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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

See You In June

Prosecutors Will Seek the Death Penalty for Dylann Roof for Charleston Black Church Massacre

Ugh. State is already seeking the death penalty. Question if the feds even should prosecute in a crime that is heinous but seems local (basically hate crime charges provide federal hook). There was already a big move by victims to forgive him and not dwell on revenge. Who knows the details, but there appears to have been an offer of a plea/life imprisonment on the table. Whole thing seems gratuitous even without double jeopardy concerns.

Anti-Abortion GOP Lawmaker’s Wife Goes Public About Own Abortion As A Teen

If you look past the pro-life language (it sounds like central casting), this account is in a fashion pro-choice. She made a bad "choice." She shows the problems of not having the support you need to make said "choice." She doesn't talk about criminalization. And so on. Various rather negative comments, not surprising, but look deeper please. And, I don't know what was really the right choice for her at the time. All teens don't abort.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Washington Primary

The particulars discussed here; Trump likely to win around 75%, being around 1200 in delegates. Kasich almost at Rubio's delegate count. Sigh. Is this thing over yet?! Two weeks?!

Update: Clinton did well in the likely more accurate/democratic primary but as noted in that link, didn't count. The "please Sanders (over the top baby?) when possible" point? Yeah. More: There were various unbound delegates and some have come out for Trump. So, he is over the top. Taking a few days off, but got to toss that in there.

Fun Guests Last Night ... Didn't Like the Bits

She was on Life Unexpected, a show that had potential but not quite good enough writing. Unreal might have been on my list if they stuck with Megyn Price (replaced after unaired pilot but might be on new sitcom) in a key role. Um. That top was a bit distracting. The first guest, even though I'm not a Game of Thrones fan, was fun too. She had fun with accents.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Orders continued to deal with juvenile sentencing and contraceptive mandate cases. Election law case disposed on standing. Alito/Thomas added a lot of material to both orders and opinions (two cases). Use of "amica curiae"; appointment covered here. Meanwhile, Clinton's anti-Heller comment framed as a potentially fairly narrow regulation issue.

Update: Here's a summary of all three cases that might be deemed "baby steps for racial justice." No concurring opinion (Marshall, Breyer/Souter noted support in the past) about ending peremptory challenges etc. As have I. That case is particularly about a unusual case involving a past era where such blatant gotchas were more likely. But, one step at a time.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Did this backwards -- back in the day, watched reruns of the t.v. show, then saw the movie and now read the book (almost a novella). All have their charms, each different in a fashion. The book has her stay alone, the movie has her find someone to love and the show had her more a regular part of small town life. Reruns on a classics channel and YouTube now.


Overall, liked this movie though it seemed a bit off at first -- like we were coming in a few minutes late to an ongoing investigation of the Church. But, that was okay and it was a good ensemble cast -- cf. this to The Big Short as a film, and you can see why it won an Oscar for Best Picture. Catholicism has a lot going for it, but it's pretty f-ed up too.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Abortion Ban

Was blatantly unconstitutional including under Supreme Court precedent though could be attacked on monetary/policy grounds too. The governor used a crafty approach (use as policy warrants!) -- a narrow vagueness reason that would apply to any criminal bill and tacked on an op-ed to change the Supreme Court. Her chances of being Trump's v.p. is trending up.

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's hard sometimes to not say something stupid ... but let's try to respect those who usually do not

In a blog's comments, someone linked "oh fuck" to a notice of Morley Safer dying. I noted that given his age, retirement and health problems that it wasn't that though rest in peace etc. Get a reply about how nice it is I'm telling the person how to react (I'm merely stating my opinion, sorry, don't have some special powers here) to some person s/he admires. Like I'm a little shit. My comment was misguided and so be it. But, you know, I'm not a little shit and there's a way to say someone is wrong without doing that. Get the situation.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


A few more opinions of some mild interest. Two are cited here with the blogger getting something of a special citation. Sotomayor (with Breyer and Thomas) dissented in one statutory matter. A third offered Thomas for the third time today in some fashion not simply to go along with the majority. And, as noted here, I'm sympathetic with the 4-4 results in judicial moderation idea (Garland helps there), but still am a #DoYourJob person.

Update: In a sort of addendum to Glossip, an Oklahoma grand jury report on execution follies was released; Chris Geidner provided summary on Twitter about sixty tweets long. Also, this article suggests how far the Overton Window has shifted. Now is not a great time for it, but perhaps a strong liberal/libertarian nominee would be appreciated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Primary Day

News of the day is that some Bernie supporters went overboard when their efforts to get a few more delegates in Nevada (which Clinton won a while back) went badly. Look like tools and makes party look bad too. HC wins Kentucky in a squeaker. Oregon allows Cruz/Kasich to obtain a few more delegates. Sanders looks to have won Oregon, 55/45 or so at this point.

