(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, June 30, 2003

I'm sorry. Not much time for blogging today, nor anything insightful to say.

But my grandfather did once go out on a date with Katharine Hepburn, when they were very young.

posted by sam 2:16 PM 0 comments

Friday, June 27, 2003

You can hear Los Lobos cover Bob Dylan's "On a Night Like This" here, in Real Audio, from the soundtrack to the upcoming movie "Masked and Anonymous".

posted by sam 7:58 AM 0 comments

The end of the Supreme Court contest (who cares?)

The Supreme Court predictions contest has ended. I started the contest way back in August with this post. Only one other blogger was brave/idle/silly/intellectually-curious enough to join in: Ted, whose courage puts all others to shame because he had not even graduated from law school when he began the contest. We were "joined", in a sense, by the contest over at Washington University, which pitted a computer against a team of human experts. The experts' team, though anonymous, was a formidable one by all indications, including the head Volokh, who was asked to weigh in on three Constitutional Law cases. True, the folks at WU were doing something a little different and more sophisticated, trying even to predict the vote of each Justice; but their predictions could be fit into the same mold as ours with little fuss, and I tried to do so in a way that was more rather than less generous to their chances. The rules for my contest were a bit oversimple, maybe: a prediction of "affirm" meant "affirm, period," while "reverse" encompassed "reverse, vacate, reverse in part, or any other judgment other than 'affirmed.'" Then, in figuring out what predictions to count as correct, I have generally gone with the simple rule (e.g. you predicted 'reverse,' they reversed in part, you get credit) and have occasionally utilized a "benefit of the doubt" rule to give credit even beyond that – giving people credit when they could reasonably argue that credit is due – but (unless I'm forgetting something) I never found it necessary or appropriate to give myself the benefit of the doubt. If you want to see a chart listing all the predictions and showing who got credit for what in my counting (though I can't imagine that anyone's that interested), send me an email and I'll send you the pdf file.

One more thing: the campaign finance case that will be argued in September is technically part of this Term, but is not counted here.

Drumroll, please: Out of the 73 cases this Term that (a) were argued and (b) resulted in a decision (rather than dismissal as improvidently granted), the number of correct predictions were:

Sam: 55
Experts: 43
Computer: 48
Ted: 41

What does this prove? Take your pick:

(a) I was lucky.
(b) I was clever.
(c) If you believe that the role of a federal appellate judge is to be able to figure out what the Supreme Court would be more likely to do, then President Bush should withdraw the nomination of Mr. Estrada and nominate me instead (I would have suggested that I take the place of Mr. Pryor, but I'm not really in a hurry to move back to Alabama).
(d) That practicing lawyers have better insight than students, academics, and computers.

I'm going with (a), though I'll accept (c).

And let me recommend this to you: if you are a lawyer or law student who either fancies yourself to be, or would like someday to be, something of an expert on appellate law, then you should try this game next Term or some other time. It's a wonderful way to learn about areas of law, to see what sorts of arguments persuade and what don't, and all sorts of other side benefits. I, however, will retire undefeated.

posted by sam 6:53 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 26, 2003

It looks as though I'm the only person who has publicly stopped holding his breath about Supreme Court retirement(s). Notably absent from most news reports is anything like "... and none of the Justices is leaving". Howard Bashman is being just cryptic enough that I wonder if he's heard something that I haven't, but still leaving himself plenty of room not to be wrong. I am tempted to hold my breath again, but I have already proven myself the world's leading expert on Supreme Court predictions (more on that tomorrow, if I get to it) -- so I still say, if anybody's going to retire, he or she should do it within the next 15 minutes or else wait til after the 2004 election.

posted by sam 4:43 PM 0 comments

Dissenting Justices say the darndest things.

I suppose there's no point in my inviting Justice Scalia over to see the season finale of Queer as Folk on Tivo with us ...

But seriously, he certainly does let his outrage get the better of him, doesn't he? Sometimes dissenting Judges and Justices like to describe majority opinions in broad and outraged tones, predicting broad negative consequences from the majority holdings, or otherwise saying "well, extrapolating logically from the majority opinion, it means such-and-such a thing that I find even more horrific still." But they should be careful about it, unless they just enjoy taking part in culture wars more than they enjoy taking part in the development of the law.

