For all of you Redskins fans, hung-over from the shellacking, or for you three or four dispirited Rockies folks, or for the seasonally depressed, we have a diversion for you: This week’s Legal Times is crowded with interesting items -- including our annual breakdown of D.C.’s legal landscape, the Legal Times 150. Once you’ve scanned the rankings, check out our accompanying pieces on firm growth and hiring sprints, odd couples, and top-heavy firms.
Legal Times’ Tony Mauro offers up a preview of round two of the partial-birth abortion ban in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The impact of the Supreme Court’s April decision in Gonzales v. Carhart will be measured this week when the 4th takes another look at, perhaps, the strictest abortion law in the country to decide how it matches up against the federal ban. Virginia says the law is virtually identical, while abortion rights advocates argue the state ban is far broader.
Then we have a story about several detainees in Afghanistan who are taking cues from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay by challenging their confinement in federal court. Gitmo is emptying, but detention centers abroad -- in this case, the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility -- are taking on more prisoners, who unlike their counterparts in Cuba enjoy no rights to contest or appeal their combatant status. The mental and physical distance between the United States and Afghanistan have, so far, held legal representation to a minimum, but that could change. Whether and how these cases proceed hangs on the Supreme Court’s decision in an upcoming case, Boumediene v. Bush, over whether Gitmo detainees have a right to habeas relief.
And On the Merits columnist Douglas McCollam is musing about chimps. Will these nonhuman hominids, with the cognitive abilities of a young child, ever be granted "personhood" in the courts?