August 03, 2010

Redefining PETULANT

Well, someone certainly has their panties in a twist...

In a public rebuke, a federal judge Monday ordered all Austin City Council members to participate in any future lawsuit settlement talks with the family of a man fatally shot by a police officer last year.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks also wrote in a three-page document that he will no longer accept settlement announcements in any cases involving the city within 25 days of a scheduled trial. Judges "cannot rely on the City of Austin to support the recommendations of its lawyers," he wrote in the sharply worded order.

The case, filed by the family of Nathaniel Sanders II, had been set to go to trial this month, but Sparks struck it from his docket amid the tentative settlement.

"The court accepted the lawyers at their word and removed the case from the July 19, 2010 trial, a mistake (I) will not make again," Sparks wrote. He said the case has already resulted in "a substantial expense to the American taxpayer."

Judge Sparks, you're peeved that a bunch of civilians on Council didn't accept the learned advice of their counsel? That happens sometimes, especially when members are worried about future claims. However, throwing a fit about it and issuing a silly order ain't really a rational response, regardless of your irritation over rescheduling.

Now, with this order in place, it would appear that a settlement is all but out of the question. So, thanks a lot for that, Judge.

Posted by mcblogger at 06:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2010

Justice of the Douchebag

Ordinarily, I defend a person's right to run for office, no matter what. The nutjobs are usually nutty enough that they run for high-profile offices—Mayor, Governor, Senator, President—where you would expect candidates to have at least a little bit of name recognition. It makes the nutters easier to spot. The vetting process is sort of obvious when the minor players aren't invited to debates, aren't included in interviews or forum invitations, and generally have a campaign that doesn't focus on much more than "HEY, LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

I also maintain that no one is owed their elected office. Incumbents should expect to be challenged at any time if they aren't doing their jobs, or do things that are Democratically Distasteful. I thought it was proper when Glen Maxey ran against Nelda Wells Spears for Tax Assessor/Collector. I thought it was proper for Brian Thompson to challenge Dawnna Dukes, and I'm supporting Amy Clark Meachum against Jan Patterson. I actually like that the Libertarians field candidates in every race, and I appreciate it when the Democratic candidates treat the Libertarians with respect. It speaks to our party's general attitude of "everybody is welcome."

That being said, Richard Glasheen is a douchebag.

Let me go into why I believe this. He's running at the bottom of the ballot, which gets precious little attention as it is. It makes it harder to spot the nutty. He's running against someone who is a stellar incumbent, and it's just sort of rude.

Herb Evans has been the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 since 2000. He's been an exemplary public servant, quietly going about his work and supporting Democratic causes all the while. He takes his job seriously, is effective, efficient, and a damned fine human being. I have watched him make impassioned speeches about the importance of voter registration (he is one of three people in Travis County outside of the TAC office who can deputize registrars). Even in the years when he had only Libertarian opposition, he campaigned for the office. He collects petition signatures in part to save himself some money in filing fees, but also because it lets him reach out to voters directly. This fall, he eschewed fundraising because the economy is down, and the other Democrats on the ballot needed the money more. I thought that was classy.

Then, on January 4th, Richard Glasheen filed to run against Herb in the March 2 primary. You are a douchebag when you walk in on the last day of filing, and your only questions are "What can I run for", and "Which race has the lowest filing fee?" Way to do some research. Way to make it look like you care about the office you're running for. Richard is not an attorney, and he does not need to be in order to qualify for Justice of the Peace. However, as the ONLY Justice Court that is entirely within the City of Austin, Precinct 5 has few cases that wouldn't benefit from having a trained legal mind behind the bench. Complex cases from the city, county, and state come through JP5, and someone who is a real estate broker by trade is going to have a massive learning curve ahead of him.

But Richard doesn't like lawyers. At all. He thinks that the Justice Courts have been taken over by lawyers, and that ordinary people need to take "The People's Court" back. Back from whom, exactly? Trained legal professionals who are invested in seeing that justice is done? Maybe that's not so bad, dude.

