By Carlyn Kolker
Voice in the crowd
To wrap up the day, we provide you with more fodder on the upcoming, guaranteed-to-be-epic health care-law challenge. You've probably heard in the wall-to-wall media coverage that the case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court over three days in March, beginning March 26. Now Bloomberg is entering the debate with an entire blog devoted to the proceedings. The site kicks things off with a profile of Paul Clement, the lawyer representing the states challenging the law -- Clement was also a subject of a Washington Post profile on Monday -- and a preview of the "boring" argument on Day One before the court.
A Tennessee judge has been disciplined not once, not twice, not three, but four times, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. John Bell, a judge in Cocke County, Tennessee, recently agreed to a public reprimand for conduct that occurred in April 2011. According to public documents from Tennessee's Court of the Judiciary, a state disciplinary body cited by the newspaper, Bell admitted that while he was on leave stationed with the Army National Guard, he allowed a lawyer who had no clearance to take his place on the bench. Among other things, the lawyer set bond for defendants. Previous misconduct complaints against Bell centered on his sending probation cases to a law firm run by his brother-in-law (Bell struck a deal in that complaint); improperly influencing a victim in a case he was overseeing (Bell was suspended for 90 days in 2011 after that one); and a private case whose details are unknown, the Knoxville News Sentinel says.
The lawsuit challenging the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions policy is yet another big-bang case that the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear, and the Austin American-Statesman is on top of the litigation's who's who bar news. In the mix for UT, says the Austin paper, is Barry Burgdorf, the general counsel for the university. Burgdorf has been around the affirmative-action lawsuit track: as a lawyer with Houston firm Vinson & Elkin, Burgdorf represented the UT system pro bono in Hopwood v. Texas, another case that challenged the system's admissions policy. Also on Burgdorf's team in an advisory capacity is James Ho, an attorney at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and former solicitor general of Texas who defended the state university in the current affirmative case in the lower courts. On the plaintiffs' side, Edward Blum has reached out to Washington law firm Wiley Rein.
It's been two years since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Citizens United, which paved the way for unions and corporations to spend unlimited sums on elections. In the interim, we have seen a lot of hue and cry about the meaning, constitutionality, and jurisprudence of the decision. Now, we are starting to see some consequences, too, according to Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and keeper of the Election Law Blog. In the wake of a ruling by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit interpreting Citizens United, the courts allowed so-called Super PACS to blossom, Hasen writes in Slate. Attempting to refute defenders of Citizens United, Hasen plucks this statistic from the Center for Responsive Politics: So far in the 2012 presidential campaign, $88 million has been spent by Super PACs, compared to $37.5 million in the 2008 presidential race. "If this was not caused by Citizens United, we have a mighty big coincidence on our hands," writes Hasen. We're still only in primary season, Hasen notes; we can't wait to see the final numbers on the general.
Last week we flagged a New York Times profile of Michelle Alexander, a law professor at Ohio State University and author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," a best-selling critique of the U.S. war on drugs and how it has affected black Americans. On Sunday, we got a glimpse into why Alexander is generating so much interest. In a provocative piece in the New York Times about the plea-bargain system, Alexander argues that pleading guilty carries many long-term, negative consequences and that defendants could escape them by instead taking their cases to trial. (In the federal system, more than 90 percent of criminal cases end in plea bargains).
"The system of mass incarceration depends almost entirely on the cooperation of those it seeks to control," Alexander writes. If everyone stopped pleading guilty, the justice system would be upended and "such chaos would force mass incarceration to the top of the agenda for politicians and policy makers, leaving them only two viable options: sharply scale back the number of criminal cases filed (for drug possession, for example) or amend the Constitution (or eviscerate it by judicial "emergency" fiat)."
With words like these, we are dying to read the book.
Summary Judgments for March 9
Summary Judgments for March 8
Summary Judgments for March 7
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