Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Elena Kagan

The latest issue of New York magazine contains a very interesting profile of the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, penned by Dahlia Lithwick. Here’s the bottom-line summary of the piece (via Ezra Klein):

“While Kagan is assuredly a liberal, and likely also a fan of the health-reform law, a close read of her tenure at the Supreme Court suggests that she is in fact the opposite of a progressive zealot. By the end of Kagan’s first term, conservatives like former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement (who will likely argue against the health-care law this coming spring) and Chief Justice John Roberts were giving Kagan high marks as a new justice precisely because she wasn’t a frothing ideologue. The pre-confirmation caricatures of her as a self-serving careerist and party hack are not borne out by her conduct at oral argument, her writing, and her interactions with her colleagues. In fact, if her first term and a half is any indication, she may well madden as many staunch liberals as conservatives in the coming years.”

That’s just the overview. Let’s delve into the details a bit more….

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Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Borking Up a Storm: Romney’s High-Profile Legal Adviser Speaks His Mind”

* Looks like you really screwed the Cooch. Virginia and its Obamacare challenge got slapped around today by the Fourth Circuit. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Just how rich are the members of SCOTUS? When you’re worth $45M, like RBG, you can afford to fall asleep during the State of the Union address. But you can’t afford such luxuries when you’re still Sonia from the block. [Forbes]

* An interesting read on the Kenneth Moreno case from the perspective of a juror. Buy it on your Kindle and check it on the way home today. [Gothamist]

* What is law school’s dirty little secret? If you have social skills, you don’t need to be in the top ten percent to get a job. Fair warning, because your mileage may vary with this bit of advice. [Law Riot]

* If Texas A&M is actually allowed to join the SEC, fans are going to have to learn how to start talking smack about the Big 12 and buy a pair of jorts stat. [ESPN]

* What a Masshole: sorry, lady, but if seeing your criminal history in print is too upsetting, maybe a career change is in order? No judge is just going to stop the presses for you. [Salem News]

* “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! Thou art cash cows being led to the $laughter!” Well, if you’re going to riff on my school, at least get your facts straight. We cry in our cars. [LOLawyer]

* No, you cannot change your name to NJWeedman.com. We get it, you smoke two joints before you smoke two joints. But if you lose the domain, your stoner friends would be confused. [Gawker]

It should not be surprising that the two dissents have sharply different views on how to read the statute. That is the sort of thing that can happen when statutory analysis is so untethered from the text.

– Chief Justice John Roberts, benchslapping the dissents by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.

(The Court upheld, against a preemption challenge, an Arizona law that provides for suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that violate state immigration law. Gavel bang: Josh Blackman.)

Talk about the branches getting together! I’ll have to show up.

– Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), reacting to the prospect of Justice Sonia Sotomayor joining the congressional women’s softball team.

Sotomayor rocks.

Kristine Sims (via ABA Journal).

One day, after I had been questioned for weeks at a time, I was so frustrated I looked at my assistant and said ‘I think they already know the color of my underwear.’

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, complaining about the intrusive questioning she was subjected to during the Supreme Court nomination process, in an appearance yesterday at Northwestern Law.

We have a message for law school deans and administrators everywhere. To paraphrase Chris Crocker, “Leave… the grades… alone!”

Stories about changes to law school grading schemes aren’t much fun for us to write. But every time you deans tinker ever so slightly with your law school’s curve, we here at Above the Law get flooded by angry emails from law student readers, demanding that we call attention to whatever completely inscrutable change (or non-change) you have made (or not made) to your grading policy. In order to save us from having to write these stories, please cease and desist immediately from further amendment of your grading schemes.

Notwithstanding the views of the guy who posted his grades on Facebook, law school grades aren’t very interesting (except to their recipients). We’d much rather immerse ourselves in the law firm bonus horse race, for example. Compared to law school grading stories, the associate bonus watch is as riveting as the Oscars competition (or the Super Bowl, if you’re into that sort of thing).

Honestly, and with all due respect to our law student readers, we don’t particularly care about law school grades — and neither will you, in just a few short years. Right now you might be obsessed with your grades. And yes, they matter more than before, thanks to the tough legal job market. But you will forget your law school GPA sooner than you think. In the words of Professor Orin Kerr, “[o]nce you’re out of school for a bit, people care whether you are a good attorney, not your law school GPA.”

In this post, we’re going to cover controversies over grading at three law schools: the University of Chicago Law School, Cornell Law School, and the University of Buffalo Law School.

And then, God willing, we hope to avoid writing another story about law school grades until May or June (when the spring semester ends and students start talking about transfer applications)….

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor

* Professor Carlton Larson has a great new paper exploring possible constitutional limitations on state laws regulating baby names. Could parental rights to name a child “Dumb Motherf**ker,” “Preserved Fish,” or “Latrina” be protected by the First Amendment? [SSRN via Legal Blog Watch]

* Speaking of the Wise Latrina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a fan of bipartisan seating at the State of the Union. Her colleagues’ email skills? Not so much. [How Appealing]

* Illinois law professor Larry Ribstein on the Rahm Emanuel ruling: “Illinois law is better interpreted to say that before a Washington pol runs again in the midwest he needs some time reacquaint himself with the real world.” [Truth on the Market]

* Congratulations to DLA Piper, which will become the world’s largest law firm after a merger Down Under. [Bloomberg]

* And congratulations to former DLA partner Ted Segal — he’s moving over to regional firm Stradley Ronon, in part because of client concerns over billing rates. [Washington Business Journal]

* Wow, that was fast. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has already settled his lawsuit over olive-triggered dental damage. [Dave Weigel / Slate]

Sean Combs aka Diddy

* This complaint makes Jonathan Lee Riches v. Jared Lee Loughner sound like the height of sanity. A woman is suing P. Diddy, blaming him for the collapse of the World Trade Center. [Radar Online]

* A state transit agency in Virginia that has paid Williams Mullen more than $6.5 million over the past five years might be shifting legal work away from the firm. [Virginian-Pilot]

* You can call Above the Law “the most worst legal website published in the State of New York,” and we won’t sue you for defamation. (Cue jokes about truth as a defense in 3, 2, 1….) [New York Law Journal via ABA Journal]

Here come the judges.

President Barack Obama just finished delivering his State of the Union address for 2011. Alas, it wasn’t as exciting as last year, which featured a confrontation between the president and the Supreme Court. This time around, six justices attended — Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan — but they were on their best behavior. There was no POTUS v. SCOTUS showdown.

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

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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