Category Archives: Washington, D.C.

Interesting Times

It’s been a week since last week’s primaries, in which Hilary Clinton was essentially the presumptive Democratic nominee.  Last Tuesday night, on Facebook, I noted, “Eight years ago, I was so moved to see history made when Barack Obama was the presumptive nominee and I so appreciated Hilary Clinton took it as far as she did then. Now that Hilary Clinton is the presumptive nominee, it’s still something significant that we’re living in history: the first woman all the way!”

(see here for that triscribe post from eight years ago).

I really felt moved by taking a moment that history was made.  I refer you to check out this item at NPR – it has a good overview of women in pursuit of the American presidency.  I realized that this could even go back to when Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, to “remember the ladies.” It took awhile and we’re still not there yet (like with all the other “isms”); it’s good to be reminded of history (or even “herstory”).

But, then comes the cold, unpleasant reality: this is a hard slog of a long, long campaign season that has made the process so exhausting and more cynical than ever and will continue to be so. In past triscribe posts, I followed the past presidential campaigns with interest, as history in the making.  But, this one has been really something – almost something else.  I credit Bernie Sanders for taking it as long and hard as he could, and reminding Hillary and others of issues that might otherwise be forgotten.  I really appreciated Bernie and Hillary for making the Democratic debates look like a show with adults.

But, the Republicans… their presumptive nominee leaves so much to be desired, in my honest opinion.  I had to turn away from the headlines of the rhetoric from him and his supporters.

Then, over the weekend, the news of the terrible assault at the gay nightclub in Orlando – I’ve almost become desensitized by the mass shooting events.  I’m all for thoughts and prayers, but I really wonder when we will do something effective?

So, in the interest of trying to point to some reasoned analysis of how much that presumptive nominee for the Republicans and how he’s irrational and saying things that don’t make a lot of sense: see Slate’s William Saletan (pointing to the danger of what Trump says), Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick (pointing to the mockery of words from Trump), Slate’s Fred Kaplan (pointing to Trump’s lies and absurdities in his anti-terror speech), and Slate’s Jamelle Bouie (further pointing to the lies and absurdities of Trump’s speech). I went Slate-heavy there, but let’s be real; it outrages me that the presumptive Republican nominee – that Trump – can go this far and could become president, undermining even thoughts and prayers for Orlando, where terror and hate have combined to tragic proportions.

Sunday night’s Tony Awards telecast was a strange relief, moving and enjoyable.  James Corden was a major fun host (not biting as Neil Patrick Harris, but with this odd sincerity and, hey, he already has his own Tony).  I liked the Gothamist’s overview of the Tony Awards, and also liked Glen Weldon’s post on the Tony Awards over at NPR.org.  And i guess I ought to end this post with words of hope and thoughts and prayers anyway.  The creative minds and talents of the Tony Awards at least said so.

I found some words that will mean more to you than a list of names. When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us. Today in Orlando we had a hideous dose of reality, and I urge you Orlando to remain strong… We will be with you every step of the way.

– Frank Langella, forgoing the usual thanks in his winning the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

[….] When senseless acts of tragedy remind us/That nothing here is promised, not one day/This show is proof that history remembers/We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger/We rise and fall and light from dying embers/Remembrances that hope and love last longer/And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love/Cannot be killed or swept aside/I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story/Now fill the world with music, love and pride

Thank you so much for this.

— Lin-Manuel Miranda, accepting the Tony Award for the Best Score for Hamilton.

Farewell to Argle-Bargle, Jiggery Pokery, and all that

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.  Here’s the in-depth obituary in the NY Times, by Adam Liptak.

Check out the link to NPR’s Nina Totenberg’s remembrance of J. Scalia.   I liked how Totenberg explained some questions of concern – the work of the US Supreme will still continue (that’s a given), but if there’s a 4-4 tie on some cases, there won’t be precedential value for some cases beyond the circuits of the cases’ origins.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has some analysis on what might occur with some cases, including the affirmative action case (which is back at the US Supreme Court again).  (I’ll also link Weissmann’s article on how the phrases “jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce” became part of the mythos of Scalia).

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick on how J. Scalia captivated us, even when a whole lot of us may have vehemently disagreed with him.  There really won’t be a US S.Ct. justice like him anymore (probably, anyway).  Lithwick’s remembrance of Scalia is also worth a read.

