Voting Rights Act

Nate Silver

As much as it pleases me to see statistical data introduced in the Supreme Court, the act of citing statistical factoids is not the same thing as drawing sound inferences from them.

Nate Silver, statistician extraordinaire, rebuking Chief Justice John Roberts’s use of statistics during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, and noting that the voting ratios cited weren’t “meaningful in either a statistical or a practical sense.”

Will review documents for a sense of dignity?

* “Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African American voter turnout? Massachusetts.” Sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, but the Bay State’s top elections official begs to differ with your assessment. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* This retired SCOTUS justice — the first woman to ever serve on the nation’s highest court — now refers to herself as “an unemployed cowgirl.” We wonder what Justice Scalia will refer to himself as in interviews after he retires. [Sacramento Bee]

* Mayer Brown wasn’t the only Biglaw firm that had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Dorsey & Whitney’s 2012 revenue was also at a six-year low, but firm leaders think they can turn it around. [Star Tribune]

* Billion-dollar patent verdicts, so hot right now: 2012 was a “banner year” for for Biglaw firms representing winning clients, with K&L Gates leading the pack for the highest monetary award. [National Law Journal]

* “I wouldn’t want to be coming out of law school now.” Oh my God, you guys, the legal job market is still really tough for brand-spanking new law grads. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [Buffalo News]

This morning the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the challenge brought by Shelby County, Alabama, to the Voting Rights Act. I’m not really concerned with the particulars of the argument as articulated by the attorneys (U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli for the government, Bert Rein arguing for Shelby County), or the substance of the justices’ questions. The Court has been jonesing to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain jurisdictions to “preclear” changes to their election laws with the federal government to be sure that they aren’t racially discriminating against minorities.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems to subscribe to the butthurt view that after 400 years of the enslavement and oppression of African-Americans in this country, now the only way to protect the rights of minorities is to make sure white people don’t feel discriminated against. Justice Anthony Kennedy seems to think he can make policy for the rest of the country, even though Citizens United should have shown him that he has no idea how the real world works. And the other three conservatives on the Court, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, think that racial equality involves keeping your mouth shut while majorities do whatever they want.

The conservatives have the votes to overturn one of the most successful weapons against racism in this country, and I can’t say I’m really surprised that conservatives are eager to take this away.

But is anybody else getting a little sick and tired of Justice Antonin Scalia’s constant grandstanding? I don’t know if it was getting passed over for Chief Justice or if he’s really pissed he didn’t get to decide who won the 2008 presidential election, but isn’t his whole “conservative intellectual hero” act starting to interfere with his job as “impartial member of the judiciary”?

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* The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments today on a challenge to the Voting Rights Act. If for some reason you’re not sure why you should care about this, here’s everything you need to know to sound intelligent at the water cooler. [New York Times]

* If the sequester goes into effect this Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder warns that we’re probably going to see “profound” effects across the entire justice system. America, f**k yeah! Coming again to save the motherf**kin’ day, yeah! [National Law Journal]

* It looks like the tiny and terrifying Mary Jo White is currently on the Congressional pageant trail ahead of her March confirmation hearing for SEC leadership, and now she’s even vowed never to return to Debevoise & Plimpton. [DealBook / New York Times]

* A coup for Cadwalader and a casualty for Cravath: Jim Woolery chose another firm over his former home of 17 years, and it may have something to do with the Biglaw bonus market leader’s “sometimes antiquated” regime. [Am Law Daily]

* “There are many more fish chasing the same business,” but that’s not stopping new white-collar boutiques from trying to compete for business in what some say is an overly crowded market. [New York Law Journal]

* Louis Oberdorfer, district judge of the D.D.C. and former SCOTUS clerk, RIP. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The horror! The horror! Sacrilege! Constitutional law nerds nationwide will weep at the very thought of someone suggesting that our country’s governing document be amended to abolish life tenure for Supreme Court justices. [Los Angeles Times]

* Quite frankly, it’s pretty amazing how quickly the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act went from being seen by states as something that wasn’t “onerous” to being “arbitrary and burdensome.” That’s politics for you. [It's All Politics / NPR]

* Jim Woolery, an M&A superstar formerly of J.P. Morgan, has made the jump to Cadwalader after only two years at the bank. Upgrade or downgrade from his Cravath partnership? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Some law professors stop teaching classes to tend to their divorce proceedings, but other law professors teach classes from their hospital beds so their students aren’t thrown to the wolves. [Tex Parte / Texas Lawyer]

