John Roberts

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Akin Gump’s Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit. Her nomination now moves on to the full Senate.

The committee voted 10-8 to approve Millett’s nomination. Take a guess what all the voters had in common? Yes, the 10 Democrats voted “Aye” and the 8 Republicans voted “Nay.” Yet even while voting her down, the Republicans went out of their way to note that Millett was qualified for the post, but opposed her on the bogus argument Senator Grassley has been pushing that the D.C. Circuit is “underworked.”

During the hearings, Senator Grassley cited two anonymous letters, presumably from D.C. Circuit judges, to support his stance. Sounding very “Secret Plan to End the Vietnam War,” the anonymous poll felt very unscientific and shady.

Now we’ve got a hold of the secret survey Grassley sent judges. It’s as entertaining as his Tweets

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The new mascot for the Roberts Court’s jurisprudence.

* Another interpretation of the Shelby County decision posits that the Roberts Court is a lot like the Walking Dead, just less entertaining. [Huffington Post]

* Dean David Schizer is leaving. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Missouri tried to “save Christmas” from heathens, but had its efforts stymied when the governor realized it could literally set the state on fire. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Cardinal Dolan, America’s most prominent Catholic bishop, apparently shifted Church assets to keep them from falling into the hands of abuse victims. Perhaps he could have exerted the same effort keeping abuse victims out of the hands of abusers? [New York Times]

* It looks like a Paul Weiss associate, Molissa Farber, is still alive in the $1,000 No-Limit event at the World Series of Poker. Maybe she’ll be able to pay off her loans sooner rather than later. [Poker News]

* Did you enjoy Milli Vanilli? Perhaps you’d like watching air guitar? The national semifinals are in New York tonight. [Bowery Ballroom]

* Who is the real John Roberts? Will he forever be known as health care reform’s savior, or the man who disregarded precedent to gut minority voting rights? Hell if we know, so we’ll let you be the judge. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* The man may be a mystery, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to Chief Justice Roberts: it’s fair to say that at this point, he’d sincerely appreciate it if his colleagues would kindly STFU during oral argument. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Elena Kagan, a justice who was never a judge, is now being praised for her ability to put the law into terms that non-lawyers can understand. That’s a score for law professors everywhere. [New York Times]

* In terms of the Voting Rights Act, while the chances of the current Congress enacting a universal voting law are approximately nil, there are other effective avenues that could be taken. [New York Times]

* On Friday, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay on gay marriages in California, and less than 24 hours later, Prop 8 supporters filed an emergency motion with SCOTUS to stop all of the weddings. Lovely. [NPR]

* Meanwhile, ex-judge Vaughn Walker thinks Justice Scalia’s having joined the high court’s majority on standing telegraphed the fact that he didn’t have votes to uphold Prop 8 as constitutional. [NPR]

* Rubber stamp this: Judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are so upset that they’re being made out as government patsies that they’re talking to the press about it. [Washington Post]

* Whether you think Chevron is “suing [Patton Boggs] lawyers for litigating” or for promoting fraud that “shocks the conscience,” here’s a summary of what’s going on in an epic case. [Washington Post]

* Got a high-profile criminal defense firm? Look out, because you may have captured Biglaw’s eye. Take, for example, Stillman & Friedman, which will be merging with Ballard Spahr. [New York Times]

* Apparently being in your mid-50s is a “good time to [retire]” for law deans who pull in six figures. Ken Randall, outgoing dean of Alabama Law, says he’s “really ready for the next challenge.” [AL.com]

‘So I says to Mabel, I says, ‘How do I avoid the Rule Against Perpetuities?”

