Protests

A spectator who dutifully waited in line to gain admission to the Supreme Court’s hearing today just popped up out of his seat and started heckling the Court. It’s times like this that you really wish the Court would join the mid-20th century and install a camera or two so we could see how hard Justice Alito’s eyes roll back into his head when the person he’s listening to isn’t even a Supreme Court justice. I’m guessing it looks like when a Great White bites down.

The cops yanked away the protestor soon after he began. But obviously he succeeded in changing the world before they did.

So what issue got this protestor so riled up that he crashed the Supreme Court?

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Is there no end to the hidden musical talents of legal luminaries? With all their left-brained success, we forget that legal smarties can also have a well-developed creative side. For example, Judge Learned Hand cut a single back in the day. And Judge Richard Owen wrote an opera about Abigail Adams.

Now a giant of the legal academy has entered the music biz. The composer not only performs the short ditty for us all, but also fully annotates the lyrics to provide background to the song….

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“Do you want me to write an opinion and say there’s no free speech right to quietly converse on an issue of public importance?”

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, in oral arguments for McCullen v. Coakley

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a constitutional challenge to a Massachusetts law creating buffer zones, sometimes called “zones of exclusion,” around abortion clinics. The law at issue, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266 § 120E ½ (2007), provides in part as follows: “No person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility within a radius of 35 feet of any portion of an entrance, exit or driveway of a reproductive health care facility.” Eleanor McCullen, one of the challengers of the law, is a 76-year-old grandmother who in the past has stood on public sidewalks near abortion clinics in order to initiate one-on-one, non-confrontational conversations with women seeking abortions. The petitioners claim that, over the years, hundreds of women have accepted offers of help from McCullen and the other petitioners. They argue that the new law violates their right to free speech.

The First Circuit opinion below characterizes the plaintiffs’ appeal as advancing “a salmagundi of arguments, old and new, some of which are couched in a creative recalibration of First Amendment principles.” That opinion finds that “[t]he Massachusetts statute at issue here is a content-neutral, narrowly tailored time-place-manner regulation that protects the rights of prospective patients and clinic employees without offending the First Amendment rights of others.”

Unfortunately, the First Circuit is wrong about each of those points. Even more unfortunately, this law does the exact opposite of what most of us would hope . . . .

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Marni ‘Money Bunny’ Halasa

If anyone needs career advice on what they can do with a law degree, send them my way. They too can fight for social justice while wearing a gold spandex onesie and bunny ears!

Marni Halasa, social justice activist, in remarks made yesterday after a successful protest against HSBC. As we recently discovered, Halasa is a graduate of the U. Pitt. School of Law and an ex-journalist for the New York Law Journal.

(Keep reading to see what else she had to say, and to see more pictures.)

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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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Alexis Wright

* “Hindsight is always 20/20.” Perhaps AG Eric Holder should’ve quit when he was ahead after President Obama’s first term, because now White House insiders are wishing he’d step down. [New York Times]

* Dewey think Steven Davis will ever live down claims that he brought about the death of a once legendary law firm? No, but at least his $19.5 million mismanagement settlement was approved. [Am Law Daily]

* “What’s disgusting? Union busting? Who’s disgusting? Joe Genova.” Damn. This partner had some issues with Legal Services NYC lawyers on strike outside his office last week. [New York Law Journal]

* With all of the talk about patent trolls, this Morgan Lewis attorney allegedly thought it would be a good idea to get a piece of the action. Oopsie, it sounds like you got some splainin’ to do. [Ars Technica]

* LEAVE THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW ALONE! TJSL alumni appreciate their alma mater so much they’re willing to sign love letters written by the school’s PR flack. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Widener Law is thinking of splitting its campuses into separately accredited schools, but this isn’t a cost-saving measure — neither were the buyout packages offered to professors. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Alexis Wright, the Zumba instructor who ran a prostitution ring out of her dance studio, will ditch the workout and join the party in jail, because this hot mama was just sentenced to 10 months. [CNN]

You wouldn’t think a Nobel Peace Prize winner would rile up a vocal minority, but you’d be wrong. Tomorrow, the Journal of Conflict Resolution at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law plans to honor former President Jimmy Carter with the International Advocate for Peace Award.

That seems fair, since the Nobel committee already decided he’s got the peace-y bona fides. And it’s not like they just give that award to people who blow up countries or launch drone wars or anything.

But some people are just not happy about it and they’ve taken their (largely anonymous) complaints to the Interwebs, and they found their way into the ATL inbox. I guess the Simpsons warned us that he was “history’s greatest monster.”

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Last week, I included a fun, “when law professors attack” link in Non-Sequiturs, about an adjunct property professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Since then, we’ve received more tips about the outburst and its aftermath — and couldn’t help ourselves but to double-dip into this story.

The professor, James Olmsted, got into a dust-up with a student protest group, snagging one of their phones and seeming to goad the protesters into a fight. Hippie protesters can be annoying, but, I mean, if you hate hippie protesters, you may not want to work in Eugene.

What makes the story so confusing is the lack of anything in the professor’s bio to indicate that he’d launch a tirade like this….

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Feline Riot

Seven members of Pussy Riot.

This website has been sadly bereft of Pussy Riot coverage. Sadly, because typing the words “Pussy Riot” is fun. Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot. If you don’t know of what I speak, here’s a quick crash course on all things Pussy and Riot. They’re a female punk band in Russia and, this August, three of their members were convicted of something called hooliganism because of a performance that took place in an Orthodox Christian cathedral, where the band shouted anti-Putin slogans and railed against the Orthodox Church’s support of the Russian president. Comprende?

Well, like that Che Guevara shirt you thought was so transgressive at the time and now looks like nothing more than the celebration of conformity and a youthful attempt to graft meaning onto an otherwise whitebread, boring upbringing, the Pussy Riot gals have transcended politics to become something even greater. Namely, fashion. The lasses of Pussy Riot have inspired lame middle class American kids to start wearing balaclavas.

If you don’t know what a balaclava is, don’t despair. I had to look it up too. It’s just a ski mask.

But contra Freud, the state of New York believes that sometimes a ski mask is not just a ski mask. Sometimes, it’s a criminal act…

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Protesting Justice Scalia at Wesleyan.

Yesterday I wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia delivering the distinguished Hugo Black Lecture at Wesleyan University. In my write-up of Justice Scalia’s remarks, I alluded to campus protests held immediately prior to the speech. These protests, by a group calling itself the “Scalia Welcoming Committee,” were styled “Occupy Scalia” (a somewhat unfortunate moniker, in my view.)

I took some photographs and video footage of the protestors. Check these people out….

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