Who “We” Are

With only distant connections to the military, I usually think of Memorial Day as a holiday to honor other people. Them. The servicemembers, over a million of them, who’ve died answering their country’s call of duty. The ones who would… Read More ›

Recent Posts

  • Linguine and Clams, Fast and Slow

    If a restaurant is offering any combination of pasta, shellfish, and a creamy, garlicky sauce, you better believe I will be ordering it. It’s my favorite type of entree, both dining out and at home. When I started cooking for… Read More ›

  • One Social Network to Rule Them All

    Internal Facebook documents leaked to NBC News offer new evidence that the company views its users’ data as leverage in its relationships with third parties. In 2015, Facebook cut off the broad access to its users’ data that it had… Read More ›

  • Signals in the Mueller Report Noise

    This is not the moment we’ve been waiting for. Yes, Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his report and submitted it to Attorney General William Barr for review by the Department of Justice. Yes, Barr summarized the report in a letter… Read More ›

  • Craft Beer’s Elephants in the Room

    On Saturday, I spent a sunshiny early spring evening at Devil’s Backbone. Conveniently situated for Wintergreen vacationers willing to come down the mountain, the brewery’s Basecamp Brewpub on the “Brew Ridge Trail” bustled this weekend with a multigenerational crowd of… Read More ›

  • Connecting Hate Crimes to Interstate Commerce

    Sometimes bigotry is a sucker punch. In May 2015, Curtis Tibbs was at work, sorting boxes at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chester, Virginia. His arms were full of boxes when a coworker approached him and, without provocation, punched him… Read More ›

  • Rushing Confirmed to 4th Circuit on Partisan Vote

    This week, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Allison Jones Rushing to serve as a circuit judge on the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals. Rushing has been a partner at Williams & Connelly since 2017 and is licensed to… Read More ›

  • Virginia’s Top 5 Civil Opinions of February 2019

    Robertson v. Sch. Bd. of the City of Richmond, Va., Feb. 1, 2019. EDVA at Richmond (Gibney). The plaintiff, a teacher’s assistant, has plausibly stated Fourth Amendment claims based on his alleged unreasonable seizure by Richmond Public Schools safety officers…. Read More ›

  • Pressing Business: Tasting Virginia’s Torrent of New Ciders, Part I

    The sheer energy of Virginia’s local food and beverage culture is one of my favorite perks of living here in the commonwealth. Most people know about the proliferation of craft breweries in Virginia (and across the country). But our artisanal… Read More ›

  • Not-So-Simple Syrup

    I associate February with culinary yearning. My taste tends toward the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer, not to mention grilled everything. So I’m as through with cold-weather cooking as I am with wind chill and frost warnings. Pears, parsnips,… Read More ›

  • Teaching Our Kids Constitutional Values By Example

    The schoolroom is the first opportunity most citizens have to experience the power of government…. Through it passes every citizen and public official, from schoolteachers to policemen and prison guards. The values they learn there, they take with them in… Read More ›

  • How Ralph Northam’s Apology Went Sideways

    Late last week, a Ghost of Ignorance Past paid a visit to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, surfacing a photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook. As the country now knows, the uncaptioned image appeared next to Northam’s name and showed… Read More ›

  • Virginia’s Top 5 Civil Opinions of January 2019

    1. Davison v. Randall (P), No. 17-2002, Jan. 7, 2019. 4th Cir. (Wynn) from EDVA at Alexandria (Cacheris). The interactive component of a Facebook Page administrated by the Chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors was a public forum, and… Read More ›

  • “Habitual Drunkards” Face the Full 4th Circuit

    In a packed courtroom yesterday, all 15 judges of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sat en banc for arguments on whether Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law is unconstitutional. Most of the commonwealth’s estimated 500,000 alcoholics don’t commit a criminal offense… Read More ›

  • The 4th Circuit Takes Up Gluten Intolerance

    Did Colonial Williamsburg violate a student’s rights by refusing to let him eat his own homemade gluten-free meal in one of its restaurants? That question was before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this morning, where oral argument focused… Read More ›

  • Rebel Girls, and the Boys Who Love Them

    “That book is sexist,” declared my son. He’d been listening to my daughter and I discuss one of her recent Christmas presents, a delightful and informative book called Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo…. Read More ›

