Doubtless someone else has, but re: the most recent in the wave of federal district court decisions striking down state same-sex marriage bans (summary, link to decision at SCOTUSblog)—

I saw it noted on Twitter that "Most federal judges are ex-prosecutors in their 50s, i.e. cultural conservatives. If they're overwhelmingly rejecting SSM bans, it's over." That was right below a screenshot of the end of the decision, which I will quote at a little more length:

. . . in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

So I went looking for information about the judge who'd been the most recent to be moved to eloquence on this subject. (Though, I confess, I would have said "onto.") And indeed: John E. Jones III is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush who will be 59 next month. (Though he was a part-time public defender rather than a prosecutor.) He was also the judge on the intelligent design trial, wow, over a decade ago now, how time does fly.

I have no energy to go looking up the rest of the judges now, but, data point.

1.

Back when the news that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman broke, I said elsewhere,

The thing is, I don't really care about casting for Batman because Batman is fundamentally a boring character. All he is, is a vehicle for manpain and an opportunity for more interesting people to aggregate around him. (Usually people who deserve a better protagonist.)

Superman's boring too. So there.

*drops mic, walks offstage*

And I stand by that. But [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine's Strange Horizons column Ten Worlds About Ben Affleck's Batman is still awesome with awesomesauce on top. (Why aren't we in world #5?)

2.

Know anyone starting law school or thinking about it? Recommend to them A Student's Guide to Law School, freshly-published and written by a co-worker and one of the smarter people and better attorneys I know (and I know a lot of smart people and good attorneys).

3-4.

A writer at the A.V. Club is dismayed to revisit the first Xanth book (because it may not be obvious if you're not familiar with Piers Anthony's work: trigger warning for discussions of pedophilia):

Here’s how this article was supposed to go down: As a kid, I lived in Florida. Back then I loved the books of Piers Anthony . . . . For this installment of Memory Wipe, I was going to reread A Spell For Chameleon . . . . Then, in poignant prose, I would revisit the magic of my own Floridian childhood, even though that childhood was actually pretty fucked up, but maybe not quite as fucked up as it seemed at the time. The big takeaway: Thanks, Piers Anthony, for the swell book, not mention giving me a tidy epiphany about how fantasy, geography, and nostalgia overlap in the hazy mists of reminiscence.

Instead, this happened: I reread A Spell For Chameleon, and during those excruciating hours all I could think about was what a sad, misogynistic piece of shit it is.

It seems like realizing the awfulness of Piers Anthony is a rite of passage among people who read SFF when young, so I offer it to you all for the sympathetic wince/cathartic rant factor.

Also because of this:

Ultimately, Anthony is the worst kind of misogynist: one who defends his offensive views by saying, in essence, how could he possibly hate women if he’s drooling over them all the time?

I'm not convinced that that's the "worst" kind, but it is a particularly infuriating kind, and it strikes me as relevant to sexual harassment. And that is on my mind because of recent revelations of sexual harassment by Bora Zivkovic, a very prominent man in the science blogging community (context). The most recent report (with links back to others) is by Kathleen Raven. Among other things, this prompted a massive Twitter conversation of people sharing personal tales of self-doubt caused by even much milder forms of harassment (on Storify, or try #ripplesofdoubt if you hate Storify for long things the way I do). Difficult stuff, but worth reading if consistent with your well-being.

(To be clear: Bora is not, at present, using this defense, though I am morally certain that someone somewhere has offered it on his behalf. Reading these links in the same day merely made an association that seemed a useful transition.)

5.

Fallen London players, follow this link for a tiny gift from a Rubbery Man (one not generally available since 2010, can you believe this game has been around that long?), and check out your Lodgings for some seasonal content.

6.

I think about unfollowing Elementary's writers on Twitter every Thursday, when they live-tweet the show that I don't have time to watch. But it doesn't seem worth the effort, and they do things like last week's "feud" with the writers of Sleepy Hollow, which was adorable and hilarious. And then this afternoon they started in with the knock-knock jokes and I gave up and followed @sleepywriters too just so I didn't miss anything . . .

