The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

What to teach law students

UC Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Cemerinsky and UTA Law & Government professor Jeffrey Abramson try to keep a stiff upper lip when teaching in the shadow of the most partisan Supreme Court in a century:

For the first time in American history, the ideology of the justices precisely corresponds to the political party of the president who appointed them. All six conservatives were appointed by Republican presidents and all three liberals were appointed by Democratic presidents.

If students are to one day become effective litigators on constitutional rights, they will need to understand the ideologies of the justices interpreting the law. In the past, we certainly discussed the ideology of the justices with our students, but we must focus on it far more now as the ideological differences between the Republican-appointed justices and judges and those appointed by Democratic presidents are greater than they have ever been.

Second, we must remind students that there have been other bleak times in constitutional law when rights were contracted. From the 1890s until 1936, a conservative Supreme Court struck down over 200 progressive federal, state and local laws protecting workers and consumers. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the court refused to stand up to the hysteria of McCarthyism. The current court will not last forever, though it may feel like that to them.

Third, we should direct focus on other avenues for change. Students need to look more to state courts and legislatures, at least in some parts of the country, as a way to advance liberty and equality. For instance, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law known as the “Roe Act,” protecting a woman’s right to abortion under state law, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

In case you didn't already notice it's 1890 all over again, I suppose. I also quibble with "For the first time in American history, the ideology of the justices precisely corresponds to the political party of the president who appointed them." I believe that was also the same situation in 1790, with the first Court appointed by Washington.

Evening reading

Messages for you, sir:

I will now go hug my dog, who set a record yesterday for staying home alone (8 hours, 20 minutes) without watering my carpets.


Just two of note. First, on this day 21 years ago, Al Gore conceded the 2000 election to George W Bush. Good thing that made almost no difference at all in world events.

Another anniversary is the one that happens every January 1st to works of art created a certain point in the past. A whole bunch of books, films, and musical compositions pass into the public domain as their copyrights expire, including:

  • The Sun Also Rises and Winnie-the-Pooh, both published in 1926;
  • The works of Louis Armstrong and Jim Morrison, who died in 1971 (except in the U.S.); and
  • All musical recordings made before January 1, 1923.

Have fun adapting!

Tragedy and farce

We're all set to perform Handel's Messiah tomorrow and Sunday, which got noticed by both the local news service and local TV station. Otherwise, the week just keeps getting odder:

And to cap all that off, the National Weather Service has announced a Hazardous Weather Outlook for tonight that includes...tornados? I hope the weather gets better before our performance.

Cassie is bored

The temperature bottomed out last night just under -10°C, colder than any night since I adopted Cassie. (We last got that cold on February 20th.) Even now the temperature has just gone above -6°C. Though she has two fur coats on all the time, I still think keeping her outside longer than about 20 minutes would cause her some discomfort.

Add that it's Messiah week and I barely have enough free time to give her a full hour of walks today.

Meanwhile, life goes on, even if I can only get the gist of it:

Finally, journalist Allison Robicelli missed a connection at O'Hare this past weekend, and spent the wee hours exploring the empty terminals. The last time I stared down a 12-hour stay at an airport, I hopped into the Tube and spent 8 of those hours exploring the city instead, but I'm not a professional journalist.

Spicy poké

I swear, the local poké place used three shots of chili oil instead of one today. Whew. (Not that I'm complaining, of course.)

While my mouth slowly incinerates, I'm reading these:

On that last point, comedians Jimmy Carr and Emil Wakim lay down epic burns against anti-vaxxers:

Thursday afternoon miscellany

First, continuing the thread from this morning, (Republican) columnist Jennifer Rubin neatly sums up how the Republican justices on the Supreme Court seem poised to undo Republican Party gains by over-reaching:

We are, in short, on the verge of a constitutional and political tsunami. What was settled, predictable law on which millions of people relied will likely be tossed aside. The blowback likely will be ferocious. It may not be what Republicans intended. But it is coming.