* It you want to be employed, make damn sure you nail your interview because “[t]he stakes are higher than ever” — fewer than 13 percent of permanent law jobs were obtained from OCI in 2011. [National Law Journal]

* Greenlight Capital’s case against Apple might have been perceived as a “silly sideshow” by some, but it looks like Judge Richard Sullivan of the S.D.N.Y. purchased front row tickets. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Speaking of silly sideshows, the DOJ recently joined the fray with Floyd Landis and his False Claims Act suit against Lance Armstrong. Perhaps it’s time for the disgraced biker to take his ball and go home. [Bloomberg]

* Alan Westin, privacy law scholar and professor emeritus of public law at Columbia, RIP. [New York Times]

Maybe people in Mississippi should watch this to figure out why the Voting Rights Act is still important.

My mother was born in 1950 in Mississippi. I’ve been to Mississippi. There are still brothers trying to escape to freedom from Mississippi.

Today the big story (at least in liberal circles) is that Mississippi finally officially ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, after two Ole Miss employees saw the movie Lincoln and decided to look into why their state hadn’t officially ratified the amendment. You can’t make that up: Mississippi needed a Spielberg movie to remind them to ratify the amendment banning slavery. I can’t wait till Mississippi sends an expedition to Isla Nublar to check into this whole “dinosaur situation” “Jesus Horse situation.”

You can see why liberals love this story. It’s the perfect deep south story: a tradition of holding people in bondage, slow response times, and incompetence.

And I’d leave it at that.

Except that as the Supreme Court gears up to eviscerate the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act, it’s important to remember that not all states are created equal….

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Pillsbury’s so lonely these days.

* “Without the formation of character, the rest is futile.” An Article III judge’s take on the law school crisis. [Simple Justice]

* Because nobody likes sloppy seconds, the merger talks between Pillsbury Winthrop and Dickstein Shapiro are now off the table. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* David Tresch, an ex-Biglaw CIO, was indicted last week on wire fraud charges. “Bitch better give me back my money,” said Mayer Brown. [ABA Journal]

* Does Jeffrey Toobin understand the Voting Rights Act? This law professor seems skeptical. [PrawfsBlog]

* Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, because this Saturday is Gun Appreciation Day. Go celebrate your Second Amendment rights — but do it responsibly, please! [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Remember Ryan Chenevert, the young lawyer who took home the title of Cosmo’s Bachelor of the Year for 2012? Check out the very tongue-in-cheek interview this hottie did with 225 Magazine, after the jump….

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* Wait, are we really going to have to debate the legal merits of this platinum coin thing? Really? Can’t Congress just not hold the country hostage so we don’t have to start messing around with crazy coins and the Fourteenth Amendment? Like, you don’t have to start doing bats**t crazy Carrie Mathison things if you don’t let terrorists take Nicholas Brody in the first place. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* There was another school shooting today. It just makes you wonder if the terrible reign ushered in by Grand Theft Auto will ever end. At least, in this case, the teacher was armed to the teeth WITH WORDS to TALK DOWN the shooter. [Huffington Post]

* “Illegal” trades don’t mean the same thing to bankers as they do to everybody else. Well, that’s not true. Maybe the disconnect is more with the word “consequences.” [Dealbreaker]

* Yeah, I’m going to go on and say that I’m not going to believe anything coming out of the Trayvon Martin police report. Just like I wasn’t considering anything coming out of racist ass Mark Fuhrman. [Tampa Bay Times]

* There’s a lot to lose if Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act gets struck down. [Slate]

* I suppose it’s good that lawyers don’t have “I’m going to do a half-assed job here” fees. [Underdog]

Wait, that’s the wrong answer.

It’s been great fun to watch archconservatives wake up and realize what country they’ve been living in this whole time. Minorities vote too. Single women don’t like being called sluts. Gays and lesbians are everywhere. And people can understand that sometimes, taxes are necessary.

The emerging American consciousness — from both Democrats and Republicans — that if we want government to do things we have to pay for them with taxes, has been particularly fun to watch. In Austin, Texas, there was a ballot initiative which contemplated raising property takes to in order to pay for “a medical school in Austin and other health care projects,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. And it passed!

But that didn’t sit well with some Texans. Don Zimmerman, treasurer of the Travis County Taxpayers Union political action committee, argued that the initiative — called Proposition 1 — was discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. Zimmerman and his attorney argued that Prop 1 was confusing to minorities who “have lower reading comprehension than whites.”

Maybe so, but I sho’nuff can spy me a racist when I done read one….

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Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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