You might think that Justice Scalia would have been reminded about the benefit of holding your tongue, when he saw that Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion in Lawrence used one of his old fiery dissents against him. He had dissented snarkily in Romer, in which the Court struck down an anti-gay referendum as discriminatory; Justice Scalia said, more or less, "you want an anti-gay law? I'll show you one: an anti-sodomy law! How can you get more anti-gay than that?!" He thought that somehow this would make people agree with him; but what it ended up doing, was giving Justice O'Connor something nice to cite as a reason to strike down the anti-sodomy law on equal protection grounds.

So did Justice Scalia, upon seeing Justice O'Connor's draft, think to himself, "gee, I should be careful not to shoot myself in the foot again, no matter how angry I get"? Nope. Instead, his dissent (see especially Part IV) affirmatively argues that, under the Court's reasoning, every law that is based on nothing more than the majority's sense of morality and propriety is unconstitutional. Well, that's fine with me. And indeed he goes out of his way to hint that one of the laws that will fall next, under the binding force of the Lawrence decision, is Alabama's silly law against vibrators. Again, fine with me. I love it when Justice Scalia's anger gets the better of him.

posted by sam 3:14 PM 0 comments

Questions of the Day

So the big questions of the day are:

(1) Will the Supreme Court celebrate Make Fun of Michael Savage Day by protecting gay sex under the Constitution? Answer: YES. See syllabus here and majority opinion here, both pdf. The Court did overrule Bowers and thereby strike down all remaining anti-sodomy laws, rather than the narrower possibility of just striking down the few that prohibit only same-sex acts. Good news.

(2) Will any of the Justices retire today? Answer: looks like NO. There is, I suppose, the possibility of a press release announcing a retirement this afternoon or tomorrow, but it seems unlikely to me. For that matter, there could be such a press release on any day of the year. But I think it would be bad for the Court as an institution, if one of the Justices announced a retirement at any time this summer after this afternoon; it would look to me, and to many others, as though the timing was somehow planned for some odd selfish or partisan purpose. And so I doubt that any Justice will do such a thing. So I'm going to start relaxing, on this one.

(3) Will the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote on Bill Pryor's nomination be postponed from today? Answer: looks like YES. So we won't have a committee vote until July at the earliest.

Big day. Stay tuned for answers.

posted by sam 9:44 AM 0 comments

Statistics in Alabama

I mentioned yesterday the despicable veto, by the Governor of Alabama, of the bill to restore voting rights to certain ex-felons. Today's New York Times has an article about the possibility that the veto will, in turn, reduce the Governor's possibility of success in the public referendum on his tax reform plan. So, the veto was stupid politics as well as being just plain wrong. (Even the Birmingham News agrees, for goodness' sake).

Also notice (from the NYT story) the Governor's stunning use of statistics, in his effort to fend off criticism that the ban on ex-felons voting had a disparate impact on Black voters:
In the last few years, seven states have dropped or eased restrictions on felons, said Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a group in Washington.

"There's been a growing recognition of their broad impact and also of their racially disproportionate impact as well," Mr. Mauer said. In his veto, Mr. Riley argued to the contrary, saying: "Over the last four years, those convicted of felonies in Alabama were almost statistically evenly divided by race. Fifty-four percent were African-American, and 45 percent were white."

The Alabama population is 26 percent black and 71 percent white.
It's a sad situation, when a State's Governor thinks that the citizens are stupid enough to fall for such blatant misuse of statistics.

posted by sam 7:14 AM 0 comments


See yesterday's post -- it's Appropriate Michael Savage's Name For Your Own Purposes Day. The topic at hand is, "evil, weenie, or both?" Weighing in favor of "weenie" is the fact that he has sued some websites that have criticized him, while including "STOP LAWYERS" as one of the nine points in his really-nutty-Right plan of action. And also various other things on his website; if he had written it all over a panel truck I'd feel sorry for him and think that there should be more social programs to get help to people like him, but instead he's lucky enough to have a website and a highly paid media position to spout his stuff. If only he were just a weenie, that would be fine; but too bad for us, he's evil too.

posted by sam 6:41 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

two short things
* Thanks to Neal Pollack, tomorrow is Appropriate Michael Savage's Name For Your Own Purposes Day; as NP says, "He can't sue us all." (Also see NP's summary of the Michigan Law School decision: "now we're doomed to another 40 years of black lawyers in the Midwest". Funny, in a Randy Newman sort of way.)

