Religion

* The NSA protests that its spying on foreign leaders was entirely legal. In defense of the NSA, this latest uproar seems misplaced. Warrantless spying on Americans is illegal, but spying on foreign governments is kind of the whole point of the NSA. [Associated Press]

* Judge James Bredar has laid out his thoughts on how sentencing judges should deal with the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana. This is important because those dumb Guidelines still recommend an enhancement for taking One Toke Over the Line. [Sentencing Law & Policy]

* Should a plagiarizing journalist be allowed to join the ranks of licensed attorneys? Con: His crime suggests low moral character. Pro: He’s going to be a master of boilerplate. [Juice, Justice & Corgis]

* Jones Day is representing pro bono a number of Catholic institutions ticked off that they might have to buy insurance that their workers might, at some point, maybe use to buy birth control pills. It’s a tremendous intrusion upon religious liberty that Catholic institutions routinely did before they decided to make a political spectacle out of it. [National Law Journal]

* A speech to Harvard Law alums about the slow death of free speech at Harvard. By “slow death of free speech” the speaker details how a private, non-governmental institution decided not to tolerate jackassery, but whatever. [Minding the Campus via The Volokh Conspiracy]

* It’s still several months until the ATL Law Revue competition. So to keep you entertained until then, check out this parody of Lorde’s Royals performed by some law students. It looks like it’s the same geniuses from Auckland Law School behind the Blurred Lines parody. Do the Kiwis have time to do actual law school stuff? Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

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If a private school wants to bar its students “from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” it is an awful school to party at, but nonetheless probably within its rights. As expected, this new school has drawn protests of its obviously pretextual commitment to chastity in order to bar homosexual students.

Or to “not bar” homosexual students, I guess. How about “ban” homosexual students? That works better.

Putting aside the prevailing law, the question facing the powers-that-be is whether or not a school with such a bias should be certified to teach the next generation of lawyers and jurists. And amid the controversy over that proposition, the new bugaboo in the media is whether or not it’s actually just as bigoted to assume that a school with this policy cannot produce competent lawyers and jurists….

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* Stop bullying the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They don’t cave to just any government data request — they make changes to about 25 percent of them. But uh… they don’t like to talk about the other 75 percent. [Bloomberg]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the number of Biglaw firms with failing grades for diversity. Hunton & Williams, Patton Boggs, and Thompson Coe are by far the worst offenders of all 19 large firms, with ZERO minority partners. [Texas Lawbook]

* A contract attorney is currently facing criminal charges for felony overbilling (which isn’t actually a real crime, but it’d be cooler if it was… plus it would make lots of lawyers from DLA Piper cry). [Radio Iowa]

* Well, at least one school got the message about the tuition being too damn high. Iowa Law is reducing tuition for out-of-state students by about $8K in the hopes of filling more seats. [Des Moines Register]

* Amanda Knox, more commonly known as Foxy Knoxy, says that she’s no “femme fatale,” but she’s being portrayed, again, as a “sex-obsessed she-devil” after already being acquitted of murder. [Reuters]

* Fashion designer Christian Louboutin was seeing red over the use of his trademark red soles in anti-Islam political messages, so he sued over it, and this time, he won. Rejoice, fashionistas! [New York Magazine]

* Who says bipartisanship is dead? Senators McCain and Gillibrand hammer Obama’s nominee for Navy Undersecretary. Gillibrand went after her specifically over prosecuting sexual assaults. [Breaking Defense]

* Lawyers per capita by state. For everyone who says lawyers make the world worse, note that Arkansas has the fewest lawyers per capita and do with that information what you will. [Law School Tuition Bubble]

* A bunch of rabbis were arrested for plotting to kidnap and torture a guy into granting a Jewish divorce. This is a thing? [Wall Street Journal]

* Professor Larry Lessig thinks the administration should have made originalist arguments in the McCutcheon case to salvage campaign finance limits. First, I don’t see why this would have worked. Second, someone in Washington has to be an adult and resist the urge to make stupid arguments just because someone might listen. [The Atlantic]

* An agent is facing 14 felony counts for giving improper benefits to college athletes. For all the alleged cheating, you’d think UNC would be better at football. [Forbes]

* A Texas judge ordered a teen to move back in with a sex offender. This was a poor decision. [USA Today]

* Upon hearing former NYC Mayor David Dinkins saying, “You don’t need to be too smart to be a lawyer, so I went to law school,” the dean of New York Law School said, “So you went to Brooklyn Law School?” Which of course Dinkins did. What is wrong with NYU’s Tribeca campus? [NYLS (exchange begins at 23:00)]

* Is this related to the law? Not really. Is it the cast of Archer doing the video of Danger Zone? Yes…

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Justice Antonin Scalia

Everyone’s talking right now about New York Magazine’s fascinating and fantastic interview with Justice Antonin Scalia. Some of what’s covered will be familiar to longstanding Scalia groupies, but some of it will be new. In a wide-ranging discussion with Jennifer Senior, Justice Scalia discusses everything from his pet peeves (like women cursing, or majority opinions that ignore the dissent); whether he has any gay friends; his tastes in television (hint: “No soup for you!”); and his desire to hire more law clerks from “lesser” law schools.

