Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Federalism as the new nationalism - The Yale Law Journal

Surrender at Appomattox by Brendan Wolfe 
The new issue of the Yale Law Journal features a group describing themselves under the rubric "federalism is the new nationalism" .  Generally they try to rescue nationalism from the clutches of federalism as currently celebrated by the right.  People like Antonin Scalia in U.S. v. Arizona declare for state sovereignty as having at its heart the "right to exclude". It's not a long way from there to becoming the Union of Sovereign States of America.  Even Stephen Breyer and Elena kagan folded in the face of state sovereignty concerns by voting to allow states to reject Medicaid expansion - perhaps the cruelest and most consequential of recent "federalist" victories.
The new Yale nationalist federalists look not just to the New Deal but to the ways in which states already have become national instruments.  OK, but I would bury state sovereignty at Appomattox.  Good luck to them anyway.  All contributions to quelling the states rights thrusts are welcome. - gwc
The Yale Law Journal - Print Archive:
Abbe Gluck - intro 
This paper marks the emergence of a nationalist school of federalism. It serves as the introduction to a symposium that brings together the work of five scholars who have made unique contributions to the field. This introduction argues that, taken together, the essays collected in this symposium suggest that federalism is the new nationalism. Shorn of the trappings of sovereignty and separate spheres, detached from the notion that state autonomy matters above all else, attentive to the rise of national power and the importance of national politics, this work offers a descriptive and normative account that is deeply nationalist in character.
Nationalists often pride themselves on taking a clear-eyed view of on-the-ground realities, rebuking federalism’s proponents for not coming to grips with the changes in federal power brought on by the New Deal. But the nationalists are now the ones behind the times, as they have not yet absorbed how much state power has changed in recent years. States now serve demonstrably national ends and, in doing so, maintain their central place in a modern legal landscape. 
This papers identifies the basic tenets of the nationalist school. It is organized around the five features needed for any account of federalism: (1) a tally of the ends served by devolution, (2) an inventory of the governance sites that matter, (3) an account of what gets the system up and running, (4) a description of how the national and local interact, and (5) and “rules of engagement” to guide those interactions. In each instance, the nationalist school of federalism departs from state-centered accounts of federalism and pushes toward a nationalist vision of devolution’s virtues.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Clarion Call to Save New Jersey's Judges -

A Clarion Call to Save New Jersey's Judges - "Leading members of New Jersey's legal community are moving to limit the governor's power to remove a state Supreme Court justice, a restriction they say is needed to help preserve judicial independence amid concerns that the court is being engulfed by partisan politics."

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The job market: LST Score Reports | National Report

LST Score Reports | National Report:

The jobs story for 2013 law school graduates is not pretty, especially once you fall below the top twenty on the US News totem pole.  For J.D. required jobs the national average is 57% but that is inflated because if you hung out a shingle you are listed as employed full time even if your phone doesn't ring.
For Harvard grads over half get big firm jobs and 17% get federal clerkships.  At Fordham about a third get big firm jobs and only 2.5% get federal clerkships.

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Murthy for Surgeon General | New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board

Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination is stalled.  Besides the solid Republican south Democrats in thinly populated and rural states like West Virginia and Montana are intimidated by the NRA. Even Maine's moderate Republican Susan Collins is non-committal, saying "some have questioned his experience compared to other Surgeons General".  It is appalling to me that while the slaughter continues candid discussion of the problem remains off the table due to the influence of Second Amendmentism - whether in its right wing version (we must arm ourselves everywhere a la Wayne La Pierre), or left versions like Nicholas Johnson, my Fordham colleague, who invokes the tradition of black self defense in his Negroes and the Gun. - gwc
Murthy for Surgeon General | New Jersey Law Journal:
by the Editorial Board    (c) ALM Media 2014
The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School stunned the nation. We seemed ready to address seriously both the causes of gun violence and measures to regulate and reduce the ready accessibility of weapons. We are now mourning another mass shooting, this one at Fort Hood by an Iraq vet who was able to buy a gun even though he was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course the larger problem is everyday gun violence, but it gets little attention.
Unfortunately, the reform momentum has waned and the National Rifle Association is determined to draw a line in the sand. Despite the support of President Obama, 10 Democratic senators from rural and southern states have joined in a bipartisan obstruction of the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy, a physician with the expected stellar credentials, for surgeon general.
The attackers latched onto a tweet that Murthy wrote after Sandy Hook. "Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue. #debatehealth." He also signed a letter urging Congress to support an assault rifle ban and require mandatory firearm safety training and waiting periods. The NRA says Murthy is unfit for the position because he supports "radical gun control measures." Their campaign appears to have had such an impact that Murthy's confirmation seems unlikely.
Public health physicians have played an important role in reducing the epidemics of automobile injury and death and asbestos-related illness. The surgeon general has led effective campaigns against smoking and to allay early hysteria about AIDS. Murthy says his focus will be obesity and diabetes.
Politics is the art of compromise, but the Murthy nomination is a line that Obama must hold and on which the Republican leaders must yield. The level of gun violence in our country demands recognition as a public health problem of major proportions. Support of moderate gun control measures cannot be a disqualifier to be surgeon general.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lingering Power of Hostage Crisis Short-Circuits Iranian Nominee -

