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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Power of the People

And Also: Are the Rockies outfielders really as bad as they have looked when playing the Mets? I received a new phone book today -- comes with free gifts. An ad magnet and a miniature subway map booklet (folds up to business card size), which in fact also has ads. Finally, Bush just recess appointed a Wal-mart corporate hack to protect workers, a few days before Labor Day to boot. Isn't it Princess Jenna's time yet?

Dahlia Lithwick is among those online sources discussing a Linda Greenhouse article on the decrease of women clerks in the Supreme Court. I'm not sure why they decided to entitled the former piece with a reference to "girls." DL, but not Linda Greenhouse, cited the woman written blog that appears to have first taken up the case (it cited the male run Volokh Conspiracy, better known, that took up the subject ... but did so [showing the charm of blogs] by citing the source that they were responding to). That blog entry spoke about "female" clerks. The blogger also was a tad tiffed that she wasn't referenced by name.

I don't know about the general trend -- it might be too soon to tell -- but put in my .02 here. Overall, it underlines how true equal protection cannot be fulfilled by "technical" equality, but by being aware of real life results. A response put up (a typical for him/her) strawman response. My general sentiment with miscreants like that person is to wonder if they are actually that clueless or just troublemaking trolls. Stupid is easy; actually answering stupid, not always so -- for instance, maybe you now do not only have to state and/or clarify your views (remember, we are dealing with the apparent clueless, so they have to be damn obvious), but correct the person's own misconceptions. This gets tedious fast, but there is some contentment in it, and it can help one's reasoning process.

[Update: I referenced a reply to my comments on the drop-off of Supreme Court law clerks as well as the fact a few justices in particular have had a tiny number (25-2 sort splits). It seemed to me to set-up a straw man argument is a particular way that I just could not take seriously -- a sort of passionate statement of stupidity.

A second comment was not really better, but used a more polished approach. But, really I do not want to give him too much credit, since honestly I never find his arguments too credible. It also seems like he is always spinning, avoiding any trouble points. I really do not think it is just a matter of difference of opinion. This might just be me, since I do not tend to admit error, and one will find it hard to change my views based on years of contemplation and so forth. Still, his use of "qualified" and so forth is simply unconvincing. And, he has a bad track record, though maybe he thinks the same of me.]

On that general subject, it looks like my younger brother will be going to jury duty for the first time. No, though he has voted, Tom has not been exactly a gung ho citizen sort in his first few years of adulthood. But, this just makes him fairly normal. The charm of jury duty, even if it often is cited largely as a check against arbitrary government, is that it forces the general public to act like citizens. Once upon a time, we had a mandatory draft, which provided another way for (male ... Israel shows how this very well can also be women) the obligations of citizenship ("the militia" in this case) to show itself. Some basic educational requirements is a third area where this is shown.

All three in some sense requires citizens to come together and show how "the people" firmly has power in this country. Other voluntary groups come together for related reasons, thus the First Amendment speaks of the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. But, in many cases, the people have to be pushed a tad to fulfill their obligations, to carry out their power.

A power and obligation that supposedly furthers the public good, even if other actors in specific cases (a single judge) would supply the same results. Thus, even in complex civil cases, it would not do to take power away from juries. As to education, it is a means to prepare for adulthood, not simply the three Rs, but for public citizenship. All the same, the charm of (public) education is to bring together people of various creeds/races/genders/etc. to work together toward this end.

The role of the citizen can be dull. Surely, though people like Sen. Lieberman will go beyond the realms of basic decency to retain it, being a public official is much of the time. C-SPAN showed Rep. Murtha campaigning, shaking hands and such. Looked a bit bored ... but it goes with the territory. Such is the case with jury duty, which can be dull, especially if you are not called to serve. Some don't trust the people called. [I read a factoid once that juries agree with judges deciding alone about 80% of the time.*] Time has shown that trusting the "experts" can be problematic as well. Anyway, there are checks and so forth, no one group has all the power.

But, here in a republic, the people have a central role. Not to to protect liberties but because the service itself helps the pursuit of happiness. In other words, the journey itself -- not just the destination -- is worth the trip. So, run with it, Tom.


* The linked case also noted: "when juries differ with the result at which the judge would have arrived, it is usually because they are serving some of the very purposes for which they were created and for which they are now employed."