Washington Post

Last month, the employee cafe in the D.C. office of Skadden was briefly closed for health code violations. Meanwhile, across town, the Supreme Court cafeteria continues to operate — even though some apparently think it should be struck down like an errant statute.

On what grounds? For serving fare that violates evolving standards of decency. That seems to be the view of a reporter from the Washington Post (via Josh Blackman):

This food should be unconstitutional, we agreed, as my two companions and I sat in the court’s sparsely populated dining area, examining the wan offerings we’d just received.

The restaurant review is part of the WaPo’s ongoing review of federal government cafeterias. Based on the harsh write-up for Cafe Scotus, it sounds like the judiciary is — with apologies to Alexander Bickel — the most dangerous branch.

So, what are some of the specific dishes panned by the Post?

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As we noted yesterday, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, on track to be the newest justice of the Supreme Court, apparently hasn’t been bitten by the “Twilight” movies. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tried to get Kagan to weigh in on the case of Edward v. Jacob, Kagan declined — a little forcefully. This won’t help White House efforts to depict the Divine Miss K as a girly girl.

But perhaps other legal types have a weakness for the series of vampire romance films. On Wednesday, the Washington Post had an article on the hard-core “Twilight” fans who came out in force for Tuesday night, post-12 a.m. screenings. Reports the Post:

After “Eclipse” was over, moviegoers gave it mixed reviews.

“It was a lot more frustrating than I thought it was going to be, ” said Bill Murray, 31.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Gus Golden, 33. “It had a little bit in it for everyone.”

It seemed odd to find thirtysomething men at the midnight screening of a film aimed at teenage girls. To be sure, Robert Pattinson is ridiculously hot, and Taylor Lautner is quite the butterface (butHISface?), with abs that should be illegal under the Model Penal Code (hehe — penal). But then a little bird told us: “Gus Golden and Bill Murray are both rising 3L’s at Georgetown University Law Center.” And suddenly it all made sense.

The “Twilight” films are supposed to be juvenile and insubstantial — not typical cinematic fare for lawyers and law students. But before we started on a post heaping scorn upon these GULC students, and cracking jokes about how a fall from the so-called “T14″ is imminent, we decided to do some digging….

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In his speaking tours around the country, Clarence Thomas has a lot to say — sometimes critical things to say, about his fellow justices’ approach to oral argument and the lack of alma mater diversity among the Court’s clerks, for example.

But when Thomas is back at One First Street, sitting on the bench, he gets quiet. Very quiet. He hasn’t spoken a word during oral argument in over four years. He’s said before that it’s because he doesn’t see the point in badgering the attorneys arguing before the High Court. But we think there may be another reason: he hates his job. He’s suggested it himself.

In the Washington Post, we set forth a proposal for him: step down. And seek the Republican presidential nomination for 2012.

A bit about our reasoning, and a reader poll, after the jump.

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justice oconnor.jpgLast year, we wrote about retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor entering a new field: video game development. She’s spearheading a project called Our Courts, which seeks to improve civic education in middle schools. The Our Courts website officially launched in January of this year.
The first two games, “Supreme Decision” and “Do I Have A Right?”, went live this summer. The Washington Post contacted us and asked us to review them. We played Nintendo, Oregon Trail, and Carmen Sandiego growing up, and we spent a recent Friday night at Elie’s playing Rock Band, so we were willing to give the Our Courts game a go.
Check out our review of the games, along with additional reflections on civic education and public access to the courts, in this Washington Post piece: Educational? You Be the Judge.
While Lat was in D.C., he swung by the Washington Post’s offices to talk about the games. Check out his star turn in the video after the jump.

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Story competition.JPGThe inherent tension between the old media and the new media boiled over the weekend when Ian Shapira wrote an insightful article for the Washington Post about how Gawker appropriated one of his stories. For people concerned with the so-called “death of journalism,” it is a must read. It is a fairly accurate description of what happens when bloggers repackage stories.
Yesterday, Gawker fired back at the Washington Post. Gabriel Snyder explained how bloggers add original commentary, humor, and sometimes insight. It’s one of the reasons readers keep coming back.
Today, our own Kashmir Hill entered the fray. She points out that some blogs (ahem) actually report and break news, and that news is repackaged by mainstream media sources all the time, often without sufficient attribution or original insight. Over on True/Slant, Kash writes about what happened to her popular story about Fordham’s privacy dossier on Justice Scalia:

I’m a struggling blogger making very little money. I would have been happy to write that story for the New York Times on a freelance basis and get paid for it. (As Washingtonian Magazine invited me to do for its June issue.)
But that’s not how these things usually work. As journalists — the traditional ones and the “new” ones/bloggers — we get stories out into the world, and then they bounce around and gather steam and get read. It’s exciting!
I’m happy my story was covered, regurgitated and repackaged. It’s an important story about a topic -privacy- that I am passionate about.

Hear, hear. The old media simply doesn’t have a monopoly on original reporting anymore.
In case you are interested, Above the Law has a very consistent policy that we follow when it comes to attribution. Let’s discuss it after the jump, and you can weigh in with your thoughts.