The Congress has voted unanimously to deny entry to the United States to Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations.  His sin?  He worked briefly as a translator for the Iranian revolutionaries who held Americans hostage in their Embassy thirty-five years ago.  Not a single member of Congress had the courage to say: we are negotiating with them now.  We shouldn't try to pick their diplomats.  Neither did the Secretary of State nor the President.  Craven capitulation to tribal resentment. Elaine Sciolino tells the story in today's Times. - gwc
Lingering Power of Hostage Crisis Short-Circuits Iranian Nominee -

ARIS — When Iranian militants seized the United States Embassy and took dozens of Americans hostage on an overcast Sunday morning in November 1979, I assumed it was just a brief anti-American sit-in. My main concern, I told my editors at Newsweek, was not how dangerous Tehran would be. It was whether it would still be a story by the time I arrived there from Paris the next day.
I sure got that wrong. The “Iran hostage crisis,” as we called it, lasted 444 days. And as demonstrated by the powerful opposition in Washington last week to Iran’s choice for its next United Nations ambassador, it is not over.
During the crisis, President Jimmy Carter froze Iran’s assets, broke diplomatic relations, changed his re-election strategy and ordered a failed military rescue mission that left eight American servicemen dead. The hostage ordeal helped get Ronald Reagan elected as president.
Nearly 35 years later, many Americans do not remember or have never heard of that dark episode in American diplomatic history. It took the 2012 film “Argo,” which dealt with only one chapter of the crisis, to return it to the American consciousness.
But politically, the hostage crisis has not been forgotten. It still has the power to traumatize Washington.
The current diplomatic firestorm is the result of Iran’s nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi, a senior political adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, as ambassador to the United Nations. On paper, he is just about perfect: a fluent French and English speaker with a doctorate in sociology from a prestigious Catholic university in Belgium and a former ambassador to Italy, Australia, Belgium and the European Union.
Mr. Aboutalebi admits that he had a bit part in the hostage drama. He was not part of the takeover of the 27-acre embassy compound or even in town when it happened. But the hostage-takers lacked foreign-language skills, and early in the crisis, he agreed to be an interpreter and translator on a small number of occasions. He was 22 at the time.
In an interview in Iran in mid-March, Mr. Aboutalebi said he had been the interpreter for the Vatican’s special representative when he visited the embassy. He added that “one or two other times” he had done translations into English or French, including interpreting at a news conference two weeks into the hostage crisis when the occupiers decided to release 13 hostages.
“It was based purely on humanitarian motivations,” Mr. Aboutalebi said of his involvement.
There is no evidence that Mr. Aboutalebi served as a regular interpreter or translator or participated in interrogations of the hostages.
During the crisis, President Carter called the hostages “victims of terrorism and anarchy.”
So he could be forgiven for seeking vengeance against Iran today. Instead, Mr. Carter has called on the United States to move on. “Those were college students at that time, and I think that they have matured,” he said on a recent radio program, adding, “It would be inappropriate for the United States to try to block someone that Iran wanted to choose.”
Continue reading the main story
But saying no to Iran over an ambassadorial choice comes at no political cost in Congress, so it was easy for both houses to vote unanimously to prevent Mr. Aboutalebi from entering the United States. And on Friday, the White House said it would not grant Mr. Aboutalebi a visa, effectively scuttling the nomination.
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jersey Bar Leaders call for constitutional amendment

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's pledge to remake the state's courts has encountered substantial resistance from the bar which seeks to preserve the judiciary's long-established insulation from politics.- gwc

New Jersey State Bar Association - NJSBA resolution urges constitutional amendment to protect judicial independence:

For sixty years no member of the New Jersey Supreme Court was denied nomination for tenure at the conclusion of the justice's seven year initial term.  The Trustees of the New Jesey State Bar Association have endorsed former Associate Justice Gary Stein's proposal for a state constitutional amendment which would embed past practice in the state's charter.  

