Casual Friday presents: OMG! JUSTIN BIEBER!

Two lawyers on a plane from DC to Chicago were totally(!) excited about being seated on the same plane with next to 16-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber (ask your kids, or see below). However, had their hearts not been palpitating, they might have noticed someone a little bit more relevant to their profession [ABA Journal]:

What they hadn’t noticed as they passed through first class was the other celebrity aboard the flight—a friendly looking gentleman in a bow tie sitting in an aisle seat: retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

When told, the two stared at each other in mutual embarrassment.

"We’re both lawyers," said the husband.

And young.

Because I doubt many of you could pick Justin Bieber out of a lineup, here’s a picture of him impersonating President Obama.

That’s impressive.

Who needs school loans?: The interwebs have many uses (other than porn). Add begging to the list.

Sarah Allen is a North Carolina resident who wants to attend law school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Rather than kill the credit rating with $100,000 in law school debt that she’ll never pay back, she’s going to earn it the hard way (not that hard way) … she’s begging for you to pay for it [ABA Journal again!]

So Allen has set up a PayPal account and is appealing to the public to make donations there to help pay her tuition, McClatchy Newspapers reports. So far, three people have donated, she wrote Monday on her blog, Going to Law School Debt Free.

Maybe this bugs me because I think it’s pathetic that she would have the gall to do this. Maybe it bugs me because I didn’t think of it. Whatever the reason, apparently, I’m not alone. [Allen’s blog]

I’ve been doing some online research and discovered that the N&O and ABA articles have spread through the Internet like wildfire – accompanied by a plethora of extremely unkind and vulgar comments – many seemingly by disgruntled attorneys and law students who have already gone into massive debt. Those so eager to criticize me obviously do not know me and have not read my blog in full. Even so, those who are quick to judge make fools of themselves by displaying their ignorance. Apparently no one ever taught them that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Instead of rushing to judgment, why not get your facts straight and contact me directly?

Aw, now I feel bad. Not only am I displaying my ignorance, but my mother did a bad job raising me. Maybe I should hear her out.

One point that so many people seem to be missing is my desire and intention to start a debt-free scholarship fund to help others get a higher education without going into debt. Regardless of whether I choose to go to law school, this is one goal that I hope to pursue.

Oh, so it’s for other people! Not just yourself! I feel better about myself now.

In another post, she discussed the areas of law in which she’s interested. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t "federal income taxation."

We here in Michigan have a name for a person who gets loans that they aren’t expected to repay :

Finally: U-M Law School students would appreciate it if you would stay out of their library. [The wonderfully titled blog, readingroomdouchebagundergrads.blogspot.com]

Sonia Sotomayor, comic book hero. [The Legal Times].

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Justice Stevens leaving SCOTUS at end of term

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill.

Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed "well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term."

Stevens’ announcement leaves ample time for the White House to settle on a successor and for Senate Democrats, who control a 59-vote majority, to hold confirmation hearings and a vote before the court’s next term begins in October. Republicans have not ruled out attempts to delay confirmation.

Stevens’ announcement had been hinted at for months. It comes 11 days before his 90th birthday.

Throughout his tenure, which began after President Gerald Ford nominated him in 1975, Stevens usually sided with the court’s liberal bloc in the most contentious cases — those involving abortion, criminal law, civil rights and church-state relations. He led the dissenters as well in the case of Bush v. Gore that sealed President George W. Bush’s election in 2000.

Stevens began signaling a possible retirement last summer when he hired just one of his usual complement of four law clerks for the next court term. He acknowledged in several interviews that he was contemplating stepping down and would certainly do so during Obama’s presidency.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in a written statement that Stevens "has enriched the lives of everyone at the Court through his intellect, independence, and warm grace."

Senate confirmations of Supreme Court justices have increasingly become political battles and this one will come amid the added heat of congressional election campaigns.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appealed for civility. "I hope that senators on both sides of the aisle will make this process a thoughtful and civil discourse," Leahy said.

Looking toward those hearings, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, "Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an evenhanded reading of the law."