Personally, I wish we didn’t have to be so partisan right away about who will replace Scalia, since his passing was so sudden and shocking.

But, of course, the debating went into high gear, with the Republicans already decrying the idea of any confirmation of a prospective nominee.  President Obama is still president, and he has a job to do – pick a nominee for the Court.  If the Senate won’t do its job… well, I guess it’s on them.

See here in the NY Times by Carl Hulse and Mark Landler about how the battle lines are drawn.   And, as Lithwick noted, Obama has a lot of prospective nominees; it’s not like there isn’t a whole load of choices, even possibly moderate ones.

The Republicans might very well hit new level of ludicrousness here.   We might want to revisit how this country handled, say, the failed nomination of Abe Fortas under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, or the confirmed nomination of Anthony Kennedy under Ronald Reagan’s administration (under the final year of that administration, at that). But, we really haven’t had anything like this at all in modern history, at least nothing that might last a full year of a vacancy.

(NPR has an overview on the time frames and nominations of yore).

PBS NewsHour also has a nice review on how ugly this could get, without a hope of compromise (at least, nothing on the horizon, anyway).

It’s easy for me to blame the Republicans, from the armchair quarterback position.  It’s not like I’m the one making appointments or confirming them.  I did a search of Scalia in past posts on the triscribe blog, and as I said here in the post on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Oath,  about how things could get messy (and that was my commentary about the nomination of Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (later confirmed)): realistically and in a fair-minded way, I think it might even get hard to figure out who to blame in the long run (if, say, the President doesn’t pick a perfectly good candidate to make the Republicans look foolish here).

But, maybe it’s not about blaming anyone; maybe it’s about making sure that things get done and we don’t get stupid?  Or is that wishful thinking on my part?

At least there isn’t total ugliness: let’s remember that J. Scalia and J. Ginsburg had a warm friendship, despite the political and jurisprudential differences.  (I thought this article at vox.com by Dara Lind was interesting about that, in light of how uncivil our world is these days).  People are people and maybe we could look to our better angels and how we can be good to each other.

Oh, well, on a ice cold Valentine’s Day, there is a lot of food for thought.  Stay warm!

Legal Reading and Otherwise

So… the US Supreme Court got down the wire, as it always does during the last week of June, before it goes on its summer break.  Looks like the case on marriage equality is about 100 pages (majority and dissent opinions). They sure know how to make things interesting…

Meanwhile, I really appreciated that NPR shared on Facebook a video of their own Nina Totenberg giving a less-than-two-minute overview of those 100ppgs, with the interesting remarks of the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy and the biting dissent.  (NPR and its Facebook page).

PBS Newshour also has a nice breakdown of the case.

I also have to get around to reading the US Supreme Court decision that came out the other day on how disparate impact may now be considered as a basis for housing discrimination (see here for the NY Times coverage on it by Adam Liptak; here for the decision).  I liked the dialog/analysis over at PBS NewsHour on the case.  It’ll be curious to see how disparate impact might work in housing discrimination…

Considering how I had done a couple of housing discrimination cases,  I like the idea of having some more tools in the arsenal that would be helpful and housing discrimination is tricky business without effective tools.  Disparate impact would really approach it in a broader but targeted way (even if people feel uncomfortable about not looking for alleged intent, disparate impact really digs deeper into addressing social injustice by examining the effects).

Oh, and yeah, there’s that decision on the health care law (Liptak’s article in the NY Times here; the actual decision here).

Any lawyer can tell you that the constitutional cases aren’t short reads, but trying to get through them and make sense of them – well, not the simplest of reading, but it means something to me.  Fortunately, e-readers make that a little easier – at least, I’d like to think so, but I barely got to really reading last year’s decisions after downloading them and as a news junkie, I’d like to try better and as a lawyer, at most, I end up reading the decisions most relevant to my area of work – but as a US S.Ct. curiosity seeker, well, there’s a weird fun to all of this, whether I like how a decision goes or not.  (I’ve been a sucker to read Slate’s Supreme Court Breakfast Table feature every June the last couple of years).

And, while I’m not sure how the future will go, I’d like to think that the decisions this week were positive steps to a better and fairer society.  Keep hope alive, everybody!

Oh, and otherwise: my current reading is Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the first James Bond book.  Probably not legal-related as I can get this week; I need a break…!

(cross-posted over at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com).