Category: Law

Due Process for Me, But Not for Thee

By , November 19, 2015 7:42 pm

Charles C. W. Cooke, an ex-pat Brit and newly minted citizen of the United States squarely hits the nail that the hammer-headed American public seems to be missing more and more recently. As he writes in the National Review,

As a result, the question here shouldn’t be ‘why does the NRA oppose using this [terrorism watch] list in a civil context?’ but ‘why doesn’t everybody oppose using this list on a civil context?’

Why indeed? Why do so many people fail to see that our constitutionally protected rights to due process are nowhere to be seen in the President’s proposal to deny Second Amendment rights to anyone found on that secret list? The mind boggles.

The Facts Versus The Meme

By , October 4, 2015 9:41 pm

I’ve read more than once, in reaction to the recent tragedy in Oregon, that we need to regulate guns. Of course, we do regulate guns–at the federal and at the state level. If you’re interested, here’s the most recent version of the ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide, all 233 pages of laws, regulations, Q&A’s explaining the morass of laws, and more. A full 9 1/2 pages of just the Gun Control Act of 1968 is devoted to Section 922: “Unlawful Acts.” The phrase “It shall be unlawful” is used 22 times in that section, usually leading off long lists of unlawful acts. And that’s just one act. The Guide also contains the National Firearms Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and a section of the law governing the Postal Service as well as four different “Parts” of the Code of Federal Regulations.

And that’s just Federal Law. Each state and many cities have their own laws, many of which are much more restrictive than the Federal Law, which essentially sets the minimum standards. For example, the assault weapons ban is no longer on the federal books. But don’t tell that to California or Connecticut. The NRA provides a handy guide of state law if you’re interested.

Finally, none of this takes into account the fact that it’s crime punishable by imprisonment and even death to kill someone with a firearm. Use a firearm in the commission of a crime, and generally the punishment for the underlying crime is enhanced. Etc. etc. etc.

Could more be done? More laws? More regulations? Reasonable minds differ–and they’re not all on the anti-gun crowd.

A Thumbs Up for Religious Freedom or a Sop Before the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling?

By , June 3, 2015 6:30 pm

I don’t know, but the thought occurred to me Monday.

Water (Law) Source

By , February 20, 2015 2:28 pm

Lately, I’ve become interested, very much so, in water law. Maybe it’s because Utah’s snowpack is at about 70%. Maybe it’s because the amount of water on this earth doesn’t change, but the quality of it does. Whatever the reason, water law has captured my attention. One of my favorite sources of ongoing and accessible information on the subject is the Water Values podcast, a bi-weekly offering by David McGimpsey, an attorney out of Denver.

The podcast eschews legalese in favor of broad coverage of water and water issues, principally via interviews with people who work or write about water, water rights, and the people who use it, whether in industry or in nature. Some fascinating interviews.

Looking for Something to Do?

By , January 20, 2015 2:12 pm

If you are, I suggest the following sites as worthwhile time fillers:

If you’re interested in balanced and very interesting discussions of the Constitution and federal/state relations, the Federalist Society’s website in general and it’s multi-media offerings in particular are a must. They strive to offer a view from both sides of most important legal issues, especially at their various events. I can’t recommend them enough.

Also of constitutional interest, it’s hard to beat Oyez.org, the place to go if you want to actually listen to oral arguments at the Supreme Court. No, you can’t listen to them as they happen, but I’ve seen cases where the recordings were up the same day they happened. And these recordings go waaaaay back, even as far as Roe v. Wade (where you can hear counsel from the state of Texas make a sexist joke) and New York Times v. Sullivan (where you can hear the historical beginnings of our current law of defamation).

Enjoy.

I Have No Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

By , December 31, 2014 8:59 am

Here are 10 reasons why.

Cat Fight: A Statistical Debate over Equal Pay for Women and Sexual Assault

By , November 30, 2014 8:11 pm

The Federalist Society regularly hosts some very interesting and fairly balanced panel discussions of topics related to the Society’s mission “to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.” This past September, the Society put on a panel titled “Passion and Prudence in the Political Process: The Debate Over Federal Civil Rights Policy.”

The panel is interesting for a number of reasons, but I post about it largely because it illustrates so well the problem of “damned statistics.” Not being a statistician myself, I can only express my frustration at the way some people toss about numbers as if the act itself were sufficient to prove their point. For what it’s worth, I think Gail Heriot and Diana Furchtgott-Roth win this encounter hands down, but then, I agree with their side of the issue.

What do you think?

