Religion

A Sixth Circuit ruling earlier this week is a victory for critics of federal hate crime legislation, as well as the defendants in the case, a group of Amish men and women who forcibly cut the hair and sheared the beards of their Amish victims. The defendants, members of the Bergholz Amish community, admitted to a series of attacks against other Amish with whom the defendants had longstanding feuds. In the Amish community, men wear long beards and women grow long hair as signs of piety and view voluntarily cutting one’s own hair as a sign of contrition. Cutting another person’s hair is a forceful condemnation of the victim. Prosecutors had argued that the defendants assaulted their victims because of their religious identity. The case is the first appellate case involving a religious hate crime brought under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The statute prohibits “willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person.”

In one of the instances at issue, Martin and Barbara Miller’s children and their children’s spouses cut Barbara’s hair and sheared Martin’s beard. The children insisted at trial that they attacked their parents to punish them for “bad parenting.” The kids thought Martin and Barbara were cruel, punitive, and spiteful as a father and mother. The kids did not argue that Martin and Barbara’s “bad parenting” justified assaulting them. The kids only argued that they didn’t attack their parents because their parents were Amish, or even because they believed that their parents’ bad parenting was a sign of them being lousy at being Amish. Rather, they attacked their parents because they believed that their parents were lousy at being parents.

Assaulting your parents in a way that is particularly hurtful to their religious values is a good way to make clear that you won’t be attending the next family picnic, but is it a good way to commit a federal hate crime?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Splitting Hairs Over Causation: When Is Amish Beard Cutting A Hate Crime?”

As clear as I can tell, Becker & Poliakoff lawyer and out-homophobe Walter Kubitz, author of the now-infamous “gay plague of AIDS” email, still has a job. I’m not at all sure why. Becker & Poliakoff keeps saying that such divisive views about gays and lesbians do not reflect the firm’s “core values” and will not be tolerated… AND YET the firm clearly values Kubitz enough that he is still being tolerated by the firm.

Is Kubitz just a fantastic attorney that Becker can’t afford to lose? The man has been working for 30 years and still hasn’t made “shareholder” at the firm, so I don’t think he can be SO good that the firm just can’t do without him. What kind of power does this guy have? Jesus, does Kubitz have photos of Becker shareholders getting gay with Santa Claus? Maybe firm management doesn’t understand that pictures of them getting busy with each other at a firm retreat would be CONSIDERABLY LESS DAMAGING to the firm’s reputation than continuing to employ such a proud homophobe.

Becker just put up a statement on their website about the Kubitz situation. The statement doesn’t actually say what Kubitz did, doesn’t contain an apology from Kubitz, and hides behind religious toleration rhetoric when that’s not even the point of what happened here. Let’s give it a close read….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is Walter Kubitz The Greatest Lawyer Of All Time?”

The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Senior Lawyer Unleashes ‘Old School’ Homophobic Rant, Hits ‘Reply All’”

Image via Getty

* The Second Circuit ruled that the World Trade Center Cross may remain on display in the September 11 Memorial and Museum. Apologies, atheists, but it’s a “genuine historical artifact.” [New York Daily News]

* Howrey going to get money back when judges keep tossing unfinished business claims like they’re yesterday’s trash? We’ll see if such claims will be laid to rest after a hearing later today. [Am Law Daily]

* Paul Weiss had a good get this week, with Citigroup’s deputy general counsel leaving the bank to join the firm — which coincidentally has served as the bank’s outside counsel for two decades. [WSJ Law Blog]

* North Carolina, a state that adopted a ban on same-sex marriage in 2012, said it will no longer defend its law in the wake of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling as to a similar ban in Virginia. Hooray! [Los Angeles Times]

* If you missed it, a judge issued a preliminary ruling against Donald Sterling, meaning that the sale of the L.A. Clippers may proceed. Don’t worry, his attorney says this is just “one stage of a long war.” [CNN]

* It seems that “weed-infused weddings” are a hot commodity in states where the drug has been legalized. Sorry, it may be better than an open bar, but it doesn’t seem like a very classy thing to do. [Boston.com]

* Cheryl Hanna, Vermont Law School professor and praised legal analyst, RIP. [Burlington Free Press]

When it comes to paying for law school, most of us fill out paperwork to secure shiny loans that haunt us for years to come. But there are a few students who think outside the box. Law school tuition Kickstarter campaigns crop up from time to time. There was also a website set up to sell future income streams in exchange for debt payments. Generally, these efforts to outsource student debt are the work of narcissists unwilling to take personal responsibility and pay for their life decisions.

And then we see something like this:

God asked me to go to Law School for the good of the Kingdom of God. Help me raise $28,500 by 5/1/15!

Well, that’s a horse of another color! It’s not that you want a law degree without having to suffer the consequences of your actions, it’s that God wants it. Nothing reflects the model of Jesus Christ more than getting what you want without suffering at all.

