OZY Speaks Legalese
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because OZY just became the best study group there is — after bar review, of course.
By Barbara Fletcher
Meet Chris Geidner, a journalist turned lawyer turned award-winning legal journalist. His reporting and legal skills inform each other, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Add in a dash of the “explainer of stuff,” sparkle à la Bill Clinton, and you get a reporter with a keen ability to translate legal language to a big mainstream audience. The perfect type of person to be BuzzFeed’s Legal Editor explaining Supreme Court decisions to the masses.
There’s no guarantee that any Supreme Court justice will vacate the bench before President Obama ends his term, and unless he’s looking to pack the court, he can’t nominate a justice unless a justice leaves. Ergo, the ensuing discussion calls for speculation. But should a seat open up on court, who might Obama nominate for it? The answer depends partly on the composition of the Senate, which can confirm nominees or not. We’ll learn more in the mid-term elections, but it looks unlikely that the Republicans would gain a nominee-blocking majority. The more important factor, according to legal nerds, is which justice departs: a man, a woman, a right-winger, left-winger, racial minority, centrist? If a female justice left, Obama would almost certainly appoint a woman to replace her, they say. He might even appoint a woman to replace a man.
For folks from Punjab to Palo Alto and everywhere in between (i.e., 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), Srikanth Srinivasan is being championed as a top pick for the next Supreme Court vacancy. A former teammate of basketball legend Danny Manning, he led the Obama administration’s recent attack on the Defense of Marriage Act. Buoyed by unusually strong support from D.C. veterans, Srinivasan is now the de facto poster child for a growing line of Asian American jurists seeking to add a dash of masala (spice and color) to the Supreme Court. While there have been Asian Americans in elite legal circles for some time, few have risen to the top ranks. Out of the total federal court judges appointed, less than 2 percent are Asian American, and President Obama has nominated only four Asian American candidates to the federal bench to date.
Legal education is experiencing its biggest shake-up in decades. Applications to law school are down about 45 percent since 2009, and millennials — more than any previous generation — are rejecting law school. This “crisis” has caused much soul searching in the legal academy, but the problems are clear: We are using the same old approach to teaching students that schools used over 100 years ago, tuition is higher than ever, and traditional legal jobs are scarce. So how can we fix this? A seasoned law professor weighs in.
- Barbara Fletcher