But what do I know, eh? I know I'm an ordinary person, and I'll be voting for Herb.

Posted by Mojito at 11:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2009

Some folks ya just can't reach

The Eleventh Circuit came out with a notable opinion this week on one Robert Shaw. The part with all the legalese talk about a bunch of law stuff is hella-boring; dare I say, even icky as it pertains to criminal matters (Everyone knows suing people for money is what makes The Law so damn sexy. Aw ye-uh).

But the good news is that the cool part of this opinion comes at the VERY BEGINNING, so you don't have to read all that "possession of a firearm this" "post-Miranda that" "Fourth Amendment bla-dee-bla-so-on" stuff. Check this out:

"When Robert Shaw was thirteen years old he hurled a rock through a car windshield, sending shards of glass into his victim's face. Fifteen years later Shaw was speeding through Miami, with a cocked and loaded pistol and ski masks, on his way to burglarize a "drug hole." His rap sheet during the intervening years is long enough to require extra postage. It shows 27 arrests involving 62 counts, and sentences totaling at least 105 months in spite of receiving one break after another from the system. Indeed, from Shaw's criminal record it seems as though he is determined to serve a life sentence, albeit on the installment plan. The question this appeal presents is whether the current installment is a reasonable one."

Ooh, Burn!!! Having spent a portion of my own legal career dealing with the most incorrigible criminal element, I can totally empathize with this particular geyser-like venting of Ye Olde Judicial Spleen. Not to comment on any particular public debate at the moment, but it is important to remember that every single day of a criminal court judge's career, he or she confronts utterly unreachable sociopaths whose brains consist entirely of that one reptilian lobe and nothing more. After awhile, that can understandably tax any decent human being's sense of mercy and patience.

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February 25, 2009

Odor in the Court

Bob Woodward wrote in The Brethren that during Justice Douglas' last days on the Supreme Court, his incontinence bag used to stink up the chambers when they'd convene to debate cases... As if the aroma of Chief Justice Burger's legal arguments weren't stanky enough!

Friends, this sort of thing ought not occur; to say nothing of forcing the likes of Justice Stevens to hang on to his gig for, lo, these last eight years, while his contemporaries got to hold mid-afternoon court at Luby's, gorge on all the raspberry Jell-O they damn well please and watch the Wheel like normal dustcook- uh, i mean...Golden Agers. (Psst! It's OK to retire now, Justice Stevens - we won the last election! Quick, before another voter ID law comes up for review!)

That's why an organization affiliated with the "I've Been Thinkin'..." Coalition have come out with their own ideas for reforming the Supreme Court.


(For those of you unfamiliar with the "I've Been Thinkin'..." Coalition, it's a fairly new D.C. thinktank, chiefly established to counter the They Say Institute's intellectual hegemony inside the Beltway.)

Of course, I have a few ideas of my own on how to improve the court. Like not letting it decide presidential elections when there are more Republicans than Democrats on the Court. But since no one's publishing MY bright ideas on the subject, guess I'll just have to settle for weighing in on these proposals.

It seems to me that this idea for a senior justice status might solve a couple of problems. Number one, you address that whole problem of ancient justices being out of touch with society. Do you really wanna hash out a constitutional issue like gay marriage before judges who still think "gay" refers to how we'll all feel when Johnny comes marching home? Letting the 9 newest members of the Court decide these kinds of issues has some logic to it - and the senior justices can still weigh in with all their acquired wisdom and institutional memory...if indeed anyone with a vote happens to care what Statler or Waldorf might have to say on the subject.

Number two, (that's what Justice Douglas' nurse said!) you solve this problem of justices in ailing health clinging to their appointment if the job isn't worth as much in the fourth or fifth decade. That all but eliminates the need for this other weird idea to have justices "report" on each other when their health goes bad. And can't you just imagine how THAT idea would play out? First Scalia would rat on Ginsberg's osteoporosis, then Breyer would retaliate and out Thomas for having an enlarged prostate, back and forth, etc. etc. No thank you. Only people deranged enough to voluntarily read Woodward should be punished with that kind of information.