Let’s check out this plea for a free law school education — complete with its own movie trailer!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “God Told Her That YOU Should Pay For Her Law Degree”

J.D. = Just Debt

* Per the latest Gallup study, Republican approval of SCOTUS is up, while Democratic approval is down. Gee, considering how the biggest cases of OT 2013 went down, no one should be terribly surprised by this news. [New York Times]

* Will our leader make the grade? Law profs wrote a strongly worded letter to President Obama, asking that he not include a religious exemption in his executive order prohibiting anti-gay bias in federal contractor hiring. [National Law Journal]

* Hey guys, there’s a new report out that contains some pretty shocking information about the realities of life after law school. Seriously, who knew that would-be lawyers were poor? Oh wait, we did. [CNN Money]

* Washington & Lee recently surrendered its Confederate flags to appease its black student population. Here’s an interview with Brandon Hicks, the law student behind the historic movement. [Huffington Post]

* “Fret for your latte, and fret for your lawsuit.” Tool hasn’t put out a new album in in almost a decade, and it’s all because of one pesky little lawsuit filed way back in 2007 that just won’t go away. [Rolling Stone]

* Man claims his former employer discriminated against him because he was an atheist. Yep, this Hobby Lobby thing isn’t going to have any repercussions at all. [Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal]

* Speaking of atheists and SCOTUS, the Court may have authorized the Town of Greece to get all religiousy at town board meetings, but an atheist is stepping up to the plate to deliver an invocation. Freedom of religion does mean he gets a turn. [Rochester Homepage]

* There’s an icky sexual harassment story coming out of an elite L.A. school. And they’ve hired an elite law firm to investigate. [Gawker]

* Cops do hear some pretty funny stories when they pull people over. [Legal Juice]

* If you’re out of work, here’s an idea: this solicitor-to-be posted a selfie with a pigeon on Facebook and got an offer — along with a lot of publicity. [Legal Cheek]

* Is the future of legal education online? Perhaps the better question is, “How will law schools overcharge when they no longer have brick-and-mortar facilities?” [Tipping the Scales]

* A judge explains that incest and pedophilia aren’t such big deals anymore because gay people are accepted. Wow. [Jezebel]

* Are you keeping up with Kirby v. Marvel? Because Jack Kirby’s estate is making a run at the Supreme Court in a case that affects billions. Embed below… [Bloomberg]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.14.14″

Earlier this week, several prominent LGBT advocacy groups announced that they would no longer support the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination ACT, known as ENDA. If the U.S. House of Representatives passes ENDA, it would create legal safeguards in the workplace for gay, lesbian, and transgendered employees. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund led the move, with the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center later joining NGLTF’s initial statement. The groups fear that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hobby Lobby signals a move toward expansive religious exemptions. Consequently, the groups will now focus their efforts on securing rights for the LGBT community like those provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

A few months ago, I wrote about ENDA and why conservative Republicans in the House ought to pass the bill. I pointed to a novel D.C. district court ruling allowing a gay man to move forward with his Title VII employment discrimination claim, based on his status as a homosexual male. I described the differences between Title VII’s religious exemptions for employers and the much broader exemptions provided by ENDA. In my earlier piece, I wrote, “Republican Congress members should think twice about refusing to enact legislation that would provide ENDA’s key protection of religious freedom. If they fail to do so, and the push to expand the scope of Title VII in the courts continues, no such protection will exist.”

Instead of prioritizing religious freedom, social conservatives in Congress have held fast to a strident moral opposition to LGBT rights. Instead of pressing for new, democratically enacted statutory rights, many advocates of LGBT equality will increasingly double-down on judicial re-interpretation of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause. As each side digs in, the other side digs in deeper. Workable compromises seem fewer….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “There Are No HEROs: The Fight Between LGBT Rights And Religious Objectors Gets More Polarized”

* Mitchell Epner breaks down the Donald Sterling trial, which kicked off today. Or “tipped off” today. [CNBC]

* Judge Kopf reviews Keith Lee’s The Marble and the Sculptor. Keith can take heart that His Honor didn’t tell him to STFU. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* MoloLamken offers its comprehensive review of the Supreme Court’s recently concluded adventures from the perspective of businesses. Spoiler alert: businesses did really, really well. [MoloLamken]

* Former seminary dean lied about his religious background and then tried to sue the guy who called him out on it. Benchslapping ensued in a fee decision: “Plaintiff’s sparse trickle of written argument gave way at the hearing to an overflow of objectively unreasonable claims…. Plaintiff either cast unsupported aspersions or asserted boldfaced contradictions, adopting whatever narrative best served him at the time.” In fairness, those sound like they might be assets in organized religion. [Religion Posts]

* If you want to know what’s up in the energy sector, Breaking Energy now has a “Law Firms Perspective” feed. [Breaking Energy]

* Discretion is the better part of valor: gamblers turned down around $1.5 million payout to sue casino for illegal detention… and then lost. [ATL Redline]

* I’ve said before that I find the concept of legal tattoos fascinating. This one is incredibly meta….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.07.14″

The Supreme Court released its opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, holding that the HHS contraception mandate violates an employer’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, even when the employer is a for-profit corporation closely held by individuals who object to the mandate on religious grounds. Following the decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer zone case, Hobby Lobby is the second case in a week where the Court told us how much each side of a fundamentally divided issue can ask of the other, under the law. They are hard cases to talk about without questioning the good faith or good sense of the other side. Nearly everyone thinks either Hobby Lobby or McCullen was a bad decision.

The only thing more frustrating than a bad high-profile Supreme Court decision may be the public’s response to any high-profile Supreme Court decision. For proof, one need only look as far as some of the tweets on SCOTUSblog’s Twitter feed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Do You Take Seriously In The Hobby Lobby Debate?”

Page 1 of 1612345...16