• May 21, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Irin Carmon of MSNBC reports on a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that the Hobby Lobby decision does not mean religiously affiliated organizations can choose not to fill out a form to opt out of birth control coverage.   

    Mark Berman of The Washington Post writes that the Nebraska legislature has passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state.

    At Salon, Katie McDonough also explores the Seventh Circuit’s ruling and warns that “this isn’t the final word on the case, and the religious objectors will live to fight another day.”

    Jennifer L. Clark writes at the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice that Texas legislators are again trying to make it more difficult for citizens to vote.

    At Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman takes a look at the Supreme Court’s decision in Comptroller v. Wynne, calling it “one of the strangest 5-4 lineups” in recent memory.

    Scott Lemieux considers at the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog the potential aftermath of the King v. Burwell ruling.

    Dahlia Lithwick of Slate writes about the many new dramatizations of Supreme Court justices.

  • May 20, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Gillian Laub at Salon takes a look at cotemporary racial segregation in the United States.

    At The Hill, Timothy Jost reports that Congressional Republicans are not prepared with any legislation should the Supreme Court rule against the Affordable Care Act.

    Lauren Sandler discusses at The New Republic how paid family leave is becoming a political reality as “voters have made it clear that our leaders must reconcile the competing responsibilities of work and family.”

    At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explores how the Supreme Court’s ruling in San Francisco v. Sheehan avoided a question that could have justified greater police violence against the mentally ill.

    Daniel Fischer of Forbes explains the Supreme Court’s decision in Wynne v. Comptroller that held that a Maryland income-tax policy was unconstitutional. 

  • May 19, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Reuben Guttman, partner, Guttman, Buschner & Brooks, PLLC; Guttman is a member of the ACS Board of Directors.

    *This piece originally appeared on The Global Legal Post.

    When the United States Supreme Court issued its decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp v Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), there was sea change in the standard by which judges evaluated lawsuits to determine their sufficiency to withstand a motion to dismiss. Rather than merely placing a defendant on notice of a claim, the Court established a new standard. Plaintiffs must allege facts allowing a court to find that a claim is plausible. In reviewing the allegations of the complaint, courts are challenged to weed out conclusory statements and base their analysis on only the factual pleadings of the Complaint.

    Naturally, Iqbal and Twombly have raised serious access to justice issues for plaintiffs who must muster the facts without an opportunity to gather evidence through discovery. The “plausibility” standard is of course entirely subjective; what is plausible to one judge based on his or her life’s journeys may not be plausible to another. And with the challenge to plead facts, plaintiffs are undoubtedly encouraged to put the “kitchen sink” into their complaints and plead complaints that are exponentially larger than those of yesteryear.  

    With all of the problems caused by Iqbal and Twombly, there is a nugget of gold that can be snatched as a teaching lesson. The notion that litigants are instructed to make their cases based on facts and not conclusions or hyperbole, is a solid concept.  

  • May 19, 2015
    The Trouble with Lawyers
    Deborah L. Rhode

    by Deborah L. Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, the director of the Center on the Legal Profession, and the director of the Program in Law and Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University. Her upcoming book, The Trouble with Lawyers, will be published by Oxford University Press in June 2015.

    These are not the best of times for American lawyers. Less than a fifth of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of lawyers as very high or high, ranking them just above insurance salespeople. Competition and commercialization in the profession are on the rise, while civility and collegiality appear headed in the opposite direction. Paradoxically, the nation suffers from an oversupply of lawyers and an undersupply of legal services for people with low and moderate incomes.

    This is a timely moment for a comprehensive account of challenges facing the American bar. The Trouble with Lawyers explores trends in the legal market that have posed increasing problems for the profession and the public that relies on their services. The book's central argument is that recent changes in legal education and legal practice have highlighted longstanding problems in the structure of bar regulatory processes and the priorities of lawyers and law firms.

    Part of the problem is the relentless preoccupation with short-term profits that drives law firm decision making. The priority of profit is responsible for the escalation in billable hours over the last several decades, and the price is paid in quality of life. Most lawyers report that they do not have sufficient time for themselves and their families, and most are unable to devote even an hour a week to pro bono service. These trends have taken a toll in lawyers' workplace satisfaction. Law does not rank among the top twelve professions for satisfaction and a majority of lawyers would choose a different career if they had to make the decision again. Lawyers also have disproportionately high rates of depression, substance abuse, and related disorders. There is, in short, some room for improvement and the solution lies in making lawyers more informed about the sources of professional fulfillment and more proactive in shaping workplaces to meet their needs. 

  • May 19, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Liza Featherstone offers five short-term solutions to the problems of nail salon workers in Jacobin Magazine.

    At The Global Legal Post, ACS Board of Directors member Reuben Guttman considers the importance of whistleblowers. 

    Erwin Chemerinsky argues in the Los Angeles Times that California should accept the Uniform Bar Exam.

    At SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston provides analysis of the narrow ruling in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan that leaves questions about limits on police use of force.

    In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf refutes arguments in favor of the NSA surveillance program.

    Omer Aziz looks at the Boston marathon bombings trial and criticizes the frequent use of the death penalty in the United States at Salon.