Texas

This week, a Texas House of Representatives committee voted to send a new abortion bill to the full House for a vote next week. The Senate has scheduled a Monday morning hearing on a separate but identical bill. Last week, State Senator Wendy Davis, as she donned her now-famous pink running shoes, attempted to filibuster the bill to death. Davis, branded a fearsome crusader for women’s rights, embraced the national spotlight and admitted that she is eyeing Governor Rick Perry’s job.

Hearing or reading the phrase “abortion bill” in snippets of news coverage, we revert to form. Liberals recoil. Conservatives cheer. All without most people reading the actual text of the bill. Wendy Davis claims to be standing up for Texas women. Liberals nationwide claim to be “standing with Wendy.” Davis is suddenly a feminist hero. She’s pro-woman because, you know, she opposes that bill that, you know . . . um . . . abortion.

This tired script fails because there’s nothing especially “pro-woman” about opposing the legislation at issue . . . .

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Ed. note: In honor of the July 4th holiday, we do not expect to publish tomorrow. We will be back on Friday, July 5th, although on a reduced publication schedule.

* These are the five cases likely to come up after Fourth of July weekend. The “boating accidents” case reminds me of a poor teen clerk telling Homer Simpson that he couldn’t operate a boat while drunk and he responded, “Sounds like a wager to me!” [The Expert Institute]

* This lawyer is also a professional at shooting off fireworks. In this job market, it’s good to have a career to fall back on. [Indiana Lawyer]

* This is the holiday to go take in a baseball game. If you’re in Michigan, you can watch the Lansing Lugnuts vs. the Lake County Captains at Cooley Law School Stadium. Wait, Cooley has a stadium? [Battle Creek Enquirer]

* The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association is planning a series of readings of the Declaration of Independence. You know, in case you have absolutely nothing to do in Texas tomorrow. [KLTV]

* On a similar note, in Massachusetts, there was an annual reading of Frederick Douglass’s famed take on the Fourth of July from the perspective of abolitionists. [Cape Cod Daily]

* In non-holiday news, the George Zimmerman trial ground to a halt today when Skype testimony was bombarded by pranksters constantly pinging the witness’s account. Video after the jump….

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* Do you think Chief Justice Roberts is the Supreme Court’s “peacemaker”? To be fair, at least he does a better job of tempering all of his judicial rage than his colleagues. [Politico]

* According to Prof. John Eastman of Chapman Law, the SCOTUS decision striking down DOMA means Prop 8 is good law in California. Try and wrap your mind around that one. [OC Weekly]

* The Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform plan with a 68-32 vote, and now it’s up to House representatives to take the bill and summarily wipe their asses with it. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The good folks at Hobby Lobby quilted for hours yesterday to celebrate the Tenth Circuit’s reversal of a lower court’s denial of an injunction blocking the ACA’s contraceptives mandate. [The Oklahoman]

* Texas A&M still hopes to acquire Texas Weslyan’s law school; they’re just waiting for the ABA to look over the paperwork. Welcome, Texas A&M Law, since the takeover will obviously be approved. [WTAW]

* Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been indicted on 30 counts of violence and weapons-related charges. Right now, he’s looking at a possibility of life in prison or the death penalty. [CNN]

This has been an exciting week at the Supreme Court. But nothing on First Street matched the drama of the Texas State Legislature last night in Austin.

If you watch only television news, you might have missed it.

Wendy Davis, a Democratic Texas state senator from Fort Worth, mounted a one-woman filibuster trying to stop Texas from passing restrictive abortion laws that would have effectively closed all but five of the abortion clinics in the state. Her fight was a lesson in small-scale democracy, arcane parliamentary laws, and standard GOP tactics to change those laws when they feel like they’re losing.

But most of all, it was a lesson in the power of the people…

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There’s a lot of SCOTUS attention today, but there’s still some doings in the law school world. Specifically, an ousted dean of a top law school is threatening a lawsuit against a regent.