The proposal would block the unprecedented actions of Gov. Chris Christie who has twice refused to nominate for tenure highly regarded Justices of the State Supreme Court.  Helen Hoens - a reliably conservative voice on a court once noted for marked liberalism - was spurned despite almost twenty years as a judge - the past seven on the high court.  John Wallace was spurned early in the Christie era.  He was a moderate who supported some of the governor's initiatives.

Justice Stein would amend Article VI, Section VI, Paragraph 3 shall to read:

“The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall hold their offices for initial terms of seven years. They shall be reappointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, unless they have demonstrated unfitness for such reappointment, and upon reappointment shall hold office during good behavior.

The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board - a strong campaigner for judicial independence - has added its voice to the State Bar's saying:
The New Jersey Constitution's reappointment provision (art VI, sec. 6, par. 3) states: "The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall hold their offices for initial terms of seven years and upon reappointment shall hold their offices during good behavior."
There is no doubt it was intended to deny reappointment only to those whose initial term of service demonstrated they were morally or temperamentally unfit. As one senator observed during the convention, "if they are qualified, they have no fear of not being reappointed."
For more than 65 years, New Jersey governors honored this interpretation of that provision, reappointing 25 justices even in the face of significant political disagreement with their decisions.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Torts Today: N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

The New Jersey Supreme Court has released the Report of the Working Group on Business Litigation.  Although it rejects the option of a distinct division, like New York's, it does move toward specialization as Mary Gallagher explains in her report.  When I was a member of the editorial board of the late New Jersey Lawyer weekly we pressed for a commercial division without success.  The idea that judges are generalists is strongly rooted in the state's judiciary.  However the successful management of "mass tort" litigation by specially designated judges has earned New Jersey courts respect for their competence.  Much remains to be done.  Electronic filing for example, lags far behind the federal courts. - GWC

N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

by Mary Pat Gallagher // NJLJ
A New Jersey Supreme Court committee has rejected the recurring idea of setting up a specialized business court in the state but suggests other ways to improve the management of commercial litigation.
In a report released Thursday, the Working Group on Business Litigation recommends expanding a pilot program statewide and designating a business-savvy judge in each vicinage for complex commercial cases, which would have a $200,000 threshold.
The 13-member committee chaired by Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter Doyne was created last October to identify and assess the needs of the business community, review the judiciary’s current practices, and suggest ways to address legitimate concerns and streamline the process for handling complex commercial litigation.
Its work included reviewing the case management techniques used to file, track and resolve commercial litigation and to assess two long-running pilot programs.
The group suggest that one of them, which has been operating in Bergen and Essex counties since 1996, should cease being a “pilot” program and be expanded statewide.
 The assignment judge in both of those counties designates a jurist with a business or commercial background to handle all commercial matters from start to finish.
The working group recommends that each vicinage designate a business judge, who is either familiar with complex business issues or willing to develop that expertise.
A protocol should be created to “properly identify” what cases should be classified as complex commercial. Right now, that decision is left up to the lawyers who select a case type code when they file.
Court personnel, in consultation with the working group, should “redefine the complex commercial case type so that the Bar will be notified appropriately of the importance of this case type coding on the Civil Case Information statement,” the working group says.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act -

50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act -
by Peter Baker
"AUSTIN, Tex. — For three days, the veterans of a long-ago movement reunited and drew together their spiritual heirs to explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act a half-century after it transformed America. And then the legacy walked onstage. President Obama presented himself on Thursday as the living, walking, talking and governing embodiment of the landmark 1964 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. In a speech that stirred an audience of civil rights champions here at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Obama acknowledged that racism has hardly been erased and that government programs have not always succeeded. But, he added, “I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of L.B.J.’s efforts, because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts, because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.”"'via Blog this'

President Obama on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil rights Act of 1964

Honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act | The White House:
Today, 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, President Obama spoke at the LBJ Presidential Library to honor the work and legacy of our nation’s 36th president.
“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible,” President Obama said. “We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers -- whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”
“But we also gather here,” President Obama said, “deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”’

