Neal Katyal

Justice Scalia as Venetian doge.

If you watched the inauguration ceremonies, whether in person or on television, you may have noticed all nine Supreme Court justices out in force. Supreme fashions generated tons of talk on Twitter, especially Justice Alito’s snazzy sunglasses; Justice Ginsburg’s huge hat, which made her look like a toy soldier; and Justice Breyer and Justice Scalia’s jaunty skullcaps, discussed by Tony Mauro and Josh Blackman (among others). According to Kevin Walsh, Justice Scalia’s was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia.

That’s on the level of style. What about substance? How will the Supreme Court affect President Obama, and how will President Obama affect the Court, as we enter the 44th president’s second term?

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‘I’m coming for you, SCOTUS.’

Legal elites fared well on election night. For example, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is now Senatrix-elect Elizabeth Warren, after expertly landing Langdell Hall on top of Scott Brown (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little pickup truck too!”). As a Divacrat — I support strong, strident, brilliant (sorry Sarah Palin) women, regardless of their political party — I’m already fantasizing about Clinton/Warren in 2016.

Joining Warren on the Senate floor will be another great legal mind who spent some time in Cambridge, Harvard law grad and former SCOTUS clerk Ted Cruz. The Morgan Lewis partner is one of several current or former Biglaw attorneys who won office on Tuesday. (For more, see Am Law Daily.)

The biggest winner of the evening, of course, is also a legal elite: President Barack Obama. He’s a former law professor, like Warren; an HLS grad, like Cruz; and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Things don’t get much more elite than that.

And in the legal world, things don’t get much more elite than the United States Supreme Court. This brings us to today’s question: What will a second Obama term mean for the Supreme Court?

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The last time we covered the lavish signing bonuses for Supreme Court clerks who head to law firms after their time at the Court, the bonuses were flirting with $280,000. We say “flirting with” because, at the time, only certain firms were offering $280K. That princely sum was not yet the market rate for talent emerging from One First Street.

A little over a year later, we can report some change on this front. Even though regular associate bonuses and partner profits might be flat this year, the price for Supreme Court clerks is going up, up, up….

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Only two things are certain in life: death and taxes.

The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Chief Justice John Roberts has upheld the individual mandate. But not under the Commerce Clause. Instead, Roberts has said that the law can proceed under Congress’s ability to tax.

It’s a tax. That thing that Democrats were trying so hard not to do so Republicans couldn’t call Obama a “tax and spend” Democrat is now called a tax by the Supreme Court. And now it’s a victory. Until the GOP starts saying that Obama “raised your taxes.”

I LOVE AMERICA. It’s so funny sometimes.

Oh, we’re going to have more coverage after the jump, including the vote breakdown (and other updates)….

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Neal Katyal

* “Dominique Strauss-Kahn Gets Off, As Did Everyone Else Who Stayed In His Room At The Sofitel.” Or: what you don’t want to know about your high-end hotel room. [Dealbreaker]

* F**k yeah — trademark law! Or: some reflections on the “immoral or scandalous” bar to trademark registration, by fashion lawyer Chuck Colman. [Law of Fashion]

* The New Jersey Supreme Court just issued a major new decision calling for changes in the way that courts handle eyewitness identifications — an issue that will also be going before SCOTUS in the coming Term. [The Innocence Project]

* Congratulations to Professor Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, who’s apparently headed to Hogan Lovells. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Orin Kerr is not impressed by how Dean Linda Ammons has handled the controversy over Professor Larry Connell. [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* They have lots of lawyers over at the IRS (former workplace of Michele Bachmann). Do you really expect them to be good at math? [Going Concern]

* Does signing a bill into law with an autopen present constitutional problems? Professor Terry Turnipseed explains how it might. [Slate]

* Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain thinks that President Obama’s decision not to defend DOMA constitutes an “impeachable defense.” [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

There was a threat of a filibuster, but it was averted. Last night, the Senate confirmed Donald Verrilli Jr. to serve as U.S. solicitor general, by a vote of 72-16.

As one might expect of an SG, Verrilli has an incredible résumé. He graduated from Yale College and Columbia Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review, then clerked for two legendary judges, Judge J. Skelly Wright (D.C. Cir.) and Justice William Brennan.

And that was just the start of a long and phenomenally successful legal career. Let’s go drool over Don Verrilli’s credentials — and check out his net worth, which is quite robust….

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[T]hat’s how law clerks are hired. That’s how baristas at Starbucks are hired. You have to ask these open-ended questions because as an employer, you don’t really know… where the pressure points or danger spots in an individual application are.

– Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, comparing hiring law clerks to hiring Starbucks baristas, during oral argument in NASA v. Nelson.