Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Circuit declares DOMA unconstitutional

Today, the First Circuit ruled in a unanimous decision that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law, is unconstitutional.  See Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Judge Michael Boudin, who authored the opinion, wrote that denying to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts the same federal benefits routinely provided to heterosexual couples could not withstand scrutiny because a permissible federal interest was not adequately demonstrated.

SCOTUS resolves circuit split on imputation of parent's resident status to alien children

Last week, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled, in Holder v. Gutierrez, that reviewing courts must defer to the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision not to impute a parent's residence status to an alien child for the purposes of child's eligibility for cancellation of removal under INA Section 240A (8 U.S.C. Section 1229b).  This case is noteworthy because the federal circuits were split on whether the imputation doctrine developed under the predecessor statute, INA Section 212(c), should apply to INA Section 240A.  The BIA has refused to impute parental residence status to a child under Section 240A. The 3rd and 5th Circuits deferred to the BIA's approach, while the 9th Circuit disagreed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Massachusetts Bar Association Report Calls for More Practical Skills in Law Curriculum

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s Task Force on Law, the Economy and Underemployment recently released a report, “Beginning the Conversation,” that calls for more practical training for law students in an effort to improve employment prospects for law school grads. The Task Force advocates for placing more emphasis on externships, increasing transactional training through legal writing programs, and making changes to the standard law school curriculum and to the law school rankings. An interview with Eric Parker, one of the Task Force's co-chairs, can be listened to or read online.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Senate Considers Law of the Sea Treaty-Again!

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has renewed its consideration of the Law of the Sea Treaty. The New York Times report on the hearing is a good overview of the situation, with one exception. The article mentions that the Senate ratifies treaties, which is incorrect. Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution grants the President "... Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senate present concur". The Senate's Advice and Consent function is an important part of the ratification process, but the final ratification authority remains vested in the Executive Branch.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fun: ABA's Version of American Idol

Okay it might not have all the glitz and glam of Idol but the ABA has selected five musicians for the ABA Battle of the Lawyer Band Contest. Voting is open until Friday, June 1st.   You can view video of each contestant at the ABA website and vote for your favorite.  While you are there make sure to check out some of the other ABA resources.