angeles in the hopes of her making it big. Why not throw one last bash to celebrate Sydney’s single success in stardom? And that’s apparently where all the trouble began for this mother and daughter duo.

Little did Sydney and Miki know that their alleged exploits at the party would someday be able to serve as the basis for a Lifetime movie. The pair could face jail time for allegedly serving alcohol to minors — but at least they’re back in the headlines. (And this underage drinking drama could earn Sydney another line on her iMDB profile, so she’s probably patting herself on the back.)

Let’s discuss the charges that the Spies are currently facing, and all of the allegations that make them appear to be quite the hot messes….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sexy First Amendment Freedom Fighter Accused of Hosting an Underage Booze-a-Palooza”

Where's Waldo? In court, apparently.

* Jason Cai, the software engineer convicted in the spring of murdering a young attorney, was sentenced today to life in prison without parole and ordered to pay more than $700,000 to the slain woman’s family. [Mercury News]

* An appeals court revived a discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman against her employer. And nobody cares. Wait, hold on a sec. Her employer is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What, what, whaaaat? [WSJ Law Blog]

* James Holmes, the man accused of last week’s movie theater shooting spree, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts. They include 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. [Courthouse News Service]

* The Twinkie defense is so played out. Now, courtesy of an ex-Citigroup employee, introducing the brand spanking new “Where’s Waldo” defense. [Reuters]

* India’s largest and oldest television network has accused Nielsen of violating the FCPA by manipulating viewership data in favor of networks that offer bribes. Say it ain’t so! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chick-fil-A, free speech, zoning laws, and homophobia — all thrown together onto a failure pile in a sadness bowl. Noted First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, counsel to ATL, takes to CNN to educate the masses. [CNN]

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

Georgetown Law graduate Sandra Fluke, in a New York Times Magazine interview this weekend. Fluke was launched into the national spotlight after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for speaking out in favor of affordable contraception.

(An additional excerpt from the interview, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Do You Really Want To Slide Down That Slope?”

* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]

* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]

* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]

* You should’ve “known better”: in case we didn’t make it abundantly clear when we spoke about NALP’s data for the class of 2011, the job market for new law grads is being classified as “brutal.” [National Law Journal]

* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]

* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]

Luckily for all the non-Mormons in Idaho, the state doesn't find references to grand tetons offensive to anybody.

It’d be one thing if the state of Idaho banned all alcohol because the state sports a large Mormon population and Mormons don’t drink. That might raise a Con Law question or two, but before we could even litigate it out, the state’s many non-Mormons would rebel against the religious theocracy preventing them from drinking. (They wouldn’t call it a “theocracy” because some Grover Norquist-type would convince them that “redistributive taxes” had empowered a “Communist regime,” and the good people of Idaho would blame the black guy, but I digress.)

Banning all alcohol would be too obvious of an imposition of religious dogma upon a secular concern.

Instead, Idaho is trying to get away with a smaller encroachment of religion upon the public sphere. The state of Idaho has effectively banned the sale of one particular kind of vodka because the state believes the company’s marketing campaign is offensive to Mormons.

And no, the marketing campaign is not “drink some of this vodka and then go make fun of Mormons,” or anything the state could reasonably fear might affect the public safety of the citizens of Idaho….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Idaho Bans Specific Vodka For Being Offensive Towards Mormons”

We’ve got two unrelated First Amendment issues floating around today that I’m mashing into one post, because it is my right to do so.

We all know that money is speech. How we got to the point where money is worth just as much speech as talking is a manner of some contention (see Jeff Toobin’s New Yorker piece and Tom Goldstein’s response), but the question is what other things that don’t involve people saying anything can also be construed as “speech.”

Now Mitt Romney will tell you that money is speech and “corporations are people, my friend.” Fair enough. But I’m not sure he’d defend the free speech rights of people who don’t have any money so they’re asking for it on the streets of Chicago.

And I have no idea how he’d respond if you asked him if cars are people that can flash each other under the protection of the First Amendment….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Free Speech Potpourri: Begging Might Not Be Speech, But Flashing Your ‘Headlights’ Certainly Is!”

A large portion of the strenuous life of bloggers consists of cruising various news sites, looking for some tidbit ridiculous interesting enough to merit a couple hundred words. You do this long enough, and you wind up getting picky pretty quickly. So, last night, when I clicked over to Wired, it was surprising in and of itself that when I saw the following story I literally stared at the screen, slack jawed, for close to a minute.

That’s how ridiculous this proposed legislation coming out of New York is. The only thing I can say is that if this bill somehow managed to become law, the Above the Law commentariat would not be happy at all…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New York Lawmakers Want to Ban Anonymous Commenting. I Wish I Were Kidding.”

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