Politics

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit ruled against Matt Sissel, the Iowa artist and entrepreneur who challenged the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate on the grounds that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Origination Clause. Article I, § 7, clause 1 requires that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” Obamacare raises government revenue by billions of dollars, but it was drafted in the Senate. Judge Judith Rogers wrote the opinion in Sissel v. HHS for a panel including two newly minted Obama appointees, Judge Nina Pillard and Judge Robert Wilkins.

This ruling comes in the wake of last week’s dueling decisions in Halbig v. Burwell and King v. Burwell. Another D.C. Circuit panel found that Obamacare subsidies were illegal in the 36 states that refused to set up state healthcare exchanges. On the same day, the Fourth Circuit disagreed. In court battles, Obamacare opponents are winning some and losing some.

What should we make of their track record so far?

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* “We’re in uncharted waters.” Following a split vote down party lines, the House of Representatives authorized Speaker Boehner to move ahead with his lawsuit against President Obama. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Vultures! Don’t take our pound of flesh.” Despite last-minute settlement talks, it seems Argentina has defaulted on its debt for the second time in 13 years. Oopsie! [DealBook / New York Times]

* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has added 19 additional schools to its law school clinic certification pilot program. IP is hot right now, so congrats if your school made the cut. [USPTO.gov]

* What are some of the pros of working before going to law school? Well, if you can’t get a job after you graduate, you can go back to your old field, so that’s a plus. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* California probate attorneys’ hearts were all aflutter following Shelly Sterling’s win against her husband, specifically because of the new precedents the Clippers case left in its wake. [National Law Journal]

* Court needed a Chinese language interpreter. Rather than find a professional legal interpreter, the judge just told the lawyer to head down to the local Chinese restaurant and grab somebody. [Legal Cheek]

* News from former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s trial. As one tipster summed up the story: “Hon, I think I dropped my keys under that bus. Would you take a look?” [Slate]

* Everyone concedes Ted Cruz is smart. Why exactly? [Salon]

* A follow-up from a previous story: Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard shuts down after the foreclosure market that made them turned on them. [Mass Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.)]

* Interesting look at the volume of patent cases throughout history. Check out the troll phenomenon with charts! [Patently-O]

* More folks wasting time complaining about blog posts. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Clint Eastwood talks with Chief Judge Kozinski and Judge Fisher at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. These days it’s exciting whenever Clint isn’t talking to an empty chair. Video embedded below… [YouTube]

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* The NRA’s general counsel was once convicted of murder. What’s the phrase? If you outlaw guns, only general counsel will have guns… [Mother Jones]

* Seattle is looking for people donating skulls to Goodwill. Wow, if Jeffrey Dahmer had only known there was a charitable tax write-off available. [Lowering the Bar]

* “A domestic helper has appeared in court accused of trying to injure her employer by mixing her menstrual blood in a pot of vegetables she was cooking.” Eww. [Legal Juice]

* Can Congress sue the president? Here are multiple takes. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* As the confirmation of Pamela Harris to the Fourth Circuit reminds us, “that whole nuclear option has really worked out.” So far. [Huffington Post]

* Money magazine is looking to create a ranking of undergraduate schools heavy on outcome-based factors. If you need any hints on how to do it, let us know. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Donald Sterling has lost, which is something he knows a lot about from his years of owning the Clippers. Here’s Mitchell Epner’s review of the ruling and its appealability. [CNBC]

The Constitution of the United States is a flawed document… [its] thinly veiled language… basically reaffirmed the legality of slavery.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, explaining something historically accurate and entirely obvious to anyone with a third-grade education. But that hasn’t stopped right-wing commentators from freakingthe hellout, decrying Kennedy for suggesting that human bondage may undermine their totemic reliance on “original intent.” Because when the only justification for your preferred jurisprudence is that the Framers farted laser beams, a nuanced view of the Constitution isn’t in the cards.

‘Thank god they didn’t print my f**king name in this story!’

You’re going to take out your phone and you’re going to take my picture, I should break your f**king phone right here! I’m a college student! This is not a political thing where I’m walking away from your questions. F**k you! You are the worst member of society. I don’t need to speak to you. … Have a nice f**king life.

