Slavery

The Constitution of the United States is a flawed document… [its] thinly veiled language… basically reaffirmed the legality of slavery.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, explaining something historically accurate and entirely obvious to anyone with a third-grade education. But that hasn’t stopped right-wing commentators from freakingthe hellout, decrying Kennedy for suggesting that human bondage may undermine their totemic reliance on “original intent.” Because when the only justification for your preferred jurisprudence is that the Framers farted laser beams, a nuanced view of the Constitution isn’t in the cards.

Maybe people in Mississippi should watch this to figure out why the Voting Rights Act is still important.

My mother was born in 1950 in Mississippi. I’ve been to Mississippi. There are still brothers trying to escape to freedom from Mississippi.

Today the big story (at least in liberal circles) is that Mississippi finally officially ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, after two Ole Miss employees saw the movie Lincoln and decided to look into why their state hadn’t officially ratified the amendment. You can’t make that up: Mississippi needed a Spielberg movie to remind them to ratify the amendment banning slavery. I can’t wait till Mississippi sends an expedition to Isla Nublar to check into this whole “dinosaur situation” “Jesus Horse situation.”

You can see why liberals love this story. It’s the perfect deep south story: a tradition of holding people in bondage, slow response times, and incompetence.

And I’d leave it at that.

Except that as the Supreme Court gears up to eviscerate the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act, it’s important to remember that not all states are created equal….

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Jennifer Hudson

* At least two firms probably won’t be handing out spring bonuses like candy this year. While gross revenue remained steady at Dickstein Shapiro and Crowell & Moring, PPP dropped at both firms. [Legal Times]

* Not-so breaking news: the Thirteenth Amendment applies only to humans. It seems like the only people who didn’t already know that were the lawyers PETA hired for their orca whale slavery case. [Washington Post]

* Washington has approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, and Governor Gregoire has vowed to sign it. Wedding planners can prepare for a fabulous summer season, and divorce practitioners can create a new niche. [CNN]

* In China, lawyers are allowed to name their firms after imaginary people. Here in the United States, we’ve got laws against that, and for good reason. Because knowing Americans, we’d probably end up with a bunch of dueling Dewey, Cheatem & Howes. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Jennifer Hudson says, “And I am telling you, I’m not going — to speak to your lawyers.” William Balfour’s defense team wants to meet with her prior to his murder trial. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re still trying to find the best present for your crappy spouse, then look no further. This law firm is giving away a free divorce. [Charleston Daily Mail]

Slave trading fort, or law firm recruitment fair?

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg is one of the most respected law firms in Canada. It’s consistently ranked highly on the Chambers list, and the firm has a low partner-to-associate ratio.

Obviously, if you are going to be a top “Biglaw” firm, even in Canada, a lot of your employees are gong to work hard. Very hard. Sled-dog pulling an “adventurer” around the tundra hard.

Apparently on law school campuses in Canada, people who work at Davies are called “Slavies” because of how hard they work. That’s cute.

So the advertising people at Davies decided to have a little fun with the moniker. Now some people are calling the ad insensitive to, I don’t know, slaves I guess? Canada is weird…

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A beautiful creature that would gladly eat the animals PETA tries to save.

Animals are not people.

If a PETA person had been sitting next to me when I wrote that, he’d smugly say: “You know, some people said the same thing about black people 200 years ago.” At that point, I would grab the PETA person by the neck with my left hand, pimp slap him across his face with my right hand, throw him down on the ground, and then bellow: “How dare you, sir!”

That’s because I’m a person. And while I acknowledge the historical reality that many people didn’t think black people were “people” at various times in history, that thinking never changed the underlying truth that the color of one’s skin had nothing to do with personhood. You dig? It’s like how the New World was here long before anybody “discovered” it.

Non-human animals are not non-human animals because thinking makes it so. They’re animals because they’re animals. Now I think animals should be way, way more respected then most humans treat them. But applying a human right — such as freedom from involuntary servitude — to animals both denigrates people and disrespects the animals that they anthropomorphise.

What I’m saying is that once again, PETA has gotten it all wrong….

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Close, Lindsay, but no cigar.

* Rajabba is appealing his insider trading convictions and prison sentence, but someone needs to suffer for this outrage. Where are Solo and the Wookiee when you need them? [Bloomberg]

* PETA is suing SeaWorld on Thirteenth Amendment grounds for enslaving killer whales. Oh, so the only marine animals you’ll help have to be black and white? Racists. [Washington Post]

* It’s not just black Biglaw associates who get called “token,” but now it’s law professors, too. Kellen McClendon is suing Duquesne Law for race discrimination. [Courthouse News]

* Lindsay Lohan is getting a full spread in Playboy’s January issue, but won’t be doing any spreading of her own. Contract negotiation just ain’t what it used to be. [Los Angeles Times]

* When you sue for age discrimination, you probably shouldn’t discriminate against your judge, no matter what his age. At least this violinist can play his own sad song. [New York Daily News]

My court has, by my lights, made many mistakes of law during its distinguished two centuries of existence. But it has made very few mistakes of political judgment, of estimating how far … it could stretch beyond the text of the constitution without provoking overwhelming public criticism and resistance.

Dred Scott was one mistake of that sort. Roe v. Wade was another … And Kelo, I think, was a third.

– Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court, commenting on several cases in which he believed SCOTUS had made mistakes of political judgment. His speech was given at the Chicago-Kent College of Law (which, as you may recall, is facing a potential class action suit over its post-graduate employment data).

I’ve always wondered what kind of salary contract lawyers make these days. Okay, not really, I kind of already know, because a lot of my friends are contract lawyers. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the wonderful world of contract lawyering, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article yesterday, by Vanessa O’Connell, on the trials and tribulations of these lawyers-for-hire.

The Journal editors decided to give the piece a cutesy title by using a play on words: “Lawyers settle… for temp jobs.” Lawyers are supposed to be settling cases, and now they’re settling for temporary jobs. Oh, that’s so very witty.

What the WSJ folks might not have realized is that when you’re an unemployed new lawyer in this kind of economy, or even if you’re an older one, you don’t really have the option of “settling.” It’s depressing, but you kind of just accept the fact that this is the hand that you’ve been dealt.

But maybe there is a bright side to this situation after all. Maybe these contract attorneys are making serious bank in these temporary positions….

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There is nothing I hate more than people who try to use the law to change the facts of history or science. I hate when Creationists try to take their Sunday School teachings into science class. I hate when Confederates try to retell the “War of Northern Aggression” in a way that ignores the abject racism that started the entire conflict. And I hate when parents sue because history textbooks aren’t sanitized to include enough bunny rabbits and rainbows when they are educating children about slavery.

That last thing is new. I only realized parents like this existed when I read a story in the Macomb Daily (gavel bang: ABA Journal). Apparently an African-American parent got angry over “outrageous statements” in a textbook used in his daughter’s class. The outrage: the textbook used the n-word… in the context of teaching children about the history of slavery in this country.

He claims his daughter was traumatized by the book, and he’s seeking more than $25,000 damages from the school.

Please God, let’s hope he doesn’t get it. Everybody should be “traumatized” by slavery when they first hear about it in grade school. It was a goddamn traumatic thing to put people through. And we can’t live in a world where that trauma is banished from our history books….

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