Category Archives: Washington, D.C.

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.

Spring 2014

Well, pardon the latest unintended hiatus…

One year after the Boston bombings at the Boston Marathon, it was great to see that Patriot Day of 4/21/14 was such great marathon day, with people taking back that finish line.  A big plus: Meb Keflezighi as the men’s champion! I remembered rooting for  Meb back when he was close to winning the gold at the Athens Olympics (still silver – no slouch), and it was great when he won the 2009 NYC Marathon, getting to be the first American in years at the time to have done that, and how he has kept alive elite American long distance running/marathoning. If anyone was going to try to pull it off to be the first American in 30 odd years to win the Boston Marathon, it’s terrific that Meb did it (since he did it before in NYC).

See here for the post I had on Meb’s winning the NYC Marathon 2009.  I saw there that I had a link to the NY Times article on Meb’s 2009 victory – and how poignant that it still reverberates these years later – that a great American story of victory lifts an American event (if you can pardon my being patriotic about this).

Meb is that great American story – an immigrant who keeps persisting, a lesson we can all learn. Boston Strong, indeed. (and kudos to Rita Jeptoo of Kenya for winning again and breaking a new women’s record at the Boston Marathon, and everyone who ran and supported the efforts!).

NY Times’ art/architecture critic Michael Kimmelman on an idea (just an idea) of a modern streetcar through the waterfront of Brooklyn-Queens, making more mass transit. I like the idea (I’m someone who is not impressed by the lack of bus frequency, especially on weekend/weeknights), since this could be a great alternative. But again – just an idea…

I’m not sure what to make of the US S.Ct’s decision, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al. – a plurality,  it surely is – upholding Michigan’s ban against affirmative action in public universities. I suppose I’d have to dive into reading the opinions therein, but I still find troubling Chief Justice Roberts’ belief that the way to deal with discrimination is not think/do it (well, I’m paraphrasing); it’s a nice idea, but it’s hard to get people to be colorblind when they’re not actually colorblind (or certainly not there yet).  The majority decided to defer to the Michigan voters, so, ok, democracy wins; but I don’t necessarily think that voters always do the right thing.

Slate’s Emily Bazelon did a review of the decision, and comes to the conclusion that I couldn’t help having:


I can’t read this without noting that in previous cases, Roberts has expressed his preference for color-blindness. This is where the conservatives on the court lose me. Good faith or no, it is at odds with reality to imagine that race no longer matters. I hope the states that ban affirmative action continue to enroll more low-income students as they also find ways to admit black and Hispanic applicants. But we still live in a world of race and class considerations. Not either/or.

Emil Guillermo also breaks down the plurality, with the twist reflecting on the climate we are in concerning, say, campaign financing:
But it’s likely that we will see future electoral battles over state and local propositions, now unfettered by campaign finance limits from special interests.  But will people of color be affirmed or will we see the tyranny of the majority? If it’s the latter, then this will be the 6-2 decision that cleared the way.
(h/t AALDEF’s home of the Guillermo post).
So, what’s next?  NY Times’ Tamar Lewin covers the question of how to tackle diversity.  The anti-affirmative action crowd seems to have race stuck in the brain, when there is a way to define diversity as more than race and when it is actually about getting as much people (critical mass, one would think) together, even listening to opinions that are really disagreeable. The article closes with a clincher for me:

Kati Haycock, president of the liberal Education Trust, said she could not deny that most people who follow the Supreme Court believe the clock is running out on race-based admissions policies.

“I just keep wishing that the people who spend so much time trying to end racial preferences in higher ed would work to end the racial differences in the education we provide K-12, which is why we need the racial preferences,” she said

That’s a big issue: if primary and secondary education in this country weren’t of such varying qualities, college readiness and people’s jobs options would be a hell of a lot better. We could say that the American dream is there for us all, except for some reason, it isn’t.  If, say, NYC, weren’t so socially and demographically segregated (de facto, not de jure), maybe we wouldn’t wonder why discrimination (as a matter of social practice, forget as law) wouldn’t still be on our minds (at least for those of us who feel it’s still going on).  I’m rambling, but I feel kind of down about how diversity can still be a real thing (and I believe that it is a good thing, and that affirmative action as a remedy shouldn’t be gone yet).

Meanwhile, Above the Law‘s Elie Mystal seems to be optimistic, citing three reasons why there is still hope for affirmative action: (1) “It’s up to the voters” (i.e., this case was about process, not the substantive policy itself); (2) “College Admissions Committees are smarter than voters” (i.e., they’re looking for students who actually want to be in their schools and make their schools great places – so the holistic approaches are still around, and admissions processes are way more complicated than we think – and it’s not just GPA’s and SAT’s or ACT’s – we’d hope); and (3) “Private Colleges are still awesome” (because this case only affects pubic institutions; a voting initiative isn’t necessarily going to tell a private school what to do).  Elie Mystal says it with a lot of sense, closing:

Today’s decision was “bad” for supporters of affirmative action, but the program is going to continue in various forms.

You know why? Because it works. Affirmative action has been wildly successful, both at giving minorities opportunities and for creating a better, more diverse learning environment. Schools aren’t going to easily give up something that works so well, even if the Court says that they can.

Last but not least: the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but in some ways, because we still have his writings and the legacy that they have – well, he has become a little immortal, much like other great writers who have reached a pinnacle and have an impact. I liked listening to the NPR remembrance; in discussing Garcia Marquez’s work, it included actor Hector Elizondo’s reading an excerpt of a Garcia Marquez book.  It just sounded so good – good writing and a good voice actor. I read Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold earlier this spring – and while it wasn’t as much of magic realism, the (lack of) social justice and other questions made it quite a read.  I still have ways to go to read more of his work (One Hundred Days of Solitude is still on my perpetually long to read list), but I’m glad that I started an effort and maybe I should keep going with it.  It’s spring and it’s time for some renewal and re-energizing.