Mitt Romney

[O]ne is a practicing polygamist, and he’s not even the Mormon.

– Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, commenting on the differences between leading Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich during a speech at the Alfalfa Club.

Snooki and J-WOWW

* Florida: a place where people don’t care about your income tax returns. Mitt Romney dominated the state’s primary, grabbing all 50 of the delegates needed for the Republican nomination. [New York Times]

* Entry-level hiring might be down, but lateral hiring is being approached like an NFL draft. Biglaw firms want the best of the best, and if they have to poach partners to get what they want, they will. [Wall Street Journal]

* In the wake of scandal, Edwards Wildman has named a new managing partner. Robert Shuftan will take up the position tomorrow, and he’ll get first dibs on all of the partners’ wives. [Boston Business Journal]

* Paul Ceglia was ordered to pay Facebook’s legal fees, and now he’s crying over Gibson Dunn’s Biglaw price tag. Instead, he wants to pay podunk fees for his podunk town. [Bloomberg]

* Some cities in New Jersey don’t like pollution — they want to keep the trash down the shore. Hoboken’s mayor has denied MTV’s film permit request for Snooki and J-WOWW’s spinoff show. [New York Post]

I get that to lay people, the tax code seems incredibly complicated. It is complicated, and years of both parties legislating through the tax code has made it that way. I understand that the sepia-toned relief of an American being able to puzzle out his taxes on the hood of his pick-up truck before he goes fishing is a powerful image.

But honestly, the mainstream media has to stop acting like Mitt Romney is beset on all sides by byzantine forces that only our greatest theoretical physicists can understand. Taxes are governed by laws. As I’ve said before, we have professionals who deal with those laws; they are called tax lawyers. In fact, if you have modest investments and intelligence, you probably could do your taxes on the hood of your pick-up truck, provided you had a Macbook and downloaded TurboTax.

If, on the other hand, you want to make millions of dollars a year, enjoy the benefits of sophisticated investments, and keep money offshore to avoid paying American taxes on it, then you’re going to have to hire a freaking professional to help you. We’re going to cry over this? We’re going to be sad that we live in a world where people who make extraordinary amounts of money have to rely on trained professionals to help them make just a little bit more?

I guess the Times isn’t exactly crying over it (Fox News has been carrying most of the water on poor Mr. Romney and his complicated taxes), but they are smacking around one of the Biglaw professionals Romney hired. Let’s see which firm…

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Romney shows what he thinks the ideal effective tax rate should be for people who have good hair.

If you are a wealthy American who pays the top regular income tax rate of 35%, you have terrible, awful lawyers.

Mitt Romney does not have terrible lawyers.

The news of the day is that GOP frontrunner Romney released the previous two years of his tax returns. Romney’s 2010 adjusted gross income was $21,661,344. His estimated AGI for 2011 is $20,901,075. If all of that income was taxed at the highest tax rate, Romney would be paying around $7 million in federal taxes. But only true idiots and Republicans trying to scare people in election years actually believe that wealthy people pay anything approaching a 35% income tax in this country. Instead, Romney’s effective tax rate was about 14% in 2010 and is estimated to be around 15% in 2011. My effective tax rate was higher than Mitt Romney’s in 2010, and I don’t even get to like firing people.

But Romney is trying to spin his tax returns as an example of how “complicated” that tax code is. And the mainstream media is overwhelmed and helping to push that line. But these taxes are not complicated for a tax lawyer — and when you make $20 million a year, you can afford some good ones, so doing your taxes is about as complicated as writing a check for legal fees…

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If this guy wins the Republican nomination, we can agree that the Tea Party was totally overhyped, right?

* So, just so we’re all clear, Republicans running for President are no longer on board with the Voting Rights Act. Happy Martin Luther King Day. [Election Law Blog]

* It’s not like there are no more voting issues where we might want to have federal oversight of state laws that affect the electoral power of minorities in states that have been historically opposed to such things. For instance, where do your prisoners live for the purposes of redistricting? [New York Times]

* I’ll tell you what happens in a world where college kids can “major” in law and take the bar, yet law schools still exist: law schools will continue to operate as they have been, and “law majors” will be the new “must get” credentials for paralegals. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Every time I ask this question, I feel like a horrible person. But it’s a legitimate question: what are the legal ramifications when a race car driver dies while performing a sport that is only interesting because there’s a chance somebody will die? [Legal Blitz]

* Why won’t Mitt Romney show us his taxes? We just want to be envious, Mittens! Feed our envy. [Going Concern]

* I think I should be nominated for this public interest award. Nobody has done more to prevent lawyers from being taken advantage of than me. [American Constitution Society]

* Breaking down the Joe Paterno interview. [Atlantic]

* Now these are some guys that believe in the gold standard. [MyFoxDC]

* As Copyranter said when he emailed this link about the iPoo: “C&D coming in 3, 2, 1…” [Copyranter]

He grows strong off the tears of fired workers.

* There’s a new chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley: Eric Grossman, a former Davis Polk partner, replaces Frank Barron, a former Cravath partner (who joined Morgan Stanley not that long ago; if you know more about this odd situation, email us). [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Will anybody be surprised if it turns out that Ron Paul likes to fire people too? [Politico]

* Et tu, Bill Kristol? [Weekly Standard]

* How will Citizens United affect the political process? We’re starting to find out. [WSJ Law Blog]

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

* How often does a federal judge get a shout-out in the announcement of a pop music group’s tour? [The Music Network]

* Or how often does a federal judge go on tour with his own band? [Patently-O]

* Maybe the NLRB should stay the course on protecting employees’ rights to organize themselves using social media. [LexisNexis / Labor & Employment Law]

* Most people will just ignore the balanced budget amendment as proposed by Chuck Woolery (yes, that Chuck Woolery), but on the off chance that somebody actually says to you, “You know, Chuck Woolery has some really good ideas,” here’s somebody who took the time to smack the Chuckster down. [Recess Appointment]

David Brooks

The country doesn’t want an election that is Harvard Law versus Harvard Law.

David Brooks of the New York Times, in a recent column offering praise for what he describes as “working-class candidate[s]” like Rick Santorum and Sherrod Brown (and implicitly dissing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, both graduates of Harvard Law School).

Well, this is a fun day. Rick Santorum is taking his turn as the non-Romney Republican choice. Rick Santorum. Yeah, that Rick Santorum — the self-same Rick Santorum who thinks Griswold was wrongly decided and wants to ban birth control — is now the “real conservative” alternate to Mitt Romney.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present your 2012 Republican Party.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal took a closer look at Rick Santorum’s thoughts on the Constitution and the judiciary. For those who haven’t been following the stellar career of Santorum (last seen getting absolutely waxed out of his Pennsylvanian Senate seat), let’s give him a look-see…

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Last week, you might have noticed a pop-up asking you to participate in our straw poll of potential Republican nominees. You were only supposed to see it once — if you saw it more than once, it’s because you hate cookies.

The poll was put together by a new member of our Above the Law team. Please welcome Brian Dalton, the new Director of Research at Breaking Media. He comes to us from Vault.com, where he was Director of Research & Consulting. Dalton will be putting together information for us at a statistically significant level. He’ll be telling you guys how you think.

With over 1,000 responses, we’re able to call the GOP primary and crown the lawyers’ choice among the candidates. Breaking news: it’s not Mitt Romney!

Well, I mean, Romney’s gonna win. Everybody knows that. But the guy lawyers want to win is very interesting. I’ll let Brian explain….

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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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