Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘activist judges

A Few Sunday Night Links

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* Bill Gates vs. education. Via.

“They start with the assumption that something is broken,” says Patricia A. McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, which serves low-income women in the District of Columbia. “Then they take the next step of deciding what the fix is before they really understand the problem.” Skeptics say such confidence is dangerous when dealing with complex social phenomena like education.

* Rise of the Warrior Cop. How a military contractor managed to keep alive a drone program even the Air Force thinks is a boondoggle.

You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used To Record Americans’ Movements.

* Scalia: activist judges caused the Holocaust. Truly a dizzying intellect.

Despite calls from students, faculty, the LAT and the Sacramento Bee to allow greater public discussion and debate over the appointment of Janet Napolitano as President of UC, the Regents moved ahead and quickly named her to the position.  In so doing, they have forfeited what little moral and ethical authority they retained as leaders of the University of California.  They retain, of course, the legal power to act as they please and as they have done.  But we should be clear that they have rejected the idea of a University and have declared that they see UC as simply another bureaucracy to be managed from the top.

* And some more on MOOCs from Tenured Radical and The Edge of the American West.

1. A failure rate of 56-76% translates over 40 courses (roughly typical for a four year college) into an infinitesimally low graduation rate. 56% gives you 0.0000000084629%. That’s a bit low because students could take more than 40 courses to manage graduation, but it’s also a bit high because it doesn’t allow for the 17% who didn’t finish the courses.

Rising from the Ashes Thursday

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* Confusion Reigns Over Legality of Anti-Union Bill Passage in Wisconsin. I offered in the MetaFilter thread last night my suspicion that having this bill overturned on procedural or state-constitutional grounds could be Walker’s face-saving exit strategy at this point; it’s been very common over the last few decades for Republicans to pass transparently illegal or unconstitutional legislation as red meat for the base, only to raise additional cash when “activist judges” throw the legislation out. If the lack of quorum genuinely tied his hands, illegitimately claiming to have passed the law anyway lets Walker still claim to have won. It’s certainly being reported that way.

* Watching Twitter last night was inspiring, despite the defeat. Calls for a general strike in particular are exiting; that’s something I’d never expected to see happen here. (The last was apparently in 1934.) The class war is definitely happening out in the open in the moment: Wisconsin GOP Bill Allows State to Fire Employees for Strikes, Walk-Outs. No strike yet.

* Elsewhere in union-busting news: The many lies of Chris Christie, in the New York Times.

* So what is this Manifesto? In essence, it is a vindication of the arts and humanities as the most valuable of social and cultural practices.

* Flying cars: just one year away.

* And you always knew it: science proves running a lot will kill you.

Facts Are Stupid Things

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What’s wrong with Judge Vinson’s anti-health-care ruling, page-by-page.

UPDATE: Relatedly, see Jonathan Cohn’s “The Bad Faith of Mandate Critics.” See also Steve Benen and Ezra Klein:

The principle conservatives are fighting for is that they don’t like the Affordable Care Act. And having failed to win that fight in Congress, they’ve moved it to the courts in the hopes that their allies on the bench will accomplish what their members in the Senate couldn’t. That’s fair enough, of course. But they didn’t see the individual mandate as a question of liberty or constitutionality until Democrats passed it into law in a bill Republicans opposed, and they have no interest in changing its name to the “personal responsibility tax,” nor would they be mollified if it was called the “personal responsibility tax.” The hope here is that they’ll get the bill overturned on a technicality. And perhaps they will. But no one should be confused by what’s going on.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

All about Kagan

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I still find myself pretty solidly in the Greenwald/Campos/Digby caucus on the Elena Kagan nomination. As Scott Lemieux argued earlier today, there’s just not enough in her record to justify her nomination at a time when Obama already has 59 senators certain to vote “yes”: “In a context in which a more accomplished and more clearly liberal justice could be confirmed, the pick just can’t be defended.” If we take Steve and Ezra’s framing of this as a “trust us” high-stakes gamble—and perhaps many people do still blindly trust Obama to make decisions of this sort—the progressive response is that it didn’t have to be. Obama could have gotten either Diane Wood or Leah Ward Sears confirmed; he chose not to, and probably won’t next time either.