(I have not seen Sleepy Hollow; I appreciate the comparisons everyone's making between it and Elementary regarding the dynamics of the lead pairs, but I've given up trying to watch anything but Elementary and Face Off, and I'm also a little dubious about the mythological elements that [livejournal.com profile] abigail_n points out. As for SHIELD and Korra, I'm letting those scroll off the DVR, and if someone tells me they get to be worth watching, I will pick them up from that point.)

7.

A Dark Room is a really neat minimalist web game about discovery and exploration. I hesitate to say too much about it because of those themes, but it's not too long or demanding and has a definite end, and the minimalism works very well for it. (You should run it in a browser tab that can stay open while you're away from your computer.)

ETA: now some spoilers in comments.

ETA 2013-08: apparently there are some content differences in the iOS app which sound very much not my thing.

8.

‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin, a fascinating article at the Washington Post about the racism embedded in the very "technology and grammar of cinema and photography."

A bit ago, a co-worker of mine said that they were going to be on a panel for 1Ls about what they wish they'd known before they started law school. The other people in the discussion had some good suggestions, such as "what outlining is for" [*] and (new for the current state of the profession) "if your grades aren't very good in the first year, consider stopping before you incur more debt that you won't be able to pay off because the job market sucks."

Here's mine, perhaps a bit late (every school I ever attended started after Labor Day, so I find the idea that people have already started very weird), but all the same.

The first thing that came to mind: most legal writing is bad writing.

The goal of legal writing is either to persuade or to instruct. Neither purpose is served by unclear, difficult, or boring prose. Good legal writing is concise, is engaging, and helps the reader understand what is being discussed. Unfortunately, most legal writing fails to meet this standard, partly because of traditional style conventions.

It may be hard to realize this as a 1L because the content of the stuff you're reading is also new and confusing, but if you're reading the same sentence over and over again, the style may well be contributing. Try not to unconsciously absorb the peculiarly-inverted syntax, passive voice, and extreme length of bad legal writing, or you will (like me) spend much painful time trying to beat those tendencies out of your own writing.

(For an example and discussion of effective and highly-praised legal writing, see the links in this blog post.)

The second thing that came to mind was much more meta: law school is mostly wasted on law students.

I am rapidly running out of steam and this could turn into endless anecdotery, so let me sum up: take the black-letter courses because you never know what you're going to end up doing and if you've met the basic principles before, you'll be able to research your particular need much more effectively; and if those courses intersect with amazing professors, excellent, and if not, seek them out as you can, though you probably won't appreciate them fully until you start practicing.

The last one doesn't quite fit because it isn't something I wish I had known, but it's worth saying anyway: "asshole" is a failure mode, not a prerequisite for success. 'Nuff said.

[*] Outlining is organizing and distilling the course material into a concise reference document, in order to understand that material. But go ahead and participate in group outlines, because you should be outlining for yourself regardless and (if competitive advantage is an issue) other people's outlines aren't that much help anyway.

QotD

Jun. 14th, 2011 07:04 pm

From page 8 of this decision (PDF):

The fact that this is a case . . . being prosecuted by members of a minority group does not mean that members of the minority group have a greater interest in equal protection and due process than the rest of society. In our society, a variety of citizens of different backgrounds coexist because we have constitutionally bound ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of one another from being violated by unlawful treatment. Thus, we all have an equal stake in a case that challenges the constitutionality of a restriction on a fundamental right.

SCOTUSblog has context and a summary.

My standard response to people who aren't sure if they want to go to law school is, "Don't." In the past, I've gone on to say, "Law school sucks enough that unless you're positive you want to practice law [*], you shouldn't spend three years of your life at it."

This NYT article reminds me that my answer also must include, "and the job market is so bad that it is an amazingly risky gamble."

So, for the record.

[*] Two notes about "practice law":

First, if you're one of the minuscule number of people who can go straight into teaching law, you don't need to be asking me for advice.

Second and far more importantly, as the article says:

This gets to what might be the ultimate ugly truth about law school: plenty of those who borrow, study and glad-hand their way into the gated community of Big Law are miserable soon after they move in.

