Lady Kaga

How many push-ups can RBG do? Probably more than you can.

How do federal judges maintain taut abs and tight buns underneath their robes? They all have their own special methods.

For some, it’s about diet. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, for example, has a four-word diet: “Few carbs, less sugar.”

Other judges believe in aerobic exercise. The ranks of runners include retired Justice David H. Souter, whose exercise regimen turned him into a judicial hottie (“Certiorari is GRANTED to that hot, lean body!”); Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.), whose failure to cross train got critcized by President Bush during a Supreme Court interview; Judge Denny Chin (2d Cir.), a veteran marathoner; and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), my former boss.

But maybe running is for wimps? For the women of One First Street, weight training is the order of the day. Let’s meet the personal trainer helping two of the justices get HUGE….

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In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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There are four of us [on the Court] from New York City. We have every borough covered except for Staten Island; we’re waiting for that Staten Island judge.

– Justice Elena Kagan, speaking last night with Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic for the seventh annual Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture, “Law and Justice,” at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

(Read more about Justice Kagan’s remarks, in which the former Harvard Law School dean called a certain T14 school a TTT, after the jump.)

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(And: Justice Kagan Disses A Top Law School)


Justice Elena Kagan

There is not a single member of this Court, at a single time, who has made a decision, who has cast a vote, based on do I like this president, do I not like this president … will this help the Democrats, will this help the Republicans? It is just not the way any member of the Court thinks.

– Justice Elena Kagan, discussing what she believes to be a misplaced public perception that members of the Supreme Court allow their political leanings to guide their judicial decision-making, in remarks delivered at the University of Michigan Law School.

The Supreme Court session starts at 10:00 a.m. At 9:55, a tall man with broad shoulders and little neck — a man with an ear piece running out of the back of his suit coat — tells everyone in the Courtroom to be quiet and stay in their seats until the session is over. The room quiets.

This is the calm before the storm. No one expects any of this term’s true blockbusters to be announced today – there will be no health care decision, no ruling on the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act, no ruling on whether Arizona gets to codify its very strong dislike of immigrants.

During this time, those who watch the Court are scanning for signs of either discord or harmony. Even a concert at the Court invites scrutiny of which Justice is chummier with which other Justice. The Supreme Court watching world is like a group of eight-year-olds in the week before Christmas, sniffing the presents under the tree and trying to hunt through their parents’ closets. It’s dignified.

The Courtroom is silent after the broad man quiets us. And then, growing louder, we hear voices. Male voices. And laughter, booming male laughter, as the Chief and Justice Scalia emerge through the parted curtains, and Court is called to order.

What does the laughter mean? Is Obamacare all but destroyed? Is a secret deal finally sealed? Or did the Chief Justice share a bit of ribald humor from his native Indiana?

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C'mon, Your Honors, look lively!

Tonight, as everyone knows, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. The speech starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). For real-time reactions over Twitter, follow @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky. For a post-speech wrap-up, check Above the Law, either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

For Supreme Court nerds, here’s the perennial question: How many members of SCOTUS will show up at the SOTU? Feel free to make your guesses, in the comments.

Here’s some historical perspective to inform your speculation….

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No glove, no love.

* The Supreme Court will hear Obama’s challenge to Arizona’s immigration law. Upside: we can probably expect a decision by June. Downside: Lady Kaga has to sit her ass out. [New York Times]

* Depressing fact of the day: unless you’re earning six times your law school’s annual tuition, you’ll probably never be able to afford a home. Thanks a lot, student loan debt. [National Law Journal]

* Wilson Sonsini has announced its 2011 partnership class. Of ten new partners, only three are women. At least they’re beating Cravath’s partnership diversity scale. [DealBook]

* Los Angeles is suing to block an initiative that would force porn stars to wear condoms. Why? It wastes taxpayer money, and would be disastrous to spank banks nationwide. [Courthouse News]

* Stephanie Van Groll may be the “tall, young, hot nymph” whose sexting lawsuit against Kenneth Kratz survived a motion to dismiss, but he is still the prize. [Appleton Post-Crescent]

Justice Elena Kagan

The latest issue of New York magazine contains a very interesting profile of the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, penned by Dahlia Lithwick. Here’s the bottom-line summary of the piece (via Ezra Klein):

“While Kagan is assuredly a liberal, and likely also a fan of the health-reform law, a close read of her tenure at the Supreme Court suggests that she is in fact the opposite of a progressive zealot. By the end of Kagan’s first term, conservatives like former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement (who will likely argue against the health-care law this coming spring) and Chief Justice John Roberts were giving Kagan high marks as a new justice precisely because she wasn’t a frothing ideologue. The pre-confirmation caricatures of her as a self-serving careerist and party hack are not borne out by her conduct at oral argument, her writing, and her interactions with her colleagues. In fact, if her first term and a half is any indication, she may well madden as many staunch liberals as conservatives in the coming years.”

That’s just the overview. Let’s delve into the details a bit more….

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Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

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Kaga, L., dissenting

* Did Malcolm Gladwell’s endorsement lead to an increase in Colorado Law applicants? Malcolm Gladwell, a man whose book Blink was described by Richard Posner as “written like a book intended for people who do not read books.” [Law Week Colorado]

* A litany of legal challenges faces the Obama administration now that they’ve backtracked on Khalid Sheikh and the boys. [msnbc.com]

* The Supremes ruled against Arizona taxpayers who claimed a tax credit for religious school donations was unconstitutional. Justice Kagan popped her dissent cherry on this one. [NPR]

* Connecticut looks to “add teeth” to a law that attempts to determine whether racial profiling exists in the state. Sorry, I don’t find anything funny about racism. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the basketball scene in Soul Man. [Hartford Courant]

* Google has bid $900 million on a whole bunch of patents. Meanwhile, the patent to Google Wave is being peddled for two dollars and a box of envelopes. [Financial Times]

* “Police have nabbed the second prepubescent punk wanted for trying to rip off the religious headdress of a Muslim schoolgirl on Staten Island.” [New York Post]

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