As the Chief Justice announced at the start of today’s session of the Supreme Court, October Term 2011 is concluded; October Term 2012 has commenced.
And what a commencement it was. Stars of the Supreme Court bar flooded into One First Street N.E. to welcome the start of the term — and also because of the massive amount of corporate amicus work brought on by Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.
There were two cases up for argument today. One involved whether you can sue a company with a U.S. subsidiary for very bad things it does in cahoots with the Nigerian government. The other was over the scope of federal admiralty jurisdiction….
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?
This morning saw significant activity at the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we did not get a ruling in the health care reform case (aka Obamacare), SCOTUS did hand down a number of important opinions. Check back later today, when we expect to have color commentary from our Supreme Court correspondent, Matt Kaiser, who attended the proceedings in person.
In the meantime, here’s a quick and dirty summary of what transpired at One First Street this morning, including links to the underlying opinions. The most high-profile case was the Court’s decision on the controversial Arizona immigration law, but there were other major cases that were resolved today as well….
Superstar Supreme Court litigator Thomas Goldstein — who has argued 22 cases before the high court, racked up numerous honors from legal and general-interest publications, and, most importantly, served as a judge of ATL Idol — is leaving Akin Gump. Goldstein has led the powerhouse firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice and serves as presiding co-leader of the firm’s litigation management committee. He arrived at Akin four and a half years ago, back in May 2006, to much fanfare.
Why is Tom Goldstein leaving Akin Gump? And where is he headed?
A few weeks ago, we were emailing with one of our sources about an interesting fact we noticed, based on Above the Law’s real-time coverage of Supreme Court clerk hiring. The fact: thus far, Justice John Paul Stevens has hired just one law clerk for October Term 2010 (Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)).
We didn’t write about it at the time, because OT 2010 is still a year away, and it seemed a bit speculative to make much of it so far in advance. But others noticed this fact too — and were faster on the trigger about it. Like the AP:
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.
If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.
Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court….
Indeed. We started the speculation about Justice Souter’s retirement back in April 2009, over at Underneath Their Robes, based in part on his lack of law clerk hiring (and based in part on a sighting of him with Senator Pat Leahy).
But back to Justice Stevens:
In response to a question from The Associated Press, Stevens confirmed through a court spokeswoman Tuesday that he has hired only one clerk for the term that begins in October 2010. He is among several justices who typically have hired all four clerks for the following year by now. Information about this advance hiring is not released by the court but is regularly published by some legal blogs.
Cough cough — like Above the Law?
Commentary from expert observers, plus a reader poll, after the jump.
We’re quite talented at bringing you last week’s news. See, e.g., our ridiculouslyextensive coverage of the Battle of the Law Firm Bands.
The main reason for our D.C. visit was not the Battle of the Bands, but the national convention of the American Constitution Society (ACS) — the left’s answer to the Federalist Society. With the Democrats in control of both Congress and the White House, this year’s conference was well-attended and celebratory. There was even an upgrade in venue, from the Hyatt Regency to the Mayflower Renaissance.
(Was Eliot Spitzer on the program committee? Or did ACS go with the Mayflower because it’s the traditional venue for the annual conference of the Federalist Society?)
The first plenary panel of this year’s ACS conference featured a star-studded cast:
Judge Rosemary Barkett, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Thomas C. Goldstein (moderator), Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Pamela Harris, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Pamela S. Karlan, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Goodwin A. Liu, Associate Dean and Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law
John Payton, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Read our write-up, after the jump.
“My Gump, my Gump, my lovely Akin Gump. Check it out….“
What’s going on at Akin Gump? That seems to be what many of you are wondering, based on some comments posted to a recent open thread featuring the firm:
“What is happening to Akin Gump DC? I saw that a bunch of lit partners just left.”
“I’ve heard the same thing…. Akin appears to be losing tons of partners and the DC office is rumored to be in turmoil. It does, however, have Tom Goldstein, which is sure to attract gunners who think they’ll be arguing cases in three years.”
“I read somewhere that the changes at Akin are part of some larger strategic plan. Anyone know anything about that?”
As a matter of fact, yes — Kim Eisler does. He writes, over at Washingtonian:
Over the past few months, 950-lawyer Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has lost about 45 lawyers, including two of its rainmakers, Michael Madigan and Richard Wyatt Jr. Tensions are said to be high, with partners in the New York office unhappy that the Washington lawyers are not producing their share of revenue. To increase productivity, Akin Gump pushed out 5 percent of its lawyers who, in management’s view, were not generating enough income. The firm also closed its office in Taipei, one of 12 it maintained outside of Washington, and insiders predict the money-losing Beijing office will be next to go. The China offices have been expensive failures in the eyes of New York partners, who are pressing Washington to stop the bleeding….
ATL Idol, the “reality blogging” competition in which you will select the next editor of Above the Law, is nearing its end. The original six contestants have been winnowed down to two finalists: FROLIC AND DETOUR and SOPHIST.
We’ll open the polls later today. But first, let’s hear from your celebrity judges:
Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
See what they have to say about the last two competitors, after the jump.
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