Legal Twitter

Everyone knows the old adage “you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”  Interestingly enough, the phrase is often flipped for lawyers.  Anyone with $200 and a good tailor can look, or “walk” like a lawyer.  “Talking” or being familiar with the important issues of the legal profession is a what can be a real challenge.  With the current glut of legal publications, it is nearly impossible for practicing attorneys and law students to keep up with professional news. However, a little know how and a little social media can go a long way in keeping you up to date.

Enter Twitter.  Twitter is often unfairly stigmatized by its association with pop musicians, entitled athletes, and 14 year old girls.  What many outside the current generation don’t realize is that it is also an excellent way to keep up with professional news.  Many legal information outlets tweet important breaking legal news.  Magazines and newspapers use twitter to promote their longer articles, making twitter an effective way to quickly see what kinds of legal news is being discussed.  Even the Supreme Court has a twitter account that tweets out links to recently decided cases ( @USSupremeCourt ).

Want to learn more?  Check out the link below for suggestions on good accounts to follow.


This Week in Legal News

On Tuesday, President Obama vetoed legislation authorizing the Keystone LX pipeline.

On Tuesday night, a Texas jury convicted Eddie Ray Routh of murder and sentenced him to life in prison for the fatal shootings of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.

Also on Tuesday, Alaska became the third state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use, although the sale of marijuana remains illegal.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch for the position of U.S. Attorney General.  The nomination now moves on for consideration by the full Senate.

Also on Thursday, the FCC approved net neutrality, and will now regard Internet providers as public utilities, subject to regulation.

An appeals court in Utah has granted a widow the right to sue herself for causing an auto accident that resulted in the death of her husband.  Read the full opinion here.

The operator of a defunct revenge-porn website has filed a takedown request with Google, stating that his own photograph and personal information are being used without his permission.



10 Things to do in Columbia in March

We know that law students often live in a bubble, but it’s important to get outside, clear your head, and think about things besides the rule of perpetuity and the commerce clause!  Whether you like art, music, or sports, there’s always plenty happening in Columbia.

Here are 10 awesome things happening right here in Columbia this month:

1)  Check out the Columbia Now: Four Photographers Show Us Our City exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art, an photography exhibit highlighting the city we live in (All month long).

2)  Experience Columbia’s foodie scene and learn a little about Columbia’s history by booking a tour with Two Gals and a Fork.  (March’s tour is on March 7th, so book now!)

3)  Love Broadway?  Go out to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Harbison Theater (March 8th).

4)  Run 10k, 5k, or 1-mile Family Fun Run as part of St. Pat’s Get to the Green event (March 14th).

5)  Then, enjoy being Irish for the day and attend St. Patty’s Day Festivities in Five Points on March 14th.

6)  Journey to Africa at the “From Here to  Timbuktu” exhibit at Edventure (Opening March 14).

7)   Enjoy a fairytale by getting tickets for the Columbia City Ballet’s production of Cinderella (March 20-21).

8)  Celebrate Columbia’s craft beer scene with any of the many events during Soda City Suds Week (March 21-28).

9)  Feel like a fancy night out?  Buy tickets for the Columbia Museum’s annual gala, A Fair to Remember (the theme is the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair) (March 27).

10)  Get colorful while getting some exercise by signing up for the 2015 Columbia Color Run 5k (March 28).


Need something free to do?  Here are some FREE things you can do.

1)  Get some fresh air hiking at Harbison State Forest!

2)  Go to Spring Trombone Night at the School of Music to listen to USC’s elite trombone ensemble perform.

3)  Hit up First Thursdays on Main on March 5, or the first Thursday of any month!

4)  See the United States Navy Band perform at the Koger Center on March 10th.  (Get your free tickets at the Koger Box Office.)

5)  Hear the Jazz Faculty perform at their recital at Johnson Performance Hall on March 26th.

6)  Take a walk at Riverfront Park.

Resources You’ll Want to Know: Jurisprudence

jurisprudenceOHCHR Jurisprudence is a new database from the UN Human Rights Office providing access to jurisprudence coming from the United Nations Treaty Bodies that receive and consider complaints from individuals:

  • the Human Rights Committee
  • the Committee Against Torture
  • the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
  • the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
  • the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and
  • the Committee on the Rights of the Child

The database is “intended to be a single source of the human rights recommendations and findings issued by” the above committee, allowing researchers to search “the vast body of legal interpretation of international human rights law as it has evolved over the past years.”  It could also be a helpful tool for those trying to prepare complaints to be submitted to one of the committees.