That said, the idea to have one court appointment per two-year congressional term is insanity. Really, one per presidential term is enough to strike a balance between the competing needs for continuity and new blood. Anything more frequent would be destabilizing and you'd wind up with something like what the Texas Supreme Court had a few years back. Those guys had such a turnover problem for awhile that it really created confusion. Sure, everyone still knew the outcome in any given case was probably "plaintiff loses," but nobody could keep track of exactly which 9 justices would get to say so.

The certiorari division idea strikes me as the idea most prone to the rule of unintended consequences. I'm not convinced the current system is broken on deciding whether to grant cert. And can you imagine the gamesmanship if opposite factions happened to control the Court and the cert. division? Trust me, granting cert is complicated enough without adding this new dimension. As Tracy Morgan in drag might say while impersonating Star Jones, "I know, because I'm a lawyer." And I read The Brethren.

Posted by hbalczak at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2009

Gov. Perry's “Eminent Domain”

Gov. Rick Perry wants to stir-up old business in the new legislative session, "Eminent Domain".

In 2005 Federal Supreme Court voted to permit government to acquisition private property for development and many legislators began actions to protect constituents. On November 25, 2005 Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 7 that protected Texans from takeover of private property for development.

In 2007 Gov. Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 2006 offering additional compensation requiring eminent domain commissioners to consider “loss of access” when determining dollar amounts. The bill also provided for recovery of damages, e.g., changes to traffic patterns and visibility of remaining property from the road.

The reason Perry refused to sign HB2006, which was supported by Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, The Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association --- to name a few --- is that Perry was pressured by cities, counties and TxDOT to veto it because it increases cost of eminent domain for roads and highway construction. However, reality is if government forcibly takes someone’s property, it had better pay them at least fair-market value.

In conclusion, Gov. Perry is not attempting to provide more protection for Texas property owners, rather, he is "stacking the deck" for government to pay landowners as little as possible when taking private property.


---


Posted by pstern at 06:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 25, 2008

Tom Delay COULD get off on a technicality

According to the Statesman, there is a very real possibility that Delay could walk on corruption and money laundering charges due to a technicality. Apparently, the law has been narrowly applied by an all Republican Appeals Court (no, I'm not making this up) to only cash transactions.

Delay and Co. used checks. So you can obviously see how that's different and all. I guess if they'd used wire transfers it would have added still another wrinkle to this convoluted bullshit. What's most irritating about this is DeGuerin.

Money-laundering charges against former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and two indicted co-conspirators may be dismissed because the 2002 campaign finance case involved checks and not cash, a lawyer for DeLay said Sunday night.

"We win," said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's lawyer, "because there's nothing but checks in the case."

Yes. You win. Because of a technicality created by how an appeals court looked at the law. Much like... actually, exactly like a drug dealer whose conviction is overturned because there wasn't probably cause for the traffic stop that resulted in his original arrest (where they discovered his 'distribution business and inventory'). Should feel good, Dick. You've worked hard to make sure a demon remains free to roam the Earth.

DA Earle is not a happy monkey as one might expect...

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said the check-versus-cash argument is absurd: "The court's reasoning is like saying that you can get away with murder if you pay the hit man with a check."

Prosecutors can file a motion for a rehearing before the appellate court.

But there's still more dick. Kind of like in a porno...

"If this is how it ends," DeGuerin said, "it means every crime Ronnie Earle indicted Tom DeLay for was not a crime."

No, it means you helped him dodge his criminality based on a technical issue. And a partisan court bought the argument.

Of course, all of this is largely irrelevant. Delay's seat is gone. He's gone as a political force. He's a washed up loser who will be stepped on every time he pops his crooked head up. So, if that's all... then no big deal.

And thank you, Ronnie Earle for having the stones to take this on.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2008

Thanks, Justice Stevens. No. Really. Thanks a lot.

Well, our Supreme Court has decided that Jim Crow is A-OK...

The 6-3 vote allows Indiana to require the identification when it holds its statewide primary next week. It also will give most state legislatures time to revise their voter laws for the November elections.

