Stephen Breyer

Justice Breyer at the 92nd Street Y.

Justice Breyer at the 92nd Street Y.

Last week, I attended a most enjoyable film screening with Justice Stephen G. Breyer. The event, part of the annual film festival of the Forum on Law, Culture, and Society, took place at the 92nd Street Y here in New York. After the audience watched one of the justice’s favorite films, Justice Breyer sat for an interview with Thane Rosenbaum, the law professor and novelist who serves as director of the Forum.

What movie did Justice Breyer nominate? And what did he have to say, about such hot-button topics as Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, in the post-movie conversation?

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Justice Stephen Breyer

Among The Nine, [Stephen] Breyer is on the cool end of the emotional spectrum, logical to a fault with little if any of the passion that one sees in Ginsburg or Sotomayor on the left, Scalia or Alito on the right, or even Kennedy in the middle….

[H]is ideas have had nothing like the impact of those from his hot-tempered colleague Scalia. After two decades on the bench, the influence of the cold-fish justice is sometimes hard to discern.

– Professor Kenneth Jost of Georgetown Law, commenting on Justice Breyer’s legacy and temperament on the Supreme Court. In Clinton White House papers released earlier this year, Breyer was referred to as “a rather cold fish” when he was evaluated as a possible Supreme Court nominee in the early ’90s.

Everyone smile and say “certiorari”!

The opinions released by the Supreme Court this morning were not super-exciting. The good news, pointed out by Professor Rick Hasen on Twitter, is that “[t]here are no likely boring #SCOTUS opinions left.” (But see Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, noted by Ken Jost.)

So let’s talk about something more interesting than today’s SCOTUS opinions: namely, the justices’ recently released financial disclosures. Which justices are taking home the most in outside income? How robust are their investments?

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Justice Stephen Breyer

On Friday, the National Archives unsealed a fifth batch of Clinton Administration presidential papers. The documents were originally released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. Let’s get these pesky papers out of the way before Hillary Clinton, author of a new memoir (affiliate link), launches her presidential bid.

The latest papers contain some juicy tidbits for legal nerds. For example, as noted in Morning Docket, then-Judge Stephen Breyer got dissed as a “rather cold fish” while being considered for a Supreme Court seat (the seat that ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

The papers contain candid assessments of Justices Breyer and Ginsburg, as well as other fun nuggets. Here are some highlights:

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A rather cold fish.

* If you’ve ever wondered what’s being said about Supreme Court justices during the vetting process, we’ve got a great one-liner about Justice Breyer, who’s apparently a “rather cold fish.” Oooh, sick burn. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The NLJ 350 rankings are here, and this is where we get to see the big picture about the big boys of Biglaw. In 2013, it looks like headcount grew by 3.9 percent, which is good, but not great, all things considered. Meh. [National Law Journal]

* A Wisconsin judge is the latest to give her state’s ban on same-sex marriage the finger, and she did it with flair, noting in her opinion that “traditional” marriages throughout history were polygamous. [Bloomberg]

* The Ed O’Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA is going to trial today before Judge Claudia Wilken. Since it could change college sports forever, here’s everything you need to know about it. [USA Today]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of those employed in the legal sector is at its lowest level since the beginning of 2014, with jobs still being shed. Welcome, graduates! [Am Law Daily]

* UC Irvine Law has finally earned full accreditation from the American Bar Association. We’d like to say nice work and congrats, but we’re pretty sure the ABA would fully accredit a toaster. [Los Angeles Times]

Professor Tim Wu

Sometimes what everybody thinks about the law is more important than what the law itself says. I think that’s what’s happened with net neutrality. It’s become a kind of norm of behavior, what you can and can’t appropriately do with the Internet. It’s got to be open.

– Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, subject of a glowing profile in the New York Times for his work in defense of net neutrality.

(Fun tidbits from the profile that gunners and legal nerds will appreciate — specifically, how to land a Supreme Court clerkship with a weak grade in a 1L core class — after the jump.)

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Let’s buy a senator!

[This] is a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opin­ion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.

– Justice Stephen Breyer, issuing a scathing dissent in the Supreme Court’s decision in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case. Today, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision to strike down aggregate limits on campaign contributions from individuals to federal political candidates.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should retire from the Supreme Court after the completion of the current term in June. She turned 81 on Saturday and by all accounts she is healthy and physically and mentally able to continue. But only by resigning this summer can she ensure that a Democratic president will be able to choose a successor who shares her views and values.

– Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, calling for Justice Ginsburg to hang up her robe, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. Chemerinsky also suggested that Justice Stephen Breyer “carefully consider” the possibility of stepping down.

David Boies: just one great lawyer among many at Boies Schiller.

What comes to mind at the mention of Boies, Schiller & Flexner? Perhaps the legendary named partners — David Boies, Jonathan Schiller, and Donald Flexner — or perhaps the legendary bonuses, which last year went as high as $300,000.

But there’s much more to the firm than that. Even though BSF is most famous for its litigation work, it has a sizable and well-regarded corporate practice, for example. And even though its biggest presence is in the state of New York, with offices in Albany, Armonk, and New York City, the firm has several other outposts — including a growing and high-powered presence in Washington, D.C.

Boies Schiller has been adding some impressive new talent to its D.C. outpost. Last week, the firm welcomed a leading litigatrix. Let’s learn more about her, shall we?

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The media has toppled a barrel of digital ink on the issue of Justice Ginsburg’s insistence on retaining her seat on the Supreme Court. Above the Law has even mentioned it once or twice or thrice. Like any other conventional wisdom story emanating from inside the Beltway, someone raised the issue, Justice Ginsburg said “no,” and then scores of pages were written explaining how she was wrong. And now, as that’s played itself out, scores of pages are going to be written taking the stance that maybe Justice Ginsburg… isn’t wrong?

Well, she is wrong, and bucking the trend of conventional wisdom makes for fun thought experiments, but isn’t as helpful when it comes to discrete, short-term decision-making. The thinking is all too clever by half and should be heaved onto the bonfire of civil liberties Scalia has cooking in his mind….

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