Stevens informed Obama in a one-paragraph letter addressed to "My dear Mr. President." It was delivered to the White House by court messenger at 10:30 a.m. EDT, two minutes before the court’s public announcement. The news came on a day when the court wasn’t in session.

White House counsel Bob Bauer telephoned the news to Obama on Air Force One, as he returned from a trip to Prague.

The leading candidates to replace Stevens are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate Judges Merrick Garland, 57, in Washington and Diane Wood, 59, in Chicago.

Stevens’ departure will not change the court’s conservative-liberal split because Obama is certain to name a liberal-leaning replacement, as he did with his first nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. But the new justice is not likely to be able to match Stevens’ ability to marshal narrow majorities in big cases.

Stevens was able to draw the support of the court’s swing votes, now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy, to rein in or block some Bush administration policies, including the detention of suspected terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, its tilt toward protecting businesses from some lawsuits and its refusal to act against global warming.

But after the arrival of Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, President George W. Bush’s appointees, Stevens more often was among the four liberal justices in dissent.

Stevens’ recent dissent in a major case involving campaign finance laws showed both the eloquence of his writing and, in his stumbling reading of his opinion in the courtroom, signs that his age might at long last be affecting him, though he remains an active tennis player and swimmer.

He is the court’s last World War II veteran and that experience sometimes finds its way into his writings, recently in a reference to Tokyo Rose, the English-speaking Japanese radio announcer who addressed U.S. soldiers in the Pacific.

Stevens had a reputation as a bright and independent federal appeals court judge when Ford, acting on a recommendation by Attorney General Edward Levi, nominated him to the Supreme Court.

His friendly manner of questioning lawyers who appeared before the court could not hide Stevens’ keen mind. His questions often zero in on the most telling weaknesses of a lawyer’s argument and the case’s practical effect on everyday people.

A pleasant, unassuming man, Stevens has been a prolific and lucid writer. For many years, he wrote more opinions each court term than any other justice.

Most justices let their law clerks write the first drafts of opinions, but Stevens has used his clerks as editors.

He’d write the first draft and submit it to the clerks for comment. "That’s when the real fun begins," Stevens once told a visitor. "The give and take can get pretty fierce."

As a result, his opinions have reflected his personal writing style — a conversational one that contrasted sharply with the dry, dull efforts of some other justices.

He said recently that one sign that it would be time to retire would be an inability to churn out those first drafts. But he insisted in recent days that he was still writing them.

Is SCOTUS seat in Granholm’s future?

As discussed here a few weeks back, much speculation will occur over the remained of this year about the future of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Since the implosion of the American economy and the election of Barack Obama, she’s been rumored to be a candidate for several positions within his organization or for the U.S. Surpeme Court.

Then Justice John Paul Stevens hinted in the New Yorker that he may retire after this term. If a spot opened up, would Granholm have a shot? Not really, says Lawyers USA:

Long shots

Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Obama has often stated that he’d like to look for Supreme Court candidates from places outside of the federal judiciary (all the current justices are former federal appellate judges).

The Michigan governor, who previously served as attorney general of the state would satisfy that criteria. And like Stevens, Granholm, 51, hails from the Midwest, which would help keep the Court’s geographic balance. But having never faced a Senate confirmation hearing, her odds aren’t as good as those of Kagan, Wood or Garland.

“Kagen” is former Harvard Law dean and current Solicitor General Elena Kagan; “Wood” is U.S. 7th Cir. Court of Appeals judge Diane Wood. Garland; and “Garland” is D.C. Circuit judge Merrick Garland.

According to Lawyers USA, Kagan would likely have the advantage because of her age (49), history (nothing objectionable) and she has already been confirmed for her current position by the Senate.

The article said her lack of federal judiciary experience would be a plus for Granholm, but she’d be less attractive of a candidate because she’s never been through the confirmation process.

Perhaps there was an ulterior motive for the recent written smackdown letter she sent to Michigan attorney general Mike Cox in support of the new health care law. Did she attach her resume?