Free Speech

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Conservatives Should Be Disappointed In A 9-0 Ruling In Favor of Abortion Opponents”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Scathing Letter Suggests Smart Lawyer A Dumb [Expletive]“


* Federal judges frequently fly across the globe on other people’s dime for conferences and symposia, but 2012’s most frequent flyer is a judge who was recently embroiled in an ethics scandal: Randall Rader of the Federal Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Even though she claims nothing is “fundamentally broken,” Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White proposed “sweeping” new stock market regulations in an attempt to get with the times. [DealBook / New York Times]

* U. of Maine wants to combine its business and law schools, but professors are concerned about pressing questions like, “What will the diploma say?” rather than, “Do I get to keep my job?” [Portland Press Herald]

* Law schools are seen as cash cows for their affiliated undergraduate universities, but this law school is hurting so bad for cash due to low enrollment the university is infusing it with millions. [Minnesota Daily]

* A Pennsylvania man is suing his local police department for First Amendment violations after he was arrested for cursing in front of officers. N.W.A has a song this guy would like. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Reason enough why no country should ever engage in the practice of Affirmative Action again. This could be the result. Where would she be if she didn’t hit the quota lottery? Here’s a hint: “Would you like to supersize that sir?”

– Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis, in a message expressing his love for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Facebook. Lewis also posted messages suggesting that “crack hoes” get their tubes tied for Mother’s Day, and in support of Donald Sterling and the right to 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”

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