The best evidence we have that Obamacare is working - Vox

The best evidence we have that Obamacare is working - Vox
By Ezra Klein

"On March 13th, House Speaker John Boehner held a press conference. By that point, Obamacare enrollment was beginning to accelerate. But Boehner thought it was an illusion. He wanted to change the narrative. And so he made a startling claim: Obamacare, he said, had led to fewer people having health insurance.",,,,

Boehner was going off of "claims" and guesstimates. He admits as much in his answer: This is what he "believes," not what he knows. But a new report from the Rand Corporation gives us a fuller picture than ever before. And so now we know: John Boehner was wrong.
1) 9.3 million more people have health insurance
Washington has been tracking enrollment in Obamacare's exchanges and, less precisely, in Medicaid. The Rand study uses a nationally representative sample to track vastly more data: They know roughly how many people were buying insurance from their employers, from insurers, and much more. They also know how many people were losing insurance, either through cancellations, or because employers were dropping them, or because they just stopped paying premiums.
Add all the gains and all the losses together and you get Rand's bottom line: 14.5 million people gained coverage, 5.2 million people lost coverage, and so the net change since 2013 was 9.3 million people getting health insurance.
2) An unexpected Obamacare success: More employer coverage,,,

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A Joyous Welcome: The Baptism of Umma Azul -

Little Umma Azul’s baptism took place in a Catholic church.
The Catholic baptism of Umma Azul,
the daughter of a lesbian couple in Argentina - sanctioned by Rome
The times they are a changin'- gwc
A Joyous Welcome: The Baptism of Umma Azul -
by Prof. Charles Reid, St. Thomas Law School (MN)
Welcoming -- the sacrament of Baptism in the Catholic Church is the sacrament of welcoming. The child is presented to the Church, the community of believers, usually by the parents. The priest calls upon the parents, the godparents, and the entire congregation, to assume the solemn obligation of raising the child in the faith. And then the child is baptized, water poured over her head, as the priest pronounces the time-honored formula -- "in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." - See more at:

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama's Presidency All Along -- New York Magazine

Republican Party Platform 1860
The fundamental shift in American partisan politics of the past 50 years is that the Republican party became the party of the white south. That brought not only anti-black sentiment but the cultural heritage of biblical conservatism, scientific skepticism, retributive justice, and militarism. Jonathan Chait marshals the evidence that the stronger slavery was the stronger is anti-black sentiment today. Then he turns the tables and argues that conservatism does not equal racism, contrary to common liberal sentiment.

I don't know that the charge is fair.  I certainly am convinced that racial bias makes it easy to rally people against social welfare spending.  But that opportunistic advantage does not mean that conservative thinking is inherently racist.  In my view there are many more reasons than that for conservatism's ascendancy. (Like conservatives who see liberal triumph I see conservative ascendancy.  Glass half full vs. glass half empty?) 

We are inherently social creatures but there is an inherent tension between self-interest and the interests of others.  We are all more likely to find fault with policies that benefit "the other" however we define "them".  This has many implications for social policy - such as school funding, integration, etc.  As I watch young professional parents sacrifice to send their kids to costly private schools they are certainly not trying to avoid integrated schools.  They are seeking peer education - the typical road to success. And there just aren't so many black or Latin families on that road.  `Why' is the legacy of racism.  Is there a path out?  Certainly there is no easy road to equality.  Anyway read Chait, and read Andrew Sprung's insightful assessment of Chait and a similar piece by Ezra Klein on "confirmation bias". - gwc

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama's Presidency All Along -- New York Magazine:

Optimists hoped Obama would usher in a new age of racial harmony. Pessimists feared a surge in racial strife. Neither was right. But what happened instead has been even more invidious.

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Law Firm That Enabled Child Snatch Liable for Father's Emotional Distress | New Jersey Law Journal