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* A “court” upheld the government’s authority to tap international phone calls and emails without a warrant. [The Washington Post]

* Would-be Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing went well yesterday, and he will go for more today. [The Associated Press]

* Marc Dreier, the lawyer who sold hedge funds phony investments, wants to be released on bail. [Reuters]

* The Senate released the second portion of the bailout fund yesterday, giving Obama a tidy $350 billion to get the economy back on track. [The New York Times]

* In an effort to rally lending, President-elect Obama’s advisors are considering drastic proposals that would take toxic assets of bank balance sheets. [Bloomberg]

Reporting the Law A Year End Review.jpg
Last week, we attended and reported on a talk at UVA Law School by Dahlia Lithwick, who discussed covering the Supreme Court. Now we bring you coverage of another interesting event, featuring more navel-gazing by legal journalists:

Reporting the Law: A Year-End Review
New York Law School

Moderator: Brian Lehrer, The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC

Panelists: Emily Bazelon, senior editor, Slate; Dirk Olin, editor, Judicial Reports.com; Dan Slater, lead writer, WSJ Law Blog; Candace Trunzo, editor in chief, Star magazine.

The two lawyers on the panel, Bazelon and Slater, are pretty young things — and were smartly dressed for the occasion. Bazelon, whose features are reminiscent of Christy Turlington’s, wore a white v-neck blouse and well-tailored brown sweater. Slater, baby-faced yet lantern-jawed, wore a gray suit with a blue windowpane pattern, a blue patterned shirt, and a dark navy tie with pink stars (très preppy).

Oh, sorry — we got distracted by the superficial. We have more substantive comments as well.

If you’re interested in the legal media, you can read about the panel discussion after the jump.

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The government acknowledged that a link exists between autism and the routine vaccines which one girl from Georgia was given as a child:

The cases are before a special “vaccine court” that doles out cash from a fund Congress set up to pay people injured by vaccines and to protect makers from damages as a way to help ensure an adequate vaccine supply. The burden of proof is lighter than in a traditional court, and is based on a preponderance of evidence. Since the fund started in 1988, it has paid roughly 950 claims _ none for autism.

Although the government didn’t say that the vaccines cause autism, they did concede that, in this single case, the vaccines worsened the girl’s existing condition and caused her to develop symptoms of autism.

We’re wondering about this “special ‘vaccine court.’ To our readers: what are some other interesting cases in which “special courts” were set up for a specific type of claim (not military tribunals; that’s too obvious)?

UPDATE: We’re asking about interesting cases when “special courts” set up for strange or unorthodox reasons.

Government Concedes Vaccine Injury Case [WaPo]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGToday’s Washington Post contains a very interesting article by Ian Shapira (who seems to love writing about lawyers; see here and here). It’s the latest in a series of stories about well-educated young people in the D.C. area. Today’s piece focuses on college-educated twenty-somethings, living in metro areas, who decide to buck the trend and have kids. Shapira writes:

[Erin] Rexroth, a former congressional aide, and her husband, Philip, 27, who works for the Department of Homeland Security, are defying the norm for their class and age group: They are raising a child. The majority of college graduates in their 20s in metropolitan regions postpone having kids until at least their 30s or never have any, according to recent demographic research.

Like anyone who strays from the generational pack, college-educated parents in their 20s often face questions about friendships, careers and their place in life. Although rearing children invigorates them like a high-profile job, these parents sometimes say they feel like guinea pigs among childless peers. They wonder whether it’s possible to befriend older parents. Some say they feel isolated from friends, those who don’t change diapers or deal with sleep deprivation.

Later in the story, an associate at Cadwalader is quoted about how she decided to have kids early so it wouldn’t disrupt her path to partnership as much:

“By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Erin Foley Lewis, 28, an associate at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”

Cadwalader — they still make partners over there? They better not get into that habit, or their crazy leverage — and sky-high profits per partner — are sure to fall.
On the bright side, at least Ms. Lewis is (1) in litigation and (2) in Washington. So her chances of being laid off are relatively low.
Bringing Up Babies, And Defying the Norm [Washington Post]

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale summer associate pay Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Washington Post has a great article, by Ian Shapira, about the adventures of summer associates here in the nation’s capital. This is our favorite part (emphasis added):

[B]udding lawyers say they spend much of their office time looking for better deals. They peruse such Web sites as Above the Law, a must-read legal blog written by David Lat, a former federal prosecutor in Newark and former co-editor of the Wonkette politics and media blog.

One of Above the Law’s scoops this month was headlined “WilmerHale Summers: Where’s Our Raise?” The blog published an e-mail from an anonymous summer associate in the Boston office who complained that the summers weren’t getting the customary pro-rated weekly equivalent of first-year associates. Instead of about $3,100 a week ($160,000 a year), the tipster wrote, they were getting only $2,800 (about $145,000 a year).

More discussion of this delightful piece, after the jump.

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