Next up, Washington Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga argues that the Major League Baseball labor dispute and the lockout announced this morning will do nothing to prevent baseball from continuing its fade into irrelevance:

What can’t happen as MLB and the players’ union negotiate, though, is the actual game they stage being forgotten. Whatever the flaws in its salary structure and the dispersal of revenue, there’s money to go around. ... What should matter more than the money, then, has to be the game itself. The game itself is wounded.

Finally, today is the 20th anniversary of Enron filing for bankruptcy. In honor of that history, I give you the Deodorant Building Enron Headquarters in downtown Houston as it appeared in June 2001:

Sure Happy It's Thursday!

Thoughts about Jackson Women's Health

Even though the Court probably won't release its ruling in the Mississippi anti-abortion bill until June, just about everyone has the same understanding about how it will turn out. No one seems to believe abortion will remain legal in much of the US beyond the end of this term. My guess: Justice Amy Coney Barrett (R) writing the opinion for a 5-4 Court with an unusual number of concurrences and dissents.

If the Court overturns or significantly curtails Roe v Wade, it will be one of the rare times that the Court has taken away a right. For all of the Republican Justices' and Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart's positioning that Roe was wrongly decided just like Plessy or Dred Scott, their analogy breaks down when you observe that in those two other cases, the Court also removed the existing rights of a living human being under state sanction.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh (R) got halfway to the fundamental problem with abortion law when he observed (at 106):

[T]he problem, I think ... and the reason this issue is hard, is that you can't accommodate both interests. You have to pick. That's the fundamental problem. And one interest has to prevail over the other at any given point in time, and that's why this is so challenging, I think.

Except he's full or shit. Courts decide where to draw the line between competing interests all the time. That's the point of courts, and the point of Roe v Wade. Justice Kavanaugh means rather that the court can't resolve absolute interests. If you believe, as the Catholics on the Court believe, that life begins at conception—that is, it's an article of religious faith for you—then abortion is anathema.

But if you believe, as the vast majority of the American people believe, that life begins at some point after conception but before birth, then you have to weigh the mother's life and liberty against the potential life of the lump of cells in her uterus.

If the Court overturns Roe, abortion will become immediately illegal or heavily restricted in 26 states, and may soon be curtailed in several others. Wisconsin, Arizona, and Michigan all have existing anti-abortion statutes that would return to full effect were Roe overturned.

The silver lining to the dark cloud of thousands of women being condemned to poverty, injury, or death because the state forces them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term? The Court will have to decide this case before the end of June, four months before the 2022 Congressional elections, as well as gubernatorial elections in the aforementioned Wisconsin and Michigan.

Finally, keep in mind that the Right has clear goals in the US and in every other democracy they're attacking: authoritarian rule that allows the rulers to pillage the ruled. Undermining trust in institutions is part of their strategy. And as Justice Sonia Sotomayor (I) asked rhetorically yesterday (at 15), "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?" Well, no, as anyone who has studied history can tell you.

And America takes one more step toward the Rubicon.

More reactions from NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist, the Guardian UK, SCOTUSblogDana Milibank, author Mary Ziegler, Billie Jean King, and to see where the Right gets their talking points, the Heritage Foundation.

Lunchtime links

We've just completed Sprint 50 at my day job, which included upgrading our codebase to .NET 6 and adding a much-desired feature to our administration tools. Plus, we wrote code to analyze 500,000 emails from a public dataset for stress testing one of our product's features. Not bad for a six-day sprint.

The sun is out, and while I don't hear a lot of birds singing, I do see a lot of squirrels gathering walnuts from the tree across the street. It's also an unseasonably warm 7°C at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, going up to 10°C today and 12°C by Thursday. So Cassie and I will head to the dog park in just a few minutes.

First, though, just a couple things of note:

And with that, Cassie has some running around to do.