If you don't know what kind of law you want to practice and what it'll be like, it behooves you to find out.

and all others who think rationally:

So you're a lawyer who's been out of law school and practicing at the same place for three or four years. Your place of employment has just taken on a new client and your boss has assigned you the case, which requires urgent attention. You believe the new client should win, but you disagree with your boss's reasons for assigning you the case and demand time to think it over. Your boss agrees but warns you that the opponent in the case, a prominent businessperson, is dangerous and that taking the case could make that person your enemy.

At the end of the conversation,

[Poll #1553005]

If you are the protagonist of the novel I was reading last night )

A while ago, someone on my reading list had a post inviting people to pick one historical figure they would like to kick in the shins. I can't find the post now, but as I recall, the rules were that a mysterious person with a time machine made you the offer, with the restrictions that you were strictly limited to one kick in the shins, and that you couldn't choose Hitler (or, I suppose, any other such really obvious figure) since if you did, everyone would, and then history would be altered thanks to the permanent bruise he'd have.

I couldn't think of anyone then, but now I've got my choice: Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States, the author of the Supreme Court's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford. It's been years since I read it, and my memory had faded about just how absolutely vile Taney's opinion is; but yesterday, I was listening to a lecture series on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court [*], and all through the sections on Dred Scott [**] and Taney's other slavery-related decisions, my foot just kept twitching.

So, who would you like to kick in the shins?

[*] I listen to podcasts, radio plays, or lectures while in the nursery with SteelyKid (I tried audiobooks, but while fiction moves fast enough when I'm distracted by driving, it's not sufficient for this). I picked this series as a way of easing myself back into the legal mindset before I go back to work in a few weeks.

[**] The decision is over 100 thousand words, so I don't recommend reading it (trust me—I have), but the principal holdings are that (1) no-one of African descent can be an American citizen, because the Constitution's framers viewed them "as beings of an inferior order" who "might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for [their own] benefit", and (2) Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in territories—neither of which was remotely supportable. For more, see Wikipedia.

Three quick comments I found interesting:

  • Dahlia Lithwick on the difference between judicial activism and judging; also on how "when your citizens and/or their Legislature are racing around banning and legalizing the same thing at the same time, the will of the people is not necessarily the last word on what's constitutional."
  • Kenji Yoshino on the potential wider legal consequences of the decision. I note that the decision explicitly refused to make immutability a requirement of traits deserving the highest legal protection, as Yoshino argued in Covering.

    (Also, it is amusing to contrast his and Lithwick's characterizations of the way the decision is written.)

  • The Slacktivist considers people who are sincerely opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons and wonders "why these friends and brothers and sisters of mine think that such theological arguments can or should be persuasive to those who don't share our religious perspective."

As everyone has said, California's highest court today ruled that "the designation of marriage" must be made "available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples." I am so happy about this, though my happiness must pale besides that of those more directly affected by the decision.

That decision, by the way, is 172 pages: 121 pages of majority opinion (including 73 footnotes), 40 pages of concurring and dissenting opinions, and 11 pages of administrative stuff (PDF, 500KB). I've only had time to skim the majority opinion (and I am, alas, not the sharpest knife in the drawer at the moment thanks to sleep deprivation), but the only word that comes to mind is "exhaustive." Which—to go off on a tangent—interests me, because there are several different potential audiences for all this exhaustive discourse, and talking to multiple audiences is a tough thing to do.

legal natter )

Have any of the non-lawyers here ventured into the decision itself? What did you think?

In Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, Kenji Yoshino argues for a new way of looking at discrimination and civil rights. As the title indicates, this centers on the concept of covering, or downplaying a disfavored trait to blend in:

Famous examples of covering abound. Ramón Estévez covered his ethnicity when he changed his name to Martin Sheen, as did Krishna Bhanji when he changed his name to Ben Kingsley. Margaret Thatcher covered her status as a woman when she trained with a voice coach to lower the timbre of her voice. Long after they came out as lesbians, Rosie O'Donnell and Mary Cheney still covered, keeping their same-sex partners out of the public eye. Issur Danielovitch Demsky covered his Judaism when he became Kirk Douglas, as did Joseph Levitch when he became Jerry Lewis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt covered his disability by ensuring his wheelchair was always hidden behind a desk before his Cabinet entered.

