I know many of you are looking forward to a well-deserved break, but for those of you still working on papers, I wanted to let you know about library hours for the next few weeks. The law library will be closing at 6PM tonight, and will not be open over intersession because of the construction. Mugar Library is open until 11 PM tonight if you need to pound out a paper for tomorrow. Mugar will be closed from 12/22-12/25, but will reopen on 12/26 and will be open 9AM-5PM. Mugar will then be closed again from 12/29-1/1. Both the law library and Mugar will reopen on January 2nd. Please note there will be special hours from 1/2-1/13 at the law library. We will return to normal hours on the first day of class, 1/14/2013. From all of us at the library, have a very happy holiday!
Back in October, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered an amendment to Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(b). Before this amendment, the rule “preferred” fee agreements to be in writing, just like MRPC 1.5(b) that many of you studied for the MPRE. Under the amendment, a fee agreement must be in writing unless the fee is for a single session legal consultation, the expected fee is less than $500, or there is an indigent representation fee imposed by a Massachusetts court (and therefore there is no fee agreement between the lawyer and the client). This change is effective starting January 1, 2013.
Robert H. Bork died earlier today. A long-time law professor at Yale who later served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Bork is best known for his “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution and the political war that followed President Reagan’s nomination of Bork to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
A long obituary in The New York Times includes this reflection on the fight over his SCOTUS nomination:
It is rare for the Senate in its constitutional “advice and consent” role to turn down a president’s Supreme Court nominee, and rarer still for that rejection to be based not on qualifications but on judicial philosophy and temperament. That turned Judge Bork’s defeat into a watershed event and his name into a verb: getting “borked” is what happens to a nominee rejected for what supporters consider political motives.
The success of the anti-Bork campaign is widely seen to have shifted the tone and emphasis of Supreme Court nominations since then, giving them an often strong political cast and making it hard, many argue, for a nominee with firmly held views ever to get confirmed.
Bork is remembered by admirers (here, here and here) today. Jeffrey Rosen reflects on the continuing fallout of the defeat of Bork’s nomination in 1987.
Those of you studying in the reading room may have noticed a recent addition to the reference staff. Ellen Minot Richardson joined us on December 3rd, and is the Legal Information Librarian for Emerging Technologies. Ellen has a J.D. and concurrent LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School where she was a Managing Editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. She received her MLIS from the University of Washington. Ellen comes to Pappas from the University of South Carolina Coleman Karesh Law Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WestlawNext recently added the Statutes at Large. They can be located in the Tools and Resources box under the United States Code Annotated (see below). Using this link will open a template that will allow you to search for not only keywords, but also by Public Law or Statutes at Large citations. Hat tip to Barco Law Library.
The Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of same-sex marriage. In its Order list today, the Court announced it had granted certiorari in two cases:
- Hollingsworth v. Perry (No. 12-144), the case arising from California’s Proposition 8
- United States v. Windsor (No. 12-307), one of the cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
In addition to the issues presented by the parties, the Court has asked for briefing on questions of standing: In Perry, whether the intervening defendants (private supporters of Proposition 8) have standing to defend Prop 8 under Article 3, section 2 of the Constitution; in Windsor, whether the Executive Department’s agreement that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives the Court of jurisdiction, and whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) has standing to defend DOMA?
SCOTUSBlog provides background and briefs in both Hollingsworth and Perry. And it reports that oral arguments are likely to be scheduled for late March 2013, with a decision expected by the end of the current Term.
Anticipating the Court’s action today, one commentator has written that the marriage cases are “the most significant cases these nine Justices have ever considered, and probably that they will ever decide.” That is because, Tom Goldstein continues:
Our country and societies around the world will read the Justices’ decision(s) not principally as a legal document but instead as a statement by a wise body about whether same-sex marriages are morally right or wrong. The issues are that profound and fraught; they in a sense seem to transcend “law.” Given the inevitability of same-sex marriage, if the Court rules against those claiming a right to have such unions recognized, it will later be judged to be “on the wrong side of history.”
But the verdict of history cannot decide the legal questions presented by these cases. The cases arrive today, in this moment, before our cultural transition has completed. In a sense, it is a shame that there is such pressure to hear the cases now; the judgment for the rest of the nation’s history would certainly favor these claims. But if they do decide to grant review, the Justices cannot merely choose to embrace the past or the future. They will have to make a judgment now.
Take a minute from exam studying, to see some funny stuff about the law and lawyers at lawhumor.com.
The featured books for December include three titles from our faculty: The Ponzi Scheme Puzzle by Tamar Frankel, Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas by Ronald Cass and Keith N. Hylton, and Ordered Liberty: Rights, Responsibilities, and Virtues by James Fleming and Linda McClain. There are also interesting titles on the economics of inequality and same-sex marriage. All of these books can be checked out at the Annex.
It’s that time of year again, book lovers. Whatever your interests–whether you are looking for something to read, selecting gifts for family or friends or collecting ideas for your winter holiday break–there are lists to consult. Consider these (in no particular order):
Enjoy your reading.