The 2010 Supreme Court Term is underway and already has featured some high-profile cases, but it’s a case from 2009 that’s getting the most attention these days. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010), in which the Court struck down a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-155 (2002) (commonly, the McCain-Feingold Act), prohibiting the broadcast by corporations and unions of election-focused information in the days before a presidential primary or election, has been the subject of renewed discussion (which never really fell off dramatically following its issuance early this year) leading up to the elections that are now less than a week away. Critics of the decision are worried that virtually unbridled corporate and union campaign spending will have adverse effects on the democratic process. (Other critics are so upset over the decision that they are considering an attempt to impeach the Chief Justice in response.) More recently, some observers (including critics of a new series of U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign advertisements) have latched onto the less directly presented issue of foreign funding in American elections, a question I raised in my initial report on the case. At that time, a poll showed that two-thirds of the readers of this site favored exclusion of campaign donations from foreign corporations.
With the ongoing goal of gaining a better understanding of the rationale behind singling out foreign financial influences for exclusion from American campaigns and the proximity of the mid-term elections, I hope interested readers will review the earlier post (here), which fleshes out the issue in greater detail, vote in the poll embedded in that post, and then offer comments here.
As mentioned, I am doing some blogging for Law School Transparency (LST), and my latest post there now is available. It discusses recent comments by Steven Zack, president of the American Bar Association:
Mr. Zack’s statements were exciting because they signaled to me the spread of the sort of discussion LST has been working to develop regarding the nature of the employment data reporting problem and the steps necessary to resolve it. While LST is working towards a solution on multiple fronts, including encouraging schools to comply with our Standard, the furtherance of a discourse of transparency serves to advance our cause.
I found Mr. Zack’s comments heartening because they showed his recognition of the more nuanced aspects of this conversation. When it comes to prospective students, he said that “there’s a total lack of awareness” about earning potential and career options. He suggested that law schools have an incentive to present their employment data in the best possible light to attract applicants.
You can read the full post at: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2010/10/new-player-same-goal-more-progress.
It was with great surprise and sadness that I learned of the sudden and unexpected passing of Vanderbilt University Law School’s Professor Richard Nagareda this weekend. Perhaps the Law School’s top professor, he was a leading expert in complex litigation (e.g., class action lawsuits), and was widely published and quoted on that and related topics. He was peerless in the classroom and demonstrated a care for and interest in students and life beyond the classroom as well.
In recent years, Professor Nagareda taught a class called Complex Litigation, which dove deep into the world of class actions, mass settlements, and other forms of aggregate dispute resolution with the goal of understanding what was happening in this constantly evolving area as a matter of constitutional rights, statutory development, and business interests. He also directed the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program, which included his leadership of the Civil Litigation Capstone Seminar for third-year law students.
In an official notice, Chris Guthrie, Dean of the Law School, said:
Richard was a personal friend as well as an esteemed colleague, and those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and work with him for the past several years are devastated by his death. The legal academy has lost a gifted scholar, and our students an extremely talented teacher. Our faculty members have lost a good friend and exemplary colleague, and his family a beloved husband, father and son.
I had the extremely good fortune to study under Professor Nagareda. Time spent in his courses is among the most valuable of my last three years. (A summary of the work I did in his seminar is available here.) For everything he taught us about law and legal practice– things that significantly advanced and changed the way I understand the law– he was always careful to remind us that what matters more than work or anything else is the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.
As mentioned, I became a member of the Law School Transparency Advisory Board earlier this fall. My latest post, which explains that all law schools have an interest in complying with the LST Standard, is now available on LST’s site:
LST recognizes that there is much more to the placement discussion than employment in the nation’s largest law firms and federal Article III clerkships. In fact, only 15-18% of 2009 graduates were employed by these firms or as Article III clerks. While many prospective law students want these jobs, other students want to attend law school because they want to work in a particular community or region, or because they want to pursue a particular career in a district attorney’s office or an environmental advocacy position for example….Prospective students are interested in comparing these employment opportunities. It should be surprising, then, that the current reporting standards do not emphasize placement with the government, regional and local law firms, and state and local clerkships….
You can read the full post at: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2010/10/a-big-tent-with-lst-compliance-everyone-wins.
The Supreme Court’s 2010 term began today, the first Monday in October. The justices reconvened this morning to issue orders and hear oral arguments. To follow along, click over to SCOTUSblog, where their team is live-blogging this morning’s events.
While looking forward to this term, which marks the first time the Court has three female justices, below are links to Supreme Court-related posts from the 2009 term:
“Silent Justice,” about Justice Clarence Thomas’ ongoing silence during oral arguments
“A Typical Case of American Blind Justice?,” about judicial diversity
“Secret Ballots and Certain Named and Unnamed Citizen-Legislators,” about the Court’s Doe v. Reed decision
“Judicially Speaking, Cut the #$*@%!,” about the Court’s FCC v. Fox decision
“No Justice is an Island,’ about Justice Elena Kagan’s nomination
Like last year, I aim to write about decisions that raise interesting issues relevant to the sorts of questions and topics usually covered here.