The central argument of the book is that covering is an assault on civil rights because it is an assault on autonomy. If one has a right to be something, one has the right to do the things that one feels are part of that identity. Otherwise, "the demand to cover . . . is the symbolic heartland of inequality—what reassures one group of its superiority to another." In other words, though assimiliation can be necessary for peaceful co-existence, its dark side also should be recognized.

The book is a blend of memoir, history, and legal analysis. It begins with a chapter of memoir, charting the author's "struggle to arrive at a gay identity." Yoshino did undergraduate and graduate work in literature before switching law when he accepted his sexuality—because, he writes, "A gay poet is vulnerable in profession as well as person"—and all of the autobiographical portions of the book are elegant and precise. And in the later chapters Yoshino moves between memoir and history or legal analysis with a remarkable fluidity, never jarring me in the transition.

After the context-setting opening chapter, the book divides into three parts. The first is an examination of gay history, which is itself divided into three parts: conversion, or attempts to change sexual orientation; passing, or attempts to hide sexual orientation; and covering, or attempts not to flaunt sexual orientation. Each section emphasizes how it is still a current problem. Conversion lives in the idea that homosexuality is "contagious" and therefore children need to be protected from the promotion of homosexuality in schools, and passing in the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And both can co-exist with covering, such as in custody cases:

[When denying] custody to a lesbian mother in 1990, a Louisiana appellate court cited "open, indiscreet displays of affection beyond mere friendship . . . where the child is of an age where gender identity is being formed." If acceptable sexuality for same-sex couples is limited to the appearance of friendship, then the expectations for parents are clearly not orientation-neutral.

Notice as well why such covering is required—parental flaunting is dangerous because it could convert a child whose "gender identity is being formed." All three demands for assimilation are simultaneously in play—because children must not be converted, parents must pass to their children and cover to the courts. The shifts from conversion to passing to covering . . . are shifts in emphasis.

The book then considers covering as applied to race and sex, drawing its examples mostly from the employment context. One of the new wrinkles it examines is reverse covering, particularly with regard to women. For most non-dominant groups, the pressure to reverse cover comes from other group members. Women, however, are pressured to cover and reverse cover at the same time and by the same outside group (men), that is, "to be 'masculine' enough to be respected as workers, but also 'feminine' enough to be respected as women."

(Though the book focuses on groups currently protected by civil rights law, because it's written by a law professor, the book takes care to note that everyone covers in ways small and large: "the mainstream is a myth. . . . All of us struggle for self-expression; we all have covered selves.")

Finally, in the shortest section, the book looks at models of civil rights law. It considers two areas in which the idea of accommodation is supposed to be recognized, religion and disability, and examines the pressures towards assimilation within those areas of law. It then argues for a new model of civil rights:

  • The law right now tends to prohibit only discrimination based on immutable traits. This is misguided: the question should not be whether a person can change, but whether the person should be made to change.
  • One way the law can do this is by focusing on common liberties/fundamental rights, rather than on whether group X needs additional protection. This is partly because courts are more likely to be comfortable with such a formulation, and partly because the group X formulation brings up the question of what's essential to being part of group X, which is dangerously near stereotyping.
  • The law is limited in effectiveness and appropriateness when it comes to covering:

    When I hesitate before engaging in a public display of same-sex affection, I am not thinking of the state or my employer, but of the strangers around me and my own internal censor. And while I am often tempted to sue myself, this is not my healthiest impulse.

    Instead, civil rights law should be part of broader attempts to view ourselves and others with compassion and understanding.

On the whole, I think this is a well-written, useful, and accessible book. It's true that unless carefully deployed, the idea of covering could reinforce stereotypes. As a colleague of Yoshino's puts it, "One way minorities break stereotypes is by acting against them. If every time they do so, people assume they are 'covering' some essential stereotypical identity, the stereotypes will never go away." For this reason, the book attempts to emphasize individual autonomy and authenticity, rejecting demands to reverse cover as well as cover; I think this bears repeating, because it strikes me as the kind of point likely to get lost in general discussions. Also, because describing solutions is harder than describing problems, the final section feels a bit slight (and also strikes me as having somewhat more jargon than the prior sections). However, by targeting a general audience, the book necessarily limits the amount of legal implementation details it can offer.