Peter Innes
A New Jersey appellate court has found that aggravated circumstances permit the recovery of emotional distress damages in a legal malpractice case.  The defendant lawyer turned over a child's passport to the mother in violation of a parenting agreement between mother and father.  The child has been separated from her father for ten years, living in Spain with her maternal grandparents who echo the mother's unsubstantiated accusations of child abuse.  The mother is serving a fourteen year sentence for child abduction.  A jury awarded the father nearly $1 million in emotional distress damages.  The Appellate Division upheld the award to the father. Disclosure: I testified that the defendant lawyer breached her fiduciary duty as custodian to a non-client, the plaintiff father. - gwc
Law Firm That Enabled Child Snatch Wins Partial Relief From Damages | New Jersey Law Journal:
by Mary Pat Gallagher
A New Jersey matrimonial lawyer and her firm hit with a $1.4 million malpractice judgment for their role in enabling an international child abduction have prevailed in lowering the damages assessed against them, though the bulk of the judgment remain intact.
A state appeals court on Monday chopped $442,000 from the judgment against Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich and her Hackensack firm, Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich, who a jury found gave a client her daughter’s passport, which had been entrusted to them to prevent the girl’s removal from the U.S.
The panel, in Innes v. Marzano-Lesnevich, reversed the portion of the judgment awarded to the girl, finding no evidence she suffered emotional distress from the abduction.
But the judges left in place the nearly $1 million award for the father, Peter Innes, finding emotional distress caused by separation from his daughter even in the absence of physical injury.
Victoria Solenne Innes was four years old in January 2005 when her mother, Maria Carrascosa, took her to Spain, where she has resided since with her maternal grandparents.
The duty to safeguard Victoria’s passport was based on a parenting agreement signed in October 2004, when West Caldwell solo Mitchell Liebowitz was Carrascosa’s lawyer. Peter Van Aulen of Saddle Brook, represented Innes. 
The agreement forbade either parent from traveling outside the U.S. with Victoria absent the other parent’s written consent and “to that end,” Liebowitz was to hold the girl’s passport in trust. 
On Nov. 23, 2004, Sarah Jacobs an associate of Marzano-Lesnevich, informed Liebowitz the firm had been retained and asked for the file.
Liebowitz’s response was: “As you may know, I am holding her daughter’s United States Passport. I would prefer if you arranged for the original file to be picked up by messenger with the messenger acknowledging receipt of the passport.” 

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Constitutional Fix Is Proposed for Judge Reappointment Stalemates | New Jersey Law Journal

Constitutional Fix Is Proposed for Judge Reappointment Stalemates | New Jersey Law Journal:
A former New Jersey Supreme Court justice thinks he has the right medicine for the paralysis now afflicting judicial reappointments in the state.
The state constitution is silent on the standards judges must meet during their first seven years on the bench in order to be granted tenure.
Gary Stein is calling for an amendment to require that all state judges be reappointed unless they are unfit.
Stein, who served on the state's high court for almost two decades until 2002, floated the idea in the Weintraub Lecture given Thursday night at Rutgers Law School in Newark.
He said "New Jersey's nationally renowned state judiciary...has been temporarily stunned and demoralized by the Governor's arbitrary refusal—for the first time since the 1947 Constitution—to reappoint two distinguished and highly qualified New Jersey Supreme Court Justices, John Wallace and Helen Hoens."

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

For pharma and medical device makers, U.S. is The Big Rock Candy Mountain | xpostfactoid

Torts Today: For pharma and medical device makers, U.S. is The Big Rock Candy Mountain | xpostfactoid: "by Andrew Sprung
 The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal is out with another front-page chapter in her incomparable epic detailing the dysfunction of the U.S. healthcare system. She's spotlighted (1, 2, 3) price-gouging by various physician specialties, hospitals, and now medical device makers and pharma."

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`The train has left the station' » WHAT THE PEOPLE OF GOD SAID

Robert Lynch, Bishop of St. Petersburg (FL) is one of the few U.S. bishops who directly surveyed the opinions of the faithful in preparation for the fall Synod on the family.  Here is his summary of what he learned.  - GWC

Summarizing the free-form comments and responses was a more challenging exercise but I think I can do them justice with the following comments:

1. There was very strong support for the notion that marriage (which I believe they understood as sacramental marriage) is between one man and one woman.

2. Having said that, it was also clear that the respondents felt that the Church needed to be better prepared to respond to the reality of same-sex marriage. In addition, many respondents felt that the people involved in such relationships believe that the Church has turned its back on them.

3. The respondents generally tended to suggest that the Church needed to be kinder and gentler to those who identify themselves as gay and lesbian, be less judgmental and more welcoming.

4. Very clearly stated was the opinion that an adopted child of same-sex parents should be treated in the Church exactly the same as a child born of a traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

5. The respondents felt very strongly that something needs to be done to reconcile and welcome back the divorced and remarried beyond the present annulment process, about which there seems to be confusion. The mistaken notions that an annulment renders children of the first marriage illegitimate and that simply being divorced excludes one from the sacramental life of the Church indicates that as a local Church we need to do something soon to educate our people better on these two points.