Cross posted at GregoryTaggart.com

LBJ: I Hardly Knew Ye

By , August 29, 2014 9:26 am

I’m reading–well, listening to, anyway–Robert Caro’s Pulitzer prize winning biography of LBJ, a bio he refers to as a study of political power, how to acquire it and how to use it. I’m almost through with the second volume, Means of Ascent. The first volume, Path to Power, which chronicles his life (and his ancestors’s life) up through his years in Congress and his first run at the U.S. Senate–which he lost only because his opponent–literally–bought more votes than he did and then only because Johnson got a little cocky on the day of the election, is an enthralling read. (In case this sentence is a little too complex [a little?], here’s the essence: The first volume is an enthralling read.) The second volume has proved its equal.

Means of Ascent discusses Johnson’s time in the armed services during World War II and his second run for the Senate, an election he literally bought, paid cash for. This comes as no surprise to the reader. At this point in the story, the reader has already read where Johnson stole a student election in college, stole another election for the presidency of an organization of congressional staffers, stole an actual congressional seat, and attempted to steal a Senate seat in a special election.

I’m reminded of a great line from the movie Patton. The great general is facing Rommel in North Africa, and he’s beating him. George C. Scott, as Patton, peers through his binoculars at the unfolding spectacle and says, “Rommel… you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” Methinks more than a few politicians and their operatives have read Caro’s biography of LBJ.

How Important is Religious Freedom?

By , July 21, 2014 2:58 pm

This important.

From the Left and the Right on Argument and Collegiality

By , May 31, 2014 7:15 pm

Two recent interviews of two Supreme Court Justices, one on right–Clarence Thomas–and one on the left–Elena Kagan, both in agreement that you can disagree, yet be agreeable.

Here’s Kagan:

In the following video, Thomas also discusses civility on the Court. Because his comments come about 22:30 minutes into the video, I’ve cut and pasted that part of the transcript. Like Kagan, he praises the collegiality of his colleagues. A lesson for the rest of us maybe?

Thomas: You know, it should be mysterious. I can still remember the first time I set foot in that room and those doors closed. I mean, my goodness, it’s pretty daunting the first few times. Because that’s where the actual work and the decision-making takes place. It’s just the nine, there’s no staff, no recording devices. And we vote in descending order of seniority. It is a process in this city, normally when I was a staffer, you always had assistants around. And, people are engaged –they actually talk about the case. They actually tell you what they think and why. You record the votes. And there’s some back and forth– there’s more now. When Chief Justice Rehnquist was here, he moved it along very quickly. Now there’s more back and forth, more discussion. We normally have one break and there’s more discussion, off to the sides, about cases. And to see people who are trying their best to decide hard things and feel strongly about their view of it, is fascinating. And the thing that’s been great is, I just finished my 18th term, and I still haven’t heard the first unkind word in that room. And you think what we’ve decided–life and death, abortion, execution, war and peace, financial ruin, government relationship with citizens. You name it. We’ve decided it. And I still have not heard the first ad hominem in that room. It is an example of what I would have thought decision-making would be at the higher levels of civil government in all parts of our country.

SWAIN: What ensures that decorum?

THOMAS: The human beings on this Court, and people who, in one way or another, one degree or another understand that it’s not about them. It’s about the Constitution, our country, and our fellow citizens, that they don’t take themselves as seriously as they take the work of the Court.

SWAIN: We’ve learned a lot about the many traditions this Court holds and its processes that are passed down from Court to Court. And some of those happen in the conference room, such as the handshake. How important are symbols and traditions to the process that happens here?

THOMAS: I think the handshake, whether you’re in sports or church or other activities, it means something. It still means something. We can sense when somebody’s phony and they don’t mean it. These people, in this room, are genuine. It’s warm and professional. There’s always a handshake before we go on the bench. When we see each other and we haven’t– its the first time during the day– we always make sure to shake hands, whether it’s in public or in private. There’s sort of a sense of courtesy and decency and civility that’s a part of it. On the days that we work, whether we’re on the bench or we are in conference, we go to lunch together. In the early years when I first came here, we had that lunch in a small room off the main dining room. Justice O’Connor insisted that we have lunch every day when we were sitting. And she insisted, “Now Clarence, you should come to lunch.” And she was really sweet, but very persistent. And I came to lunch– and it was one of the best things I did. It is hard to be angry or bitter at someone and break bread and look them in the eye. It is a fun lunch; very little work is done there. It’s just nine people, eight people, whoever shows up having a wonderful lunch together. It is wonderful. So the traditions, I think, are important. It’s like traditions in our society, in our culture. They developed over time for a reason. And it helps sustain us in the other work that we do, I think. They help sustain us.

Here’s a link to the Thomas’s C-Span interview.

Cross posted from GregoryTaggart.com

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