The October term of the Court began yesterday, with a sitting that marked the very active debut of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and predictions that this term will be even more controversial than last, although it is difficult for me to imagine a more incendiary decision than Dobbs.

As is frequently the case, the Court surprised those who predicted that the Court's conservative supermajority would increasingly yield to the political right wing.

In one case, the Court denied review of the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers. And, in another, the Court declined to hear two challenges by Second Amendment advocates to the federal ban on “bump stock” devices, which modify semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly. That ban was enacted after a gunman in Las Vegas used the rapid-fire accessory in the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

While one shouldn't make too much of the Court's denials of cert., these petitions were unable to attract four of the Court's six conservatives. In a term that will bring to the fore important cases concerning voting rights, affirmative action, and health care, we will see if the decisions emanating from that wing echo the impact of the reproductive rights case of Dobbs and the "major questions" doctrine decision in West Virginia v. EPA. So, keep watching this blog as decisions come down.

Many of us, especially jurisprudential conservatives and admirers of intelligent curmudgeons, mourn the death of D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman. Larry was a good friend, and sometime critic of this writer, who served this country and the law with great distinction. Many labor and employment lawyers were especially familiar with Judge Silberman's work in that field and with his first wife, Ricky, who served on the EEOC. His obituary in The Washington Post is worth reading: “Laurence Silberman, Titan of Conservative Jurisprudence, Dies at 86.”

Closer to home, our Firm also lost a valued client, the noted Democratic political consultant Raymond Strother. While the vast majority of clients I've served are corporations, from time to time I've represented actual individuals who were both interesting and effective citizens. Legendary anti-Castro Cuban and CIA operator Rafael Quintero comes to mind, as do one man who became President and another who, had he not been killed in a plane crash, very well might have. So does Ray Strother.

Ray used to say that every Democratic political agent should have a Jewish accountant and a Republican lawyer. While I never met his accountant, I was the Republican lawyer, and in that role, I was drawn into a variety of actual and potential disputes including (successfully) protecting Ray's interests when a federal grand jury in Louisiana indicted the notoriously corrupt former governor Edwin Edwards, whom Ray (unsuccessfully) had tried to steer clear of misconduct. Edwards, who had served four terms as governor and was a former congressman, spent 10 years in federal prison for extortion, conspiracy, and racketeering. Ray Strother continued his career helping elect federal candidates throughout the South and elsewhere, and ultimately retired to fish in Montana.

His son, Dane, also a Firm client, noted of Ray:

"He’s gone 17 days before his 82nd birthday. The world is a less intelligent, decent, and tolerant place. His father had a fourth-grade education and was a seaman during the Depression, then spent 39 years and six months working at Gulf Oil in Port Arthur, Texas, as a union organizer. Dad told stories of his family cutting back on food during a strike so they could get it to the families of the men who seemed close to crossing the picket line. My father was about working people and saw his father in them. His list of former clients is a Hall of Fame of national Democratic legends. He taught at Harvard but was most proud of finishing his career holding the Wise Chair in Communication at the same university that kicked him out. He saw himself in the first generation of college kids desperately fighting for a chance to climb life's ladder. He changed the lives of quite a few who wanted it most by getting them internships or jobs in Austin and New York and even ESPN. Their success is his legacy.

“My father was stoic, brilliant, kind, and only intolerant of intolerance. He was old school. Until the end he put on a necktie and hat to fly, and this is from a man who had 3 million miles on Delta alone."

Sursum corda.

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