McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

Jodi Arias

* Retired Justice John Paul Stevens isn’t exactly too thrilled about the Supreme Court’s opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC: “The voter is less important than the man who provides money to the candidate. It’s really wrong.” [New York Times]

* Neil Eggleston, a Kirkland & Ellis partner who served as a lawyer in the Clinton administration, has been named as replacement for Kathryn Ruemmler as White House Counsel. Please, Mr. Eggleston, we need to know about your shoes. [Associated Press]

* The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says the D&L trial could last for four months or more. Dewey know who one witness could be? Yup, the partner who allegedly shagged a spy. [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to the turn of the tide in DOMA-related litigation, a gay widower from Australia is petitioning USCIS to approve his marriage-based green card application, 39 years after it was first denied. [Advocate]

* Here are three reasons your law school application was rejected: 1) you’re not a special snowflake; 2) your LSAT/GPA won’t game the rankings; and 3) LOL your essay. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* No, Jodi Arias didn’t get Hep C in jail and file a lawsuit to get a restraining order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Nancy Grace. We have a feeling we know who did. We’ve missed you, Jonathan Lee Riches. [UPI]

Nigella Lawson

* “Those who support limits see the court right now as the T. rex from ‘Jurassic Park.’” Folks are pretty worried even more campaign finance laws will fall thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. [New York Times]

* Skadden Arps and Simpson Thacher are at the top of their game when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Both firms did very well in new deal rankings released by Bloomberg, Mergermarket, and Thomson Reuters. Nice. [Am Law Daily]

* Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown has reportedly ditched Nixon Peabody to try his hand at a U.S. Senate run in New Hampshire. We hope he doesn’t lose his shirt again. Oh wait… [Boston Globe]

* As it turns out, the book in the Harvard Law library once believed to be bound in human skin is actually bound in sheepskin. Congrats, this is slightly less creepy. [Et Seq. / Harvard Law School Library Blog]

* Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was turned away from a flight to the U.S. after her admission to coke usage in a trial. She should probably stop sticking her nose in other people’s business. [The Guardian]

After yesterday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Supreme Court found that aggregate contribution limits violate the First Amendment, campaign finance is back in the spotlight. In October, when the Court heard oral arguments for McCutcheon, I wrote about why I thought Shaun McCutcheon should prevail and why “rumors of democracy’s death are greatly exaggerated.” Others apparently still believe the rumors.

Something else this week delivered grist for the mill, as the country considers how political causes ought to be funded. Mozilla, the nonprofit foundation responsible for the Firefox browser and other open-source ventures, promoted Brendan Eich to CEO last week. California law required the public report of Eich’s 2008 contribution to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the ballot measure amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Prop 8, of course, eventually gave rise to the Supreme Court’s decision last term in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Eich’s financial support of Prop 8 has now given rise to a slew of woes for Eich and Mozilla.

Half of Mozilla’s board members quit, protesting a CEO with a history of activism against same-sex marriage. Some Firefox app developers decided to boycott Firefox projects until Eich is removed from his position. Twitter has been, well, atwitter with criticism.

Then, earlier this week, the dating site OkCupid rerouted all of its users accessing its site from a Firefox browser to a message that began, “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The message goes on to read, “Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

OkCupid’s arrow struck deep. What Eich now faces raises questions about political expression and association, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions, and the consequences of both….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cupid’s Arrow Strikes Eich: OkCupid, Mozilla’s CEO, And Campaign Finance Laws”

* Professor Rick Hasen drops knowledge bombs all over the “subtly awful” decision in McCutcheon. [Slate]

* Another firm joins the “CV Blind” approach of assessing future lawyers without looking at their grades. So go ahead and blow off that third-year course if this trend continues. [Legal Cheek]

* In case law schools needed another study to make them feel better about driving up costs, here’s a new study that says schools that hire hotshot professors improve faculty productivity. [TaxProf Blog]

* Med students are mistreated. Boo hoo. At least you bastards get jobs when you graduate. And they were mistreated by the hospitals they worked with? Try a Biglaw firm right before a deadline and then stow your whining. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Education Department moves to prohibit the practice of colleges barring lawyers from institutional sexual assault hearings. In other news, colleges have been getting away with keeping lawyers out of hearings about potentially criminal acts. [Inside Higher Ed]

* The BARBRI public interest fellow contest is now underway! Watch the videos and cast your vote by April 7. [BARBRI]

* Strip club company thought it could build a theme restaurant based on the movie Talladega Nights. More after the jump… [Bloomberg]

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Two days ago, a protestor stood up during oral arguments at the Supreme Court to tell the justices that they created a legally sanctioned plutocracy with their decision in Citizens United. The whole thing was caught on camera because one was smuggled into the courtroom, which was almost more interesting than the protest itself.

It was pretty exciting. Justice Ginsburg almost woke up for it.

Now the Supreme Court protestor has spoken, and here’s what he had to say….

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James Holmes

* For the first time ever, someone managed to record secret video footage at SCOTUS during oral arguments — and, of course, it’s secret video footage of the McCutcheon protestor’s outburst. You can check it out after the jump. [Reuters]

* After a brief hospitalization yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder was discharged from the hospital with a clean bill of health. It looks like he won’t have to go to one of those Obamacare death panels after all! [Washington Post]

* “The trajectory of an associate in a law firm has changed irreversibly.” Ain’t that the truth. But seriously, what happened to all of the Biglaw lawyers who were Lathamed way back in 2009? Here are some of their stories. [Am Law Daily]

* More law schools are trying to convince students to attend by offering scholarships. Tulsa will toss you cash if you’re from the sticks, and TJSL will guarantee you money if you’re smart. [National Law Journal]

* A trial date has been set for accused Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes. Get ready to see this crazy face on HLN 24 hours a day while Nancy Grace offers her ever insightful commentary. [CNN]

(Keep reading to see the now legendary Supreme Court oral argument protest footage.)

