Law postsMonday October 20, 2014
John Oliver Has Dogs Reenact U.S. Supreme Court Arguments
The Scalia dog is a no-brainer but I thought the Ginsburg was inspired.
Not only hilarious but a real public service in a country where two-thirds of its citizens can't number one member of the high court.
No Reasoning with Conservative SCOTUS
I love the lede to (if not the import of) Adam Liptak's story today:
The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court’s order, issued just after 5 a.m., was unsigned and contained no reasoning.
The dissent, at least, was signed by Justice Ginsburg, and condemned the Court's conservative branch, as well as Texas, for actions that risk “denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.” It's actually more like half a million, she says later in the dissent: 600,000, or 4.5 percent of all registered voters.
Texas' 2011 voter I.D. law went into effect after SCOTUS, in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), struck down Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of disenfranchisement to, as Liptak writes, ”obtain federal permission before changing voting procedure." Since then, the South has been all yee-ha about changing its voting procedures. But legitimately, you understand.
Their argument: voter fraud is so rampant (despite no evidence, and particularly not in-person at the polls) that voters should be required to show a photo I.D. at the polls. Sadly, 600,000 registered voters in Texas don't have a driver's license, gun license, passport or military I.D. But ... SOL. Most of these folks, of course, are minorities.
But it sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Until you realize that, for example, no one in Washington state has to show a photo I.D. to vote, since we're entirely an absentee ballot state now. We must be crawling with fraud.
To me, what Texas and many southern states are doing these days is Jim Crow dressed up. It's James Crow. Too bad the Court doesn't see it that way—or give a reason why they don't.
Conservative court backs James Crow laws in Texas. No reason necessary.
Boies on Colbert
While P and I were in Europe, super lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson, who argued opposite sides of Bush v. Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2000, and who became friends afterward and teamed up on the Prop 8 case, were on Stephen Colbert's show. You should watch the whole interview, but this part cracked me up:
Olson: I think that [Bush v. Gore] was a solid decision. Of course, I may be a little biased. But I think David agrees actually.
Colbert: I'm afraid we don't have time for his answer.
Boies: That's exactly what the Court said.
Even Colbert, master of the quick-witted response, was impressed.
I got to interview both men in January in New York, which was a great if nervewracking pleasure, and even got to correct Mr. Boies on his baseball knowledge. (My wheelhouse, apparently.) He used Babe Ruth as a metaphor for someone who hits a lot of homeruns but still strikes out a lot —more than anyone else in baseball history, he added. I had to tell him that the Babe was usurped in strikeouts long ago, and that Reggie Jackson holds the mark now. In fact, and obviously I didn't have this knowledge at the time, but the Babe is currently 107th on the career strikeout list with 1330—about half of Reggie's total.
That was a small sidebar, of course. Most of our interview was about the law in general, and the push for the federal constituational right for same-sex marriage in particular. Read the whole interview here.
Let me add that I could listen to David Boies talk about almost anything. He has a moment on “Colbert,” and it comes at about 4:40 in the above link, where I just fall in love with him all over again. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Respectfully, Justice Scalia, It's the Troposphere
I love this SCOTUS nugget from Ryan's Lizza's post, “Barack Obama, Left Conservative,” on the Obama administration's new stance on the dangers of, and regulation of, carbon dioxide.
According to Lizza, it all began with a lawsuit from James R. Milkey, who sued the federal government on behalf of the state of Massachusetts, whose coastlines were eroding due to global warming. Initally people thought Milkey was daft for his lawsuit. Five years later, he was arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, where this exchange took place:
“Your assertion,” Justice Antonin Scalia, who was skeptical about the link between greenhouse-gas emissions and Massachusetts’s disappearing coastline, said, “is that, after the pollutant leaves the air and goes up into the stratosphere, it is contributing to global warming.”
“Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere,” Milkey responded. “It’s the troposphere.”
“Troposphere, whatever. I told you before, I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth.”
Milkey won, 5-4. Now we are where we are. Which is way behind but at least in the game.
Song for the U.S. Supreme Court
In the wake of last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the 5-4 majority struck down a cap on total donations that can be made to individuals during federal elections, here's a song by Leonard Cohen. Lyrics first:
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Then the song itself:
Thanks, Justices Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, for fixing the fight a little further. And for not knowing what everybody knows.