Free Speech

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 . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Food Fight: Eating The Costs Of Not Eating GMO Food”

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]

After yesterday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Supreme Court found that aggregate contribution limits violate the First Amendment, campaign finance is back in the spotlight. In October, when the Court heard oral arguments for McCutcheon, I wrote about why I thought Shaun McCutcheon should prevail and why “rumors of democracy’s death are greatly exaggerated.” Others apparently still believe the rumors.

Something else this week delivered grist for the mill, as the country considers how political causes ought to be funded. Mozilla, the nonprofit foundation responsible for the Firefox browser and other open-source ventures, promoted Brendan Eich to CEO last week. California law required the public report of Eich’s 2008 contribution to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the ballot measure amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Prop 8, of course, eventually gave rise to the Supreme Court’s decision last term in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Eich’s financial support of Prop 8 has now given rise to a slew of woes for Eich and Mozilla.

Half of Mozilla’s board members quit, protesting a CEO with a history of activism against same-sex marriage. Some Firefox app developers decided to boycott Firefox projects until Eich is removed from his position. Twitter has been, well, atwitter with criticism.

Then, earlier this week, the dating site OkCupid rerouted all of its users accessing its site from a Firefox browser to a message that began, “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The message goes on to read, “Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

OkCupid’s arrow struck deep. What Eich now faces raises questions about political expression and association, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions, and the consequences of both….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cupid’s Arrow Strikes Eich: OkCupid, Mozilla’s CEO, And Campaign Finance Laws”

Let’s buy a senator!

[This] is a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opin­ion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.

– Justice Stephen Breyer, issuing a scathing dissent in the Supreme Court’s decision in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case. Today, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision to strike down aggregate limits on campaign contributions from individuals to federal political candidates.

(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

Ten years before Julia Roberts won an Oscar for her portrayal of super-paralegal Erin Brockovich, she gained fame for her role as Vivian, a prostitute not afraid to speak her mind, such as when she guesses (incorrectly) based on her wealthy john’s “sharp, useless look” that he is a lawyer.  Twenty-four years ago yesterday, “Pretty Woman” debuted in theaters and went on to gross an estimated $463 million. This week, On Remand looks back at one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time and the Roy Orbison song that inspired both the movie’s title and a group of controversial rappers from Florida who are no strangers to courtrooms….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “On Remand: Pretty Woman Walking Down First Street”

As you’ve likely heard, last Friday ATL hosted its inaugural Attorney@Blog conference at the Yale Club in New York. The conference comprised a series of lively, informative, and occasionally profane panel discussions on topics near to our heart: free speech, hate speech, the state of legal journalism, and technical trends. By all accounts, a good time was had by both the panelists and attendees, and we can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

As befitting a social media-themed conference, the day was heavily tweeted, with our hashtag (#AttyAtBlog) managing to trend for hours. Read on for a round-up of the day’s top tweets.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Top Tweets From The Attorney@Blog Conference”

On Friday, we held our inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. The conference featured a series of panel discussions covering an array of important issues facing the legal blogging community, including free speech, race and gender, and technology. The event was very well-attended, and at several points throughout the day boasted a standing-room-only crowd.

Now that it’s over, we’d like to thank everyone who attended, from our speakers to our guests. A special thanks to our sponsors — Avvo, IBM, Newstex, wireLawyer, IM Creator, Marino Legal, Hellerman Baretz, Good2bSocial, Law Firm Media Professionals, the LGBT Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the New York City Bar, and the Westchester County Bar Association — for making such a great day possible. The Attorney@Blog conference was the perfect blend of academia and audaciousness our audience expects from Above the Law, and we were so happy to be able to share it with you. We can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

If you weren’t able to make it out, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the pictures from a day that was full of fun…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Attorney@Blog Conference: A Photo Essay”

Please join us at the Yale Club of New York City tomorrow for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.

Still in search of those hard-to-find ethics credits? We’ve got a solution for you: CLE credit will be available at the conference, complimentary with your admission. We will be offering up to SIX ETHICS CREDITS, courtesy of Marino Legal, for our first three panels. Attendees will have to check in with the company before and after each panel to confirm their attendance. Has anything ever been easier? Probably not.

The official Attorney@Blog Conference after-party will be hosted by wireLawyer. Admission is free, but space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot. The password to RSVP is: wirelawyer.

Click here for more details and to buy tickets. The conference is tomorrow, so hurry up and get your tickets before it’s too late! Trust us when we say you don’t want to miss this one.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Please join us at the Yale Club of New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.

Still in search of those hard-to-find ethics credits? We’ve got a solution for you: CLE credit will be available at the conference, complimentary with your admission. We will be offering up to SIX ETHICS CREDITS, courtesy of Marino Legal, for our first three panels. Attendees will have to check in with the company before and after each panel to confirm their attendance. Has anything ever been easier?

wireLawyer will be hosting the official Attorney@Blog Conference after-party. Admission is free, but space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot. The password to RSVP is: wirelawyer.

Click here for more details and to buy tickets. Hurry up and get your tickets before it’s too late!

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Please join us at the Yale Club of New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.

Still in search of those hard-to-find ethics credits? We’ve got a solution for you: CLE credit will be available at the conference, complimentary with your admission. We will be offering up to SIX ETHICS CREDITS, courtesy of Marino Legal, for our first three panels. Attendees will have to check in with the company before and after each panel to confirm their attendance. Has anything ever been easier?

wireLawyer will be hosting the official Attorney@Blog Conference after-party. Admission is free, but space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot. The password to RSVP is: wirelawyer.

Click here for more details and to buy tickets. Hurry up and get your tickets before it’s too late!

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

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