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* The Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA will proceed to trial in June barring settlement. Football writer/genius Spencer Hall put it best when he described the hearing as “a judge looks at amateurism and says ‘this is bulls**t’ in legalese.” [Sports Illustrated]

* McCutcheon will usher in even more campaign finance excess, but could alleviate gridlock. Plutocracies are efficient! [Election Law Blog]

* Hold the phone! Coerced confessions aren’t admissible? Next thing you’ll tell us is waterboarding is illegal. Thanks Obama. [New York Law Journal]

* Juror who couldn’t stop using Facebook didn’t cause a mistrial because he didn’t post any details about the case. In other news, he really needs a goat in FarmVille you guys, so if anyone can hook him up, that’d be great. (Alternative heading for this one: “11 Angry Men, 1 ‘Likes This’”) [IT-Lex]

* Disbarred lawyer mistakenly allowed to serve as a judge. But only for about 16 years, so it’s all cool. [Washington City Paper]

* “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the [Baby Boomer] lawyers.” [Law and More]

* A California lawsuit argues that pro-teacher policies in the state are hurting education. The defendants point to the fact that California’s educational administration and funding in the state is best described as a “sh*tshow.” Experts are fighting it out with some novel metrics. [The Expert Institute]

* * Elie talks about the new ad for cameras in the Supreme Court and the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases on Legalese It! with Mike Sacks. Video embedded below… [Huffington Post Live]

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This is the latest in a new series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

Last month, ATL hosted a well-attended event previewing the current Supreme Court Term. Our special guest was preeminent Supreme Court advocate and analyst Tom Goldstein. Our own David Lat conducted a lively interview with Goldstein, covering the major cases on this Term’s docket as well as Goldstein’s insights into Supreme Court advocacy generally. It was an educational evening for all, and, in the words of one attendee, “funny and brilliant is always a fantastic and rare mix in a speaker.”

Today’s infographic distills some of the evening’s observations and insights into a SCOTUS “cheat sheet.” Thanks to AccessData for sponsoring this free event, and look for upcoming events in your area….

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* Who says bipartisanship is dead? Senators McCain and Gillibrand hammer Obama’s nominee for Navy Undersecretary. Gillibrand went after her specifically over prosecuting sexual assaults. [Breaking Defense]

* Lawyers per capita by state. For everyone who says lawyers make the world worse, note that Arkansas has the fewest lawyers per capita and do with that information what you will. [Law School Tuition Bubble]

* A bunch of rabbis were arrested for plotting to kidnap and torture a guy into granting a Jewish divorce. This is a thing? [Wall Street Journal]

* Professor Larry Lessig thinks the administration should have made originalist arguments in the McCutcheon case to salvage campaign finance limits. First, I don’t see why this would have worked. Second, someone in Washington has to be an adult and resist the urge to make stupid arguments just because someone might listen. [The Atlantic]

* An agent is facing 14 felony counts for giving improper benefits to college athletes. For all the alleged cheating, you’d think UNC would be better at football. [Forbes]

* A Texas judge ordered a teen to move back in with a sex offender. This was a poor decision. [USA Today]

* Upon hearing former NYC Mayor David Dinkins saying, “You don’t need to be too smart to be a lawyer, so I went to law school,” the dean of New York Law School said, “So you went to Brooklyn Law School?” Which of course Dinkins did. What is wrong with NYU’s Tribeca campus? [NYLS (exchange begins at 23:00)]

* Is this related to the law? Not really. Is it the cast of Archer doing the video of Danger Zone? Yes…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 10.10.13″

This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. In McCutcheon, the Court will rule on whether certain campaign finance restrictions violate the First Amendment. ATL’s Joe Patrice offered his thoughts on the oral arguments yesterday. Today, I offer an alternative perspective.

Currently, byzantine election laws restrict the total political contributions that a person can make in a two-year period, as well as the number of candidates a person can contribute the maximum amount to. The plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, is a suburban Alabama businessman, the owner and founder of an electrical engineering firm. McCutcheon wanted to contribute $1,776 (a very patriotic sum, indeed) to 27 candidates across the country. Each of those individual contributions in isolation was legal, falling below the $2,600 maximum amount allowed for individual contributions. Yet, had McCutcheon done so, his total contributions would have run afoul of the maximum total allowed, currently $48,600.

Supporting political causes and candidates of your choice is an exercise of your First Amendment rights. Like all constitutional rights, though, it is subject to an overriding compelling governmental interest. In the case of campaign finance restrictions, your speech rights are trumped by the government’s interest in preventing political corruption or the appearance of political corruption.

Here, McCutcheon was expressing his political values, innocently — even laudably — participating in the democratic electoral process as he contributed up to 2600 bucks to individual candidates . . . until he supported one candidate too many. Suddenly, the First Amendment no longer safeguards his political expression. Suddenly, the threat of corruption or the appearance of corruption is so great that democracy just cannot stand if Shaun McCutcheon is allowed to give a penny more to support a candidate who shares his values….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Rumors Of Democracy’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated: Why McCutcheon Can Be A Good Thing”

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