* I wish I had more friends who used Apple computers at work; then we could bother each other all day long, with actual mouth-and-ear conversations over the new version of iChat instant messaging. If you are someone that I might like to hear from, and have the software, my iChat name is shldmn . I've got no camera hooked up, so you won't be able to see that my inchoate beard has a good bit of gray in it.

posted by sam 1:01 PM 0 comments

where's the outrage? and the odd economic analysis?

I see that our blogger-friends on the Right are keeping mum about the President's decision to honor so-called "Black Music Month," a radical departure from the color-blind, group-distinction-eschewing vision that so nobly drives the Right's race-related rhetoric these days. Should I be concerned that the use of racial categories, in the bestowing of Presidential honors, will cause reasonable but conservative white purchasers of music to think less highly of Joe Thompson on the purported grounds that he is merely a beneficiary of some undeserved race-based preference?

posted by sam 10:45 AM 0 comments


I have previously said complimentary things about Alabama's Republican Governor here, because he is tackling tax reform. Those things remain true. However ...

My warm feelings towards him have almost entirely disappeared, because of his inexcusable veto of the legislation that would have restored voting rights to many ex-felons. The law would have brought much-needed fairness to Alabama's law on this issue, with no downside except to the partisan interests of the Republican Party. (See here). On this issue, the Governor chose partisanship over fairness. I imagine that Ed Still will have more on the issue.

posted by sam 6:26 AM 0 comments

Justice for Janitors

An op-ed from the Post about the SEIU's successes in the "Justice for Janitors" campaign.

posted by sam 6:20 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

If ...
If I had to spend my blogging time either criticizing all the things that Instapundit says liberals and leftists must criticize in order show their bona fides, or explaining the reasons why Instapundit is a buffoon for saying such things, I'd never get any law practice done. So, here is the Ignatz rule: if I haven't said something about a given topic, there is nothing that can you can reasonably infer from that, especially if you've never met me. There are, at any given moment, one point three zillion things that I'm not blogging about, and only a very very few that I am blogging about. That's just life, you know.

posted by sam 2:13 PM 0 comments


I love that name -- Bazzle. Sounds like a muppet, or a minor character in Harry Potter. But really, it was a very important Supreme Court decision, issued yesterday, that got overshadowed by the major news that the Supreme Court narrowly decided not to make the law worse on affirmative action. Here (pdf) is the opinion. Here is where I discussed the case before it was argued.

Last week, the news was full of stories about Congressional efforts to corral all significant class actions into federal courts, rather than letting them be litigated in state courts. (Companies think that federal courts are less hospitable to class actions, and so naturally companies want to be in federal court because without class actions there can be no effective enforcement of many consumer and employment laws). Thanks to the trend exemplified in Bazzle, however, the choice between federal or state courts might end up being a moot point in many class actions -- because more and more, in consumer-company or employee-employer relationships, we see arbitration "agreements" being slipped in amongst the fine print, such that you "agree" that you will arbitrate rather than sue if you ever have a claim against the company.

Companies also like to claim that, in arbitration, there's no such thing as a class action -- that each consumer, or employee, must fight his or her fight alone, shouldering all the costs. Companies take this stance, naturally, because they don't want class actions -- they want most of their behavior to go unchallenged by the people whom it affects. But Bazzle is good news for consumers and employees in this regard: the Court seemingly rejected the theory that there is something ipso facto impossible or improper about having an arbitrator certify a class and grant relief to the class.

I have said before that -- in contrast to some progressive lawyers -- part of my brain welcomes arbitration, because (a) many arbitrators are better for consumers and employees than are many judges, and (b) arbitration can be a powerful tool for fairness, if the arbitrator is a good one. So, I welcome the opportunity to present a good class action to an arbitrator, if that opportunity ever comes.

There still remain many battles to be fought, as companies make new efforts to shove arbitration "agreements" down consumers' and employees' throats that explicitly forbid class arbitration. Then we will really get down to the nub of the question: are companies allowed to do that, so as to protect their own ability to violate consumer and employment laws with relative impunity? Bazzle didn't reach that question in its fullest form, because the Court held that the arbitrator should have been allowed to determine whether a class action was appropriate under the language of this "agreement". Still, Bazzle is a very important step towards ensuring that corporations cannot grant themselves immunity from effective enforcement of the laws, because Bazzle recognizes that arbitral class actions are appropriate.

posted by sam 10:02 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 23, 2003

Supreme Court
Big news today at the Supreme Court: 5 decisions. You can read all the opinions by downloading pdfs from the Court's own site here.