* Half-Law office, Half-Barbershop. That makes sense, I’ve seen some haircuts that should be crimes. We hear they even have a $5 haircut special called “The Misdemeanor.” [New Britain Herald]

* The editors of Ramblings on Appeal give their takes on Shelby County. Rarely has truer legal analysis been offered than characterizing Roberts’s decision as, “Oh and I have five people on my side, you only have four, so take that.” [Ramblings on Appeal]

* UVA law professor Chris Sprigman has co-authored an op-ed calling out the NSA. Oh, that guy’s phone is getting tapped. [New York Times]

* The Expert Institute continues to draw from popular culture to coach expert testimony. This time it’s Game of Thrones. It’s a handy set of lessons, but “Never Trust a Frey” deserved mention. [The Expert Institute]

* The Justice Department is bringing on unpaid attorneys because slave labor is awesome and unpaid internships are never elitist and discriminatory. [Pro Publica]

* On that note, Bar President calls for an end to unpaid 3L internships. Video after the jump…

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* Do you think Chief Justice Roberts is the Supreme Court’s “peacemaker”? To be fair, at least he does a better job of tempering all of his judicial rage than his colleagues. [Politico]

* According to Prof. John Eastman of Chapman Law, the SCOTUS decision striking down DOMA means Prop 8 is good law in California. Try and wrap your mind around that one. [OC Weekly]

* The Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform plan with a 68-32 vote, and now it’s up to House representatives to take the bill and summarily wipe their asses with it. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The good folks at Hobby Lobby quilted for hours yesterday to celebrate the Tenth Circuit’s reversal of a lower court’s denial of an injunction blocking the ACA’s contraceptives mandate. [The Oklahoman]

* Texas A&M still hopes to acquire Texas Weslyan’s law school; they’re just waiting for the ABA to look over the paperwork. Welcome, Texas A&M Law, since the takeover will obviously be approved. [WTAW]

* Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been indicted on 30 counts of violence and weapons-related charges. Right now, he’s looking at a possibility of life in prison or the death penalty. [CNN]

Behold The Nine.

Elie here. In sports, we assess the legacy of athletes after every game. In politics, we assess the legacy of elected officials after every vote or scandal. So why can’t we do the same for Supreme Court justices?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been a pretty big week over at One First Street. The Court has decided a number of high-profile, controversial cases. Those decisions have come down with strong holdings, blistering dissents, and stinging concurrences. Each justice is aware that the words they’ve published this week could be around for a long time, long after they’re dead, and will be judged by history.

But who has time to wait for history? David Lat and I engage in some instant legacy analysis on what this week has meant for each of the nine justices on the Supreme Court. Let’s break it down in order of seniority, starting with the Chief….

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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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If I’m ever euthanized, it hope it’s as gentle as the way Chief Justice John Roberts put down the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance requirement.

Not the whole act, mind you. The prohibition on any “standard, practice, or procedure” that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” is still constitutionally permissible. And folks can sue to enforce that.

But the preclearance requbirement is now effectively gone. That’s the rule that the federal government has to approve changes to voting laws in certain jurisdictions that haven’t been so great about race – in that folks registering black people to vote had been murdered in there, or, they’d had really bad records of African-American voter turnout in the past.

Strictly speaking, the preclearance requirement is not gone — it just no longer applies to any jurisdiction in the country any longer. The Court invalidated the method by which it is determined which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance, rather than preclearance itself. So, now no jurisdiction is subject to preclearance — the preclearance formula is gone.

Many people who are concerned about whether black people are allowed to vote think that the preclearance requirement has been an important tool to make sure black people enjoy the right to vote.

Including, it seems, the Chief Justice himself….

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The liberator… of the South.

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, the South is free at last.

After, man, like decades of having to deal with suspicion and preclearance, man, just because of its 400 year history of slavery and segregation, Chief Justice Roberts held Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional. Section 4 is the section that outlines which states should be covered for “preclearance” by the federal government before they can change their voting laws. Overruling it overturns one of the biggest and most effective weapons against the Jim Crow South.

Section 5, which gives the government the authority to preclear certain states, still survives. The question is kicked back to Congress to update their “decades old” formula.

Let’s look at the opinions…

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