The idea that everyone covers immediately resonated with me, and I have begun thinking about my own covering and whether all of it is necessary or useful. I hope that when others recognize the concept, they will do the same, and in the process gain awareness of and empathy for those who are pressured to cover without good reason.

(The book's preface, which functions as a short summary, can be read online, as can the scholarly law article which originated the concept (choose "View as PDF" from this Yale Law Journal page).)

(ETA: see also a long New York Times article by Yoshino, The Pressure to Cover, which functions as a long (5,000 words) summary. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ckd for the link.)

[Cross-posted to my booklog.]

[Written Thursday night when Internet-less.]

So there I was, in a hotel room surfing TV channels for acceptable background noise, and there was an episode of Supernatural, the show which it seems like half my reading list watches. Heck, why not?

Of course I would land on an episode that required stupid legal stuff for its plot—and I assure you, it was very stupid. spoilers )

That said, I definitely noted some appealing bits about the show, though I doubt I'll watch, partly because I'm not much for spooky and partly because I just don't watch TV often. I really liked the shot of the pivoting cell doors when they first get into prison, and the actors playing the Winchester brothers are watchable (though it seemed to me that Dean stole this episode something awful). And I didn't foresee the twist about 3/4 through, though I lacked the context to know that there needed to be a twist, if that makes sense. I did catch some of the significant sibling interaction, thanks to skimming spoiler posts, which I suspect kept the episode from being just filler?

Anyway: didn't suck, not highly motivated to watch more (I'll be looking for people's spoiler posts about the next episode based on the preview, though).

This morning, I was in Rochester to argue two cases. When there are a lot of cases on the calendar before mine, I do my best to pay attention to them: it keeps me awake, it's educational on a number of levels, and I'm not going to be able to concentrate on my own case during other people's arguments (I prepare ferociously ahead of time instead). Today, I was rewarded with an interesting set of facts, which I believe went something like this:

Criminal conviction for drug possession. Defendant had jumped out of a still-running car and run through a series of backyards. He was eventually arrested some distance away (I did not hear any of the distances). A bag of drugs was found on the ground near a fence, which defendant had jumped over; the jumping was the only time the pursuing officer lost sight of defendant. It was a cold snowy day, and there were only two sets of footprints in the backyard, defendant's and the officer's. The bag was warm to the touch.

Is that sufficient evidence to convict defendant of possession? Recall that possession must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

(I think one of the justices said it would make an interesting law school test question.)

Then when I got home, I found myself with another circumstantial evidence question, which amused me. The faucet in the back wall of the house was on. A quick call to Chad confirmed that he hadn't left the water running for some reason, so I went out and turned it off. The faucet turned easily, and there were pieces of icicles on the ground around it. I immediately concluded that a falling icicle had hit the faucet in just the right way to turn it on—which is perhaps somewhat more improbable than the case I heard this morning, but since the stakes are so much lower, I am perfectly happy to accept it.

Do you all have any interesting examples of circumstantial evidence? Or want to weigh in on these examples?

(Note to self: find a "lawyerly" icon.)

I am strongly considering writing a "you may not discuss copyright unless you can answer these questions correctly" thing—maybe hand-roll a quiz on steelypips, maybe just write it out here, I don't know.

I know there are copyright myth and FAQ pages out there, and I'll be looking at those, but I'd also like you all to tell me what particular errors you see come up a lot during discussion. Off the top of my head, there are the ones I can think of:

  • Whether you can copyright:
    • ideas
    • characters
    • titles
    • images
  • Registration of copyrights:
    • whether you have a valid copyright without registering
    • what it does
    • mailing your document to yourself
  • It automatically is/isn't fair use if:
    • money is being made
    • money isn't being made
    • credit is given
  • What fair use is
  • What rights are encompassed by copyright
    • Especially basing works on other works
  • Defending copyright
  • When copyrights expire

I know I thought of more while trying to fall asleep last night, but I can't think of them at the moment, and the dog is demanding her morning walk.