As I predicted, the Court upheld Michigan's Law School admissions plan, but rejected the Undergraduate plan. Watch various more erudite bloggers for analysis: I have my eye on Prof. Balkin and Marty Lederman.

The Court also struck down California's law regarding Holocaust-era insurance disputes, upheld the internet filtering law regarding federally-funded libraries, and (seemingly, at least) allowed arbitrators to hear class actions. More later.

posted by sam 11:05 AM 0 comments

Saturday, June 21, 2003

(testing, one two three ... I find myself in "New Blogger," whatever that means, so I hope this works.)

I mentioned, the other day, that Kip at Long Story, Short Pier had written about the laudable efforts of Alabama's newish Republican Governor to reform the State's regressive and inadequate tax system. (I exaggerated, somewhat, Kip's status as an Alabama native; he is one, to be sure, but it seems like he grew up not just in Alabama but everywhere and may even still be in the process, as I am).

Anyway, through Kip (see this post) I learn of an Alabama-based blogger named Michael Bowen whose blog, A Minority of One, is chock full of information on the tax issue. This story will be hot for the next few months, and I plan on reading Bowen's blog to keep up.

posted by sam 7:30 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 20, 2003

big week coming up
Oh, it's a big week coming up.

Harry Potter tomorrow (Remember, you heard it here first: my theory is that Snape is dead. Not that he gets killed -- that he got killed years ago, and is a ghost). Bob Mould at Fort Reno on Monday. Supreme Court decisions, and either retirements or not, probably done by Thursday. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival starting Wednesday.

Maybe the sun will even come out.

posted by sam 3:47 PM 0 comments


Nathan Newman has three great recent posts, in response to other people's questions and/or misconceptions, about (1) Unions and grassroots political activity, (2) Why unions have troubling organizing workers, and (3) Who is in unions. Recommended reading.

posted by sam 7:49 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2003

When I first spent time here in Washington DC, in (if I remember correctly) the summer of 1984, I wandered down to the Mall one day and found myself in the middle of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. On a kiosk was a big picture of the great fiddler Tommy Jarrell, and it turned out that he was playing that day. So I heard him, and then talked to him, and I have loved Washington ever since.

I mention it because, although Tommy died not long after that, some of the greatest living old-time fiddlers will again be on the Mall for the Folklife Festival over the next couple of weeks, starting in a few days. You can see, among others, Joe Thompson, Clyde Davenport, and Ralph Blizard. They will all blow your mind, and improve your life tremendously.

posted by sam 11:52 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Again via Howard, Bill Pryor's nomination is scheduled for Judiciary Committee vote tomorrow (though it may well be put off til next week). Don't delay! Please call your Senator -- no matter where you live (even in Alabama, just for fun), especially if you've got somebody from your State on the Committee. If you haven't been here before, you'll find lots of stuff on Pryor's nomination by scrolling through my June Archives and by following the many links therein to earlier stuff.

posted by sam 12:51 PM 0 comments

well now this is odd!

Odd, odd, odd -- it doesn't seem like Senator Hatch is being consistent! We see here via Howard Bashman that the two Senators from New York oppose two New York District Court nominees. And we saw here that Senator Hatch's deeply-held principle is that in such cases, where the two home-state Senators oppose a District Court nominee, he will oppose the nominee too in deference to the home-State Senators! But there is no indication in the article that Senator Hatch has told the Bush Administration of his strongly-felt belief and his intention to vote against these nominees if they come up for vote, so as to lead to the quick withdrawal of these nominees and the nomination instead of someone whom the two home-State Senators can support. Seems like if there was really a judicial emergency here, and if Senator Hatch really believes what he said he believes, that's what he'd do. Odd, odd, odd.

posted by sam 12:05 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

premature Supreme Court wrap-up (advantage blogosphere?)
By the end of next week or shortly thereafter, Supreme Court wrap-ups will be everywhere; the Court will probably put out its last 10 opinions next week (although they could conceivably run into the week of the 30th), and you will see analysis and summaries galore. Here at Ignatz, we're beating the rush: here's the almost-wrap-up of the Supreme Court Term. Why? Because there's time, today. And because everybody else's end-of-Term wrap-up will be fixated on gay sex, affirmative action, internet porn, and Nike ads; those cases among others are still to be decided, and they'll receive all the attention.