– A student’s curse-laden tirade against members of the press as he walked into an NYU Law School residence hall. Earlier, this genteel fellow was protesting Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout’s run for New York political office.

Alec Baldwin was such a stud.

* “I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong.” President Obama is pointing the finger at companies using cross-border mergers to avoid U.S. taxes, and he wants to put an end to corporate tax inversions. [Bloomberg]

* Thomas Christina of Ogletree Deakins is the lawyer behind the recent circuit split on Obamacare’s state versus federal health insurance subsidies. Blame him or praise him, it’s up to you. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “I think I missed being in the courtroom more than I missed politics.” John Edwards, acquitted in 2012, is making court appearances again, but this time as a lawyer, not as a defendant. [Am Law Daily]

* A lawyer from Georgia hunts alligators in his spare time, and keeps the taxidermied head of one he caught right on his desk. He says it’s “a great conversation piece,” but that’s a pretty nasty paperweight. Eww. [Daily Report via ABA Journal]

* In a face-off with Alec Baldwin, a judge asked the actor to apologize. The combative Baldwin said he’d rather pay a fine, but if he can “[b]e a good boy,” his biking charge will be dropped. [New York Daily News]

Every now and then you forget that Capitol Hill interns are the absolute worst. Unless you live in Washington, D.C. In that case, these type-A Tracy Flicks are always around to give your already douchetastic bars that extra drop of vinegar. It’s not just that these proto-gunners won’t stop talking about their overinflated sense of the long-term legacy their ability to alphabetize will have on tax reform, it’s that they do this while surrounded by other D.C. professionals who actually make a difference want to talk about how much more alphabetizing they’ve done in their careers.

On some level you want to appreciate their eager spirits. It reminds you of the hopes and dreams you had before the weight of the world crushed you. But then other times their shameless sense of self-worth reminds you that politics is a narcissist’s game. Even if the narcissist is well-meaning, like I presume most interns are. Like when you get a tweet like this one from Yahoo’s Chris Moody:

I’m not gonna snark on this Hill summer intern. More power to him.

So apparently Moody is getting his passive-aggressive on by telling his 22K followers all about how he’s not going to snark on the snarkworthy link he’s sending. Moody would have made a great lawyer.

Well, what did this intern do? Did he make a cheesy webpage about himself explaining how he’s going to president?

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Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner introduced a bipartisan student loan bill yesterday aimed at reducing default rates. The bill, called the “Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act,” would limit all student loan repayment to 10% of discretionary income.

The plan is terrible for the poorest students. Currently, the federal income-based repayment program, called Pay as You Earn or PAYE, also requires 10% of discretionary income, but it calculates “discretionary” at 150% of the poverty line. The Rubio/Warner plan kicks in at $10,000… which is a lot less than 150% of the poverty line.

Also under PAYE, if you have more than $57,500 of debt after 20 years of repayment, PAYE forgives your loan. Under Dynamic Repayment, that goal post is moved to 30 years out. I guess the upside is that under Dynamic Repayment, there’s a better chance that you’ll die still owing money.

Again, if you are poor, this new plan isn’t great. But since when do Republicans or even Democrats care about the truly poor?

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

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Ed. note: This post was originally published on July 17, 2007. We republish it today, with a few updates added, to remind our readers taking the bar exam later this month that even though you surely won’t fail — especially if you’re having fun studying — even failing the bar won’t stop you from having a spectacular career, in the law or elsewhere. Good luck!

We recently wrote about Paulina Bandy, that poor creature who failed the California bar exam thirteen times, before finally passing it on try #14. Her story seems to have freaked out some of you who are sitting for the bar exam later this month.

Relax. Take a deep breath. You won’t wind up in a 365-square-foot shack in your mom’s backyard. Chances are, you will pass. And even if you fail the bar once or twice, you’re still not on your way towards Paulina Bandy-dom.

As it turns out, a number of well-known individuals — some famous for their accomplishments in law, and others for different reasons — didn’t pass the bar on the first (or even second) try….

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