Protests

Justice Scalia speaking last night at Wesleyan University.

Last night, Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the prestigious Hugo Black Lecture at Wesleyan University, speaking in the university’s Memorial Chapel before a packed house. Wesleyan is an uber-liberal school — the basis for the movie PCU, about a very Politically Correct University — and Justice Scalia’s visit was preceded by campus protests (dubbed “Occupy Scalia”). But I was pleasantly surprised by how respectful and appreciative the audience was of Justice Scalia’s deeply thoughtful and persuasive remarks; the protests during his speech were minor and clustered near the end.

I trekked up to Middletown from New York City to attend the lecture. What did Justice Scalia have to say? And what did the protests entail?

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Judge Tonya Parker is taking a stand.

I hate reading about pharmacists and doctors (and politicians named Rick Santorum) who actively cause people harm by not prescribing treatment because of their religious beliefs. It’s worse when they’re called out and get all self-righteous about it. Hearing those stories makes me so angry that I start gnashing my teeth and crossing my eyes uncontrollably.

But sometimes I get news that makes me think, “maybe it will all be ok.” Like the story I heard today about a Texas judge turning the tables on the pricks conscientious objectors who use religion to curtail the rights and health of other people. This judge has an ax to grind about the inability of gays to get married.

If you will, please imagine a world where straight people could not get married either…

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* Guys in my high school White House dropped threats to veto defense bills authorizing infinite detention of U.S. citizens all the time, it was no big deal. Nothing like bastardizing the Sixth Amendment. [New York Times]

* So much for occupying the court system, eh? This judge won’t budge on dismissals, and more than half of the OWS protesters who appeared in court yesterday accepted an offer over going to trial. [Bloomberg]

* Gibson Dunn says that it will file a motion to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s Facebook suit in January. Now taking bets on whether Ceglia will have another lawyer by then. [Buffalo News]

* Just like Michael Jackson, Conrad Murray’s money was gone too soon. He’s requesting a public defender to handle the appeal of his conviction for involuntary manslaughter. [CNN]

* Lindsay Lohan was finally able to please Judge Sautner during her probation progress hearing. She was also able to please her adoring fans, because she reportedly flashed her bra. [USA Today]


Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo

The topic of whether (and how) to reform legal education remains very hot. The latest New York Times story — by David Segal, who isn’t very popular among law school deans right now — has sparked much online commentary.

And it’s not over yet. What do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo — two of legal academia’s most colorful characters, rock stars in Federalist Society circles — think of the current state of law schools here in the United States?

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Two months ago, to the day, I wrote that the Occupy Wall Street people would be occupying K Street if they had even the slightest clue about how power is really wielded in this country.

I suppose two months is pretty good turnaround time for a leaderless mob that votes by consensus and uses hand signals to express when something makes them uncomfortable.

Today, the Occupy D.C. movement heads for K Street. And the denizens of Gucci Gulch are terrified!

Well, maybe the lawyers aren’t terrified. People who live and work in D.C. and have a basic understanding of the right to peaceably assemble aren’t overly concerned with the prospect of protesters, though I’m sure they aren’t looking forward to the inconvenience.

But the real estate companies that own the buildings under attack from Occupy K Street, yeah, those people are totally freaking out….

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Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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Mayor Bloomberg has reason to smile today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg can have his way with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. According to the Associated Press, Justice Michael Stallman of New York Supreme Court just shot down the Temporary Restraining Order sought by the protesters against Mayor Bloomberg.

Let’s hope everybody keeps their cool.

The ruling on the TRO appears below…

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November 15th, 2011, there was a riot in the streets, tell me where were you? While you were at home watching your T.V., I was participating in some anarchy.

Well, there wasn’t really a riot in the streets. And I wasn’t really participating in it so much as taking the 5 train to work today. But I did bump into some would-be Occupy Wall Street protesters looking to join the movement after the main group was evicted from Zuccotti Park under the cover of darkness early this morning. The people on the train asked for my legal advice.

I laughed — then told them I could do them one better. Let’s see if we can’t crowdsource a legal recourse for the Occupy protesters now that big bad Bloomberg has put his jackboot on the movement….

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Dear police officers: next time you simply must beat unarmed protesters who are not threatening you, maybe you shouldn’t do it in front of a law school.

Many of you have heard about the beatings that took place at UC Berkeley’s Occupy Berkeley protests on Wednesday night. The police brutality wasn’t particularly brutal, so much as it was entirely uncalled for.

The Berkeley legal blog Nuts & Boalts sums up what should be the feeling of any person concerned about the laws of this country: “Regardless of how you feel about the Occupation, this behavior by police against unarmed, non-violent protestors is not only illegal, but is shameful.”

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s below. Just as disturbing as the actual footage is the facile message Berkeley Law students received before the event that was a warning that the police were going to be totally unreasonable about the situation….

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I’ve said from the beginning that while the goals of the Occupy Wall Street crowd were not wrong, their tactics have been lacking. The denizens of “Wall Street” (at least not in its geographic form) didn’t cause the collapse of the American economy; they’re just trying to figure out how to profit from it. There’s been an entire legal structure erected to protect the banking industry; wagging your fingers at them isn’t going to do a whole hell of a lot.

And it’s not like “the banks” or whoever can’t fight back. Occupiers might be angry at Wall Street or corporate America or whoever, but it’s “the law” that will be in charge of actually crushing their little movement. The people in Oakland already saw what the police can do. And the police are just the storm troopers of the military-industrial complex. City ordinances, curfews, and unsympathetic judges: these are the people and things that can turn Occupy Wall Street into Alderaan.

But maybe the protesters are starting to understand the true power of the dark side. And maybe they’ll have some new hope if they get some fully trained lawyers on their side (as opposed to non-lawyer volunteers)….

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