A totally unambitious selection that will likely do little or nothing to push the Court leftward, the Kagan selection has squandered our last, best chance to challenge the radicalism of the Bush appointments, while at the same time putting forth a nominee whose totally sparse record could actually make her harder to confirm than a more experienced jurist, litigator, or academic. I just don’t see the strategy.

That the case for Kagan is paper-thin at best seems to me to be utterly self-evident; watch, for instance, Glenn Greenwald decimate Jamin Raskin (a supporter of the pick) in this video from Democracy Now. Raskin is essentially unable to come up with any points in Kagan’s favor whatsoever. Across the Internet, the only counterargument to the Greenwald position that is ever presented is “Obama knows what he’s doing.” I grow weary of being told Obama knows what he’s doing.

Of course the right is doing its damnedest to make me like her, with gay-baiting and slavery-defending their most offensive opening bids. (“But she’s a bad driver!” clocks in at #3, “There aren’t enough men on the Supreme Court!” at #4. And then there’s Glenn.) In short the opposition seems totally unserious and that her nomination will probably be fairly easy (though maybe not). Either way, Obama should have swung for the fences; with big losses coming in the Senate this November, he likely won’t get another chance.

It should be said, in postscript, that Mightygodking thinks this is all still just eleven-dimensional chess, and I’ll admit that if that’s the thinking I can almost buy it. Climate Progress has also weighed in in Kagan’s favor, noting a Green Energy Report that Kagan “has a reputation as a supporter of environmental law and as a lawyer who takes climate change seriously.” That’s good! But it’s not enough to make me happy with the pick.

Up Too Early Central Timezone Blues

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* The paper on ecological debt I’m giving at the Debt conference at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Center for 21st Century Studies today is pretty indebted to Naomi Klein’s recent work on the subject, which can be found at YouTube, Democracy Now, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. I may try to put this talk up as a podcast at some point.

* The oil spill disaster in the Louisiana has turned out to be much, much worse than originally thought: “a river of oil flowing from the bottom of the Gulf at the rate of 210,000 gallons a day that officials say could be running for two months or more.” The final devastation will likely be worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster. The White House says BP will pay the costs of cleanup. Related: Obama Administration Learns That Oil Leads to Oil Spills. At least they’ve quietly reinstated the federal moratorium on offshore drilling as a result of all this. Hope it stays that way.

* Can reconciliation work for climate like it worked for health care? Ezra Klein says not really.

* Ten states, including my beloved North Carolina!, are now considering Arizona-style document laws.

* Speaking of North Carolina, here’s the Independent Weekly voting guide for Durham County. The primary is Tuesday, May 4.

* It turns out the measurement fallacy Cory Doctorow was speaking about in my class’s interview with him has a name: Goodhart’s Law.

* Grad School Necessary To Maintain U.S.’s Global Position. Take that, The Simpsons.

* Republican consultant on Republican 2012 presidential field: “We Have Real [Expletive] Problems.”

* Calling out the real judicial activists.

* Socialphobes of the world unite! Against the telephone.

The telephone was an aberation in human development. It was a 70 year or so period where for some reason humans decided it was socially acceptable to ring a loud bell in someone else’s life and they were expected to come running, like dogs. This was the equivalent of thinking it was okay to walk into someone’s living room and start shouting.

* Books: still greener than e-readers.

* I can’t believe I forgot to celebrate Explicit Legal Pants Day. The rest of the post, on heterosexual privilege in Mississippi, is good too.

Inevitable District 9 sequel coming in two years.

* I’m so old I can remember when the GOP was against involuntary microchip implantation. It was like a week ago.

* And YouTube has the trailer for the feel-good movie of the year.

Politics Thursday

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* I’m shocked, shocked to find Mitt Romney caught being disingenuous about health care reform. Jonathan Chait has more lying liars on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, while Scott Lemieux explains another reason why even a radically activist Roberts court would be reluctant to declare the mandate unconstitutional:

But let’s say that Bush v. Gore vindicates the strongest form of legal realism and that we will soon see that Supreme Court justices are purely political actors. Would striking down the individual mandate ultimately advance conservative policy goals? Almost certainly not. On the one hand, it would be easy for Congress to get around the decision by simply structuring the tax differently and constitutionally, restoring the status quo. But what if Congress can’t? In some ways, this would be worse for conservatives — unless Congress was also willing to repeal very popular regulations (which even conservatives concede is a non-starter), the result will be the bankruptcy of insurance companies and a paved road to socialized insurance.