6. The media takes a hammering in the survey results, largely because it is seen as the force majeure for challenging traditional concepts about marriage and family life. They render alternate lifestyles legitimate in the eyes of our respondents and perhaps are so strong that they will effectively negate anything done to support traditional notions of marriage and family life.

7. The respondents strongly said that the Church needs “to wake up and smell the coffee” on cohabitation. It is commonplace and there are some reasons for it which can not be summarily dismissed, such as economic realities.

8. Finally, on the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, “that train left the station long ago”. Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium suggests the rejection of Church teaching on this subject.

So, a natural question is “What next?” The survey results raised issues that can only be resolved by the universal church and ultimately by the Holy Father himself. I gather from what I read that our results are not markedly different from those being reported elsewhere around the world. I hope that the effort to canvas the thoughts of the People of God in this diocese, which was unique in Florida, will be helpful to those who will soon gather in synod with the Holy Father.

- See more at:

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Condemning the death penalty : The Lancet

"Herald of Change?" was the title of my keynote essay for our 2008 symposium on the repeal of the death penalty.  Fortunately the augury had some legs here, but the recent mass death sentence in Egypt is a dreadful sign of things to come there. - gwc
Condemning the death penalty : The Lancet:
On Jan 5, 2008, The Lancet published an Editorial to mark the UN's moratorium of the death penalty. We noted that the US state of New Jersey had recently suspended all executions, several countries seemed likely to follow suit, and hopes were high that the practice would soon be consigned to “the dustbin of history”. Which is why Amnesty International'sreportDeath Sentences and Executions 2013, published on March 27, noting a 14% increase in executions in 2013, is of particular concern.  Overall, the worldwide trend for abolition continues. Rates of executions have decreased steadily in the past decade. No executions occurred in Europe and Central Asia or in 173 UN member states worldwide. In the USA, as evidence accumulates for racial disparities, miscarriages of justice, and the sentencing of several people who had mental illness, four states have stopped the death penalty since 2008, most recently Maryland in 2013.Despite these positive signs, at least 778 people were executed in 2013, 96 more than in 2012, a rise driven mainly by increases in Iran and Iraq. The number of death sentences given out also increased by 10% worldwide. Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Vietnam resumed executions after none were recorded for up to 8 years. China is highly secretive about its use of capital punishment, but Amnesty International estimates that it executes thousands of people every year. And on March 24, an Egyptian court defiantly sentenced 528 people to death—the trial lasted 1 hour, and three-quarters of defendants were not present....

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Feinberg hired by GM to guide it through maze of lawsuits //Detroit Free Press

Kenneth Feinberg
Kenneth Feinberg

Nice to get some "ink". gwc
Crisis handler Kenneth Feinberg hired to guide GM through maze of lawsuits | Detroit Free Press
by Gregg Gardner
"Kenneth Feinberg’s new mission is to guide General Motors through the minefield of lawsuits and potential criminal charges arising from the ignition switch recalls and learn from missteps in his other high-profile roles, according to legal experts who have followed his performance in previous disasters. The 68-year-old Massachusetts native joins Anton Valukas, the chairman of the blue chip Jenner & Block law firm, and former Clinton White House media adviser Jeff Eller in a triumvirate of high-priced experts whose mission is to manage risk and contain damage."***
GM likely will study the BP case to understand the limits of Feinberg’s authority. His conduct in that case stirred critics. The line between his role as evenhanded mediator and his obligation to BP became blurry.
In February 2011, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ordered Feinberg to stop representing himself to claimants as a neutral party when he was a lawyer and agent representing BP.
“Pride precedes a fall and that is what happened to Kenneth Feinberg in the BP cases,” said George Conk, a law professor at Fordham University. “He implausibly claimed to be a neutral rather than a lawyer for BP while his law firm received hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry out BP’s obligations to provide temporary and permanent compensation to those who suffered spill-related losses.”

Judicial independence Threatened - NJ State Bar Public hearings

NJ's judiciary needs reform, bar association task force is told - News -


New Jersey’s judicial branch is under attack and in need of reform and protection, leaders in the state’s legal community told a task force studying the court system’s independence Tuesday.

Judges who must give independent-minded opinions are under political attack, petty political battles are slowing the judicial nomination process and the public must be educated about the courts, individuals told the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Task Force on Judicial Independence.