  • Pacing Ourselves

    The federal courts administrator’s office is turning an enormous profit on fees for court records, to the detriment of lawyers, researchers, and the public, argues an amicus brief filed this week in the D.C. Circuit. The brief claims that a… Read More ›

  • Just (Im)Peachy

    Most accounts of the 1787 Constitutional Convention emphasize how the framers designed checks on the president to prevent tyranny. But delegates feared an out-of-control legislature, too. Some thought it was a bad idea to give Congress the power to remove… Read More ›

  • On Account of Sex

    Yesterday the Virginia Senate voted in favor of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If the proposal also clears the much higher hurdle of passage by the House of Delegates, Virginia would be the 38th state to… Read More ›

  • You Better Work

    How is the historical institution of slavery connected to the workforce patterns of 2019? That was the question Richmond’s Valentine Museum posed Jan. 8 at the latest program in its “Controversy/History” series, “Race & Labor.” The free event challenged about… Read More ›

  • Rational Irrationality

    Have we finally reached a point where professional women no longer need to fear setting back the entire movement of gender equality if they speak as intemperately as some of their male peers do? Dahlia Lithwick at Slate credits this… Read More ›

  • Never Again

    In the year and a half after right-wing extremists brought intimidation, violence, and death to Charlottesville, VA, the “Unite the Right” conflagration of August 2017 hasn’t been repeated despite its organizers’ initial plans to do so. At Just Security, Mary B…. Read More ›

  • Uber but Cuter

    By the time kids can drive, their parents have often been chauffeuring them to and from various activities for more than a decade. Transportation is more than a time suck; it’s also a logistical challenge when a kid needs to… Read More ›

  • Facebook’s Third-Party Doctrine

    Yesterday the New York Times reported that, despite assurances to the contrary, Facebook has for years given other tech giants access to our individual Facebook activity and, more concerning, our friends’ identities and activities. Maybe I just have the Fourth Amendment… Read More ›

  • The 4th Circuit Talks Trash

    When you brought your trash out to the curb last week, you may not have thought you were knowingly exposing all of its contents to public view. But as far as the Fourth Amendment is concerned, you generally have no… Read More ›

  • Ten Christmastime Albums for the Ambivalent

    I love Christmas music. More specifically, I love about five percent of Christmas music. The vast majority of holiday recordings remind me of crowded parking lots, rude temporary retail employees, delayed flights, and other cortisol-infused rituals of hyper-ambitious gifting, cooking,… Read More ›

  • Every Note Played

    Instead of beginning his solo, in opposition to the overbearing silence and the voice in his head, he plays a single note, D, with his pinkie. He holds the key and the foot pedal down, listening to the singular sound,… Read More ›

  • Do We Have an Attorney General?

    Who currently has the authority to run the U.S. Department of Justice? It’s a question overwhelmed by many other important national news stories right now (and the usual shiny objects), but it needs an answer as soon as possible. The… Read More ›

  • Winnable

    Virginia’s 7th U.S. House District really was unwinnable, until it wasn’t. In 2016, with Republican incumbent Dave Brat supporting the most toxic presidential candidate of my lifetime, Democratic challenger Eileen Bedell received only 42 percent of the votes to Brat’s… Read More ›

  • Roasted Sausage and Fennel with Oranges, and a Black Manhattan

    Our trees burst into color last week and have been raining down on us ever since. Here at peak autumn, I’m excited to share with you my fixation for this season: the flavors of fennel and anise. Wait, don’t leave…. Read More ›

  • Wait For It

    Despite the drama and anticipation leading up to Election Day, an unusually high number of tight races this year means we could drift off to sleep tonight without learning which party controls one or both houses of Congress. Some states,… Read More ›

  • One Day More

    With the country focused on midterm congressional elections, don’t forget that Virginia has two constitutional amendments on the ballot tomorrow as well, to be decided by referendum. The first question is: Should a county, city, or town be authorized to… Read More ›

  • Policy Roundtable with the 68th District’s Dawn Adams

    Delegate Dawn Adams held a policy roundtable Oct. 24 at Bon Air Library, where she discussed her legislative priorities going into her second year representing Virginia’s 68th House District. With a group of about 20 constituents, Adams outlined issues she’s… Read More ›