Monday, May 16, 2016


The oral arguments are over; now it is time to clear the deck by the end of the term.

The fact that things other than normal decisions will matter even at this late in day -- thus even a full Court in May 2017 will matter -- was seen in the recent refusal to overturn a stay of execution (4-4).  Today is also a scheduled "orders day" and the continued low granting of new cases clearly grows out of the realization that a final settlement can be hard without a full Court. This includes various cases where the result is narrower than it might be to avoid division.  Some might like the resulting weaker results, but that doesn't erase the net effect of the whole thing.

The Supreme Court website, SCOTUSBlog and other places can be sought out to get information on the multiple opinions and orders handed down today.  Other than not taking a lot of things (Thomas dissented regarding a favorite target of Scalia et. al.), the opening gambit was a per curiam, which unsurprisingly -- the usual subject of such things and more often than not against the prisoner -- involving a federal habeas matter.  The technical question at hand was settled 6-2 with Sotomayor/RBG dissenting for the prisoner.

The "big" news of the day opinion-wise was that the Supreme Court (later orders applied it to other cases) punting on the contraceptive mandate case. They foreshadowed this result with a special order requesting further briefing that appeared to try to find a way to settle the matter.  A possible option was suggested in the request, which might not have been the best solution, but it would have at least settled the matter and probably would be mostly workable. Maybe, especially with only eight justices, the decision really wouldn't have done that -- it would have left things open for yet more objections. Now, it is up to the courts of appeals in the cases (most of which at first held against the challengers), and maybe we will see this back later.

Breyer and Kagan, for whatever reason, silently went along. SS/RBG wrote a short concurrence (everything was nine pages, pages of captions included) to remind that the Court's per curiam wasn't really deciding anything. The Court noted it wasn't saying anything to interfere with the government providing approved contraceptives without cost.  This is nice, but the ultimate problem here is that the exemptions will in some fashion "cost" something -- it's why they are exemptions, not standard practice.  And, this level of micromanaging for each potential issue imho is simply impractical.  In practice, certain views and subjects will obtain more concern, which results in religious freedom problems in itself. Religious freedom is a comprehensive thing.

Update: Upon reflection, a 4-4 evenly divided Court might have been the best approach.  Nearly all of the lower courts rejected the accommodations. Now, that is up in the air, Sotomayor's concurrence aside, one or more of them might take a "hint" from the request for further briefing etc. A split like that could have led to a few courts to accept the challenges (one or more currently; hard to keep track of all these lawsuits -- need a spreadsheet with these mass litigation efforts) but the government there might offer the tweak suggested in the order. OTOH, perhaps the parties would try to re-open things themselves but a 4-4 Court would suggest four justices didn't think further accommodation was necessary. Who knows.

There were other cases decided of more limited concern if having some importance in the long run given jurisdictional matters having a broad possible reach.  One case that might be most approachable for the average person since they might be familiar with the search engine involved appears to be fairly limited (Ginsburg/SS dissented, but RBG noted she agreed with much of the majority's position) without more. In reply to the link -- she's a good resource and pleasant Twitter presence (lots of tweets this morning) -- RBG notes how wrongful detail that wrongly pads one's resume can be a problem.  The case though very well might be the sort of overly easy case taken to draw boundaries without helping much long term. Sotomayor (a bit roving lately) concurred with Thomas in one of these opinions, maybe a first.

A couple other cases (with but one justice dissenting in one) helped start to clear the 30 or so cases still to be decided. One somewhat interesting involved using state letterhead when private parties are used to collect debts owed to the state.  This was unanimously found not to violate a federal law against deceptive debt collection practices.

Note: I added to my comment on the contraceptive mandate case and SCOTUSBlog has an interesting discussion of this one, which will logically get less attention today. The bit about the conservative appellate judge (probably on short lists for a Republican President) is interesting inside baseball; Sutton wrote the one appellate ruling against supporting SSM rights while also an earlier one accepting the constitutionality of PPACA.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Logan's Run

I saw at least part of this on t.v. a long time ago but saw the whole film now. A future utopia limits life to 30; it takes place around the time of Star Trek. The best things are some of the sets etc. for mid-1970s; less so the logic and the fairly weak ending. [The computer blows up; how will they survive in a world they never saw? Hard to handwave.] Overall fairly fun.

Update: Checking, my question is addressed in the books, especially what sounds like a rather dark sequel. Michael York (Logan) is part of the DVD commentary track.