The whole thing is worth reading, but here are ten highlights to whet your appetite:

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* A lawyer fresh out of law school botched a domestic violence case by gushing all over Tom Hanks… who was serving as a juror. Which, in fairness, was awfully Big of him. [TMZ]

* Federal prosecutors are seeking at least 27 years in prison for a Massachusetts man who authorities say plotted to kill and eat his children based on a search of his home and car, which is presumably a Saturn. As one law professor observed, “Perhaps the lawyer will make a free exercise argument and claim that eating children is a requirement of his religion.” [CNN]

* If you’re going to drink and drive, be sure to toss a few back with the judge first. [KVUE]

* A criminal defense lawyer who begins every cross by making the cop look more humane and respectable. I thought the public defender from My Cousin Vinny was the lowest criminal defense could go in the comical incompetence department. [Katz Justice]

* Putin crony claims 100 percent of profits in a “public” oil company by flat ignoring minority shareholders. Shhhh! Stop giving Exxon ideas. [Breaking Energy]

* Elizabeth Wurtzel knows music (a subject she covered for the New Yorker for New York Magazine). In this article, she writes about The Replacements (something Wurtzel has made her past employers, including Boies Schiller, become familiar with). [The Daily Beast]

* On Monday, the American Constitution Society will host a preview of the upcoming Supreme Court session. Panelists include Pamela Harris, Randy Barnett, Joshua Civin, Andrew Pincus, and David Strauss. [American Constitution Society]

* Then next Tuesday, The Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies will host a symposium titled “The Supreme Court: Past and Prologue: A Look at the October 2012 and 2013 Terms.” Panelists include Tom Goldstein, Marcia Coyle, and Howard Bashman. [How Appealing]

On Monday, a jury convicted Larry Williams of first-degree manslaughter and his wife Carri of both manslaughter and homicide by abuse. Both now face possible life in prison.

Larry and Carri Williams were typical suburban parents who approached every parenting decision by asking, “WWJD?”

Except Larry and Carri were convinced that what Jesus would do is mercilessly beat and ultimately kill a defenseless girl.

While, obviously, the actual scripture is open to interpretation, what I take away from it is that Jesus would actually not do any of these things.

Unfortunately, Larry and Carri are not alone in their screwball religious interpretation, and while the media (to the extent it has covered the case at all) is focused on the verdict and looming sentence, the unasked legal question this case raises is how people like this are allowed to adopt children in the first place…

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At the end of August, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Elane Photography v. Willock that a Christian wedding photographer violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) when it refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. (New Mexico does not currently permit same-sex marriage, though all the parties and the court frequently refer to the ceremony as a wedding.) This week, one of the parties in a similar controversy in Oregon, Sweet Cakes Bakery, announced that it would be closing shop, citing its opposition to baking wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

Elane Photography argued that it did not violate the NMHRA but, if it did, this application of the law violated the photography business’s Free Speech and Free Exercise rights under the First Amendment. The court disagreed, writing that “when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

Personally, I’d vote for same-sex marriage if I lived in a state considering such laws. Polygamy too, for that matter. If you are listening for a full-throated defense of traditional, heterosexual marriage to the exclusion of state recognition of any other arrangement, you won’t hear it here. I’m inclined to support religious understandings of traditional marriage, but I’m libertarian enough to let everyone — straight, gay, or otherwise — suffer through the headaches of having the government divide your assets when you get divorced.

Still, using anti-discrimination laws to mandate that all businesses operating as public accommodations provide services to same-sex couples’ weddings sounds like an unnecessary imposition on the sincere religious beliefs of others — and a great way to end up with lousy wedding photos….

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Pope Gregory XIII be RACEIST.

A Catholic lawyer, a Jewish lawyer, and a Muslim lawyer all walk into a bar. The Muslim lawyer says, “I’m filing an injunction to stop this den of sin from serving alcohol.” The Jewish lawyer says, “I’m suing you for working on the Sabbath.” The bartender looks at the Catholic lawyer and says, “Jesus, what do you want?” The Catholic lawyer says, “How the hell should I know? But I’ll take a scotch while you wait for an answer.”

It’s not every day that you see a person specify that they want a lawyer who is from a certain religious background. Law is generally a secular profession. Sure, Moses is the first law giver in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but the only God most lawyers consult before deciding whether or not to take a case is the one bathed in green.

Still, when you are a whack-job on Craigslist who is trying to mount an assault on the calendar, I suppose the only way you’re going to get help is with the aid of a true believer.

Yeah, you heard me right, I’m talking about a guy who wants to sue… somebody… over the calendar

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The day after the July 2013 bar exam concluded nationwide, we broke the news about a young woman of Muslim faith who was taken to task by a proctor over her religious headwear, a hijab. The proctor didn’t approach the examinee before testing on the Massachusetts exam started, or even during the lunch break — instead, the proctor passed her a note during the morning session of the exam, instructing her to remove her headscarf (even though the examinee had already received approval to wear it).

To interrupt someone during the bar exam and break their concentration over something that could’ve been taken care of when testing was not in session is not only incredibly rude, but also incredibly stupid. This is a professional exam that will determine if and when a person will be able to start their legal career. Why do something that could put their chances of passing in jeopardy? On top of that, why do something that could make it look like this was religiously motivated? This was a bad move on many levels.

From the Council on American-Islamic Relations to legal academics to the internet at large, people were upset about the way that the incident unfolded. Now the state is doing something about it…

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