  • An Uncomfortable Analogy

    The rights of rape victims provide a framework for thinking about abortion rights, argues Cornell law professor Sherry Colb. The law recognizes an individual’s right to defend herself against physical attacks and unwanted bodily intrusions. In the case of rape,… Read More ›

  • Wong Gonzalez

    Would you like a box for that? Chinese influence on Mexican culture has an old and complex root structure. Hundreds of years ago, Spanish merchants sailed across the Atlantic to the “New World,” bringing Asian goods to trade for precious… Read More ›

  • Power Beyond Politics

    Here at the top of the food chain, less than two weeks from a national election in the world’s richest country, intra-species power struggles seem like where the most interesting action is. But writing about the Carnial Pluvial Episode –… Read More ›

  • Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom

    Jacket design by Christopher Brian King

    How does one man assert his power over another, Winston? …. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in… Read More ›

  • Votes of No Confidence

    The Washington Post has a reality check about historically low voter-turnout areas this election year. In Montgomery County, Tennessee, for example, only 42 percent of adult residents voted in the 2016. Here are some reasons people gave reporters for why they don’t plan… Read More ›

  • Roberts Reassurance?

    Speaking yesterday at the University of Minnesota’s law school, Chief Justice John Roberts commented on “contentious events in Washington in recent weeks,” presumably referring to the battle over his newest colleague on the Supreme Court. “We do not serve one… Read More ›

  • Penne alla Vodka and Garlic Green Beans

    I’ve had a few misfires on the way to reliable homemade penne alla vodka. As a newlywed long ago, I cooked a triple batch for my husband’s big Sicilian family. The sauce was smooth and silky; the prosciutto was delicate;… Read More ›

  • SCOTUS: Is It Legit?

    As the cancer of hyper-partisanship continues to spread through the U.S. polity, the chaos of Brett Kavanaugh’s ascendance has inspired some thoughtful perspectives about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. The question is wide open: The Court, always aware of its counter-majoritarian… Read More ›

  • We’re Terrified of Each Other

    Last Friday morning, Senator Jeff Flake announced he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Although he “left the hearing with as much doubt as certainty” about whether Kavanaugh assaulted Dr. Christine… Read More ›

  • Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

    The breakfast club Some of my favorite people in the world are breakfast people. My dad’s been preaching breakfast as the day’s most important meal for decades. My best friend really should be left alone in the mornings until she’s… Read More ›

  • Ballot Black Box

    Now that we’ve all registered to vote (yes?), it’s time to grapple with the reality that our votes very well may not even be counted accurately. The overarching problem, detailed in The New York Times Magazine today, is that no… Read More ›

  • It’s Not About Brett Kavanaugh

    The defense is straightforward: “I have never attacked Dr. Ford or anyone else, and I have no recollection of the party she describes. If she suffered a sexual assault then or at any time, the perpetrator was someone else.” In… Read More ›

  • Apple Roquefort Salad and Lemon Chicken

    You should know I’ve declared neutrality in the pumpkin-spice wars. I feel there are very fine people on both sides. Pumpkin spice usually comes with lots of sugar, which can’t be bad. I’m also one to celebrate the change from… Read More ›

  • Family Separation Update

    In three family-separation cases, the Department of Justice has agreed to give parents who didn’t pass their initial asylum interviews another chance to do so. One of the lawsuits alleges that many parents who didn’t know their children’s whereabouts were… Read More ›

  • Undiscovered First

    Photo Credit: Redfishingboat. Some rights reserved.

