Gay Marriage

Driving to court this morning for a pro bono appearance, my Blackberry buzzed with the headline that DOMA had been struck down. Concurrently, the song “Fight the Good Fight” was playing on the radio. Indeed.

In France, there were violent protests in the streets when the issue was up for a vote. Here, some folks give a shrug and a “meh” to today’s news. Later, when the Court effectively struck down Prop 8, people in California began pilgrimages to their local courthouses or civic centers to look into getting married. It is indeed a great day to be an American….

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

The Supreme Court was called to order at 10:00 a.m. sharp. The Chief Justice announced, “Justice Kennedy has our first opinion of the day in case number 12-307, United States v. Windsor. Everyone, in the bar members section at least, knew that this was the Defense of Marriage Act case.

That Justice Kennedy was announcing the opinion was significant; he wrote Lawrence v. Texas. Still, no one knew if the Court would reach the merits, since the Solicitor General had announced that the Executive Branch would not defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

Justice Kennedy is an orderly man. He set out the procedural background – Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were married legally in Canada, then came home to New York. Their same-sex marriage is lawful where it was performed and where they lived. Spyer died and left her estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim an estate tax exemption for the death of a spouse. DOMA prevented the IRS from recognizing Spyer as Windsor’s spouse. Windsor paid the tax, then challenged DOMA. She won in the district court and the Second Circuit. Justice Kennedy explained how a bipartisan committee found counsel to defend DOMA, and how DOMA was defended ably in the Supreme Court.

(As an aside, Paul Clement took heat for defending DOMA for Congress. When you think about it, if he hadn’t defended it well, the Supreme Court may not have thought it could reach the issue. Paul Clement may be the unsung hero of the DOMA decision.)

So, Kennedy concluded, the Court could reach the merits of whether DOMA is constitutional.

Though a hopeful sign for those who would cheer the demise of DOMA, the decision wasn’t entirely clear….

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The headline in The Onion, which we noted earlier today, pretty much says it all: “Impatient Nation Demands Supreme Court Just Get To The Gay Stuff.” Today, the last day of the Term, SCOTUS granted our wish, issuing its long-awaited rulings on gay marriage in California and on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Last night, I attended the New York City Bar Association’s annual reception and cocktail party celebrating LGBT Pride Month. M. Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal and Lisa Linsky were honored for their work advancing LGBT rights. In her eloquent remarks, Linsky noted that despite all the progress of our community, and regardless of what the Supreme Court rules today, many battles remain to be fought.

How many more battles, and of what intensity? Let’s find out what the Court just decided, on the tenth anniversary of the landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas….

Please note the multiple UPDATES added below.

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Stand with Wendy.

* “Screw all these other cases, man, we’re ready for the real stuff — you know… the gay stuff.” Damn, a satirical article that perfectly captures our thoughts. Don’t worry, it’s coming today. [The Onion]

* On a more serious note, this is obviously a really big day for gay marriage at the Supreme Court. Will the justices settle the score, or leave this movement’s supporters high and dry? [Wall Street Journal]

* Big Tech has always been a proponent of gay rights, and some of the most respected brands in America are hoping same-sex marriage doesn’t get the blue screen of death from SCOTUS. [Politico]

* Everyone else loses, but Scalia always wins. He couldn’t have asked for more after Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down. So long, “racial entitlements.” [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* “No, we’re not going to do layoffs. We’d never do layoffs. Everything is just fine. Seriously, we won’t do stealth layoffs either. Promise! Believe us, pretty please,” said the managing partner of every peer Biglaw firm after the Weil winnowing. [Am Law Daily]

* Law schools are freaking out about a new American Bar Association proposal to tighten their bar passage requirements, and they’re blaming all of their alarm on diversity issues. [National Law Journal]

* This state senator wins the award for most unique filibuster attempt ever. To block new abortion regulations in Texas, Sen. Wendy Davis spoke endlessly for 11 hours straight. You go girl! [CNN]

* Pop star Chris Brown was charged in a hit-and-run, and surprisingly, Rihanna had nothing to do with it. The new charges may affect his probation, and he might even go to jail. [Arts Beat / New York Times]

* Breaking news: Aaron Hernandez was just taken into custody at his home. Discuss. [USA Today]

* As we wait for the biggest cases of this term, the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds is: “What would Justice Kennedy do?” We might find out the answer today if we’re lucky. [New Yorker]

* At least we know what Justice Kennedy wouldn’t do. He’d never disrespect his elders like Justice Alito did yesterday after rolling his eyes at Justice Ginsburg while on the bench. [Washington Post]

* Meanwhile, although the Supreme Court punted an important affirmative action ruling yesterday, Jen Gratz’s life has been defined by a more meaningful one made about a decade ago. [Washington Post]

* It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: Covington, the firm where ex-DOJ lawyers go to make money, is representing some very big tech companies in their dealings with the NSA. [Am Law Daily]

* Fox Rothschild picked up a small Denver firm to reach a “critical mass” of attorneys in its new office and offer full service. FYI, “full service” in Colorado means weed law now, you know. [Legal Intelligencer]

* “[G]iven the significant decline in law school applications,” Cincinnati Law is pushing for a 30 percent tuition and fees reduction for out-of-state students. That’s a step in the right direction. [WCPO ABC 9]

* This guy had the chance to go to law school, and I bet he’s really kicking himself now after choosing to be a member of the Boston Red Sox bullpen instead. Poor kid, he could’ve had it all. [MassLive.com]

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

— Charles Dickens

In addition to opening A Tale of Two Cities (affiliate link), this extended quotation kicked off Professor Pam Karlan’s comments when asked to provide some measure of sense to the Supreme Court’s rights jurisprudence this Term. And by that I mean she read the entire quote to an audience of people whose body language screamed out, “yeah, we got it” after the word “foolishness.”

