Friday, May 13, 2005

Go Back to Con Law, Rep. Sensenbrenner

GOP Seeks More Curbs on Courts

Apparently, you need to be reminded that "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court....The Judges...shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour..."


a) when Sesenbrenner says "In the early days of the Republic, the precedent was set that judges are not impeached for unpopular decisions," that's not quite right, unless the "early days" he's referring to are the days the Constitution was signed. Do you see, where it says good behavior, spelled all Britlike?

And what's the opposite of good behavior?

Unpopular decisions? Nooooo, I don't think so.

b) The judicial power of the United States is vested in one SUPREME Court. The Supreme Court, by definition, is the supreme judicial authority in these United States, which means you can't bump it down a notch and make its decisions subordinate to ("audited by") an Inspector General, because then the Supreme Court wouldn't be SUPREME anymore, it would in fact be overseen by this Inspector General, who is not mentioned in the Constitution at all.

Get it?

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said his party is "going to resist all of these encroachments because they compromise the whole idea of the separation of powers."

Well, good.

What About The Other Religions?

Air Force Chaplain Tells of Academy Proselytizing

One staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity said on Wednesday: "There's certainly an impression that evangelicals here have that the leadership is kind of on their side. And there's a feeling among people who are atheists or people who are other varieties of Christian that the leadership does not really accept them."

Do you know what that says about the speaker of this quote, and this is the person who is *worried* about the proselytizing? It says they've bought into the idea that in America, there are people who are our kind of Christian, and then there's people who don't believe in God.

Pharmacists Values

I generally applaud sticking to one's guns in morally sticky situations, so I do feel like I understand both sides of the debate, here:

On the one hand, a professional dispenser of medication who considers dispensing legal drug X for its legal use to be immoral.

On the other, a prescription for legal drug X, for its legal use.

Who should win that fight? Because it's not about the pharmacist's conscience, or not just about the pharmacist's conscience, it's about the relationship between the patient and their doctor, and the patient's right to control what treatment they undergo.

An M.D. wrote that perscription. An M.D. made the medical evaluation of the patient, and determined a course of treatment, and the patient agreed to pursue it.

When that pharmacist gets in the way of this course of treatment, they are violating a fundamental liberty of the patient's to accept or deny medical care, and to control what medical decisions are made that affect them. And, in this case, as in Griswold v. Connecticut, where a state law barred prescribing contraception, to control when, and how, a husband and wife expand their family.

The pharmacist who refuses to dispense medication places themselves in the driver's seat instead of the patient, and it's the patient here who suffers as a result.

No state can take your body and force you to do something with it. Force you to bear a child, or force you to abort -- states that think 13-year-olds will make fine mommies notwithstanding. And if a *court* is going to be asked to enforce a pharmacist's right to refuse to dispense medication, that's state action thats violating the patient's substantive due process right(s), just as a court being asked to enforce a racially restrictive covenant and kick a black family out of a house they bought in a white neighborhood (Shelley v. Kraemer) is (unConstitutional) state action[*].

(If a pharmacist should have the "right" to control whether they dispense emergency contraception -- beg pardon, to refuse to dispense emergency contraception -- as their moral values indicate, should strippers who object to taking their clothes off in front of other people, for religious reasons, of course, still be paid to be strippers?)

[*] There's a difference between race and gender when conducting a due process analysis of state action. The former is held to a "strict scrutiny" standard, and the latter to an "intermediate" one, where the state must show an important governmental interest being satisfied by a method substantially related to that end. Race analysis requires a "compelling governmental interest" be satisfied by narrowly tailored means. But I'm not sure intermediate analysis is the appropriate one here. Are laws that "protect" pharmacist's values ones that classify on the basis of religious beliefs, in which case a strict scrutiny standard may apply, or ones that classify by gender?

What important or compelling interest is being upheld by permitting pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions? And, is this about permitting pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions in general, or about permitting pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for women?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Conyers on Ohio Voting Irregularities

Ohio 2004: Ignoring the Canary

...what I found in Ohio was a series of massive irregularities, many of which were illegal under federal and/or state law, and every single one resulted in a loss of votes for John Kerry, not George Bush.

