Sonia Sotomayor

This morning saw significant activity at the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we did not get a ruling in the health care reform case (aka Obamacare), SCOTUS did hand down a number of important opinions. Check back later today, when we expect to have color commentary from our Supreme Court correspondent, Matt Kaiser, who attended the proceedings in person.

In the meantime, here’s a quick and dirty summary of what transpired at One First Street this morning, including links to the underlying opinions. The most high-profile case was the Court’s decision on the controversial Arizona immigration law, but there were other major cases that were resolved today as well….

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Today, if you use the names Sonia Sotomayor, they would probably figure out I was a citizen.

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking during today’s oral arguments in Arizona v. United States, in which the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

(Justices on both sides of the political spectrum appeared unsympathetic to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. More harsh words that the justices had for him, after the jump.)

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Sandra Day O'Connor

Maybe you haven’t noticed but I think about 51 or 52 percent of population is female. I think they notice when their public bodies are dominated by one sex. Women care about this and they should.

– Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, commenting on the importance of having women on the Supreme Court. Justice O’Connor made this remark while sharing the stage with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor at a gala in honor of the 30th anniversary of O’Connor’s appointment to the Court.

Keith Olbermann

* Professor Eugene Volokh wonders if Justice Sonia Sotomayor is truly the first disabled justice. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Speaking of SCOTUS, should President Obama turn it into a campaign issue? First Amendment lawyer Marvin Ammori thinks so. [The Atlantic]

* We recently mentioned Keith Olbermann’s lawsuit against his former employer, Current TV. Now Current is turning the tables with a countersuit. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Threatening federal financial regulators: not a wise idea. Trader Vincent McCrudden learned that the hard way. [Dealbreaker]

* “Get High, Get Mauled By Bear, Get Workers’ Compensation?” [Legal Juice]

Yul Kwon: coming to a television near you.

* Adventures in trademark law — starring model, socialite, and reality TV star Olivia Palermo. [Fashionista]

* When is the best time to submit articles to law reviews? Professor Shima Baradaran is collecting data. [PrawfsBlawg]

* One of ATL’s favorite celebrities — Yale Law School grad Yul Kwon, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor (as well as a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant) — is returning to television, hosting a new show.

What’s the show about? Find out, after the jump.

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* “We can’t engage the public in a seminar about health law.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor informed the public at Penn Law that she would not be taking up a post as a Wise Latina civics instructor. [Wall Street Journal]

* Next on Meltdown with Keith Olbermann: this liberal commentator has sued Current TV over getting fired. It is clearly the most irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, tea-bagging network ever. [Businessweek]

* George Zimmerman has added another lawyer to his soon-to-be defense team — a “veteran criminal defense” lawyer. Why did he need to hire such a hot shot if what he did to Trayvon Martin was legal? [Reuters]

* Step aside TSA: what kinds of rights do cruise passengers have at sea? How about the right not to be interrogated, strip searched, and then forced to pee in front of security guards? [Overhead Bin / MSNBC]

* Jordan Wallick has been convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of James Wallmuth III, a University of Pittsburgh law student. Wallick is now looking at life behind bars for his crime. [CBS 21 News]

Let's just say that my Google Image search for 'black prophet' was underwhelming.

* When the student debt bubble bursts and causes general economic ruin, I don’t want to be called a “prophet.” You may call me “messenger,” as in the sentence, “We’d like welcome the messenger, Elie Mystal, to the program. Tell us, seer, what it was like being so far ahead of the curve.” [Democrat and Chronicle]

* No one expects the Spanish Inquisition American Government. [The Atlantic]

* Here are some good apps for legal types, but I don’t see the one for models and bottles. [OnlineCollege]

* If you are writing a new Constitution would you really want to start by copying ours? Really? Really? Nothing of import has happened in the past 200 years that you wouldn’t at least want to reflect in your brand new governance document? [Recess Appointments]

* Upstate New York courthouse officers get the job done. [New York Law Journal]

* The Widener defamation suit was settled. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

* Who will be fined for MIA flipping the bird during halftime of the Super Bowl? I think the FCC should fine itself. It’s only by acting like shocked prudes every time a bare breast shows up that some no-name thinks she can make a big name for herself by giving the finger to nobody in particular. For the love of Christ, Adriana Lima offered me a goddamn blow job during the Super Bowl, but the FCC wants to react to the finger? [The Legal Blitz]

* Sonia Sotomayor couldn’t make time to attend the State of the Union, but you can find her on Sesame Street after the jump…

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SCOTUS in the house at SOTU.

President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address this evening, and it was even less exciting than last year (which was less exciting than the year before, when the famous Obama v. Alito showdown over Citizens United took place). Tonight was light on drama — one of the most compelling moments came early on, with the arrival in the chamber of retiring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — and President Obama’s speech was light on new ideas. Considering that we’re in an election year, with no major legislation likely to pass anytime soon, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Your Above the Law editors covered the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky.

Here’s an open thread for discussion of the address. We’ll get the party started with a few legally oriented highlights, after the jump.

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C'mon, Your Honors, look lively!

Tonight, as everyone knows, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. The speech starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). For real-time reactions over Twitter, follow @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky. For a post-speech wrap-up, check Above the Law, either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

For Supreme Court nerds, here’s the perennial question: How many members of SCOTUS will show up at the SOTU? Feel free to make your guesses, in the comments.

Here’s some historical perspective to inform your speculation….

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The Supreme Court just handed down a unanimous opinion ruling in one of the most closely watched cases of the year. All the justices agreed on the result, but diverged significantly in reasoning.

This morning, the court issued its decision in United States v. Jones. Police in Washington, D.C. placed a GPS tracking device on the car of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner, without obtaining a warrant. The GPS device helped law enforcement link Jones to a house used to store drugs and money. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison. An appeals court later overturned his conviction.

The central issue in Jones was whether attaching a GPS device to a car (i.e., allowing law enforcement 24/7 access to a person’s movements), without obtaining a warrant first, violated the Fourth Amendment.

The case has been heralded as one of the most important privacy cases in recent memory. Wired’s Threat Level blog said Jones “is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age.” Editor emerita Kashmir Hill attended oral arguments for the case back in November.

What did the justices say? The ruling might surprise you…

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Outgoing NYLS Dean Rick Matasar

Even at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the criticism of the legal education business just flowed. Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on what is wrong with law schools these days.

While many of the law school deans and other administrators at the conference acknowledged problems with the system, most of the actual critiquing came from people with no power to change it. Media members (ahem) criticized law schools, judges criticized law schools, outgoing deans of law schools that shamelessly profiteered off of unwitting law students criticized — and the people who could actually change their systems dutifully listened.

But despite all of the critiques, there weren’t a lot of schools that seemed ready to institute sweeping change to the business of educating lawyers. And why should they? Change won’t come from above, and right now prospective law students are not demanding change from below…

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