These are the crappiest jokes I’ve heard in years, Tom said, facetiously.
Kenny Rogers really needs to learn when to walk away, and when to run.
Kenny Rogers really needs to learn when to walk away, and when to run.
Baby X is in that stage where everything goes in his mouth. Right now he’s chewing on On Liberty, by J.S. Mill.
Cute idea, though.
UPDATE: On second thought, maybe there’s a way this could work after all. Here’s how. Freestar Media goes ahead with its publicity stunt and persuades the Towne of Weare to condemn Justice Souter’s property. Souter sues to block the eminent domain proceedings. The Towne demands removal to federal court. The case is removed, but the Towne of Weare loses anyway. Weare appeals and loses again, with the First Circuit Court of Appeal easily distinguishing the facts of Towne of Weare v. Souter from those of Kelo. That’s OK, for reasons I’ll explain later, we were supposed to lose this round.
Meanwhile, back here on the left coast, a Freestar Media clone – let’s call it Freestar-West – finds a vacation property owned by Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsberg, Justice Kennedy, or Justice Stevens, which just happens to be located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Freestar-West pulls the exact same stunt there, more or less simultaneously with the New Hampshire action against Justice Souter’s property. Once again, the victim – let’s say, Justice Kennedy – sues in the applicable state (it doesn’t matter which) to block eminent domain proceedings. Once again, the city demands removal to federal court. Depending on the District Court judge, the city either wins or loses. That part doesn’t matter; either way the loser appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals does its usual magic, once again taking an already-questionable Supreme Court precedent and running with it, far. This time, the city wins.
Now, we’re left with a circuit split, which is a pretty good way to convince the Supreme Court to hear a case. The Towne of Weare appeals its losing case from the First Circuit, and of course Justice Kennedy appeals his losing case from the Ninth. The cases raise exactly the same issues and are consolidated. For obvious reasons, Justices Souter and Kennedy recuse themselves. That leaves Justices Stevens, Ginsburg and Breyer to write an opinion purporting to dispose of Souter and Kennedy in the property owners’ favor without disturbing Kelo. No matter, the other four Justices are now a majority, and while they agree Justices Souter and Kennedy should get to keep their houses, they’d rather rule more broadly than that, so they merely copy and paste the lead dissenting opinion from Kelo, sign it, and Kelo is history. Justices Souter and Kennedy get to keep their homes, and the American people get to keep their Constitution. It’s a win-win.
John Derbyshire attempts to be clever, offering this lame effort to break all ten commandments at once:
“One idle damn Sunday, Dad killed cheating thief and lied to cover it.”
Derbyshire concedes this is unsatisfactory because it relies on mnemonic devices to find violations of the First, Second and Tenth Commandments, while the other “eight” (seven) are allegedly semantic. The mnemonic puns don’t bother me at all, it’s the botched semantic examples that do. Of the seven purported literal (non-mnemonic) violations of the Ten Commandments, Derbyshire misses four, to wit:
OK, I’m done bagging on Derbyshire. Can anyone else come up with a better example? I’m sure it can be done.
UPDATE: Apparently, I misread Derb’s example, which was meant merely to serve as a mnemonic device to help one remember the Ten Commandments, not to illustrate a violation of all ten in one fell swoop. I still think it would be cool if someone came up something like that, though.
I’m reserving judgment on the merits of the two Ten Commandments cases, (Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky) until I’ve had the chance to read them, or at least read enough detailed commentary from sources I trust to get the legal issues right. For now, I’m just to point out that all the talk about these two cases proving the Supreme Court is full of hypocrites is a bit overblown. In a country where government endorsement of religion is unconstitutional but government acknowledgement of its rightful place in history is not, context is everything. Given that, it’s almost axiomatic that some public displays of the Ten Commandments will pass constitutional muster while others will not. The only question is whether the contexts surrounding the two cases are different enough to warrant their disparate treatment. Eight of the nine Justices believe they are not. Only one, Stephen Breyer, believes that they are. Thus, to the extent charges of hypocrisy, opportunism and the like are valid, they should be directed at him alone, and not at the court as an institution.
My guess is that neither case is going to impact things very much. Establishment Clause cases were murky and confusing before, and they remain so now. A further wrinkle is that while McCreary County (the anti-Ten Commandments case) may serve as a semi-useful precedent in some cases, it’s going to be almost impossible to cite Van Orden in any case whose facts differ from it even slightly. This is because Breyer didn’t just split the baby between the two cases; he also split the pro-Ten Commandments half of the baby even further by refusing to join the majority and writing a separate, “I know it when I see it” concurring opinion instead. I’m sure Professor Bainbridge will be happy to learn that while I may be no Potter Stewart myself, at least one of today’s Supreme Court Justices is.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh also sees the Potter Stewart connection, but applies it to Establishment Clause jurisprudence generally, not to Justice Breyer’s opinion in particular.
I think Joe Gandelman and Glenn Reynoldsare reading way too much into a recent poll on Bush and the economy. For one thing, there aren’t any major elections on the horizon, so who cares what a poll says, particularly when that same poll reveals that 40% of the population falsely believed we were in a recession at some point between June 2004 and March 2005 (the higher June 2005 figure is probably wrong too but it’s too early to tell), and 20% believe we’ve been in a state of perpetual recession since at least June 2004, and probably ever since George W. Bush stole the election in 2001. For another, to the extent the poll means anything at all, it means what it says, namely that a lot of Americans are pessimistic about “the economy, stupid.” The only question in the survey that strayed from the economy, local, national or otherwise, was this one:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush handled the Terri Schiavo case, judicial filibusters, various environmental issues, public broadcasting and Karl Rove’s recent insult of MoveOn.org?
Sorry, I goofed, that question wasn’t in the survey after all. Rather, the only question dealing with anything other than the economy was this one:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
On that question, Bush’s “approve” number dropped one whole percentage point, well within the polls 2.6% margin of error, while his “disapprove” number increased by 3%, which is barely outside it. Does this mean, as Gandelman says and Reynolds implies, that between 0.4% and 4.6% of the population is hopping mad at Bush over the Schiavo case, the nuclear option, public broadcasting and/or Karl Rove? Possible, but unlikely. Note that all the other questions on the poll were about the economy, not any of the cultural issues Gandelman and Reynolds are trying to make the poll about. If anything, the numbers suggest that the cultural issues have actually benefited Bush slightly, as this drop on his overall approval rating was significantly less pronounced than his drop on the narrower issue of how he had “handled” the economy over the same period (approval down by 5%, disapproval up by 6%). This may come as good news to liberal-moderates like Gandelman, but it should provide no comfort whatsoever to libertarians like Reynolds, unless he thinks Bush’s 5-6% drop came from Randroids who think Bush doesn’t champion the free market enough.
Thursday’s decision came one day before the third anniversary of our purchase of “our” home, and the first time since 1981 that I’ve lived at a single address, or even in a single county, for more than three years straight. So just as I was starting to think I owned something for once, the Supreme Soviet said “not so fast!” and, it seemed, turned around and yanked it away. So I’m a bit bummed about that, but would like to say a few positive things about the court: