Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Brown's impact

Coincidentally, after spending a class meeting on the impact (or lack of impact) of Brown v. Board of Ed., I found this article in the Pocket Part, an online companion to the Yale Law Journal. The author, Harvard law professor Kenneth Mack, questions whether Brown really had the impact many attribute to it... You'll also find some reactions to Mack's argument.

It seems (after giving the article a quick and admittedly superficial look) that Mack ignores the extensive political science research that in fact confirms his argument. Kind of reinventing the wheel...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The wonderful world of guilty pleas...

A woman spent 90 days in jail and almost a year on work release after pleading guilty to possession of the drug Buspirone. Problem: Buspirone is perfectly legal and had been prescribed by her doctor. Here is the full story. (Found on the Volokh Conspiracy, which got it from Ken Lammers, who got it from...)

What's the problem here? Prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge malpractice? Lack of full trial? Excessive prosecution of low-level drug crimes? Use of criminal justice where treatment is warranted?

Restricting habeas 2

A quick -- and much too late -- update between grading papers and prepping classes: The Senate after all did not pass the original amendment limiting habeas rights but another, compromise, amendment that also restricts habeas corpus rights for GTMO detainies (but not for others, it seems) while giving them one appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Or so it seems: The legislation is fairly complex and the courts will probably have to sort out how it applies in specific cases. And it has not yet been passed by the House + signed by the prez... More information and discussion of this development here and here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Restricting habeas petitions

The most interesting non-news (or hardly-any-news) item of the week is a congressional effort to remove federal court jurisdiction over habeas petitions brought by GTMO prisoners. Even though you find only information in the back pages of the papers or the blogosphere, this development is very important. One of the rare spectacles of Congress taking drastic steps to prevent the courts from making decisions it doesn't like. It is likely that the law restricting habeas passes both houses -- and you bet Bush'll sign it!

Now here's the puzzle: Isn't habeas corpus protected by Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution? Yes, but it's not clear if the constitutionally protected habeas corpus rights extend to noncitizens detained in a foreign country and not held on American soil. The habeas rights Congress is about to restrict are based on statute and do extend to foreigners etc. Therefore, Congress seems to argue, they can be restricted by Congress. The federal courts will probably soon deal with this. Stay tuned!

A good discussion of the issue can be found on SCOTUSblog.

Now it's getting really busy...

Term papers are in and have to be graded, research papers have to be prepared for publication, the turkey soon shall be roasted -- there isn't much time left for blogging. Otherwise I'd rant about how curious it is that Kanye West's utterly misogynist Golddigger (I'm even too busy to check the spelling) can be played on network radio as long as the b-word, the n-word, and whatever alphabetical glories it contains are covered up. But not a word about it, or about the fact that the sanitized version is wittier, slyer, after all...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Underage Facebook Drinking

A couple of NCSU students have been charged with underage drinking, based on a photo posted on Facebook. The Raleigh News and Observer has more.

[Update: The News and Observer keeps articles online only for a day. You can find the article now on Lexis-Nexis etc.; the title is "Web images used as evidence of violations," publication date was November 7.]

Saturday, November 05, 2005


More from the folks at Volokh Conspiracy: The exciting debate on Schwarzenegger's redistricting proposal. For those who haven't kept track of the story, the proposal (an electoral initiative that California voters have to approve or reject in a special election next week) would remove the California state legislature's power to draw legislative districts and grant this power to a panel of retired judges.

By the way, this VC debate is a great example of how the internet can serve as a national town hall (and how it can reserve the debate to an elite with internet access and the know-how to find the debate).

Keywords: American National Politics; Elections.

Prosecutors v. Defense Attorneys

Rod Smolla writes about their differences. Towards the end of the article, Smolla reminds us of the difference between law and ethics, this time with respect to the defense lawyers' personal morals, which easily conflict with their professional duties. Worth reading! (Found at Volokh Conspiracy.)

Keyword: Judicial Process.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And now for something completely different...

Goats in a tree in Morocco. An amazing picture found in the New York Times.

More on Alito

If you want to do some research on new Supreme Court appointee Sam Alito (I knew this was *exactly* what you wanted to do now) -- here is a very useful link to all sorts of documents. Found on Balkinization.


Here are some interesting observations about the infamous LSAT.

Keywords: Prelaw

Alito appointment

This will be the biggest Supreme Court news item in the next weeks (which does not mean that one should neglect other news -- there is an important abortion case coming up). For in-depth discussions on the nomination, I suggest the Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization blogs. The Volokh Conspiracy is more on the conservative side, Balkinization more liberal, but both are group blogs with contributions from top people in the field. Definitely worth monitoring!

Keywords: Supreme Court