(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

short items
(1) Regarding tomorrow's Supreme Court argument in US v. American Library Ass'n, and its provision cajoling libraries into blocking kids from seeing websites that are "harmful to minors", Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged writes to say "if I can't take down barbie.com, 'harmful to minors' means nothing." At the risk of starting a war with barbie-philic bloggers, I concur.

(2) Kip at Long Story Short Pier points out not only that the Congress needs to quit dicking around with silly acronyms for laws, but also that there has been introduced a bill that would make it a crime to promote an entertainment event if you reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used there. It's easy -- and appropriate -- to make fun of bills like this, and perhaps no member of Congress actually intends for such a ludicrous thing to become law. But it is worth noting that there could, under this law, be no more Phish concerts (now wait a minute, on second thought I could maybe support that ...) or music at truckers' hangouts, to name only a couple of ramifications. Really, there could never be a stadium show ever again; having been to a few, I can testify as an expert that some controlled substance is almost certainly used at every one, including the Three Tenors.

(3) The Ninth Circuit is plainly correct about the Pledge of Allegiance ruling. The only intellectually plausible argument against the decision (aside from some out-of-the-mainstream stuff, such as the argument that the First Amendment only requires governmental neutrality as between Christian denominations) is that the inclusion of "under God" is mere "ceremonial deism," a pleasantly secularized tradition that doesn't really amount to a theological assertion. The Senate that just voted 94-0 to decry the ruling, however, just destroyed that argument, if indeed there was anyone left who could make the argument with a straight face. This may be one of those Supreme Court cases in which a flood of amicus briefs actually turns the tide against the side that those amicus briefs are supporting; if the Court is inundated with briefs urging that "under God" is central to our nation's future, then it will be that much harder for the Court to say that this is mere ceremonial non-theocratic mumbling. (Others, e.g. Balkin, Kleiman, Volokh conspirators, etc., have discussed this already, as you probably know. Their posts are much more erudite (they are educators, and I'm just a tired lawyer drinking beer after dinner), but I just had to say something about this in order to maintain my self-respect as a legal blogger).

posted by sam 8:03 PM 0 comments


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