So here's an oddly incomplete view of what's happened so far:

The big story: the so-called "federalism" trend is dead as a dodo, buried and decaying. Well, maybe that's an overstatement, but if we keep saying it, it might turn out to be true. This Term, the "state sovereignty" (and now even municipal-almost-sovereignty) advocates lost several cases, often unanimously, thus proving that there are people (including Bill Pryor) who make Chief Justice Rehnquist look like a moderate on this states' rights business. Nevada v. Hibbs (upholding right to sue states for violating Family & Medical Leave Act); Calif. Tax Bd. v. Hyatt (upholding right to sue a state in another state's court); Cook County (upholding right to sue cities under qui tam statute); Jinks (rejecting far-out theory of municipal shield against federal laws).

The worst outrage (so far, at least): the juxtaposition of the three strikes cases (Andrade and Ewing) with the punitive damages case (State Farm). The glib non-lawyerly take is that the Court cares a great deal about limiting the punishments that can be imposed on lawless corporations, but has no interest in limiting the punishments that can be imposed on lawless humans. The erudite lawyerly take is that the Court cares a great deal about limiting the punishments that can be imposed on lawless corporations, but has no interest in limiting the punishments that can be imposed on lawless humans. These cases, taken together, are a Rosetta Stone for the worst tendencies of the Rehnquist Court. There really is no way to reconcile them, I think.

The big losers this Term: prisoners and ex-cons. Lost just about every case there was to lose. US v. Bean (restoration of firearms privileges); Overton v. Bazzetta (visitation privileges); Smith v. Doe and CT v. Doe (rights of sex offenders); Demore v. Kim (deportation proceedings). Things also didn't go so well for habeas corpus petitioners and for criminal defendants on direct appeal, but those categories were an at least partially mixed bag.

Where the interesting cases are (with one week to go): Intellectual Property. See Eldred v. Ashcroft (upholding the perpetual-ownership-of-Mickey copyright extension act); Dastar v. Fox (attempting to clear up the interplay between trademark and copyright, so as to allow more copying of public domain works); Moseley v. Victoria's Secret (trademark dilution law as applied to a cheesy store with a name sort of like "Victoria's Secret").

Labor Law: Not a damn thing. Not a single labor law case. That's very unusual.

Most frustrating case: Chavez v. Martinez (regarding rights of criminal suspect in interrogation). Can't even tell what the law is, after this case. What a mess.

Most boring case of the year A hard-fought category. Winner by a nose is Hillside Dairy v. Lyons, a Milk Law case that is so boring that it probably wouldn't even make it into a law school textbook on Milk Law.

There might or might not be another installment of this, in the next day or so. To be more precise, there should be (so that I can discuss employment law, civil procedure, arbitration and some interesting random stuff) but who knows?

posted by sam 10:22 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 16, 2003

be careful
Does anyone still need to be reminded to double-check the address field of an email before hitting "send" (and, above all, to use "reply all" only with the utmost caution)? If so, read the story of the summer law clerk in a fancy New York firm, here (scroll down just a little).

posted by sam 7:12 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 13, 2003

Pryor on Souter
I wrote yesterday about Bill Pryor's "joke" about Justice Souter. Today, the Washington Post explains in more detail why that "joke" and a related comment to the same effect are strong evidence against Pryor's nomination.

posted by sam 10:33 AM 0 comments


The other day, I praised Alabama's Republican Governor for tackling the state's regressive and inadequate tax system. Kip, at Long Story Short Pier (who grew up among "Heart of Dixie" license plates as I did), writes with more detail, insight and flair than I do, as usual.