This was perhaps the biggest voter rights case taken up by the justices since the 2000 dispute over Florida's ballots, in which George W. Bush prevailed to gain the presidency.

At issue was whether state laws designed to stem voter fraud end up disenfranchising large numbers of Americans who might lack proper documents to prove their voting eligibility. The case raised important constitutional questions, but also involved race and partisan politics.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said any political issues considered by the state were mitigated by its desire to stop voter fraud.

"The state interests identified as justifications for [the law] are both neutral and sufficiently strong to require us to reject" the lawsuit, he wrote.

But in a toughly worded dissent, Justice David Souter said "Indiana has made no such justification" for the statute "and as to some aspects of its law, it hardly even tried."

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has conceded the state has never presented a case of "voter impersonation," which the law was designed to safeguard against. The 2005 Indiana law requires that a valid photo identification be presented by a person casting a ballot at a polling stations. Previously, most citizens needed only to sign a poll book to vote.

So, though there is no need for it, and in spite of it's cost which makes it a de facto poll tax, voter ID is good idea?

So much for this idea that the Republicans don't like activist judges. All the R appointees were in the majority along with old Justice Stevens. Seriously, man, why couldn't you have retired when Clinton was in office?

At this point, I don't want to hear another goddamn word from anyone about NOT voting for the Democrat in November, regardless of who that person is. Seriously, I'm ready to lose friends over this, mostly because I'm sick of your shit. If I can suck it up, so can you.

It's time y'all realize there's more than some petty soundbite at stake and stop playing the 'I don't like Obama/Hillary' song.

Posted by mcblogger at 01:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 22, 2008

SC wimps out on wiretapping...

This is SOOO surprising considering the makeup of Bush's Court. One wonders if they'll even address the legality of it when it's finally shoved down their throats.

The Supreme Court yesterday declined without comment to hear the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge of the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

In other news, the NSA totally heard that convo between you and your friend about that skanque you banged last night. They'd really like to talk to her.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 03, 2008

This week in Gay

  • The WaPo has a fun article up about the other side of gay marriage, gay divorce and what a pain in the ass it is...

    "One of the benefits of marriage is divorce," said Joyce Kauffman, a Boston divorce lawyer who has handled a dozen same-sex divorce cases. "But for a lot of couples, that benefit is very complicated and very costly in ways that heterosexual couples would never have to experience."

    In the case of the doctor, she and her spouse each gave birth to a boy fathered by the same sperm donor. They then adopted one another's sons. Biologically, their children are half-siblings; legally, they are full brothers.

    "Up to now, I've been lucky with the court," said the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to prejudice her court case. "Giving birth to one of our children has given me leeway because judges often show a preference toward a biological mother. I've spoken to other lesbian women who were in a similar situation, except that they were not the biological mothers of their children, and, in my opinion, they were not treated as fairly by the court."

    While the parties are litigating, a family court in Boston has come up with a Solomonic ruling, saying that each of the women can spend half the week alone in the family home with the children.

    For same-sex couples, divorce can be financially ruinous. Heterosexual couples claim a tax deduction for alimony payments, but that benefit is not available to gay and lesbian spouses because the Internal Revenue Service does not recognize their marriages.

    Divorce lawyers say that, while gay people making alimony payments are hurt the most by the IRS policy, their ex-spouses are also affected, because a tax deduction often provides an incentive for larger payments.

    "In a straight context, alimony is an income stream from one person to another and tax-deductible to the person who is paying it," said David W. Eppley, a divorce lawyer with lesbian clients. "But in a gay divorce, there aren't two parties, there are three, and that third party is Uncle Sam."



  • Oregon passed a civil union law last year. However, an anti-gay group filed a petition to bring this before a public vote as a referendum. In October, the OR SoS told them they didn't have the signatures and the law was set to go into effect on Tuesday. It was blocked by a Federal Judge who is reviewing the petition to decide if the SoS was right. Which makes me wonder why the religious nutters are always hating on 'activist' judges?

  • Parsing Huckabee...

