While reviewing some of his old stories about Samuel Alito in the wake of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination, your blogger came upon a reference to Mark Levy, the Washington appellate attorney who committed suicide late last month. He and Alito were friends dating back to their days at Yale Law School. The story of how a once up-and-coming elite lawyer ended up killing himself after losing his job at Kilpatrick Stockton seemed to strike a nerve within the legal community.
This extract from your blogger’s November 2005 story in the Daily Journal touches upon how, at one point in Levy’s life, he and Alito seemed to be on similar trajectories. But it was Alito who ended up at the top:
Another lawyer familiar with Alito’s jurisprudence is longtime friend Mark I. Levy, a leading appellate lawyer at Kilpatrick Stockton in Washington, who has known the nominee for 30 years.
They met at Yale Law School, where they were jointly awarded the prize for best law note in the Yale Law Journal in their graduating year of 1975.
They later worked together at the solicitor general’s office, a period during which the future Supreme Court nominee once house-sat for Levy, a job which entailed looking after his friend’s golden retriever.
The innocent nature of Levy’s remarks seems to take on a different context in light of what happened.
UPDATE: The ABA Journal has this detailed account of Levy’s final days.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs momentarily stunned a bunch of hacks getting ready for the long weekend when he joked today that the president will announce his Supreme Court nominee at 6.30am Saturday morning. Transcript:
Gotcha! I’m done. That’s obviously a joke, but I did love to see that — if somebody can quickly text me the name of a chiropractor because at least four dozen necks snapped in one direction.
Gibbs’ joke masked the fact that he wasn’t giving anything away. He refused to rule out the prospect of an announcement next week and also dodged a question about whether the president would interview any candidates over the weekend at Camp David, although he did say he might have more information later today. The Daily Journal reported today that Sonia Sotomayor is rumored to be paying a visit (DJ is subscriber only, but a summary of the story is here).
In today’s Daily Journal, your blogger points out how Justice David H. Souter picked Judge Diane Wood over Judge Kim Wardlaw when he wrote his majority opinion in AT&T v. Hulteen earlier this week.
As your blogger reports (wearing his real journalist hat):
Monday’s 7-2 ruling, which resolved a circuit split, held that telecommunications giant AT&T Corp. could not be held liable for refusing to grant pension benefits to female employees for maternity leave taken before a federal law on the matter was passed in 1978. AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen, DJDAR 7019.
That decision reversed a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion written by Pasadena-based Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, who has been promoted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and others as a possible replacement for Souter. Although reports suggest Wardlaw has not made Obama’s shortlist, she would be the country’s first Hispanic justice if nominated and confirmed.
At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision embraced the conclusion of the 7th Circuit in a 2000 case dealing with the same issues written by Judge Diane Wood, a frequently mentioned frontrunner to replace Souter.
The full story is available to subscribers only at www.dailyjournal.com.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to be referring to comments made by Justice Stephen G. Breyer at a recent argument when she complained in a USA Today interview with Joan Biskupic about the problems she faces as the only woman on the court.
Her status as the court’s lone woman was especially poignant during a recent case involving a 13-year-old girl who had been strip-searched by Arizona school officials looking for drugs. During oral arguments, some other justices minimized the girl’s lasting humiliation, but Ginsburg stood out in her concern for the teenager.
“They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” she told USA TODAY later when asked about her colleagues’ comments during the arguments. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”
If nominated, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who seems to have a reputation as a forthright participant in oral argument (to put it mildly), would no doubt put Breyer straight.