Researchers can do a basic keyword search, or can use the advanced search functionality, which provides a series of filters that researchers can use to narrow their results.

jurisprudencekeywordsearch AM

Today in History: Marbury v. Madison

Did you known that Marbury v. Madison was decided on February 24, 1803?  That’s right, 212 years ago today, the court established the power of judicial review!

A little refresher for all you current Con Law students out there!  What’s judicial review?  It’s the power of federal courts to void acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution.  The decision in Marbury Madison helped solidify the Supreme Court as a branch of government with significant power.

As a lame duck President, Adams appointed a large number of justices of the peace for the District of Columbia.  The commissions were approved by the Senate, signed by President Adams, and affixed with an official government seal.  They were not delivered, and, upon coming into office, President Jefferson ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver them.  Marbury, one of those aforementioned appointees, petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus compelling Madison to show cause as to why he should not receive his commission.

The court contemplated the question of judicial review as it considered the third question before the court–whether the Supreme Court could issue a writ.  The decision, written by Chief Justice John Marshall (pictured above), struck down section 13 of the 1789 Judiciary Act giving the Supreme Court the power to issue writs of mandamus, holding that it was a violation of the Constitution’s limited grant of original jurisdiction found in Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.  As such, the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to provided Marbury his desired remedy.

More importantly, the Marbury v. Madison decision noted that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”  Judicial review has enabled the Supreme Court to enforce constitutional limits on the other two branches of government.

In 2003, the ABA celebrated the 200th anniversary of Marbury v. Madison.  You can read more about the power of judicial review in Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of Marbury v. Madison: The Supreme Court’s First Great Case. You can read the Marbury v. Madison decision here.

Celebrating African American History Month: A Look Back at South Carolina’s Legal Role in the Civil Rights Movement, Part 2

This month, we are taking a look back at some of the landmark legal cases originating out of South Carolina.  Earlier this month, we looked back at Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases combined into what became known as Brown v. Board of Education.

Today, we are going to look at Edwards v. South Carolina.   This case arose out of an organized march to the South Carolina State House grounds by 187 African-American high school and college students on March 2, 1961.  The group assembled peacefully at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia and marched in groups of fifteen to the South Carolina State House, where they peacefully expressed their grievances regarding civil rights.  Police told them to disperse or face arrest; when they chose not to disperse, instead singing religious and patriotic songs, the protesters were arrested for and later convicted of the common law crime of breach of the peace.

The Supreme Court eventually held in an 8-1 decision that arresting and convicting the petitioners was an infringement of the petitioner’s rights of free speech, free assembly and freedom to petition for a redress of grievances, all rights guaranteed by the Firth Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States.  Justice Stewart wrote that the marchers’ actions were a clear example of First Amendment rights in “their most pristine and classic form,” and that states cannot make “the peaceful expression of unpopular views” criminal.

Students can listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court at Oyez and read the Edwards v. South Carolina opinion here.  You can also watch a video about Edwards v. South Carolina.


Image credit:  The State newspaper,

Who Are These People? Hon. Jean Hoefer Toal

toal-j-lgThe next person in our “Who Are These People?” Series is The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal.  Judge Toal, or at least her painting, lives above the reference desk next to that of Matthew J. Perry.

Along with being a IMG_20150220_161024892_HDRUniversity of South Carolina Law Alumni, she was also the first woman, as well as the first Roman Catholic, to serve as the Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of South Carolina.  She began at the South Carolina Supreme Court as an Associate Justice in 1998 and has been the Chief Justice  since 2000.  Before her time on the bench, Judge Hoefer Toal represented fingerRichland County in the South Carolina House of Representatives for 13 years.

This Week in Legal News

news icon for blogOn Monday night,  U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas, issued a temporary injunction to block implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.  The injunction was a response to a challenge to the orders filed by 26 states, a suit that the administration contends is without merit.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review overturned the terrorism convictions of David Hicks, a former detainee at Guantanamo.

Two U.S. law schools, the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law,  have announced that they will admit some students without requiring that they take the LSAT.


Happening Now: Water “Law-gged”

SCLRToday and tomorrow in the Strom Thurmond Law Auditorium at USC, the South Carolina Law Review is hosting their annual symposium.  This year’s event is titled:  Water “Law-gged”: The Muddy Relationship Between Water Law, the Environment, and Economic Development.

Beginning at 6:00pm tonight with a keynote address by Stanford University Professor Buzz Thompson, a leading expert in environmental law and policy, the event will feature three panel discussions on Saturday.  Friday will also include an address from Duke University professor Jim Salzman.

The event is FREE to students! This is a great opportunity to learn about the effects of water law on the environment and economic development, engage with legal scholars, and support the Law Review.  See the full schedule here.