Ed. note: This is the latest post by Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.
At 30 years old, Ben Shapiro is a Harvard-trained lawyer, founder of Truthrevolt.org, editor-at-large at Breitbart.com, host of the (aptly named) Ben Shapiro Show, and a New York Times bestselling author of five books. He regularly appears as a guest pundit on Fox News and CNN and, just in case that list of accomplishments failed to adequately damage your self-esteem, Ben is also an accomplished violinist. Seriously, that’s enough to make the Tiger Mom herself, Amy Chua, throw up in her mouth.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently issued two rulings upholding 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, a state law requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places. The court ruled that mandating ID does not place a substantial burden on voters, nor does it create an unreasonable regulation on elections. The Seventh Circuit is still considering a challenge to the same law, however. In April, Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that the law unduly burdens some voters, particularly low-income ones, and violates the Voting Rights Act. This week, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed motion to lift the injunction created by Judge Adelman’s earlier ruling.
Wisconsin’s court battles reflect the nationwide debate about voter ID laws. Proponents of the laws argue that abuse is rampant, ID laws make a clear statement that corruption is intolerable, and requiring photo identification is a minimal burden.
Opponents of voter ID laws contend that voter fraud is rare, but voter suppression is likely. At the Washington Post, Justin Levitt argues that his extensive, nationwide research of election fraud reveals only 31 incidents since 2000. Levitt points out that more than 1 billion ballots have been cast in that time. Allegations of voter intimidation or suppression are common, though what counts as a criminal offense or civil rights violation may be hard to define. Physical threats obviously count. Jim Crow’s shameful legacy of literacy tests and poll taxes obviously do. Willful disinformation campaigns do. Whether insisting on photo identification, which may be more difficult for people in some communities to provide, counts as voter suppression is a much closer call.
Both sides offer up horror stories. True the Vote trumpets allegations of misconduct on one side, while the NAACP insists that election officials continue to suppress minority votes on the other. Mostly the discourse drops to the level of anecdote. Too often, the deciding factor reduces to which seems more plausible to you personally — that people who shouldn’t vote do, or that people who should don’t?
But some of you will still go to law school for the wrong reasons and pay rip-off prices. Ego, familial expectations, and peer pressure may play a role in your decision. So I want to finish the law-school-themed posts by issuing a warning to students and their parents about the consequences of graduating without a meaningful job and with six figure, nearly nondischargeable student loan debt….
* CNN sued over claims that a correspondent bit EMTs at the embassy in Baghdad. And just like that, Baghdad isn’t looking so safe anymore. [MSN]
* Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel has filed a legal challenge over the Mississippi GOP primary. It’s dumb. [KARN h/t Election Law Blog]
* The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s restrictions on unions. Meanwhile the dissent relied on really weak arguments like “actual Supreme Court precedent.” [Labor Press]
* The immigration crisis has inspired Miami to establish a rocket docket, which is a useful response, so we should probably shut it down and encourage drunk militia members to get in boats or something. [Daily Business Review]
* Dan Markel was serving as a legal consultant to the defendants in that Orthodox divorce extortion case. [Village Voice]
* The legal conundra of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Poor Ronan… you plan one attempted genocide and the law is all over you. [The Legal Geeks]
* Since October Term 2013 came to an end, people have changed their views about the Supreme Court. Conservatives think it’s more conservative, and liberals think it’s less liberal. Funny how that works. [Pew Research Center]
* “If a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage looks inevitable, perhaps it is.” Given how quickly lower courts are issuing marriage equality victories, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have a SCOTUS case to follow. [Bloomberg]
* Pre-law students still care about law school pedigree — as they rightfully should. Sure, scholarships are great and all, but attending a school where you’ll have a prayer of getting a job after graduation is even greater. [National Law Journal]
* Speaking of pedigree, there’s a new law school ranking in town, and Yale isn’t even in the Top 5. If that doesn’t smack of legitimacy, then we don’t know what does. We’re rolling our eyes here. [InsideCounsel]
* Cooley Law’s Ann Arbor campus may close, and students who go to the school are reportedly “pretty devastated.” Stop crying and take advantage of your loan discharge opportunities, you dopes. [MLive.com]
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.
* “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]
* 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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