I'm also contemplating an "advanced" or "so you want to call yourself an expert" section, but that might be more trouble and snark than it's worth, since I am not an expert.

The plan for this to be primarily focused on text, but [livejournal.com profile] telophase, can you link me your thing about copyright for DeviantArt? And do you all think it's worth delving into the area of music—performances, covers, and so forth?

So, tell me: what else should people be required to understand before they discuss copyright?

I'm almost back to normal, health-wise (unlike Chad), but work has been kicking my ass this week (I want to write about a minor thing that's contributing to that, reader expectations, but I don't know when). Have a link dump instead.

  • Slate article about pretending to be a lobbyist. My reaction was, perhaps unusually, pleasure at how helpful the offices she visited were. I spent a year working for a U.S. Representative, and it's nice to see that my experience wasn't atypical (I don't think I had any meetings like that personally, but I remember seeing similar discussions).
  • It's Saiyuki week and I don't have time to re-read or do an art post or anything. Wah. I console myself with a procrastinatory Hakkai icon, which pleases me quite inordinately.
  • My law review article on special verdicts in criminal trials has been cited by an actual court, the Third Circuit! Eleven page PDF, page 9, footnote 2. I hoped, when I wrote the thing, that it would be a useful resource for practitioners, and so I am very chuffed that at least one person found it worth referencing.
  • New anti-spam plugins for Movable Type 3.2: HM Passphrase, which looks like an accessible "prove you're human" test; and Blacklist32, which lets the old plugin MT-Blacklist run alongside 3.2's built-in SpamLookup.

Finally, I've been in the same room as a lot of basketball games this week, and I'd like to say "Go, UAlbany!" The #16 Great Danes led #1 seed Connecticut by twelve in the second half before they ran out of steam and Connecticut woke up. It was a heck of a fun game until then.

Law and SF

Jan. 3rd, 2006 09:21 pm

Quite a while ago, Chad and I were talking and noted the apparent lack of law in science fiction. There's technothrillers, and military sf, and even some medical sf (though not much these days? I'm only interested in the subgenre insofar as the Sector General stories fall in it, so I don't keep track), but there doesn't seem to an equivalent to the legal thriller, Grisham and Turow and such. The only books I'm aware of are John G. Hemry's lawyer-in-spaaaace books (A Just Determination, Burden of Proof, Rule of Evidence), and even those appear to be as much military sf as anything. (I haven't read them; I'm not much interested in military sf. A couple of people have said good things about them, though.)

I'm not really wanting to read legal thrillers in sf settings, mind, for much the same reason that I don't like watching Law and Order—too much like work. But their absence struck me as possibly interesting. Any thoughts on why the legal thriller isn't found in sf settings? (Or fantasy ones, for that matter.)

Minor disclaimer: If interesting things are said, I may suggest this as a panel topic for Boskone.

Scrivener's Error has some advice for new law students, which I largely agree with—particularly the "foundational course" advice, because boy do I regret not taking Federal Courts or Administrative Law, on the naive theory that, hey, I'm not clerking, I won't need them! Ummm, no. (I haven't yet missed taking Business Organizations or Bankruptcy, but I imagine it's only a matter of time.) I'd also add Wills, Trusts, and Estates to the list of things one should take, and give Evidence a bullet point all of its own just for emphasis—both fundamental, and I think they'd be hell to learn piecemeal or for the first time during bar review.

Two more pieces of advice: (1) Have something outside of law school and hang onto it, otherwise law school will eat your life, especially during your first year, which is Bad. (2) It's traditional to try and do way too much the first time that you're allowed to pick your own classes. It's probably a mistake everyone needs to make for themselves, but be aware of the tendency.

In case you were wondering, Dred Scott didn't say "that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights," when "That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says."

In 1856 the Constitution said that slavery was legal, as it had from the beginning. Article I, section 2, paragraph 3, excluded slaves from being fully counted in the census (they were counted as "three fifths of all other Persons"), and section 9 provided that Congress couldn't prohibit importing slaves until 1808. Not all of the Constitution's drafters approved of slavery, but they couldn't get the votes to outlaw it, and so it is undisputed by people with, you know, actual brains that prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery was constitutional.