The task force plans to produce a report with recommendations on preserving judicial independence after hearing from the public. The first of the task force’s four public hearings was held Tuesday in New Brunswick.

“We are in the midst of a time like no other in the history of our modern state,” said Ralph Lamparello, president of the New Jersey Bar Association. “There is a concerted effort among the executive and legislative branches of government to politicize the judicial branch.”

He added, “Judges and justices who have followed the law and the facts of a case to reach an opinion have undergone personal attack, time and time again, by our Governor.”

The reappointment of Supreme Court justices has traditionally been almost automatic. That pattern was interrupted early in Governor Christie’s first term when he decided to replace John Wallace, a Democrat. That seat is still open.

Many speakers, who included judges, practicing lawyers and former state Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, said the public needed to be educated about the importance of the courts.
- See more at:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Domestic Violence cases in the courts: an update from Shenzhen’s Luohu District Court | Supreme People's Court Monitor

Protect yourself from domestic violence with a civil protection order
Protect yourself from domestic violence!

Domestic Violence cases in the courts: an update from Shenzhen’s Luohu District Court | Supreme People's Court Monitor:

The Luohu District Court (the Luohu court), which hears cases arising from the primarily urban Luohu administrative district in Shenzhen, in late March posted on its website (and Wechat account) an overview of the 24 domestic violence cases that it has heard in the last 3 years. The court identified four trends and “take-aways”:

* there has been a trend towards an increase in the average age of abusers, from 31-45, to over 60;
* the educational level and professional background of abusers has shifted to university educated, working in government agencies or foreign invested enterprises;
* the type of domestic violence has shifted from simple physical violence to emotional and economic abuse, creating more evidentiary difficulties and analytical issues for the courts; and
* the victims have become more aware of their legal rights. Victims are moving away from traditional attitudes of accepting domestic violence as part of family life to using the law to protect themselves, and are calling the police when domestic violence occurs and applying for civil protection orders.

The Luohu court saw the following take-aways:
* more psychological support should be provided locally, in residential areas, to prevent domestic violence from occurring;
* local institutions for resolving domestic disputes should be strengthened; and
* more should be done to make the public aware of domestic violence legislation.

This report from one district court reflects many of the messages about domestic violence being conveyed by the Supreme People’s Court. Further reports on the drafting of the domestic violence interpretation are awaited, to see whether it will involve the procuratorate, public security, and other authorities.

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Leadership - really

You go through the gate. If the gate's closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we'll pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we'll parachute in. But we're going to get health care reform passed for the American people. - Nancy Pelosi January 28, 2010
The election of Scott Brown, Cosmo centerfold boy, to replace Ted Kennedy had cost the Democrats their veto proof majority.  Nancy Pelosi spoke.  And got it done.  That's leadership too - as was Obama's.  Thanks to Andrew Sprung for the tip to this quote of the decade.
Obama, Pelosi and Reid after passage of the
Affordable Care Act

Boehner: Now donors can give what they want to give.

Re: McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

John Roberts: "“Spending large sums of money in connection with elec­tions” does not “give rise to . . . corruption.”"
John Boehner: "It's a victory for free speech.  Donors can give what they want to give". 
Bernie Sanders, like Anatole France,  doesn't see it that way. - gwc

About Obama and the 7.1 Million or the 17 million insured

Public attention has focused on the sign-up for health insurance by those who bought it on the now-subsidized markets.  That is 7 million now and it is an important accomplishment since most of those were uninsured.  And of those who were insured most of them have gotten subsidies and their health insurance costs have been cut.  American politicians are too timid to celebrate the subsidies, and much too timid to celebrate the 10 million who have been added to the Medicaid roles which now has the "welfare" stigma.

But Barack Obama is proud, not embarrassed because he knows he has helped millions of the poor and nearly poor, and the hard to make ends meet working class. He has been lambasted as weak, as tyrannical, as failing to lead, etc.  But just how did we add 17 mlliont the rolls of the uninsured but by leadership.  Steady, determined leadership.

