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….
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….
The fact that they can’t get married in Texas is a legislative issue. It’s not really our issue.
–Paul Key, a Texas lawyer who successfully convinced a judge to enforce a “morality clause” in his client’s divorce decree barring his kids from visiting their mother because she’s unmarried and lives with her lesbian partner. If the couple could marry, the clause would not apply, but… Texas.
* As President Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage continues to “evolve,” we’re left wondering what exactly Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will say come Supreme Court oral arguments showtime in late March. [New York Times]
* “This is a chilling document.” The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived: the DOJ memo about the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial policy, the legal justification of drone strikes against American citizens, was leaked. [NBC News]
* In the litigation blame game, the Department of Justice has a lawsuit cooking against Standard & Poor’s, the supposed “key enablers of the financial meltdown,” over the agency’s mortgage bond ratings. [Reuters]
* Many pieces from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s massive art collection were auctioned off on Friday for $528,120. The failed firm’s creditors must be chomping at the bit as they wait to receive the proceeds. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Apologies to those with disabilities in California, but this ruling has given the Law School Admissions Council free reign to continue to flag your applications if you got extra time on the LSAT. [National Law Journal]
* GW Law School is adding a new question to its application to gauge the LGBT status its applicants. Not sure how this will affect cratering applications, but drink more of the Kool Aid if it makes you feel better. [GW Hatchet]
* Here’s some sage advice from our managing editor: “If you’re not okay with working for free, don’t take the internship.” Or, in the alternative, you can sue, and win a fat settlement check. [International Business Times]
It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).
By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?
The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.
So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….
As we near the end of 2012, we can definitely declare this year to be a momentous one for LGBT rights and equality. Two federal appeals courts struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (and the Supreme Court will soon consider whether to grant review in the DOMA litigation, which it almost certainly will). On Election Day, voters across the country came out in favor of marriage equality. The good people of Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her our nation’s first openly gay senator.
Despite these advances, being an LGBT attorney presents unique challenges. When it comes to welcoming gay and lesbian lawyers, not all firms are created equal.
The good news, though, is that Biglaw made a big showing in the Human Rights Campaign’s latest Corporate Equality Index, which scores large U.S. employers in terms of how LGBT-friendly they are in their policies and practices. Which firms are letting their rainbow flags fly?
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Al Gore famously alluded to “powerful forces and powerful interests” that were out to get ordinary Americans. He received derision from some quarters for his vague invocation of mysterious forces that were conspiring to keep the people down — but maybe he had a point? As Henry Kissinger famously observed, “Even a paranoid has some real enemies.”
This brings us to the first of our two Judges of the Day, both out of the Chicago area. The first claims that she is “being persecuted extensively by many people in many ways.”
Let’s learn about the mysterious forces who are supposedly causing trouble for this jurist. Does she have actual enemies, or is she simply cuckoo in Cook County?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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