Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Jesus Saves

If you or a murderer you know would care for a reduced criminal punishment, I suggest that you attempt to poison your neighborhood, gullible jury by raising Bible passages. The Colorado Supreme Court Monday threw out a death sentence on the grounds that the jury discussed Scripture in their closed sentencing deliberations. The opinion of the court suggested that many consider the Bible to be "codes of law," which could have influenced at least one juror inappropriately in the case.

Colorado Governor Bill Owens remarked correctly that the ruling was "demeaning to people of all faith." Apparently referencing the Bible while jurors were wrestling with their moral dilemma in executing a prisoner is inapposite to consulting the modern International laws in executing 17 year olds (Simmons v. Roper).

Friday, March 25, 2005

Hmm...

Where can I get in on this?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Free Health Care in Cuba!!!

Yes, you all know that there's free health care in Cuba. Val Prieto exposes this free health care system for what it actually is - a farce. I wonder what Castro defenders have to say in response.

UPDATE: Please do yourselves a favor and thoroughly explore Mr. Prieto's blog. He's doing some very important work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hillary Clinton

Worried about Hillary taking the high road to the White House? I am. Check this out. There is nothing like insulating yourself from issues that you'll never again have to vote on (or on issues your vote doesn't matter on).

Take Bankruptcy Reform: substantially all Democrats came out in opposition of that bill. There aren't 74 Bush-supporting, pro-creditor Senators, are there? Hmm. Despite strong Dem opposition, there were 74 votes in favor of the bill.

The one abstention in the Senate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was spending time with her husband while he was in the hospital. However, Hillary indicated she would vote in favor of it too, even though she opposed in stalwart fashion all Bankruptcy Reform Bills of the past. You must figure it gets lonely to be Senators Schumer or Kennedy. Your party is with you every step of the way, up until they have ambitions of running for a higher office (or keeping their seats in the rest of the non-NY/Massachusetts world).

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nice to See the UAW Is a Tolerant Bunch...

I'm glad they seem to embrace a diversity of opinion over at the UAW.

UPDATE: They've come to their senses.

Minnesota Senate Primary

Just a thought, but has anyone posited that Rod Grams' intent in entering the GOP primary against Mark Kennedy is actually to clear out the field for Kennedy? Grams has a ton of name recognition, but when coupled with his lack of campaigning thus far, one may have to start wondering if his presence is for the purpose of scaring off any other potential candidates who would see two heavyweights in their path. This way, Kennedy can avoid spending resources in a "real" primary and save everything for the general. It would be quite Machiavellian on the part of the Kennedy/Grams camps, but anything's possible.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I Recommend Volokh to You Once Again

The facts are too detailed for a synopsis here. But on the linked post, Volokh does a good job tacking a right of publicity/copyright/IIED claim of a gay couple, whose photo is being used in an ad campaign by a conservative group. Students of IP, take note. The couple is suing for their likeness being misappropriated and smeared and so forth.

Volokh is the man when it comes to the interplay of the First Amendment and intellectual property rights. He even breaks down Oregon right of publicity law, which seems rather narrow (the picture was taken in Oregon by an Oregonian photographer). He concludes in general that this is constitutionally-protected speech.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Don't Privatize Marriage

I will disclose as material my own bias from the inception of these paragraphs. I share the Thomasonian persuasion about the traditions of our founding. Indeed, I like the fact that we were founded by a group who believed that they were steered by Providential guidance. The aforementioned incorporated therein to our fundamental government and its tenets this belief in many facets.

My true colors revealed, I have one point in favor of NOT privatizing marriage. Privatization would emphatically render standards for both governmental and private benefits wholly unworkable. Someone must define marriage, for health benefits, tax benefits (they exist whether you like them or not), and other retirement related benefits.

This list of benefits fails even to mention the government/judicial role in divorce, which has become rather well ensconced in our government's function. What a nightmare it would indeed create for "couples," however they define themselves contracting privately ex ante for the distribution of "marital" assets. I sincerely doubt that judges will much enjoy interpreting the enforceability of such agreements (offer, acceptance, consideration, the parol evidence rule and the like; in fact ulcerous would their stomachs become, great many ulcerous) due to the up-coming breach-of-marriage contract actions.