Frederick Douglas on Lincoln
Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.
Barack Obama' on Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln did not simply win a war or hold the Union together. In his unwillingness to demonize those against whom he fought; in his refusal to succumb to either the hatred or self-righteousness that war can unleash; in his ultimate insistence that in the aftermath of war the nation would no longer remain half slave and half free; and his trust in the better angels of our nature - he displayed the wisdom and courage that sets a standard for patriotism (my emphasis).

h/t the impressive Andrew Sprung  xpostfactoid 

Monday, March 31, 2014

BOOM, there it is: AP/ABC News Confirm breaking 7M QHPs by Midnight |

They underestimated Barack Obama again.  There are more brains in the White House now than at any time in history.  They know how to organize a camapaign - as they have proven by overcoming their own mistakes.  That takes teamwork. - gwc
BOOM, there it is: AP/ABC News Confirm breaking 7M QHPs by Midnight |

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Like Roads, Internet access should be free

The Constitution commands that there be a postal service.  That command today should include internet access.  Just like the mail, the government should deliver access to the internet to every home.

Susan Crawford, Former Special Assistant to President Obama on Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, talks to Ezra Klein about how the internet is too important to be left to the private market. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

16.75 Million insured thanks to Affordable Care Act

Charles Gaba, the uber ACA blogger, has compiled this chart.  The big number: 16,750,000 people have gained health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  Democrats should be proud.  We have made a difference.  Despite the snotty disparagement and some self-inflicted wounds millions are now benefiting from this legislation - passed before the Tea Party surge of 2010.  - gwc

US News and World Report Law School Rankings: 2013 to 2014 Color-Coded Changes for All Reported Law School Statistics

US News and World Report Law School Rankings: 2013 to 2014 Color-Coded Changes for All Reported Law School Statistics:

US News and World Report Law School Rankings: 2013 to 2014 Color-Coded Changes for All Reported Law School Statistics

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The American Scholar: Ten Best Sentences - Our Editors

I preach Strunk and White - short sentences, with active verbs, rhythm and sonority.  A good rule for essays, but perhaps not much else.  Read the ten and the many comments that follow.  Joan Didion's grabbed me because I just finished teaching a section on the Supreme Court's efforts to eliminate segregated education "root and branch". 1967 was not a very good year. 

And John Hersey captured the enormity of the ghastly way we finished what Japan started. 
- gwc

The American Scholar: Ten Best Sentences - Our Editors:

It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.
—Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
This private estate was far enough away from the explosion so that its bamboos, pines, laurel, and maples were still alive, and the green place invited refugees—partly because they believed that if the Americans came back, they would bomb only buildings; partly because the foliage seemed a center of coolness and life, and the estate’s exquisitely precise rock gardens, with their quiet pools and arching bridges, were very Japanese, normal, secure; and also partly (according to some who were there) because of an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under leaves.
—John Hersey, Hiroshima

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How Protestant Evangelicals shifted their abortion stance | GOPLifer

Chris Ladd is a blunt critic of the Republican Party but he is no RINO.  He really is a conservative - believing in things like small government, Edmund Burke, etc.  But he is not a racist and he opposes obscurantism.  This puts him in opposition to the GOP's most fervent base which formed as the result of a marriage between racist northern whites and racist southern whites.  They united around opposition to welfare, and integration.  But their shameless racism became unacceptable in polite society so they developed a code language, and added anti-abortion and an anti-tax sentiment that concurred with their opposition to spending for "them" but tolerated exceptions for the "deserving" like Medicare, Social Security, and veterans benefits. - gwc

How Protestant Evangelicals shifted their abortion stance | GOPLifer:
Abortion politics, like positions on school prayer, porn, divorce law, and other religious issues followed in the wake of segregation, not the other way around. The Southern Baptists declined to take an unequivocal stand against abortion rights for almost a decade after Roe v. Wade. The culture war got its impetus from desegregation, not from abortion.
By the late ’70′s, overt race-baiting was no longer tolerated on the public stage. The forces threatened by the Carter Administration’s decision were in no position to campaign openly in favor of segregation. They needed a proxy. In time, abortion and school prayer became convenient, race-neutral rhetorical banners beneath which Southern Protestant Evangelicals and Northern Catholics could march together, however uneasily. The tensions that once divided them have not faded away entirely, but have come to matter less and less as the “culture” issues they share in common take center stage.
That awkward marriage has in time produced a unique offspring, best symbolized by Sen. Rand Paul. The modern Neo-Confederate movement has now managed to synthesize an alliance between the conservative Northern Catholics who once supported George Wallace and Southern Dixiecrats on the basis of a shared interest in religious fundamentalism and a resentment of government efforts to strip religious groups of their policy influence.
Bouie is right to point out that evangelical abortion politics has changed dramatically over a single generation, but it was school segregation, not Roe, that provided the catalyst.

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