"The Death Penalty & the Dignity Clauses"

Interesting new paper connecting the use of "dignity" in current equal protection jurisprudence and the like with the death penalty. Justice Kennedy is particularly concerned with dignity, but as suggested by my reply, not just him. Open-ended things like "unreasonable" searches, "cruel" or what "equality" means require standards and "dignity" is a concept that is used here. Also, no, the 5A doesn't prove the death penalty is constitutional.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ladies of Leisure

Barbara great; love interest a bit blah, but overall, very good classic film.

Cancelled Shows

Amusing "Adam" from Rules of Engagement ["Jeff's" new show was cancelled; wasn't that good] played a very different role and from what I can saw, Connie Britton was great. But, did not get into this show after watching a bit when it started. Nice outfit.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Forgiving My Daughter's Killer

The story discussed in this book (their previous relationship with the daughter's teen bf makes it a bit different from something like this) is summarized in this article. The mother with her husband founded "a charitable fund to promote forgiveness and restorative justice practices," which is a type of restitution that has positive public policy implications beyond being a reflection of their faith. Justice and religious faith comes in various shades.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Missouri man executed for killing deputy, 2 others

After the Supreme Court without comment refused a final appeal based on a broad argument against the death penalty (unlike some arguments, okay this lost cause received no comment from Breyer et. al.), a rather unsympathetic character was executed. The death penalty doesn't just apply to such people and even there problems arise including the lightening strike effect where one or two random horrible miscreants are executed over others.

Update: In another case, where a lower court held up an execution, the justices split. Stay remains. The assumption would be if Scalia was still alive, the guy will soon be dead.

Nebraska / WVA Primary

Trump dominated Nebraska (about 60% / 90% vote count in) and West Virginia (75%) while Sanders has about 50% (rounding, 15% was "other") in WVA (Obama only received 60% in '12 vs. a felon at the time in prison). Yes, still keeping track. Meanwhile, found a copy of Trumbo (documentary was good) that wasn't scratched. A bit simplistic but enjoyed it.

Update: Cruz retains control of his delegates in key states to have some influence in the convention, apparently, and perhaps that Nebraska result (after Cruz suspends) suggests some voters not quite ready to just accept Trump too. Stages of grief and sure -- someone with around six hundred delegates should have a say. To be continued.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

Charles J. Shields, with a fairly brief update that takes us to her death, provides a workmanlike biography of Harper Lee with a particularly interesting chapter (including this) on her trip with Truman Capote to research what later was In Cold Blood. There are no great reveals or unique special psychological insights but the basics are there in an easy to read fashion. Good details though story tapers off in the late 1960s.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Bartolo Colón Homers

Too bad it wasn't at home but there was a lot of Mets fans on board and Gary Cohen and Howie on the radio were both real excited ... like many watching. So fun. Mets being the Mets, it was soon 4-3 and we sweated until a couple more homers in the 9th made it 6-3.

Guam Caucus (D)

Things were decided rather late for Republicans this year -- Indiana being deemed the presumptive end (though by delegates, it wasn't) and Sanders still is out there rallying the troops. This is as it should be with CA and various other places left to vote. It's a bit sad that Kasich (never having a real shot for some time anyway) didn't stay in. Guam today. Guam concern: unjust they cannot vote in November. Puerto Rico (6/5) has own issues.

Update: Clinton won.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

National Day of Prayer

Today is not merely Cinco de Mayo but also the National Day of Prayer. I think it a violation of the First Amendment to specifically favor "God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals," but Obama tends to do things in an inclusive way.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Indiana For Trump ... Assumed Nominee Now

Trump is the chickens coming the roost for the Republican Party, even if some (but not THAT many) still are in the "Never Trump" camp. Indiana sealed the deal though its fifty or so delegates wouldn't have been enough either way. Kasich due to suspend now to totally settle the deal. Why not stay in to let dissenters vote for him? Bernie not ready, still talking "contested" convention. Kinda sounds like an ass at times, but hard to give up the ghost.

Update: To underline the point, Cruz losing does suggest that the few places left he seemed to be favored in would not vote for him as much. But, especially without the unbound delegates from PA, the math is still close on paper.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Bad Girls Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties

"In this innovative and revealing study of midcentury American sex and culture, Amanda Littauer traces the origins of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s." The book is a bit too much of a college seminar sort of thing, trudge, but some interesting stuff.

Monday, May 02, 2016


A few orders and grants of mild interest. Breyer continued his concern for capital appeals that last decades. A statutory opinion split the justices various ways depending on how they looked at things, suggesting law is a bit messy. Another Sotomayor/Roberts pairing. Except for the possible order, justices now will work on their opinions for a couple weeks.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Car

The Svengoolie movie this week was this 1970s B-movie with various familiar faces about a demon car. It was overall a pretty fun "bad movie" and a good pick if a bit "modern" (had to black out a guy giving the finger!) given the regular picks. Good Sven bits.