"No" on Bolton

Senate Committee Refuses to Endorse Bolton

Good. The man sounds like a bully. The last thing we need when America's image overseas has been so tarnished is a bully as our envoy to the UN.

Kraft Catching Heat for 2006 Gay Games -- You Can Help

Kraft Foods is a major sponsor of the 2006 Gay Games. The anti-gay "crusaders" have targeted them and are flooding their phone bank. Kraft's Gay Games Support Under Attack

You can call # 1-800-323-0768, toll free to voice your support.

It's very simple: "Hi, I'm calling to voice my support for Kraft's sponsorship of the 2006 Gay Games. Tolerance and diversity are American values, and I'm proud to see Kraft supporting those values."

You can do that, it's easy.

Fictional Politics, Political Fictions...Or Something Like That

Politics in an Age of Fiction "The nature of this presidency has clearly been pushed to inhumanly fictional extremes."

If it bleeds, it leads

John Tierney bemoans the media obsession with cramming terror attacks down our throats:

I didn't see what good I was doing for anyone except the planners of the attack. It was a horrifying story, but it was same story as every other suicide bombing, from the descriptions of the carnage and the mayhem to the quotes from eyewitnesses and the authoritie

And Bruce Schneier interprets his words as arguing "that the media is performing a public disservice by writing about all the suicide bombings in Iraq. This only serves to scare people, he claims, and serves the terrorists' ends."

True, it does. I can't put my response to that argument in any better words than Bruce's:

So why is the argument wrong? It's wrong because the danger of not reporting terrorist attacks is greater than the risk of continuing to report them. Freedom of the press is a security measure. The only tool we have to keep government honest is public disclosure. Once we start hiding pieces of reality from the public -- either through legal censorship or self-imposed "restraint" -- we end up with a government that acts based on secrets. We end up with some sort of system that decides what the public should or should not know.

Exactly. It is more important to a society that depends on the the free flow of information to keep our leaders honest to see these dramatic, terrible images, to hear of atrocities then to have them withheld, out of good intentions or bad, and never have a chance of deciding to fight against them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Cheney’s secretive task force

These are the shortsighted power-hungry fools who want to drill in ANWR.

Who want to drill in New Mexico's sacred Otero Mesa.

Governor appeals plan for oil, gas drilling on Otero mesa

Who think destroying the natural beauty of America -- taking that precious gift away from our children -- destroying our cultural diversity -- and taking that even more precious gift away from our children -- is worth a few months, or even a couple years, of oil.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Real ID is Stupid

REAL ID A Real Bad Idea.

This "Real ID" scheme makes us less safe, costs money, and will make identity theft easier.

How the Real ID Act will affect you

One voice in the wilderness. Voting against the REAL ID Act.

HR 418 (click the little radio button that says "Enter Bill Number" and then type "HR 418" in the text field, and hit the Search button. You'll get a page that links to a couple different versions of the bill: as entered in House, as agreed to or passed by House, etc. It doesn't really matter which one you click on, you're just looking to get the gist of it.)

Look at this bill. Doesn't this bill look like something attempting to keep terrorists out of the country?

If that's its true purpose, why does it start off by documenting the hell out of every American citizen?

Wouldn't it make sense to document the hell out of prospective terrorists instead?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Buddhism stuff

So, I've gone back to reading Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism without Beliefs. I've been reading it off and on for some time. It's really good, as well as, in my opinion, very fine end-of-term-finals-reading-period reading. For two reasons:

1. Insightful, interesting, thought-provoking chapters. I am not thinking about the law when I read Stephen Batchelor.
2. Short chapters. Very short.

One of the things I find intriguing about Buddhism as a belief structure is that it isn't one, so it doesn't get in the way of others you may already have. If you're a Christian, you can follow the middle way, too. They're very compatible. What Buddhism is is a method, or it sounds like one to my delicate shell-like scientist's ears.

Fascinating stuff.

If Only

Bush S**ts on FDR

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability," the president said. "We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others."

If only he believed it, instead of just saying it.

People v. Smeagol, People v. Baggins

(okay, I moved the Lord of the Rings law analysis stuff to the law blog, after I decided to write a few more.)