* Rachel Maddow had a pair of very striking pieces on right-wing incitements to violence last night.

* The health care reform reconciliation sidecar goes back to the House for technical reasons. It’s expected to be about a few hours delay. Incidentally, Steve Benen has issued marching orders on what we’re supposed to call the new program: ACA, the Affordable Care Act.

* The latest support for my theory that the GOP can’t hold its perma-No in the wake of Obama’s health care victory comes from Bob Corker (R-TN):

“This is so unlike the health care debate,” said Corker, noting that some of his Republican colleagues have made misjudgments on that point over the last month. “I don’t think people realize that this is an issue that almost every American wants to see passed. There’ll be a lot of pressure on every senator and every House member to pass financial regulation.”

* On the other hand, Republicans are apparently planning another Bunning-style freakout, this time starring Tom Coburn. In other Senate obstructionism news, the Republican objecting to any Senate committee business continuing past 2 PM was North Carolina’s own Richard Burr. Here’s still more on the breakdown of Senate procedure from Donkeylicious.

* How the Times‘ bias killed ACORN.

* And an amazing story from local alt-weekly Independent Weekly: N.C. eugenics survivors seek justice.

At 82 years old, Agnes is not sure she’ll live to see when or if the proposed compensation is paid. She appreciates the efforts being made in North Carolina to reconcile its eugenic past by acknowledging what she and thousands of others in our state went through. “It’s nice to know there are people out there that really care about your rights.”

Elaine, Agnes, Willis and Nial wonder why the American values of equal protection and individual liberty did not apply to them, and there are no simple answers to give them. They were caught within an ideological framework that said it’s acceptable to toss aside ethics and trample over the most basic of human rights if someone is perceived to not meet certain social expectations.

Now in her mid-50s, Elaine Riddick is one of the younger survivors of North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization program. From her apartment on the 32nd floor of an Atlanta skyrise, she has a beautiful view of the entire city. She says she has been able to obtain some measure of peace, which she attributes to her faith in God and finally letting go of the self-blame that she carried for years. Her adult son, Tony Riddick, whom she describes as “brilliant,” still lives in Winfall and owns his own computer electronics company.

Elaine has a loving boyfriend who, she says, takes good care of her and has a positive relationship with her son and siblings. Still, sometimes the cruelties from her past come back to haunt her. “Sometimes I think, what is happiness? Am I really happy? I don’t think I will ever be happy, because of what they took from me.”

Elaine was sterilized without her consent (or even knowledge) after giving birth to a child at age 14. She had been raped.

Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?

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Last seen reminding state agencies how they can and should legally discriminate against homosexuals, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is already promising to file a legal challenge to tonight’s health care bill. This of course leads us to another exciting round of “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?” Tonight’s contestant is Randy E. Barnett of Georgetown Law, writing in the Washington Post. Barnett appears much more agnostic on the specific legal questions involved than previous contestants like Erwin Chemerinsky, focusing instead on the aggressive radicality of the Roberts majority:

But what if five justices think the legislation was carried bleeding across the finish line on a party-line vote over widespread bipartisan opposition? What if control of one or both houses of Congress flips parties while lawsuits are pending? Then there might just be five votes against regulating inactivity by compelling citizens to enter into a contract with a private company. This legislation won’t go into effect tomorrow. In the interim, it is far more vulnerable than if some citizens had already started to rely upon its benefits.

If this sounds far-fetched, consider another recent case in which the smart money doubted there were five votes to intervene in a politicized controversy involving technical procedures. A case in which five justices may have perceived that long-established rules were being gamed for purely partisan advantage.

You might have heard of it: Bush v. Gore.

Of course I worry about this, because I think Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas would overturn health care in a heartbeat, on whatever spurious ground presented itself. But while I don’t always agree with him, I think Kennedy has integrity, and I don’t think he would go along with it. (Have to admit, though, I’ve never been more sad to have to say “no relation”…)