Tag: law

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Melvin Urofsky, Professor of Law & Public Policy and Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the author of several books, including Louis D. Brandeis: A Life and Dissent and the Supreme Court. Professor Urofsky shares insights on Justice Brandeis’s jurisprudence, and why he consistently ranks among the three most influential Supreme Court justices in American history. They discuss his understanding of American constitutionalism, and how he interpreted the law to diminish consolidated financial and federal power, what he called the “curse of bigness” – big banks and business monopolies, as well as big government. They also explore Brandeis’s dissenting opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, perhaps the best-known 20th-century articulation of the role of the states as “laboratories of democracy” under our federal constitutional system. They delve into some of the most influential dissenting opinions in U.S. Supreme Court history. For example, Justice John Marshall Harlan, the lone dissenter in the Court’s infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, offered legal views that would later lead to the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision overturning “separate but equal.” Professor Urofsky also offers thoughts from his 2020 book, The Affirmative Action Puzzle: A Living History from Reconstruction to Today, on one of the thorniest political and legal topics of our era. He concludes the interview with a reading from Justice Brandeis’s concurring opinion in defense of free speech in Whitney v. California.

Stories of the Week: Cara and Gerard discuss National Charter Schools Week, and this education sector’s success in improving opportunity for underserved students. In Florida, nearly 95 percent of seniors enrolled in the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship program graduated from high school during the 2019-20 school year, the second highest graduation rate since they began tracking it in 2015. A new study of admissions at 99 colleges shows that despite adopting test-optional policies to increase diversity, the share of low-income students or students of color at these colleges has risen by only a percentage point.

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What happens when pandemic fears combine with criminalization of pre-pandemic norms? Judges take a holiday and over-capacity prisons set people loose while other accused citizens remain imprisoned for half-a-year or more without trial. From Greg Googan at FOX 26 Houston:  Preview Open

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This little article was inspired by and will mostly discuss a little Dan McLaughlin Tweet: George, if you have a free moment, could you ask @ProjectLincoln to apologize for its attack on one of our profession's core values? https://t.co/P3uMC9jmUd https://t.co/PxQzU5Fn0t — Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) November 18, 2020 Preview Open

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QoTD: Push Polls and the Wrong Answers


Hi Thomas, I’m Mercedes w/ For our Future WI. We’re conducting a survey and want to hear from you. Our first question is simple. With everything that’s going on right now, what’s the biggest issue facing you & your family right now?

Spammers texting me without even getting my name right. Or were you thinking less immediately than “right now?” Well, the intersection between what’s possible with digital technology and what kind of human interactions are fundamentally destructive (mass push polls for example) ranks reasonably high on my list of worries. Is that one of the options? Somehow I think you’ll have to tick the “other” box on your form.

The Rule of Lawyers II: The Lawyering


Quick quiz question: How many current Supreme Court judges can you name?

I’ll give you a moment to consider, but don’t take too long. It’s a trick question; the proper answer ought to be zero. Lady Justice is blind. Traditionally that means justice ought not care about the skin color of the defendant, or their wealth or poverty or anything else. Justice is concerned with the fundamental equality of all men, not accidents of nature or position. However, we ought to be able to run that backward; truly just judges ought to be indistinguishable. So why is it that you not only know the Justices’ names but can lay a wager as to how they’d rule on any given controversy?

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Our own Sam Jacobs sat down with Matthew Larosiere. Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at the Firearms Policy Coalition and an unashamed supporter of the Second Amendment without exceptions. He is also an early adopter of the 3D printer, something that he has become very skilled at using to make full firearms, […]

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Future Law Through the Science Fiction’s Lens


There have been stories about lawyers and trials for as long as there have been lawyer jokes – maybe longer. So why would they not continue into the future? Why wait for that future to arrive before writing them?

Overruled, edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a collection of science fiction tales about lawyers and trials. Lawyers appear in all of them; guns and money in many.

This book presents legal-themed science fiction short stories written over a seventy-year period; from the late 1940s through this year.  The result reveals a history of science fiction style by showcasing a series of entertaining stories.

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I don’t know.  A Constitutional Amendment?  A grass-roots effort to pass it across the country, one piece at a time?  I don’t know.  But I was inspired watching the story of the Texas salon owner and the judge. Here’s how it works: if an executive order or legislative action orders closures of private businesses during […]

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  I came upon this story at Ann Althouse’s blog the other day. I couldn’t quite make sense of what the story was about so I looked into it a bit and found a wee bit of tyranny enabled by our extensive and bloated administrative/regulatory state. It turns out that Ben Domenech, the publisher of […]

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Omar Glad to be an American?


Representative Ilhan Omar might finally realize she ought to be glad she’s now an American citizen.

The mere accusation of marital infidelity could have resulted in her being stoned to death in her old country, and news reports have raised the strong possibility the Representative is engaged in an affair with a colleague.

Beyond the Beltway


Eating veggie burgers was always the equivalent of biting into a soggy styrofoam sammich. However, we are now seeing meat alternatives that are actually pretty darn good. Carl’s Jr. has the new Beyond Famous Star (it is delicious), Del Taco is now serving Beyond Tacos (again, very good!) and Burger King is locally testing the Impossible Whopper (which we haven’t tried).

Whether or not you are grimacing reading this, and everyone can choose their own diet based on health and environmental reasons, it’s these new technological breakthroughs of plant-based alternatives that serve as a good reminder of the difference between free-market and big government solutions and how they should be implemented.

