Author: denvirj

How a Court Stops Being Supreme

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Democracy's Constitution / The Sjupremes

The short answer is that the Supreme Court stops being  supreme when it allows a political party to dictate the substance of its judges’ decisions. Let me explain. A good place to begin might be 1990  when George Bush Senior appointed David Souter to the Court. Souter, a New Hampshire Republican, had served as a New Hampshire  supreme court justice before being appointed. Although he had a long judicial record, Souter had ruled on few […]

Guiled!

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The Sjupremes

Why did 81-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy, known best for his decisions protecting gay and abortion  rights,  choose to retire at the time that best enables Donald Trump to appoint a right wing successor who will most likely vote to reverse those decisions?  Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman  of the New York Times give us the answer.  Trump  “guiled” him. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/us/politics/trump-anthony-kennedy-retirement.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news Liiptak and Haberman outline a  “flattery” campaign aimed at convincing Kennedy his legacy would be […]

Smart Law

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Book/film List / Repairing the System

Identifying a problem is usually easier than solving it. Take, for instance, the spate of police shootings of unarmed minority suspects like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Proposed solutions seem to vary from mild responses like more racial sensitivity training for police officers to more punitive ones like heavy criminal sanctions that are never in fact imposed . UC Berkeley Law professor Franklin Zimring in his book When Police Kill suggests a more indirect, but […]

China Has Big Plans for Your Future

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Democracy's Constitution / lawyers without borders

When I first visited China in the 1980’s, the tallest building in Shanghai was the fourteen story Peace Hotel; when I returned a few years later, there were over fifty skyscrapers over fifty stories. So China’s economic miracle is no  surprise to me.  But up till now, it has consisted mostly of  supplying low price goods to Western consumers at very competitive prices.  Now  China is planning to provide over a trillion dollars of  capital […]

What it Means to”Think Like a Lawyer”

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Heroes

I have always been puzzled by the venerable phrase “thinking like a lawyer.” What does it mean and should we take it as a  compliment or a put-down? I think the idea is  best captured by a metaphor trial lawyers sometimes  use to describe the craft of a colleague they especially admire or an adversary they fear — he or she can “see out the front.”  It means the ability to look over a complex […]

Not Garrison Keillor!

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Repairing The Systen

It’s easy enough to enjoy some righteous indignation when the Roy Moores of the world are accused of sexual harassment, but I have a different reaction when people I admire like Garrison Keillor, Louis C.K. and Al Franken are  the accused.   But in the final analysis, if  they have done the deeds they are accused of, they too must suffer  the consequences. John Huston was one of the most important directors in  Hollywood in the […]

It’s the Little Things that Count

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Repairing the System

The New York Times  has good news to report.  It turns out that doing good works. Non-profits in inner city areas that have worked on mundane projects– e.g. planting trees, building playgrounds,  mentoring students, and finding employment for young males– have played a significant role in reducing the murder rates in American cities. Here’s the whole story.  

Time for Donald to Take a Big Fall

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Democracy's Constitution / Repairing the System

The title to Tim Wu’s op-ed in the NYT sounds the alarm– “How Twitter Killed the First Amendment.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/27/opinion/twitter-first-amendment.html?_r=0. . Professor Wu  points out that there has been a dramatic change in how speech operates in American politics.  Formerly, the First Amendment worked to protect speakers from government prosecution, thereby creating a workable national political discourse. But now censors in Russia and China have invented new techniques geared to the internet age that permit them […]