Washington Post

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFHere are some recent, noteworthy moves within the D.C. legal community:
Inside the Administration:
* Conservative legal superstar Jennifer Brosnahan has left the White House Counsel’s office, where she was one of the more senior associate counsels, to become the new deputy general counsel at the Department of Transportation.
From government to private practice:
* As previously reported by Ken Vogel of The Politico, Michael Toner has left the Federal Election Commission, to build an election law practice at Bryan Cave (which, by the way, recently raised associate salaries).
Within the Fourth Estate:
* One of the most knowledgeable legal scribes around, Benjamin Wittes, is leaving the Washington Post, after some nine years at the venerable paper.
(Wittes, the author of Confirmation Wars (previously praised here), is currently on book leave from the Post. He’s working on another book about the federal courts.)
FEC Revolving Door Swings Faster [The Politico]

Worth your time: this article, from the front page of today’s Washington Post, and this post, by Professor Dave Hoffman (who is quoted in the article).
Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web: Law Students Feel Lasting Effects of Anonymous Attacks [Washington Post]
Article on Xoxohth and Legal Gossip [Concurring Opinions]

charles stimson charles d stimson.jpgSometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a government official unwisely shooting his mouth off is just a government official unwisely shooting his mouth off.
When Charles D. Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, criticized lawyers at top law firms for representing Guantánamo Bay detainees, we speculated that perhaps his statements were part of a Bush Administration effort to discourage such representation. It appears that we were wrong.
Today’s Washington Post contains a letter of apology from Stimson. In the letter, he states that he “believe[s] firmly that a foundational principle of our legal system is that the system works best when both sides are represented by competent legal counsel.”
After making his controversial remarks, Charles Stimson was roundly criticized by numerous law school deans. His abrupt about-face raises an amusing possibility: Could an open letter from law school deans — typically as worthless and irrelevant a piece of paper as a parking ticket on a diplomat’s windshield — have had an actual impact in the real world?
The full text of Cully Stimson’s apologetic letter, plus related links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “For Breakfast at Cully Stimson’s House: Pop Tarts Filled With Crow”

Confirmation Wars Ben Wittes Benjamin Wittes Above the Law.jpgHey, guess what? In our best impression of Howard Bashman, we’re going to tell you all about a recent lunch of ours.
On Tuesday, we had an absolutely delightful lunch with Benjamin Wittes. He’s an editorial writer for the Washington Post, specializing in legal affairs, and the author of a new book about the judicial confirmation process: Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times.
We recommend Confirmation Wars most highly. It’s tremendously well-researched, as well as fascinating and fun to read. (Even the footnotes are juicy.) It has the rigor of an academic book — it’s published in connection with the Hoover Institution at Stanford — but the readability of, well, a non-academic book. And it came out after the Roberts and Alito confirmations were concluded, so it’s informed by those recent experiences.
Wittes ably diagnoses the problems with the current judicial nomination and confirmation process, then offers up some solutions. And he’s commendably fair-minded and non-ideological in his assessment of a highly controversial subject. (To learn more about the substantive views expressed in the book, check out this article, from the Harvard Law Record.)
Starting in January, Wittes will be away from the Post. He’s going on a six-month book leave, to work on his next project: a book about the federal appeals court. We can’t wait to read it!
In case you’re wondering, we lunched at Georgia Brown’s, just down the street from the Post offices. We both had the soup special — black bean, if memory serves — and the fried chicken salad, which was scrumptious, even if not very healthy for a salad. And we gossiped incessantly about federal judges and judicial nominees. What a blast!!!
Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times [Amazon.com]
Confirmation Wars: Ben Wittes on How to Preserve Judicial Independence [Harvard Law Record]

samuel alito harold koh linda greenhouse.JPGWe’re delighted that our scoop about Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh pushing Linda Greenhouse over Justice Samuel Alito for the YLS Award of Merit has been picked up so widely. It even made the pages of the Holy Trinity of the Right-of-Center Blawgosphere: Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy (Jonathan Adler), and Althouse.
As noted, our transcript of the deliberations was fictionalized and satirical. But it is based upon what we’ve learned about the process by which Greenhouse was selected.
If you disbelieve our account in its entirety, allow us to share with you some supporting information. This isn’t the first time that Dean Koh has been accused of showing favoritism towards Linda Greenhouse. Consider the case of the Harry Blackmun papers.
Koh, a former law clerk to Justice Blackmun and advisor to his daughter Sally, played a major role in giving Linda Greenhouse exclusive, early access to Blackmun’s papers — much to the chagrin of other news organizations. As reported at the time by Tony Mauro:

Blackmun’s daughter Sally, the executor for the papers, said in an interview last week that Linda Greenhouse, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, and Nina Totenberg, longtime Court correspondent for National Public Radio, have been given exclusive pre-release access to the papers for their respective media of print and broadcast journalism….

The Washington Post asked for early access before the exclusive arrangement was made, but was denied. Editors at the Post were described by one knowledgeable source outside the newspaper as “livid” over the favored treatment granted to the Times.

Executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. and Post attorney David Kendall of Williams & Connolly repeatedly sought reconsideration of the exclusive deal, without success, according to sources at the Post. The Post petitioned Sally Blackmun and Yale Law School professor Harold Koh, a former clerk to the justice and now an adviser to Blackmun.

A Post source says that Koh invited the newspaper to make a proposal for early access last July, but did not mention a deadline. According to the source, by the time the Post replied in September with a plan for non-exclusive early access, the decision had already been made to give the Times exclusive access.

Say it ain’t so! Dean Koh had already made up his mind, in favor of La Greenhouse? Quelle surprise!

For her part, Greenhouse says she began talking with Koh last July, but did not seek exclusivity. The offer to give the Times the only print media preview “fell in my lap,” she says….

Koh declined to comment on why Greenhouse and Totenberg were selected.

So what is the origin of Linda Greenhouse’s Svengali-like power over Harold Koh?
We have a theory. Check it out, along with a bunch of interesting links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harold and Linda, Sittin’ in a Tree…”

Okay, look, we get it. Given that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is now the swing vote on the Supreme Court, how long he will remain on the Court — and his health, which obviously affects the length of his tenure — is of critical importance.
But we still found it odd that the Washington Post decided to throw AMK’s ideology into its subhed:
justice kennedy heart headlne.JPG
That got us thinking — would they do the same if, say, Justice Scalia underwent the same procedure?
justice scalia heart headline.JPG
Or what about Justice Stevens?
justice stevens heart headline.JPG
(Being a copy editor is such a thankless task. If you do a good job, nobody notices; if you make a mistake, everyone makes fun of you.)
Justice Kennedy Has Stent Implanted [Washington Post]

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