Supreme Court

Today at least, Gregory Garre is dog’s best friend in the Supreme Court.

The Court heard two cases involving when dogs can use their noses to help fight the war on drugs. Garre argued both – back to back – for the State of Florida. Fresh on the heels of his representation of Texas in the recent affirmative action case, it was an impressive morning.

The first case presented the question of whether a dog – here, named Frankie – brought to the front door of a house, can sniff at the front of the house for drugs.

Garre came out of the box asserting that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in contraband. That didn’t go so well….

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* A Hurricane Sandy survival guide. Key components? Food, water, booze, and prophylactics. Who’s ready for a hurricane Halloween party? [FindLaw]

* California’s longest serving death-row inmate just got his sentence set aside by the Ninth Circuit. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A few days before Thanksgiving, SCOTUS will decide whether to hear the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases. Happy holidays? [American Foundation for Equal Rights]

* Sometimes the most effective self-defense weapon isn’t a gun, it’s a pot of soup. [Consumerist]

* Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean and current legal adviser to the State Department, sits down for a Legally Speaking interview at UC Hastings. [California Lawyer]

* Additional thoughts, this time from Professor Eugene Volokh, on employers urging employees to vote a certain way. [Volokh Conspiracy]

I didn’t mean to interrupt, you were saying something about ‘clean’ coal?

Hurricane Sandy — a.k.a. “Frankenstorm”, because it’s greater than the sum of its parts (and there’s the suggestion that storms like this are growing bigger and stronger because of man messing around with forces he doesn’t fully understand) — is coming. It’s basically a hurricane that’s merging with a Nor’easter that will make it rain, and not in the fun way. The federal government is closed. The New York Stock Exchange is closed. The McDonald’s next to my apartment is closed — Sandy has already cost me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit.

Don’t worry about me, I’ve got a three-day supply of alcohol and hot pockets. Hopefully you are all similarly prepared for 36 hours of sustained hype wind and rain. Size does matter with Sandy (if “Sandy” sounds a bit mundane, know that the next one will be “Tony”). We might not get a lot of CGI worthy images out of this storm, but the length of this storm could cause a lot of damage.

One thing that is still open: the Supreme Court of the United States. Yes, because the nation might be able to survive without mass transit or the stock exchange, but old men don’t take a day off from sitting in judgment. Reuters reports that the Court prides itself on working when everybody else takes shelter from a storm: “In 1996, when a major snowstorm closed the federal government and brought Washington, D.C., to a near standstill, court arguments went on. Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Wisconsin native undeterred by snow and ruled by a strong sense of punctuality, made sure business that January 8 began on schedule.”

UPDATE (12:00 PM): According to SCOTUSblog (based on a press release from the Court), the Court has now cancelled arguments for Tuesday. So, the case of Sandy v. SCOTUS has been decided 9-0 in favor of the people who might have had to put their lives at risk to cover the proceedings.

Let’s look at some of the other things in and around the legal world that are still open along the Eastern seaboard….

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At least Casey Anthony knows her new venue motion is laughable.

* Hurricane Sandy is set to arrive today, so batten down the hatches, folks! Everything’s closing down for the storm, but please feel free to email us, if your law school or law firm is encouraging you to work. [Washington Post]

* Thanks to the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United, companies can now recommend how their employees should vote, which is “no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’” [New York Times]

* Biglaw firms are re-negotiating their office space leases in an effort to save money. While some firms have already sealed their new real estate deals, others are still on the prowl — but which ones? [Am Law Daily]

* The University of St. Thomas School of Law has a new dean, and it certainly seems like he’s willing to make some waves to help his students. The first step for Robert Vischer? Reducing tuition. [National Law Journal]

* “I don’t think her popularity has improved since the [murder] verdict.” That’s probably why Casey Anthony’s lawyers are desperately trying to get a new venue for Zenaida Gonzalez’s defamation case. [Orlando Sentinel]

* A man divorced his formerly fugly wife (she had $100K in plastic surgery to correct her looks), sued her for luring him into marriage her under false pretenses, and won. Don’t worry, girls, this happened in China. [FOX]

Justice Antonin Scalia

The only time you’re going to have an opportunity to study a whole area of the law systematically is in law school. You should not waste that opportunity. Take the bread-and-butter courses. Do not take “law and women,” do not take “law and poverty,” do not take “law and anything.”

– Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, advising students during a speaking engagement at the University of Wyoming Law School that they should avoid “frill courses” during their time in school.

Is Kagan turning to the dark side?

The news from the Supreme Court this morning isn’t about affirmative action or campaign finance or health care for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today’s news is the gossip that (conservative) Antonin Scalia and (liberal) Elena Kagan apparently enjoy each other’s company. In our polarized political climate, it’s news that Scalia and Kagan have gone hunting together, without trying to kill each other.

Yeah, you heard that right, hunting. Scalia took Kagan hunting. Scalia has now corrupted one of the liberal justices into murdering defenseless animals for sport. When reached for comment, Scalia said of Kagan “I could feel her anger. It gives her focus, makes her stronger.”

Kagan can’t go out like this. If she’s going to start killing things for amusement, it’s got to be part of a deal where she makes Scalia do something, I don’t know, compassionate and human. You know? Or at the very least, she’s got to take him to a gay bar in Chelsea or something….

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This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.

(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)

In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.

Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….

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Having spam emails sent out under your name can happen to anyone. As we’ve previously reported, it has happened to a leading law firm. And to a prominent professor, at a top law school. This led us to wonder: Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community?

Quite possibly. Even being married to justice of the United States Supreme Court will not protect you from the spammers.

It seems that a Supreme spouse may have fallen victim to unsavory characters from the online world….

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in an opinion written by a prominent conservative jurist, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, just voted to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The court issued its 2-1 decision just three weeks after hearing oral argument, which is extremely fast for a case of this complexity and importance….

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Justice Stevens

The fact that Congress doesn’t address it is, I think, mind-boggling.

– Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, calling for the government — and the presidential nominees — to focus more seriously on gun control, in the wake of a string of mass public shootings earlier this year.

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