    GOV. HUCKABEE: I don't know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they're born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior

    I don't know nothing about no science or genetics, but I do know that if you suck dick it's because you make a choice to suck dick. In other words, even if you are 'that way' you should refuse yourself any love or affection. So as to keep biblically pure and clean (at least according to Mike Huckabee).

    -- but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I've been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I'm OK with that. I hope I've answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it's important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I've never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I've never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I've never done that. (The Advocate)

    No, you haven't tried to rewrite science textbooks... you just tried to buy the ones that represented your belief system, not scientific reality. As for not "imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution", that's a matter pf perspective and interpretation of the Constitution. I'm partial to the one that has been upheld for centuries by the Federal Courts, that there is a wall separating Church and State. You don't believe that, Mike. You think the US is a Christian Republic, like France or Germany. That ain't the case, hermano.

  • Have a good'un!

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 10, 2007

    Stop Sharon Keller. No, really, STOP.

    Next Friday some folks are going to help deliver a complaint demanding the removal from the bench of Sharon Keller.

    I might go, I might not. That'll depend on my real job. However, don't let my absence make you think I'm not interested in getting this bitch out of the judiciary.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 16, 2007

    Deal Keller

    If ever there was a damn good reason to replace every single Republican on the Texas Supreme Court with Democrats, Sharon Keller's irresponsible action would have to be it. Here's what's been said over the last few days...

  • The former Chair of the Texas Bar, Mary Alice Roberts, filed a judicial complaint against Keller
  • PDiddie has more from former AG Mattox on what should be done to Keller
  • Kuff has more on the complaint filed against Keller by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Assoc
  • Dig Deeper Texas has the details on another complaint filed by lawyers against Keller
  • TMN has the details on the complaint filed against Keller by Judge Susan Criss who is running for the Supreme Court in 2008
  • Kuff has more on the call from the Houston Chronicle for Keller's resignation
  • Burnt Orange Report has the details on Lon Burnam's complaint against Keller
  • Sharon, don't go away mad... just go away.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 13, 2007

    Nightmare Factory

    While well-adjusted people have disturbing dreams about falling, being nude in public, or exes, I, on the other hand, have nightmares about the U.S. Supreme Court.

    A junior high lunch cafeteria was the setting. Everything, including the lunch lady, was covered in corporate logos, much like you would find at a NASCAR race. Sitting at a table in the far right corner wearing “Hello I’m ____” tags were Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas. Thomas’ tag said “Stupid”, Scalia’s “I’m with stupid”, Robert’s and Alito’s “Slimy” and “Sleazy”. I don’t remember which was which. They had Kennedy – “Confused”- cornered and questioning his manhood.

    “Cool guys don’t hang out with tree-huggers,” said Scalia.

    “Yeah, “said Thomas, who was sitting on Scalia’s lap like a ventriloquist’s dummy. He had pubic hair glued to his lip.

    Occasionally, Ruthie, a little girl with thick glasses and an attitude walked by the table and threatened to kick them in the balls. Apparently, she had done this before because every time she came close, they would cover their crotch.

    Then I was transported to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Clergy were selling dispensations to people who wanted to be forgiven for shopping at other stores. There was a carnival atmosphere with Justices Breyer and Souter inside dunking booths.

    After blinking, I found myself in a mega-church. All the men were wearing gray-flannel suits and the women were members of the state Eagle Forum contact list. On the altar were posters with slogans - “Debt is Prosperity” and “Consumerism is Salvation”. At the lectern, John Hagee was preaching from the Book of Hedge Funds. (For those that might have forgotten, the book was found in the secret archives of Aleister Crowley who had swindled it from an antique dealer in Cairo. The dealer had discovered the writings in a partially collapsed Jerusalem catacomb that sits under land now owned by Bibi Netanyahu)

    I turned around and found myself in the chambers of the court. With the strains of Pizzetti filling the air, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute had set up information booths in the aisles. Lawyers from the Carlyle Group were arguing the case that since corporations were now considered to have the same rights as individuals, that affirmative action should be afforded them. Strangely, only the conservative justices were sitting. For an instance, I saw Justice Stevens in a holding cell guarded by “security specialists”.

