This week, a Louisiana court became the first federal district court to uphold a state ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor. Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana granted the state’s motion for summary judgment in Robicheaux v. Caldwell. Finding that the claims of same-sex couples did not implicate a fundamental right triggering heightened scrutiny of the state law, he applied rational basis review to the challenge. Judge Feldman rejected arguments that sexual orientation warrants intermediate or heightened scrutiny based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor, as well as Equal Protection arguments against the Louisiana ban based on sex discrimination.
“Many states have democratically chosen to recognize same-sex marriage,” he writes. “But until recent years, it had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition. Public attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental. There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.”
American attitudes about LGBT people have changed. The fight for same-sex marriage has come far, fast. African Americans, women, disabled people, and members of other disenfranchised groups should envy the speed with which the LGBT community has achieved so much success. Not only have laws changed, but popular moral sensibilities have changed as well. In 2008, opposing marriage equality would put you in the company of most California voters. In 2014, expressing moral opposition to homosexuality can get you in big trouble. You can even face retroactive stigma — Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was ousted in 2014 because of his support of California’s Prop 8 in 2008, can attest to that.
As we mentioned in Morning Docket and on Twitter, yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments weren’t fun for the defenders of Wisconsin and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans. The three judges, especially Judge Richard Posner, were tough — very tough.
Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed, a leading chronicler of marriage-equality litigation, described the proceedings as “the most lopsided arguments over marriage bans at a federal appeals court this year.” Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress called it “a bloodbath.”
That’s no exaggeration. Let’s check out the specifics….
* The Supreme Court chimed in on the death penalty today, ruling 5-4 that Florida can’t use an IQ score as a hardline rule to apply the death penalty. Justice Alito dissented, complaining that the Court turned over the issue to psychiatric doctors. Because if you’re going to make a decision on mental incapacity, why involve people who know the science? [SCOTUSBlog]
* Well, it turns out one of the reasons why Charleston Law is so eager to sell to InfiLaw is that its founders withdrew $25 million in profits over the last three and a half years, leaving the school a financial wreck. [Post and Courier]
* What?!? A judge was allegedly kidnapped by a convicted felon that she may or may not have had a relationship with while she worked as a public defender. And the alleged kidnapper escaped the police when he sneaked out of the hospital because apparently Maryland hired the Keystone Kops. [Washington Post]
* In a sad testament to what happens when zealous representation meets law firm hierarchy, a new study reveals that working hard doesn’t get you anywhere. Just deliver the bare minimum you promised and call it a day. [Law and More]
* Video game manufacturer files lawsuit against… somebody. They’re not sure. But whoever they are, they’re ruining Starcraft. [Hardcore Gamer]
* Nevada’s bar president decided to use his monthly newsletter column to opine on gay marriage. That was probably a mistake for him. [The Irreverent Lawyer]
* A new environmental law firm opens in the rustbelt and it’s ready to take on some industry bigwigs. [What About Paris]
* New York upholds the right to be annoying on the Internet. [IT-Lex]
* Lawyer-turned-rapper Mr. Kelly (@Mrkelly_music) has a new video after the jump about lunchtime and the malaise of living a corporate lifestyle. His album is available too. [YouTube]
* “Mr. Owl, how many permits do you need to complete a simple LNG export transaction?” “Well, let’s see… A-one. A-two-hoo. A-three. Three.” [Breaking Energy]
* Defamation laws in Europe are way out of whack. For example when gorgeous model Anara Atanes took to Twitter to rip the manager of France’s World Cup team for leaving her boyfriend at home, he sued her. And he might win. [IT-Lex]
* Tips for getting over feeling like an imposter. Surprised drinking isn’t on there. [Corporette]
* “The Parties Do Not Need a Judge; They Need a Rather Stern Kindergarten Teacher” [Lowering the Bar]
* An interesting question: with judges of all political philosophies striking down gay marriage bans across the country, won’t there be some judge who bucks the trend? [Constitutional Accountability Center]
* A.J. Delgado, like many conservative activists, became a lawyer before realizing that making warrantless and patently offensive statements on TV is a viable career. And you don’t need to bill hourly. Her new article on how rape is a figment of feminists’ imagination is appalling. This article kicks the hell out of it. [Slate]
* The parade of businesses suing over online reviews continues. [Oregonian]
‘Hey Girl, I can’t go out tonight, but maybe we can Skype.’ Chris Sevier / Model Mayhem
Our old friend Chris Sevier is back and wackier than ever. Sevier, you may recall, is the lawyer (or at least Vandy law grad) who filed suit against Apple for building a computer that let him get addicted to porn so very easily. The complaint was 50 pages long and riddled with tirades and typos. It was all good fun. In the end, the remedy Sevier sought was basically a nanny state — a hot nanny state, with a schoolgirl uniform and daddy issues.
Anyway, with marriage equality cases bubbling up across the country, it was only a matter of time before Sevier said, “Hey, I’m litigious and enjoy drafting frivolous filings about sex stuff!” And with that, he filed to intervene in Florida’s ongoing marriage equality case on the compelling argument that his rights needed to be heard.
Specifically, his right to marry the love of his life: his computer.
I’m assuming if the Florida judge allowed that, Sevier’s wedding would have to feature a toast by Apple telling everyone how the couple met.
Well, we have Sevier’s latest tour de force. Let’s take a look….
* A key member of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team is leaving the Army because they were going to force him to leave the defense to attend a graduate course in Virginia. The kneejerk, liberal reaction is that this is a conspiracy to derail his defense. I highly doubt it. From my experience, the Army’s counterproductive decisions are staunchly arbitrary. [Huffington Post]
* Derek Khanna takes on the Aereo case before the Supreme Court ruins it for all of us. [Politix]
* Britain’s just like a cute little America. They have conservative politicians trying to win votes through nonsensical religious exclusion too. [What About Clients]
* Last time we checked in on Judge Carlos Cortez, he was defending himself against charges that he strangled and threatened to kill a girlfriend. Apparently things have gotten much, much darker down there in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]
* Great music can inform great persuasive speaking. That’s why Larry Tribe always cranks up YYZ on a loop when prepping for an appearance. [Katz Justice]
* If you’re a law student planning for your summer job, this is an absolutely can’t-miss guide. “Be Fashionably Late To Everything To Demonstrate Your Value.” If only this had been around when I was a tyke. [BigLaw Rebel]
* If you’re a 1L thinking about what to do this summer, consider applying for a 1L Diversity Fellowship at MoFo. Maybe don’t follow the last item’s advice if you go for this. [MoFo (disclosure: ATL advertiser)]
* The attorney for convicted Steubenville rapist Ma’lik Richmond probably should have just kept his mouth shut. [Jezebel]
* Who needs domestic surveillance when the next generation helpfully posts all their crimes online. [IT-Lex]
* With courts in Utah striking blows for gay marriage and tolerance of religious polygamy, Professor Edward Zelinsky asks if it may not be time to junk the whole civil marriage thing altogether. [Oxford University Press Blog]
* Congrats to Forbes’s 30 under 30 for law and policy. As Orin Kerr noted on Lat’s Facebook page, “I am looking forward to the Forbes ‘Top 10 Lawyers Under 10.’” [Forbes]
* This isn’t a law school, but this is probably what those deans did over the break. Video after the jump…. [TaxProf Blog]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!