Tag: law

The Limits of the Law, and Getting Led Down Rhetorical Alleyways

 

Was Kyle Rittenhouse acting in self-defense when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz on August 25, 2020? That is the question the jury will have to answer. That is the only question the jury has to answer. The trial as envisioned by most news outlets and Twitter will, or at least should, settle an array of other questions. Should Kyle Rittenhouse have traveled to Kenosha that evening? Was he planning on being a vigilante? Does he suffer from a hero complex? Is he a good person?

Those asking these questions aren’t stroking their chins while deep in thought, they aren’t poring over the evidence, they aren’t asking. They’ve long had their answers—the trial is just a formality. These questions are interesting in a philosophical sense. They are irrelevant to the trial. Kyle Rittenhouse is not my friend, acquaintance, family member, coworker, employee, lover, or peer. I’m in no need to assess his character, judgment, intellect, or moral compass. He isn’t in the news because the country sees in his case grist for a hearty debate about ethics. He’s in the news because it is being decided whether the state will use taxpayer money to keep him locked in a cage for years.

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We need a new federal law.  The law would punish abuses of power by government (federal, state and local) officials and employees.  My vision is for a law that: Provides for both civil and criminal liability for government officials who abuse government power. Prohibits the DOJ or other government attorneys from defending the government official […]

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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.)