Apparently, the former dean feels he was defamed when the regent in question started throwing around allegations of stealing from the law school.

Once more, the important life lesson is that if you’re going to defame someone and want to get away with it, don’t defame a lawyer…

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Stand with Wendy.

* “Screw all these other cases, man, we’re ready for the real stuff — you know… the gay stuff.” Damn, a satirical article that perfectly captures our thoughts. Don’t worry, it’s coming today. [The Onion]

* On a more serious note, this is obviously a really big day for gay marriage at the Supreme Court. Will the justices settle the score, or leave this movement’s supporters high and dry? [Wall Street Journal]

* Big Tech has always been a proponent of gay rights, and some of the most respected brands in America are hoping same-sex marriage doesn’t get the blue screen of death from SCOTUS. [Politico]

* Everyone else loses, but Scalia always wins. He couldn’t have asked for more after Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down. So long, “racial entitlements.” [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* “No, we’re not going to do layoffs. We’d never do layoffs. Everything is just fine. Seriously, we won’t do stealth layoffs either. Promise! Believe us, pretty please,” said the managing partner of every peer Biglaw firm after the Weil winnowing. [Am Law Daily]

* Law schools are freaking out about a new American Bar Association proposal to tighten their bar passage requirements, and they’re blaming all of their alarm on diversity issues. [National Law Journal]

* This state senator wins the award for most unique filibuster attempt ever. To block new abortion regulations in Texas, Sen. Wendy Davis spoke endlessly for 11 hours straight. You go girl! [CNN]

* Pop star Chris Brown was charged in a hit-and-run, and surprisingly, Rihanna had nothing to do with it. The new charges may affect his probation, and he might even go to jail. [Arts Beat / New York Times]

* Breaking news: Aaron Hernandez was just taken into custody at his home. Discuss. [USA Today]

The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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It seems that the firm of Patton Boggs is stuck in the mud right now. Back in March, the firm announced significant layoffs of attorneys and staff — possibly the biggest in 2013, at least until this morning’s Weil Gotshal layoffs. Patton Boggs is also feeling some heat over its involvement in the Chevron / Ecuador litigation mess (fifth link).

And now we have news that a sizable number of Patton partners are heading for the exit. How many partners are leaving, and where are they headed?

Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.

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Today, the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled 7-1 to vacate the Fifth Circuit in Fisher v. Texas. The opinion was a great big dodge. Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the lower court failed to apply “strict scrutiny” to the University of Texas’s admissions policies. Cutting through the legalese, that means the Supreme Court actually upheld the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which is the controlling case allowing affirmative action in college admissions. While conservative justices indicated that they would have overturned Grutter had they been asked, the majority found that they had not been asked.

If that all sounds like a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to you that avoids the heart of the issue, you are not a lawyer. You are right, but you aren’t a lawyer.

This is no “victory” for affirmative action. There are still a majority of Supreme Court justices that want, almost desperately, to end racial preferences in college admissions. What the Court did today was threaten colleges and universities that want to use racial preferences to come up with really good justifications for their affirmative action policies. Schools that aren’t really committed to diversity, or that go about achieving diversity in a stupid way, will surely have their programs ruled unconstitutional in the future.

This is, I think, the end of affirmative action as a tool for “racial equality.” But affirmative action as a tool to promote “racial diversity” is alive and well.

Which, all things considered, is just fine by me. I think the Court signaled that it is just no longer buying the old reasons for affirmative action. While the rabid conservatives don’t seem to be wiling to consider any, it looks like moderates like Kennedy may listen to new justifications for using race as a factor in admissions, but you are going to have to convince him….

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Finally. The Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas, the closely watched affirmative action case.

And the result might surprise you. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the Court, which should shock no one. But here’s a surprise: the vote breakdown was 7-1 (with Justice Kagan recused).

How did Justice Kennedy garner seven votes for a ruling on one of the most controversial issues of our time?

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