Politics

Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton

Believe it or not, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and presidential candidate-in-waiting Hillary Clinton have a lot in common.

They both graduated from Yale Law School (Clinton in ’73; Sotomayor in ’79). They’ve both overcome great adversity: Sotomayor escaped the projects to become the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice, and Clinton escaped the embarrassment of her husband’s blue dress stains to become the 67th secretary of state. They both wrote memoirs, though based on reviews, it looks like critics prefer Sotomayor’s “beloved world” (affiliate link) over any of the “hard choices” (affiliate link) Clinton may have had to make.

Last, but not least, both Sotomayor and Clinton spend their free time at big-box retailers like Costco…

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This should be a no-brainer.

– President Barack Obama, who once profited from ridiculous tuition rates, after signing a memorandum expanding a program to cap student loan repayments at no more than 10 percent of what borrowers actually earn in the workplace. The President’s comment was directed at a related bill in Congress to allow student borrowers to refinance their loans at lower rates.

Justice Stephen Breyer

On Friday, the National Archives unsealed a fifth batch of Clinton Administration presidential papers. The documents were originally released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. Let’s get these pesky papers out of the way before Hillary Clinton, author of a new memoir (affiliate link), launches her presidential bid.

The latest papers contain some juicy tidbits for legal nerds. For example, as noted in Morning Docket, then-Judge Stephen Breyer got dissed as a “rather cold fish” while being considered for a Supreme Court seat (the seat that ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

The papers contain candid assessments of Justices Breyer and Ginsburg, as well as other fun nuggets. Here are some highlights:

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* Beastie Boys prevail in another intellectual property fight. This time winning $1.7 million from Monster Energy — the drink that guarantees you’ll get no sleep until Brooklyn. [Grantland]

* Law school hands out the wrong exam. To the whole class. [Legal Cheek]

* Best politico defense of taking a bribe: I was too drunk to realize I was being bribed! [New York Post]

* Lawyer wrote “go ahead and disbar me” to Departmental Disciplinary Committee. Sometimes there’s no just bluff to call. [Legal Profession Blog]

* One more problem with high student debt: debt alone can nix your character and fitness approval. [Arizona Law Review]

* A celebration of courtroom illustrators in light of the release of The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art (affiliate link) [Illustrated Courtroom]

* Vice Media is doing tremendous work exposing injustices. Perhaps they need to look into their own office. (UPDATE: Vice has changed its ways and now pays its interns.) [Capital New York]

* In a comical bout of karma, a landlord sued its blogger resident for alleged defamation. Next thing you know, HUD inspection records come to light. Let’s just say the landlord should be very unhappy that truth is a defense. [Columbus Dispatch]

* Check out the conclusion of ReplyAll’s conversation with John Grisham. [Above the Law]

* Do you think someone is not happy with Jones Foster’s billing practices?

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There are lots of forms of purchase and exchange that we criminalize, for example, buying sex. We don’t say if someone wants to purchase the services of a prostitute, well that is just an expression of their speech.

– Professor Jamie Raskin of American Law dropping logic bombs all over Citizens United. Professor Raskin — who is also a politician himself — goes on to explain that the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence offers zero explanation why bribery is illegal but unlimited donations are not.

Maiko Maya King

* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been operating without a director for almost a year and a half, and Sen. Orrin Hatch is calling it “inexcusable.” Here’s his politely pissed off letter to President Barack Obama. [Corporate Counsel]

* The chief judge of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit Court wants you to know Judge John “I’ll Just Beat Your Ass” Murphy’s behavior “in no way reflects the typical manner that courtrooms are managed … in this circuit.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Weed has been legal and free flowing in Colorado for months, but now the state is starting to see its dark side. It seems morons who get too high are accidentally killing themselves and others. [New York Times]

* InfiLaw’s bid to purchase Charleston Law reached the pages of the NYT, with a shout-out to one “scrappy website” that referred to the company by its one true name: “diploma mill.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* “Why would you bring black people into the world?” An ex-lover/employee of Donald Sterling is suing him for racial and sexual harassment over lovely comments like this. She’s repped by Gloria Allred. [CNN]

Congrats, professor, but Malawi’s law stinks.

* “I don’t think the government should be in the credentialing business.” Thanks to the whims of politicians, SCOTUSblog is having trouble getting media credentials to continue its coverage of the Supreme Court’s cases. [New York Times]

* How you like me now? In Redeeming the Dream (affiliate link), a new book co-authored with David Boies, Ted Olson says he experienced “some blowback” when he announced he was taking on the Prop 8 gay marriage case. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Steve Davis and Steve DiCarmine of failed firm fame think it’s “unfair” they have to defend themselves in a criminal case and an SEC case at the same time. They want the SEC case to be halted. Dewey think the judge will say yes? [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Back in 2011, Pillsbury decided to ship its back-office operations to Nashville, and now it’s hiring a small contingent of lawyers to work there. FYI, an Ivy League degree may not be necessary. [Washington Post]

* Only in Florida would a judge allegedly challenge a public defender to a fight out back during a hearing and start throwing punches. We’ll definitely have more on this fiasco later today. [WFTV Eyewitness News]

* Peter Mutharika, a former law professor who taught at Washington University in St. Louis Law for about 40 years, is now the new president of Malawi, where it’s illegal to fart. Congrats! [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Edward Snowden returned to the news this week when NBC aired an hour-long interview with him, the first on American TV. Anchor Brian Williams met with Snowden in a Moscow hotel. The 30-year-old former computer systems administrator described his motives for releasing an unprecedented payload of classified information about NSA surveillance.

Snowden is vexing. As a person, he seems a mix of likeable and unlikeable traits. He appears earnest, convinced of the rectitude of his choices even if, as he told NBC, “Sometimes, to do the right thing you have to break the law.” Yet he bristles at Obama Administration characterizations of him as a low-level employee, a high-school dropout. (For example, the president told reporters last year, “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”) Even if Snowden is right to resist the connotations of those labels, listening to him defend himself in the interview can be painful. He insists he was “trained as a spy” who lived under an assumed identity and was a powerful operator. He sounds like a young man with a bruised ego. The last thing one wants to have to worry about in a situation of this great national and international importance, though, is one young man’s ego.

Snowden’s case is more important and more vexing. NSA’s surveillance programs are deeply troubling….

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For the people who are enamored with the idea of the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there. See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there are head shops popping up on every corner. And people flying into your airport just to get high. You know, to me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey, and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.

– Governor Chris Christie, responding to the growing movement to legalize marijuana in New Jersey. Christie is actually suggesting that people would choose not to live in this place rather than America’s cesspool. If for no other reason, Colorado wins because they have fewer traffic problems.

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to a charge related to illegal campaign contributions in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. D’Souza, a conservative commentator, Reagan White House policy adviser, and Christian apologist, is widely known for his documentary film 2016: Obama’s America. D’Souza faces up to sixteen months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 23.

The case involved D’Souza’s use of “straw donors” when his own campaign contributions reached their legal limit. He encouraged two people close to him to each donate to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. D’Souza promised to reimburse them for the donations. According to a press release by the Department of Justice, “Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions.”

D’Souza’s defenders and critics can apparently agree on several points:

(1) D’Souza committed the crime.
(2) D’Souza committed the crime in an astonishingly ham-fisted way. (There’s nothing sly about handing over cash the day after a conversation like that. D’Souza might as well have delivered the money in a box marked “Campaign Finance Law Violation.”)
(3) The government is making an example of him.

What each side means by “making an example of him” is what makes this case more interesting . . . .

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