Regardless of views of church and state, the aforementioned would make my colleague's proposal an unwieldy administrative and judicial nightmare.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Privatize Marriage

Last weekend, seven of us from Hamline Law in St. Paul, MN were fortunate enough to attend the Federalist Society Student Symposium. The panels and debates centered on a theme of "freedom and the law." The Harvard Fed. Society live-blogged the proceedings here. It's a pretty good account of most of the goings-on of the weekend.

I was originally going to make this post a round-up of my impressions of the symposium, but I will instead be addressing a narrow topic. Perhaps not surprisingly (to those that know me), I thought that Charles Fried offered the most valuable insight of the entire conference. Aside from his statement of "The civil jury is a mistake.", he also addressed the question of marriage. In response to a question from a liberal on the panel, he not only said that he thought that taking marriage out of the state's hands was acceptable, but that we as a society are heading in that direction.

Though I have talked to a couple people about this idea in the past, I believe that this marked the first time I have heard it referred to as "privatizing" marriage. It's also what I believe to be the correct stance on marriage. Before the government ever became involved with marriage, it was a religious institution without any need for a "license."

Instead of the current system we have in place now, I would leave it up to religious institutions to bestow and recognize marriages. In order for a couple to enjoy the benefits that married couples currently do, I would require a wholly separate civil union from the government. This arrangement would allow each church to recognize whatever form of marriage that they choose.

Like many other areas in life, marriage is yet another in which the government does not belong.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lawrence Summers

Last weekend was the Federalist Society Student Convention at Harvard, of which we were a part. Larry Summers gave the opening remarks to the event and received a spirited, largely standing ovation. Although it took me half the applause to grasp the reason behind it, Judge Posner's recent blog post illustrates persuasively why Summers is being backed by the conservatives and libertarians. He further illustrates why universities should be run more like a business and less like a place where the faculty "are the university."

Posner compares the faculty making executive hiring decisions to employees of a corporation giving their CEO a vote of no-confidence. They would get laughed out of their jobs. So too, Posner suggests, academics have no capacity to understand the business decisions of a multi-billion dollar institution like Harvard and set the policies of whom the Board of Trustees should hire and fire based upon their own warm fuzzies of what is PC.

Does anyone really disagree that there is an inherent difference between the sexes as it pertains math/science faculty positions? Preferences among the genders are inherent, at the least (Hypothesis = the genders are inherently different).

Our nation's law schools are represented by a majority from the female persuasion. Has the aptitude of men in the law gone down? Are men less capable now than women at being lawyers? The answer to those questions taken together with the empirical fact of gender-based enrollment in our law schools should serve to show how inherently silly the criticism has been.

(Dare I say that I have just succeeded in an analytic and mathematic proof of my hypothesis above?) At least Posner and I agree (plus Larry Summers too makes three of us; more math--shame on me!).

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

State vs. US Constitutional Interpretation

Eugene Volokh has an interesting post today about state constitution interpretation of vague and ambiguous clauses, and the desirability of state supreme court judges interpreting their own at times broad view of these clauses, in comparison to the US Supreme Court deciding rights. It is a sort of worst case scenario analysis (I read it to be that if the state court judges get it wrong, this is better because ______). His argument is somewhat compelling. He lists:

1) the ability of states to experiment (which is not undermined as in the US Supremes deciding a Constitutional issue)
2) the remedy of the people to un-seat state court judges through vote
3) and the relative ease with which state constitutions are amended (compared to 2/3 House Vote, and 3/4 of the states for Federal Constitution.

This premise makes me nervous in lieu of the Goodridge case in MA, legitimizing gay marriage, and other instances of "judicial activism." However, Volokh is exactly right in his lesser of two evils argument. Hard to imagine right now, but the US Supremes could get one wrong as bad as Goodridge for the entire county. And this is illustrative of how much worse, and how much harder to undo would be this interpretation.