Our national divide, no matter the issue, can often be reduced down to a philosophical debate regarding the scope, size, and power of government. Most Conservatives agree there is a need to reduce incredibly expensive programs created by centralized politicians and bureaucrats. Instead, any policy should first be implemented locally, which these restaurants did with the curious new meat alternatives. That way it can best serve those it was designed to impact, as opposed to a one size fits all national cudgel.

The Eternal Game of Knifey-Spoony: British Knife Control


Recently, a British police force tweeted out a picture of a set of knives given to them for safe disposal. The astute among you have no doubt already noticed the spoon in that picture. ‘Safely disposing of’ kitchen knives is stupid, the fencing foil is just sad, but the spoon? Thank heavens we have these dangerous instruments off the streets! Okay, maybe this is a charity (from a casual internet glance they’re St. Vincent’s but woke) is just trying to get rid of things which might be illegal and some joker dumped extra bits into the pile. Then a couple of days later the same police outfit (and I caution you that this is, in fact, a police force and not actually a Twitter parody account) tweets out this.

Yeah. You just raided someone’s toolbox. No mistaking here; that Phillips screwdriver is a threat to life and limb! I can imagine why you’d want to ban knives to prevent knife crime, but why would you ban bastard files? Tired of the cheap jokes? At this point I can see three possibilities:

  1. It is in fact a parody and I missed on my BS detector. But nothing false has ever been posted to the internet before, so why worry?
  2. The cops are overzealous and foolish enough to post evidence of same to Twitter; a sober platform where mistakes are never roundly castigated.
  3. or most likely, the law was written foolishly such that somehow snub-nosed pliers count as a knife. Cop’s just doin’ his job, and perhaps publicly pointing out the foolishness of this law as a means of provoking change.

A quick search and I turn up this gov.uk page explaining the law. It’s in human-readable words, which means whatever it says doesn’t actually count. The only thing that counts in court is lawyer-ese words; relying on anything else is walking on thin ice. The site helpfully fails to quote the actual act being referenced, or offer any evidence for its statements other than the appeal to authority of having a gov.uk address.

A Real Face of Privilege?


Amidst the various assertions that many of us have “privilege” because of our race or our sex, and claims that a single photograph of a person is evidence of privilege (see Nicholas Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School), our acquaintances over at The Daily Wire report a story with a 4 minute video showing a face of someone who truly did think she could rely on the privilege she assumed she had. (Warning on the video – she uses some vulgar terminology.)

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Well, he’s at it again. Gavin Newsom, California’s newly elected Governor, has once more decided his moral sensibilities take precedence over the duly enacted law. Today, March 13, 2019, Governor Newsom, with a stroke of the pen, signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions. As per Article 5, Section 8 of the California […]

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The Rule of Lawyers


Let me start by telling you a story. Mr. @MattBalzer and I, we make board games. One of these games we call the Presidential Rumble. You play as one of history’s greatest presidents in the midst of a knock-down drag-out election against each other, marshaling characters from the past and laying claim to the symbols of liberty. You get some pretty great things going on; in one game Martin Luther King Jr. named Frank Sinatra to the Supreme Court. In another, Joe McCarthy declared Tecumseh to be a communist. You’ll frequently see the FBI confiscate the Constitution as evidence or the EPA declare the Statue of Liberty to be polluting and destroy it.

I’ve printed up several prototypes too. There’s a company out of Madison, WI called The Game Crafter that specializes in this sort of thing. They’ve got a pretty good racket; there are a lot more people who want to make board games then there are people who will make a living that way. The Game Crafter will professionally print and assemble single copies of a game, so you can get your idea produced even if your only customer is your mother. Really I’ve had excellent experiences with them, excepting one thing.

The last time I tried printing up a copy of my game they flat out refused because my game was referencing real people I may have been legally infringing on their personality rights. Up until that point I hadn’t heard of such a thing, but five minutes on the internet brings up the Wisconsin statue (they and I operate out of WI, so Wisconsin law should be good enough for the both of us.) The law prohibits:

Quote of the Day: “Not Law but Fraud”


In Mark Helprin’s 2012 novel In Sunlight and in Shadow*, we meet a returning WWII veteran, Harry Copeland, who inherits the family business from his deceased father. When the business is threatened by a mafia boss, resulting in the death of one employee, and Harry himself nearly beaten to death, Harry learns that he will find no help from law enforcement or any other authority because all of them are being paid off. Harry must decide whether he will take matters into his own hands — eliminating the mafia boss himself.

“My enemy is not the law,” he found himself saying under his breath as he walked — talking to himself was not a good sign — “but the enemy of the law, against which the law is too weak to defend itself. If the law is complicit in crime, is it the law? If, when not complicit, it not only fails to protect but proscribes self-protection, then it is not law but fraud. Anarchy arises not from those who defend themselves by natural right, but from officials who fail in their calling, look the other way, succumb to threats and blackmail, or who are themselves criminal. If without defending me the law says I can’t defend myself, it is no longer the law, and I have to defy it.”

As you might guess, I could not read this passage without immediately thinking of the last two years of the Mueller investigation. Given all we have learned about the involvement of the DOJ and the FBI (et al) in inventing the Russia Collusion narrative out of whole cloth, convicting people on process crimes — crimes that didn’t exist apart from the investigation themselves, we must ask whether what we are seeing in Washington is law . . . or fraud? If the law is complicit in ca rime, is it the law?

The (ill)Logical End of the “Why Does Anyone Need That Kind Gun?” Argument


David French has an excellent piece in National Review on the new push for gun control within the Democratic Party.

As a doctor, I feel I have a duty to inform the public of what I have learned as I have observed these wounds and cared for these patients. It’s clear to me that AR-15 and other high-velocity weapons, especially when outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet.