Thursday, January 23, 2020

Separation of Powers

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, from his book A Republic, If You Can Keep It:

"Who, after all, would hire nine people to write laws for a continental nation and then insulate them from any electoral accountability? Let alone pick for the job nine lawyers from fancy law schools, with a majority from East Coast urban centers? That sounds more like the monarchy the Constitution rejected than the republic it ordained." (p. 134)

"Legislators are responsive to their constituents and have institutional resources designed the help them discern and enact majoritarian preferences. Politically insulated judges come armed with only the attorneys' briefs, a few law clerks, and their own idiosyncratic experiences. They are hardly the representative group you'd expect (or want) to be making empirical judgments for hundreds of millions of people." (p. 157)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hope for Netflix yet

"Anne with an E" is good TV, with top-drawer acting, writing, and cinematography.

Among other things, the show reminds me of "Little House on the Prairie," except that it has more verisimilitude than that show did.

I like the Canadian setting, because (as in the original Anne of Green Gables books), following late nineteenth-century lives on Prince Edward Island evokes for me the song "St. Anne's Reel," which I first heard played by a now-retired concert violinist named Charlann Gastineau, very likely at the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest in an early-Nineties gig with Phil Salazar when he helmed The Acousticats.

Years later I realized that the tune had also been covered by John Denver.

FWIW, nearby Cape Breton Island also has a strong fiddle tradition.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Stupid Supreme Court decisions

I'm no lawyer, but I can read, and I have opinions. This one is partly inspired by a book I'm reading now: Neil Gorsuch's A Republic If You Can Keep It.

Some of my thinking is also shaped by Mark Levin's Men in Black: How Judges Are Destroying America, although the Gorsuch book will assuredly age better than Levin's screed from 2005 has.

The Supreme Court's "Hall of Shame," (we got your stare decisis right here, pal) IMHO:

  1. Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton (companion cases tied for first in the "overreach sweepstakes," and handed down in 1973) -- In which the court used "substantive due process" to create a hitherto unknown and wholly unfettered constitutional right to abortion on demand.
  2. Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857): In which the court decided that there's no such thing as an African-American, because black people can't be U.S. citizens.
  3. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): In which the court affirmed racial segregation under the fig leaf of "separate but equal" posturing that only Justice John Marshal Harlan was willing to dissent from.
  4. Korematsu v. United States (1944): In which the court decided that it was okay to place American citizens of Japanese ancestry in internment camps because we were then at war with Japan.
  5. Ohio v. Roberts (1980): In which the court decided that the Founding Fathers weren't serious about the Sixth Amendment.
  6. Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984): In which the court decided that whenever ambiguity in legislative language makes punting on controversy look smart, judges may defer to the judgment of federal bureaucrats who pinkie swear that they're policing themselves.
  7. Kelo v. City of New London (2005): In which the court said it was cool for the government to take land from one private party and give it to another one.
  8. Wickard v. Filburn (1942): I got this one from lawyer David Limbaugh, who mentions that this was a 'New Deal' case in which the Supreme Court sanctioned the federal government's regulation of purely intrastate activities under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn was just minding his own business, but the court screwed him over for the sake of letting the feds set limits even on localized wheat production.