    What finally woke me up was the unfurling of the American flag covered with skulls, presented by John Cornyn.

    Shitake mushrooms have that effect on me.

    Nah, I made up the Cornyn thing

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 07, 2007

    Deadlines are a Keller

    Much has been made out of Justice Sharon Keller's decision not to wait for the appeal of Michael Richards (not THAT Michael Richards) because she wanted to close the court at 5:00 sharp (here, here, here and here). Which is apparently the usual time they close, even when a man is set to be executed. I sometimes have to work until 10 or 11 at night and I keep my staff at the office until everything is wrapped up, especially at the end of the month. So, while I don't have a lot of sympathy for a judge who is soooo anal about closing shop on time, the whole this has started me thinking about two things

    1) I shouldn't worry too much about my job and staying late. I mean, come on... if a Judge thinks a person's life is less important than getting out of work on time, then maybe I'm taking the whole 'underwriting and closing loans so people can buy houses on time' thing too seriously.

    2) Maybe Sharon had something important she needed to get to.

    It's the second one that really brought it home for me. Maybe there WAS an important reason Sharon had to leave on time. Maybe we've all been a little too critical and we should look at what could have been going on with Sharon. Which leaves me wondering, what could Sharon have been running off to?

  • She needed to get home to cook dinner for the family - This one sounds terribly realistic. How many times have YOU disappointed your family by not being home to cook a healthy and wholesome meal for dinner? I know it happens to many of us, so I could see how this might be the case for Sharon. That is, I could see it until I remembered that awful eponymous drive-up her family runs on Northwest Highway in Dallas. If her cooking is anything like that, I'm sure her family stopped asking her to cook in 1982. Not so much with the home for dinner thing
  • She had an appointment for a haircut - I know what this is like. My time with Stylist is always precious and I hate being late for it. That's because Stylist has a wicked good sense of humor and gives me candy as well as a massage. I doubt Sharron's guy/gal is funny. Or has good candy. Or gives her a massage. However, I can understand her wanting to look good. But if that's the case, why does her hair look like ass? Even in her horrible campaign pics? Nah, I don't think Sharron really cares about looking good.
  • Sharron had a very important happy hour - Actually, this one would pull me out of work as well so calling this out would be a bit like poop telling vomit it stinks.
  • 2 for 1 burgers at Huts?
  • Oh, hell, there are any number of excuses we can think up to cover for Sharon. However, none of them are as good as the one reason she should have kept the court open... it was the right thing to do. Regardless of guilt or innocence, you don't refuse to hear an appeal in a death penalty case. EVER.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 29, 2007

    The SC overturns deseg plans

    What's the practical effect of the SC decision overturning racial quotas as a basis for desegregation plans? It will dramatically alter the racial profiles of schools across the country. It may also be the one thing that saves public education in this country.

    Yeah, I'm not entirely sold on this being a bad thing.

    For one, deseg orders were part of an era when populations were willfully separated. To this day, I still see restrictive covenants on title to real property prohibiting it's sale to 'negros', 'asians' and almost every other ethnic group. I've even seen one that covers 'those who exhibit moral turpitude'. Not exactly enlightened times. That era was also known for a practice in lending called redlining, not to mention willfully discriminating against those deemed undesirable on the basis of race, a practice that is now a violation of federal law. Those restrictive covenants are thoroughly unenforceable.

    On the other side, the Constitution is now officially colorblind in all matters. To quote our learned Chief Justice...

    “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he said. His side of the debate, the chief justice said, was “more faithful to the heritage of Brown,” the landmark 1954 decision that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

    No, really, John, you're an idiot. Seriously, that's one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Fucktard.

    The conservatives (AKA, the stupidiots), think that they have struck a blow against discrimination. By banning all discrimination based on race, no matter how well intentioned. Clarence Thomas seems especially proud of himself. Kennedy, who voted with the majority, provides the limiting guidance on the majority...