I was going to write up a post on what Dred Scott did say (some cases, I suggest people read if they want to know what they say, but I've read novels shorter than Dred Scott), but Professor Balkin has beaten me to it:

The problem with Dred Scott is that the Court reached out to decide something completely unnecessary, that blacks couldn't ever be citizens, and it also held that in order to treat southern whites equally with northern whites, they had to have the right under the Due Process Clause to bring their property (slaves) into federal territories, which meant that the federal government couldn't ban slavery there.

That last is a reference to the Missouri Compromise, which some of you may remember from high school history.

Okay, two more comments. One, Bush went on to say, "The Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America." (My emphasis.) Excuse me?

Two, Paperweight argues that this statement is actually code for "I will appoint judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade." (Via Political Animal.) I wish I could say I was surprised.

Babies this week: a co-worker's first, early, and another co-worker's third, also early. My cousin's first was last week, also early. Just one left of the end February/early March due dates, my friend, though as I think she was having the easiest time of her pregnancy, I suppose it's not unreasonable.

[Edit: actually, my friend's baby arrived Saturday night, I just didn't know it until now. So no Leap Year babies in this crop, and no late ones either.]

Illnesses this week: Chad: rather sick. Me: feverish and tired for most of the week, but nothing else, yet. *crosses fingers*

Vanity this week: gave up on growing out my hair and got it cut yesterday. I'm currently considering whether I dislike it enough to get it cut again now; I think not, but just barely. Also bought a new suit—yes, I know, another, that's the fourth this year, but it was only $60 and it doesn't need alterations. I think my wardrobe's sufficiently stocked now, though.

Dog this week: best game ever: take one (1) favorite toy. Wrap in one (1) large towel. Knot ends. Give to dog, let fun commence. (Be sure not to knot too tightly, or else the dog will just rip the towel fabric rather than dig at and toss the towel around until it comes loose.)

Food this week: cheese lasagna. Mmmm, cheese, my Platonic ideal of lasagna. And very easy, too, especially if one uses (two 27 oz. jars of) pre-made sauce and Barilla no-boil noodles. Notes to self: don't bother slicing the mozzarella, just buy a couple of bags of shredded. Don't worry if the layers come up past the top of the pan, the grated (not shredded!) parmesan won't stick to the foil.

Movies this week: Lost in Translation. Mostly Chad has said what I would, but a couple of extra comments:

  • Opening credits consisting solely of a shot of Scarlett Johansson's butt in translucent panties? Strange.
  • Despite that, this was an incredibly lame R. The rating claimed to be for "some sexual content;" the movie featured one misunderstood prostitute, played for (awkward, uncomfortable) laughs and no real skin, and one strip-club dancer with three seconds of breast, and that was it. The ratings system is seriously screwed up, especially considering that The Passion of the Christ avoided an NC-17, seemingly without cuts.
  • I guess I'm just a narrative junkie, because I prefer to know that something happened in a movie. And to know what that was.

Public service announcement of the week: if you are linking to the New York Times, try putting the URL into this weblog-safe link generator. It won't expire, and you won't need a login, either. (The links generated are from the RSS feeds.)

Same-sex marriage news this week: unfortunately, this article about the latest developments regarding New Paltz isn't on the RSS feed for some reason. Offered without comment, because of its connection with my professional life.

Footnote of the week: the very, very last one (just hit end) in this decision, via The Volokh Conspiracy. "It is counterproductive for counsel to litter his brief with burdensome material such as 'WRONG! WRONG ANALYSIS! WRONG RESULT! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!'"

And finally, spam of the week: two e-mails arrived at the same time, hawking Viagra, with rather good From: lines: Decrepitude K. Servomechanisms and Booker G. Assiduousness. I don't know, they have a ring.

Sauron: Offer and Acceptance. An analysis of Sauron's offer to Dáin in Fellowship of the Ring under contract law, with side excursions in the comments into property law, environmental regulation, employment law, ethics, and civil procedure.

(Inexplicably, no-one has taken up the call to examine the legal issues surrounding the Silmarils.)

March 2017

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