Photography

At the end of August, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Elane Photography v. Willock that a Christian wedding photographer violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) when it refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. (New Mexico does not currently permit same-sex marriage, though all the parties and the court frequently refer to the ceremony as a wedding.) This week, one of the parties in a similar controversy in Oregon, Sweet Cakes Bakery, announced that it would be closing shop, citing its opposition to baking wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

Elane Photography argued that it did not violate the NMHRA but, if it did, this application of the law violated the photography business’s Free Speech and Free Exercise rights under the First Amendment. The court disagreed, writing that “when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

Personally, I’d vote for same-sex marriage if I lived in a state considering such laws. Polygamy too, for that matter. If you are listening for a full-throated defense of traditional, heterosexual marriage to the exclusion of state recognition of any other arrangement, you won’t hear it here. I’m inclined to support religious understandings of traditional marriage, but I’m libertarian enough to let everyone — straight, gay, or otherwise — suffer through the headaches of having the government divide your assets when you get divorced.

Still, using anti-discrimination laws to mandate that all businesses operating as public accommodations provide services to same-sex couples’ weddings sounds like an unnecessary imposition on the sincere religious beliefs of others — and a great way to end up with lousy wedding photos….

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Who is this woman? Over at our sister site Dealbreaker, they’ve been talking about her for months and months on end.

She emerged on the banking protest scene back in April, when she dressed as a dominatrix (and later as a police officer) and promised to offer Citi execs a spanking as the “Bank Reform Bitch.” In early May, she reemerged as the “Ethical Fiscal Fairy” to fight the good fight against Bank of America. At the end of the month, “Bank Reform Bitch” came back to stick her stiletto straight up Jamie Dimon’s ass. On the last day of May, she became “Darla, the Desperate for Justice Housewife,” hoping to bring attention to the laundering of HSBC’s money. In July, she emerged from her cocoon and transformed into the “Better Banking Butterfly” to weigh in on derivative reform. Tomorrow, she’ll be at a press conference with the HSBC whistleblower to bitch about the bank’s blood money, all while waving a money fan.

Again, we’ve got to ask: who is this woman? Well, for starters, she’s a lawyer….

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One could argue that justices of the United States Supreme Court are underpaid. After all, their former law clerks get wooed with $300,000 signing bonuses upon leaving One First Street, which is more than what the justices earn in a year (as just noted by The Economist).

Despite being arguably underpaid, the justices still like to shop. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Justice Sotomayor checking out olive oil in Annapolis and Justice Kagan hitting the Apple store in Georgetown.

The court’s first woman member, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has more time on her hands since retiring. Through an organization she founded called iCivics, she’s advocating for improved education about civics, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

Even though she’s supposedly “retired,” the super-energetic Justice O’Connor remains exceedingly busy, occupied by iCivics work, sitting by designation in circuit courts, and promoting her new book (affiliate link). But she still has some free time — including time to go to the grocery.

Let’s hear from a tipster, plus see some photos….

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When was the last long trip you took? For many of you, especially those of you who work at law firms, it might have been you post-bar-exam trip or your honeymoon. But it was probably a really long time ago.

How would you like to go on a trip that never ends? How would you like to leave your office behind and visit different countries, learning about different cultures and expressing yourself along the way?

If you have a camera and a laptop, you might be able to turn this dream into a reality….

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Therese Stewart, Chief Deputy City Attorney of San Francisco, in conversation with David Lat of Above the Law.

Last week in San Francisco, Above the Law hosted an event for our West Coast readers. Therese Stewart, Chief Deputy City Attorney for San Francisco, shared her insights into marriage equality litigation, including cases currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thanks to Terry Stewart, all of our readers who attended the event, and our sponsor, Recommind, a leader in eDiscovery and predictive coding. Keep reading to check out photos from the evening….

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Ed. note: Lawyer and journalist Michelle Olsen, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar, attended today’s oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California.

Her write-up of the proceedings will appear shortly. In the meantime, check out the photographs she took while at the Court, after the jump.

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Happy New Year from your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, and Elie Mystal.

We were pleasantly surprised by how many of you seemed to be interested in the pictures from our New Year’s party, and because we’re gluttons for punishment, we’ve decided to give you some more of what you want. And this time, you’ll have the opportunity to offer your delightful insights and commentary on our pictures.

So without further ado, we present to you some additional party pics for your viewing pleasure….

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Your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, and Elie Mystal.

Thanks a lot to everyone who came out on Wednesday night to attend the Above the Law New Year’s party!

The festivities were well-attended, and the bar was full of action — no seriously, there may or may not have been a couple making out the whole night. Thanks to our sponsor, Lateral Link, for such a great evening.

Yeah yeah, we know, it’s the internet, so of course this post is “WWOP.” So let’s get some pics up in here….

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Last week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this photo:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and then vote on the finalists….

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The courtroom isn’t exactly a sanctuary of light-heartedness or comedy. Usually, it’s quite serious, somber, or soporific.

But who is to say no one is allowed to lighten the mood in court a little bit? Why not bring a little whimsy — in the form of blue fur and googly eyes — into the halls of justice?

To see exactly what we mean, check out the photo for our latest caption contest

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