posted by sam 8:45 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Bill Pryor was, to his credit, candid about many of his positions in his hearing yesterday. I know this from reading the newspapers; I couldn't listen to much of the hearing myself, because some of the voices involved are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. If you want to read some praise of Pryor's refusal to backpedal from some of his beliefs, you can of course go to the National Review. But one of the items praised in the NR's piece jumped out at me as having been the complete opposite of candor. That was (according to NR) Pryor's explanation of his "joke" at the end of a Federalist Society speech, "Please God, no more Souters":
Senator Schumer asked Pryor: "What's wrong with Justice Souter?" For a moment it appeared that Pryor would retreat, as he began to explain that his remarks were a "perhaps feeble attempt at humor." But then Pryor stiffened again, saying he was simply responding to Souter's outspoken opposition to majority decisions in some federalism cases. "I have on several occasions disagreed with decisions of Justice Souter," Pryor explained. When asked why he had singled Souter out, Pryor gave a simple answer: Because Souter had written the opposing opinions. The issue went away.
If Pryor responded as the NR reports that he did, this was a blatant departure from honesty. Pryor's swipe at Justice Souter came immediately after Pryor urged that the best hope for "federalism" was that then-Gov. Bush would be elected as President and thus be in a position to appoint judges. In this context, Pryor's singling out of Justice Souter can have only one reasonable meaning: that Pryor said "no more Souters" rather than "no more Ginsburgs or Breyers" because Justice Souter had been appointed by the first President Bush, and turned out to be a grave disappointment to those who want Republican judicial appointees to generate Republican-favored outcomes. Bill Pryor thus squarely put himself in that camp: he doesn't like it when Republican judicial appointees aren't reliable votes for the outcomes that the nominating President's supporters prefer, at least in significant cases. More colloquially, it meant "Please, God, don't let W mess up like his Daddy did, and appoint a judge who's not a reliable vote." That is, I think, the only reasonable interpretation of his remarks on that occasion. If he backpedaled on that, he was not as candid as his supporters would like us to think.

See also Prof. Balkin's remarks on the hearing.

posted by sam 12:33 PM 0 comments


The schedule is now up for the summer's free concert series at DC's Fort Reno Park. For instance, don't miss Bob Mould on Mon. June 23. It's the best chance for those of us with kids, low tolerance for cigarette smoke, and reasonable bedtimes to see great music all summer long.

posted by sam 9:45 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Today is Bill Pryor's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I will not be doing a blogathon on it today, because there are other things on my plate. But I will be checking in at How Appealing for links to coverage of the hearing, and you should too if you're interested.

Meanwhile, the chorus in opposition to the nomination grows. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has publicly opposed the nomination, as have a coalition of environmental groups. Plus, see the Community Rights Counsel's report detailing Pryor's anti-environmental record.

posted by sam 7:11 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

fame, such as it is
Ignatz is quoted -- though not by name -- in the text accompanying footnote 180 in the report issued by the Alliance for Justice opposing Bill Pryor's nomination. (Here is the post from which the quote was taken, and the quote was only mangled a little bit!). You can access the long report -- which covers many of the same topics as PFAW's report, discussed here yesterday -- at the Alliance's site. (Or you can directly download the pdf document at this link).

posted by sam 4:06 PM 0 comments

It's Not About Federalism

Federalism, state's rights, whatever you want to call it -- it's big news in the legal world these days, and in the political world. It's the buzzword of many folks on the right, who argue that it is a set of neutral principles that are merely about where political power is located rather than being a mask for a certain set of policy goals. I say "hogwash," but you knew that. Medical marijuana, tort "reform," Bush v. Gore, "partial birth abortion," on and on the list goes -- most folks on the right prefer intrusive federal government actions when those intrusive federal government actions are to their substantive liking, and don't when they aren't, and the same is true of me, I happily admit. So it's useful to show that the "federalism"/states'-rights talk is (on the part of all but a handful of people, who might actualy believe it and be willing to abide by the consequences even when they don't like them on specific policy issues) just hooey. Towards that end you would likely enjoy reading a new series of periodic reports put out by the Brennan Center at NYU, called "It's Not About Federalism," that focuses on rightwingers' departures from the putative principles of federalism when it serves their purposes. You can sign up to receive these by email at this page, and can then also view the back issues that you've missed. Highly recommended.

posted by sam 2:46 PM 0 comments


I get Howard Bashman to read the Washington Times so that I don't have to. This morning Howard points out that Nat Hentoff -- many a right-winger's favorite civil-libertarian columnist -- comes out strongly against Bill Pryor's nomination.

posted by sam 7:27 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 09, 2003

Bill Pryor
People for the American Way has put out an extensive report (available for download, along with other information, here) about Bill Pryor's record, showing why his nomination should be defeated. It will even tell you things that you didn't already know from reading Ignatz! (Thanks to Southern Appeal for the pointer, despite his being wrong about the merits of the nomination).

