Category Archives: Washington, D.C.

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 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

Not in Arizona in November 2014

Welcome to the Not in Arizona edition, as triscriber FC and a whole bunch of the NY metro area contingent of the Asian Pacific American bar headed to Phoenix/Scottsdale for the National Asian Pacific Bar Association (NAPABA) 2014 Convention. But, I’m still in town, as a polar vortex is coming. I can handle cold, but this is bizarro weather. Global climate change is unstable and weird (and yes, I know climate and weather are two different things).

Some new New Yorker formerly from Florida wrote to Gothamist and asked if winter would kill her.  I had to laugh. I’m like: we have winter, but what we really have is something like four or three and a half seasons. If you want real winter, you would have to go up to Albany or parts north, where they get the cold temperatures and snow. Don’t be chicken about a NYC winter. (but ok, I get people are scared of cold).

Election Day – I think I’m away from the day itself to stop feeling bummed. It was not one of the better Election Days. People: you’re supposed to vote every year, not just every four years for president. Okay, off the soap box now.

Some exciting news: So, US Attorney Loretta Lynch of Eastern District of NY (covering Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island) will be nominated for Attorney General. Very interesting. According to the article, if she’s confirmed, it’d be almost 200 years since a US Attorney would get the nod to be Attorney General. I had no idea that such a thing would be so rare. Also: I’m pretty sure that (if confirmed), she’d be the 1st African-American woman AG. Also: Brooklyn!!

It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I’m doing it again. I’m not sure if this is going to work, but I had to get back to writing fiction. Legal writing, with the whole “the parties are [practically lying, etc.]; and the actions do not rise to the level of disqualifying misconduct…” can only do so much for me. And, my fiction writing writers block has been horrific. Spirit of NaNoWriMo is going to have to do some magic.

I’m still sort of blogging about my NaNo over at tumblr, although that’s lightly done, since I’m trying to figure out what am I writing… preparation back in October was not nearly as much as I’d hope, so there is a lot of “make it up as I go along.”

I’m writing about a superhero, who’s trying to get out of the business, but can’t quite do it. Oh, you couldn’t tell that I was thinking about that from the posts on triscribe? (see below on my rambling on Batman, “Gotham,” “The Flash” – and no, I’m still not on the “Arrow” bandwagon)… Anyway, we’ll see how this goes.

Doctor Who, Series/Season 8 (post reboot), is currently on a marathon on BBC America, as a prelude to the finale tonight. Plus the first episode of BBC Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) at 8pm, since BBC America wants to go all out. And I’m supposed to get outside at some point… and keep writing.

Meanwhile, over on “Elementary,” Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is trying to re-establish himself in NYC. I’m not sure if it’s working (he burned a lot of people by heading back to London to (unsuccessfully) work for MI-6), and his new apprentice is annoying (although the hints of horrific and tragic back story might redeem her – but her name of “Kitty” is… annoying).

Okay, back to (fiction) writing.