The passage (at least the gist of the passage), however, is apropos. This Term saw a voter registration law struck down in Arizona, even though Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is likely to follow it out the door. As Elie is quick to point out, the black community is likely to get hammered by the Court, yet Professor Karlan thinks that the gay community is going to win, either this year or next.

Karlan, and her fellow panelists at Netroots Nation, outlined a theory that ties these competing decisions together — at least until Monday, when the Court might shoot the whole logic down…

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* Today is most likely going to be a banner decision day for the Supreme Court, so in wild anticipation, SCOTUS expert Nina Totenberg was on call to answer some need-to-know questions for the people about the innermost workings of the Court. [NPR]

* One of the opinions we hope will drop at the Supreme Court today is that of the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case. If you want some hints on how the three justices who attended Princeton (not counting Kagan) might rule, check this out. [Daily Princetonian]

* Justice Samuel Alito is out in Texas where he threw the first pitch — “a bit wide of the plate” — in last night’s Rangers game. Will SCOTUS unleash anything important in his absence? [Washington Post]

* Meanwhile, while we eagerly await decisions in the gay marriage cases next week, consider for a moment the possibility that this is all just but a gigantic train wreck waiting to happen. [New Republic]

* Things are heating up in North Dakota where the battle over abortion regulations continues to rage on. What a shame, especially since we supposedly took care of this stuff in the early 70s. [ABC News]

* “If this is what these women signed up for, who is anybody to tell them differently?” Two pimps were acquitted of sex trafficking after prostitutes testified on their behalf. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Shakespeare’s “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” has multiple meanings. Or so say lawyers trying to lawyer their way out of being reviled. [The Read Zone]

* Embracing your identity is good advice for life and career. Just note that one of those identities is as a meaningless cog in the legal machine. [Ms. JD]

* Florida attorney Marshall Dore Louis sought some phone records from the government that he claims might provide an alibi for his client. The government claimed it did not have the records. Judge Robin Rosenbaum politely called bulls**t, having recently read about the government having EVERYONE’S PHONE RECORDS. [Southern District of Florida Blog]

* Lisa Linsky muses about the difficulty of waiting for universal recognition of same sex marriage. [Huffington Post]

* Attorney Carolyn Barnes, who landed in hot water after shooting at a census worker, has been convicted. I wonder where she’ll be residing in 7 years? [KXAN]

* Albany Law School is cutting enrollment and slashing faculty appears to be next. It sucks to lose your job, but at least you’ll be able to move out of Albany. Small miracles! [The Business Review]

* A review of Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family (affiliate link), a memoir from attorney David Berg covering his career and family from arguing before the Supreme Court, to serving as legal counsel to President Carter, to the killing of his brother at the hands of Woody Harrelson’s father. [New York Times]

* Three SUNY-Buffalo Law Students have a band and their cover of Icona Pop’s I Love It is trending. The Spin Wires turn the electro house number into an Offspring like rock song. Video after the jump… [BroBible]

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Edward Snowden

* Edward Snowden, the computer technician who leaked details on the programs the NSA didn’t want you to know about, sacrificed his life to save your privacy’s soul. Thanks a bunch, Technology Jesus! [CNN]

* While we wait for Fisher, DOMA, and Prop 8, if you’d like some background info on the people behind the most controversial and talked about SCOTUS cases of the term, give this one a read. [NBC News]

* If a justice claims he’s never met a homosexual and he’s got a gay law clerk, telling him to “look around [his] chambers” to find one is the NKI. My, how times have changed since the mid-80s. [New York Times]

* In 2012, Justice Sotomayor earned $1.9 million in royalties from her memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Yeah, her world is probably so beloved because she’s rolling around in money. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Howrey going to make use of this empty wall space? If you’re in the market for some art, this bankrupt firm’s decor will be up for auction in D.C. later this week. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]

* When you’re dealing with the most beautiful people in Biglaw, the price for pretty is high: Davis Polk was slapped with a million-dollar lawsuit over a recruiter’s fee. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Gerald Shargel, criminal defense attorney to the Mafia stars, is retiring his shingle to join Winston & Strawn. Biglaw better keep him entertained — he gets bored easily. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Cory Booker, one of everyone’s favorite Yale Law School grads, announced his candidacy for a New Jersey Senate seat over the weekend. Best of luck in the special election! [The Note / ABC News]

* The feds are seeking a four-year sentence for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in his campaign funds misuse case. No MJ memorabilia is worth prison time, no matter how big a fan you are. [The Hill]

* “[I]f you ever call me on my cellphone again, I’ll strangle you.” Yikes. Looks like this Kentucky judge won’t have the chance to wring his hands around lawyers’ necks any time soon. [Courier-Journal]

* America, you won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore! The political equivalent of comic relief announced that she will not seek another term. [CNN]

* Eric Holder testified that he would support reform of the ECPA. Apparently this newfound love of electronic privacy doesn’t extend to the Associated Press. [IT-Lex]

* Atlanta is soon to host its Battle of the (Lawyer) Bands. LawJam 2013 is set to rock Atlanta like a litigious hurricane on June 8. Last year featured bands like Mikey Mel & the JDs, so you have a sense of what you’re getting here. [Atlanta Bar Association]

* The CFTC had no idea how to do its job? Say it ain’t so! [Breaking Energy]

* So the sequester has an advantage! Cocaine is going to get cheaper! [Breaking Defense]

* Paul Caron has acquired a 100 percent ownership share of the Law Professor Blogs Network. Congrats! [TaxProf Blog]

* Woman acquitted of manslaughter responds in the best way ever. Video after the jump…

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