posted by sam 5:09 PM 0 comments

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court decided a case today that's a good lesson for those who like to giggle or grouse about that darn liberal Ninth Circuit when that darn liberal Ninth Circuit gets unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court. The case, Desert Palace v. Costa, was previously discussed here at Ignatz. It has to do with the burdens of proof in employment discrimination cases. The Ninth Circuit ruled for the plaintiff, interpreting the law in a way contrary to the way that several other courts had interpreted it. And you know what? The Supreme Court unanimously agreed (pdf opinion) with the Ninth Circuit, unanimously rejecting the views of several other circuits that had ruled in favor of employers; the Ninth Circuit held that those other Circuits had departed from the plain language of the statute. So, next time you hear someone giggling or grousing about liberal jurists ignoring plain statutory language, or about the Ninth Circuit's craziness being demonstrated by a unanimous reversal, think "Costa"!.

posted by sam 10:48 AM 0 comments

good morning

I really do plan on getting back in the swing of things.

Meanwhile, remember to get in the habit of reading the American Const. Society group blog.

And have I mentioned that Alabama's Republican governor deserves praise for tackling the difficult problem of reforming Alabama's inadequte, and regressive, tax system? I like it when I can praise Republicans, you see. All the precise details are beyond me, and there may of course be some things that I would have preferred be done differently -- but this does not detract from my applause for his courage in tackling the issue. Really. No sarcasm here.

posted by sam 10:17 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 06, 2003

I am ever so sorry for not blogging. Here are some things: The "comp time" bill, a disastrous-to-workers proposed change to overtime laws, was beaten back. AG Ashcroft is not so happy that he's got gays and lesbians working for him. Bill Pryor's coming up next week, and I'm even sort of hoping that he doesn't get filibustered but instead gets defeated with a few non-nut Republicans voting against him. (Call me crazy, but remember his views on, e.g., constitutional protection against sex discrimination as being just some kind of p.c. silliness).

posted by sam 4:29 PM 0 comments

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Bill Pryor
The Senate Judiciary Committee has set the hearing on Bill Pryor's nomination to the 11th Circuit for next week. (news courtesy of Howard Bashman). It may well be put off, at least for a week or so. For my previous postings about why I so strongly oppose his nomination, read this and the links therein, and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this.

posted by sam 7:04 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I'm leaving town again now, and will resume blogging sometime later this week. Meanwhile, don't forget to start regularly reading the American Constitution Society group blog.

posted by sam 10:55 AM 0 comments

Ten Commandments

So the second most important case on tomorrow's 11th Circuit oral argument docket in Montgomery (after mine) is of course the Alabama Ten Commandments Installation in the State Judicial Building Case, Glassroth v. Moore. The Circuit just posted its decision of last Friday in another Ten Commandments case, this one involving a small icon of the Commandments as part of a court seal. The Court upheld that use of the Commandments. Opinion (pdf) here. Judge Edmondson, who will be presiding on Wednesday, was part of the panel in this just-decided case as well; and it is therefore somewhat interesting that Judge Edmondson concurred only in the judgment, distancing himself from some statements in the majority opinion that would tend to support the case against the Alabama monument. Does this mean that Judge Edmondson is leaning towards reversing the District Court in the Alabama case, and upholding the monument? I wouldn't read that much into it, frankly. Judge Edmondson rather often concurs only in the judgment, if he thinks that the majority opinion says too much about things other than the precise case before the court. He quite possibly wanted to leave his doctrinal options open, but I would still be stunned if he or indeed any Judge voted to uphold the Alabama monument; such a vote would be so plainly contrary to precedent, that I can't imagine a sensible judge voting that way.

posted by sam 10:52 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 02, 2003

Supreme Court
really, I'll get back to blogging in earnest soon, I promise. Now I'm getting ready for tomorrow's trip to lovely Montgomery AL. But I do have time to note that this morning the Supreme Court issued a good decision in the important trademark-with-copyright-overtones case Dastar (previously discussed here, and opinion now available in pdf here) -- and an awful opinion (pdf here) in Beneficial Nat. Bank v. Anderson, about the important but unsexy topic of "complete preemption" removability, previously discussed here. (Awful in what sense? In its result, in its departure from longstanding precedent, and in its lack of any compelling reasoning).

posted by sam 12:18 PM 0 comments

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