    In a separate opinion that could shape the practical implications of the decision and provide school districts with guidelines for how to create systems that can pass muster with the court, Justice Kennedy said achieving racial diversity, “avoiding racial isolation” and addressing “the problem of de facto resegregation in schooling” were “compelling interests” that a school district could constitutionally pursue as long as it did so through programs that were sufficiently “narrowly tailored.”

    Though the NYT doesn't read this as a slap down of the majority, it very much is. These cases were about individual children. What Kennedy is doing with his separate opinion is giving guidance on integration plans that won't be based on individuals but will, instead, be based on a broader communities.

    Among the measures that Justice Kennedy said would be acceptable were the drawing of school attendance zones, “strategic site selection of new schools,” and directing resources to special programs. These would be permissible even if adopted with a consciousness of racial demographics, Justice Kennedy said, because in avoiding the labeling and sorting of individual children by race they would satisfy the “narrow tailoring” required to meet the equal protection demands of the 14th Amendment.

    I wrote earlier that this may be the decision that saves public schools and I think it will be because for one thing it will force school districts to focus on overall demographics of a school population, not as much on individual students. This will hopefully keep kids in schools closer to their homes, increasing parent involvement and student achievement while maintaining racial diversity. It's a hell of a lot better than bussing little Johnny and Jenny across town because of the color of their skin.

    Further, one can hope it will also force those who care about schools to get more involved in making sure that all schools are well maintained for all students. Which was the goal of Brown in the first place.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 28, 2007

    The Court swings right

    Thanks a lot, Joe Lieberman...

    The Supreme Court yesterday limited students' speech and shielded the White House faith-based program from legal challenge in 5-4 rulings that, along with a similar split in the campaign-finance case, pointed up the court's shift to the right.

    President Bush's two appointees, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote the main opinions in those decisions, including the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" free-speech case, as well as another ruling the administration and business groups had sought in an environmental case.

    Here's the one that really pisses me off...

    Alito wrote the court's opinion in Hein v. Freedom From Religion, saying that ordinary taxpayers could not challenge a White House initiative that helps religious charities get a share of federal money.

    The decision blocks a lawsuit by a group of atheists and agnostics who object to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.

    Bush called the decision "a substantial victory for efforts by Americans to more effectively aid our neighbors in need of help."

    Alito said the taxpayers set out "a parade of horribles" that they contended could happen. None did, he wrote, and "in the unlikely event that any of these executive actions did take place, Congress could quickly step in."

    In dissent, Souter said the court should have let the taxpayer challenge proceed. The majority "closes the door on these taxpayers because the executive branch, and not the legislative branch, caused their injury," he wrote. "I see no basis for this distinction."

    REGARDLESS, Federal money should not be going to religious organizations, no matter how well intentioned.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    The Court swings right

    Thanks a lot, Joe Lieberman...

    The Supreme Court yesterday limited students' speech and shielded the White House faith-based program from legal challenge in 5-4 rulings that, along with a similar split in the campaign-finance case, pointed up the court's shift to the right.

    President Bush's two appointees, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote the main opinions in those decisions, including the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" free-speech case, as well as another ruling the administration and business groups had sought in an environmental case.

    Here's the one that really pisses me off...

    Alito wrote the court's opinion in Hein v. Freedom From Religion, saying that ordinary taxpayers could not challenge a White House initiative that helps religious charities get a share of federal money.

    The decision blocks a lawsuit by a group of atheists and agnostics who object to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.

    Bush called the decision "a substantial victory for efforts by Americans to more effectively aid our neighbors in need of help."

    Alito said the taxpayers set out "a parade of horribles" that they contended could happen. None did, he wrote, and "in the unlikely event that any of these executive actions did take place, Congress could quickly step in."

    In dissent, Souter said the court should have let the taxpayer challenge proceed. The majority "closes the door on these taxpayers because the executive branch, and not the legislative branch, caused their injury," he wrote. "I see no basis for this distinction."

    REGARDLESS, Federal money should not be going to religious organizations, no matter how well intentioned.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack