Politics

People have really given Mitt Romney hell for saying he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” But really, it’s not just wealthy Republican Mormons who lack compassion for the very poor in this country. Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy to the Republican Party was that he made it okay for them to categorically disregard the plight of the structurally poor and blame them for their own suffering. And for the most part Democrats have decided that in order to win they must show a similar callousness towards the poor. The poor don’t vote, and so both parties conspire to ignore the impoverished — or worse, talk down to those who were stupid enough to be born to the wrong parents.

At an individual level, nearly all of us are complicit as well. Well, I’ll just speak for me: I do my part to not care about the permanent underclass that lives in the richest society on Earth. I won’t even give money to homeless people on the street unless they sing or dance or perform some sort of talent. One time I gave “James,” a blind man who panhandles on the 4/5/6, line at the same times I head into the office, $20 — not because I wanted to be kind but because I got so sick of his spiel (“I’m legally blind, I get a little bit of disability but that only leaves me $18 a month for food.”). I thought he might leave me alone for the rest of the month.

I don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes wants poor people to just go away….

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English m*****f***** do you speak it?

How much English do you have to be able to speak in order to hold elected office? I don’t know, but apparently justices in Arizona think they know it when they hear it.

Continuing Arizona’s quest to become the most racist state in the Union, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed a ruling that prevented Alejandrina Cabrera from running for a city council seat because she doesn’t speak English proficiently.

But we can’t just “blame whitey” for this one. Here we’ve got a Southwestern case of Latino-on-Latino crime.

Well, you know what they say: when in ‘Zona, do as the xenophobes do…

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The return of summer associate days of yore?

* Obama has officially nominated William Baer, an Arnold & Porter partner, to run the DOJ’s antitrust division. Get ready for an election year confirmation showdown between the parties. [New York Times]

* Newt Gingrich has dropped out of the Virginia ballot lawsuit that was originally filed by Rick Perry. What does this mean for his campaign? Is he giving up his plans for the presidency, too? [Washington Post]

* Here’s a great refresher on all things Prop 8 in anticipation of today’s ruling from the Ninth Circuit. This is happening on West Coast time, so check back for our coverage this afternoon. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Summer associate hiring might be back in business thanks to pickups in litigation and transactional work, but don’t go out and start licking those Biglaw popsicles just yet. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Sorry, bridge and tunnel people, but it looks like you’re going to have to keep paying increased prices at the tolls. AAA of New York and North Jersey lost a bid to block collection of the fee hikes. [Bloomberg]

* Anna Nicole Smith is no longer with us, but her memory will forever live on in ABA Resolution 10B. Gold diggers across the nation can now rely on the power of federal magistrate judges. [ABA Journal]


[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.

The power to thwart God's will is at your local drugstore.

Who’d have thunk it? These days, contraception is a hot-button issue. On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Rick Santorum thinks that Griswold was wrongly decided. Inside academia, students are challenging the refusal of one Catholic university (including its law school) to let its health centers prescribe birth control.

Getting upset over inadequate access to contraception is one thing. What about getting upset — at a Catholic law school, mind you — over a discussion of birth control? Can you imagine what kind of comments about contraception could cause a law school community to get all riled up?

Let’s look at — and argue about — the email that caused students at one top-ranked Catholic law school to get their diaphragms all scrunched up proverbial panties in a wad. Even the dean had to get involved….

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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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Greg Kelly

* Greg Kelly stands accused of an alleged rape that supposedly took place at a “lower Manhattan law firm.” While we wait for the tips machine to fire up, who’s up for kegs and eggs and Good Day New York tomorrow morning? [Gothamist]

* Classes in space colony law coming in 3… 2… 1… [Buzzfeed]

* The Ninth Circuit isn’t paying too much attention to the drivel coming out of the Republican primaries. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Resources are available for lawyers with substance abuse problems who need help. For lawyers with substance abuse problems who don’t need any help, I’ll be at Professor Thom’s tonight. [ABA Journal]

* Megan McArdle wonders: How much does Warren Buffett pay his secretary? [Instapundit]

* Congratulations to Barney Frank. Welcome to a civil liberty you should have always had. [Huffington Post]

* Apparently New York Times writer David Segal started his jihad against law schools because of a lawyer friend he talked to at a cocktail party. Click on the jump so you can get a look at him being interviewed, just in case you see him on the subway and want to talk to someone about your troubles…

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SCOTUS in the house at SOTU.

President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address this evening, and it was even less exciting than last year (which was less exciting than the year before, when the famous Obama v. Alito showdown over Citizens United took place). Tonight was light on drama — one of the most compelling moments came early on, with the arrival in the chamber of retiring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — and President Obama’s speech was light on new ideas. Considering that we’re in an election year, with no major legislation likely to pass anytime soon, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Your Above the Law editors covered the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky.

Here’s an open thread for discussion of the address. We’ll get the party started with a few legally oriented highlights, after the jump.

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C'mon, Your Honors, look lively!

Tonight, as everyone knows, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. The speech starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). For real-time reactions over Twitter, follow @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky. For a post-speech wrap-up, check Above the Law, either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

For Supreme Court nerds, here’s the perennial question: How many members of SCOTUS will show up at the SOTU? Feel free to make your guesses, in the comments.

Here’s some historical perspective to inform your speculation….

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