    After Leslie Feist’s song “1234” helped make Apple’s iPod commercials iconic and deluged her with a level of fame she never imagined, she took two years off to refocus. The emotional space she gave herself led to her 2011 album Metals,… Read More ›

  • A Thing of Value

    In the months after Election 2016, a newly energized opposition took to heart the old maxim, purportedly still valid, that the most effective way to sway your representatives in Washington is to call their offices. But there are good reasons to… Read More ›

  • Mister Peepers

    Imagine discovering that one of your favorite artists has written a song praising the thing you’re nerdiest about. That’s the gift I got today. Ben Folds has offered his musical take on Rod Rosenstein and upholding the rule of law:… Read More ›

  • Waiting by the Phone

    Today the New York Times started live-polling registered voters here in Virginia’s 7th U.S. Congressional district. Historically, our district is reliably red, but some forecasters are now calling it a toss-up between Republican incumbent Dave Brat and Democratic nominee Abigail Spanberger…. Read More ›

  • Docket – April 29, 2019

    4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Schwartz v. JJF Mgm’t Servs. Inc. (P), 4th Cir. (Duncan) from DMD at Baltimore (Messitte). This appeal represents the latest salvo in the scorched-earth assault by the appellant and one of its franchisees. The… Read More ›

  • Riggleman v. Clarke

    In this putative class action for Eighth Amendment violations, certification is inappropriate. The plaintiff, a Virginia inmate, is not an adequate class representative because his counsel is not adequate to handle this case as a class action. Counsel initially failed… Read More ›

  • Schwartz v. JJF Mgm’t Servs. Inc. (P)

    This appeal represents the latest salvo in the scorched-earth assault by the appellant and one of its franchisees. The district court properly denied the appellant’s third-party claim to funds in certain deposit accounts that the franchisee sought to garnish in… Read More ›

  • Edmonson v. Eagle Nat’l Bank (P)

    In their suit asserting claims under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the plaintiff-borrowers alleged sufficient facts against the defendant-lenders to merit relief from the one-year limitations period under the tolling doctrine of fraudulent concealment. The district court erred in… Read More ›

  • Docket – April 25, 2019

    4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Bell v. Brockett (P), 4th Cir. (Quattlebaum) from WDNC at Charlotte (Mullen). This case involves a defendant class action, a litigation “unicorn.” Here, while the district court failed to follow Federal Rule of Civil Procedure… Read More ›

  • Sheppard v. Visitors of Va. State Univ.

    The plaintiff, a former student at Virginia State University, has failed to state claims for Title IX gender discrimination and due process violations. This action arises from an altercation between the plaintiff and other students, where plaintiff allegedly sought to… Read More ›

  • Bell v. Brockett (P)

    This case involves a defendant class action, a litigation “unicorn.” Here, while the district court failed to follow Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 its decision is affirmed due to the unique circumstances of this case. Class counsel was not appointed… Read More ›

  • United States v. Walker (P)

    The district court properly rejected the defendant’s plea agreement, sustained the prosecution’s peremptory strike of an African-American juror before trial, and calculated the defendant’s Sentencing Guidelines range after his convictions for drug and firearms offenses. In finding the advisory Guidelines… Read More ›

  • Docket – April 24, 2019

    4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Am. Ass’n of Political Consultants Inc. v. FCC (P), 4th Cir. (King) from EDNC at Raleigh (Dever). An exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protect Act authorizing robocalls related to collection of debts owed to… Read More ›

  • United States v. Peterson

    The court will suppress the fruits of a strip search of the defendant, but not the fruits of a search of his car. Although a police dog’s weak responses alone didn’t give officers probable cause to believe that the defendant’s… Read More ›

  • Hagans v. City of Norfolk

    The City of Norfolk is entitled to summary judgment as to a plaintiff’s claim that he had a due process right to continued employment. He had worked as a child counselor at a juvenile detention center and was terminated after… Read More ›

  • Atkins Nuclear Secured LLC v. Aptim Fed. Servs. LLC

    No sanctions will be ordered against the defendant who first indicated through in-house counsel that it would not challenge federal diversity jurisdiction, but then changed that position when outside counsel learned that its corporate citizenship destroyed diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff… Read More ›

  • Am. Ass’n of Political Consultants Inc. v. FCC (P)

    An exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protect Act authorizing robocalls related to collection of debts owed to the government violates the Free Speech Clause. The district court erred in holding otherwise and thus in granting summary judgment to the government…. Read More ›

  • United States v. Dennings (P)

    The district court properly calculated the defendant’s Sentencing Guidelines range by including an offense characteristic enhancement for reckless endangerment during flight on foot. Here, the defendant’s situation involved flight plus something more. He fled from police sirens after having discharged a… Read More ›