Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Liberal Bias in Academia?

That sure seems to be the case according to this Washington Post article. I think this isn't getting much play because the reaction is 'well I could have told ya that'. I just don't think people are suprised by this. I think I lost most of my hope when one of my political science professors decided that part of our curriculum included learning that there is a conservative media bias. This was on an exam and we had to explain why there was a conservative media bias.

I think the next question to be raised is that conservatives, in academia, should be hired to create a 'critical mass' of conservative teachers. Diversity of ideas seems to be stifled by all these liberal professors.

I personally don't like the above argument because I have this crazy idea that hiring decisions should be made on merit alone, but if we are forced to accept the diversity doctrine then it should apply to all. The best test of whether or not someone believes in a process or the desired outcome they think that process brings about is to change the outcome and see if they still believe in the process. This could be interesting, but I am guessing not much will come of it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Big Supreme Court Hearing Tomorrow

This is the Grokster case that has to do with file-sharing. Should be pretty interesting. There is a New York Time's article here ( I haven't read the article, but I imagine it should do a decent job. Also I need to learn how to post hyperlinks. That would be nice and easier. Hopefully i'll get to read the oral arguments this weekend and say something about them.

They are out,29571.0.html

There they are. The new law school rankings. Two very credible sources say that these are correct and I believe them. If you check out Brooklyn Law School you will see that they jumped up nine spaces this year. Substantively I doubt they did much different than last year, but that has to do with my feelings on the rankings in the first place. I guess this is good news. I don't really know though because once I got accepted into law school I quit caring about the US News Rankings.

In other, and better news, I just invited my good friend to be an author on this blog. She is a much better writer than I am and a good bit more intellectually sound, so that should be fun. Also it will create more posts becuase I won't be the only one posting. Hopefully she accepts the invitation!!

Monday, March 14, 2005

George Ross

I just attended a thing at our school for George Ross, the guy on the Apprentice that is one of the judges with Trump. It was really good and I am really glad that I went. He talked about his career and told some funny stories. He said that Amaroso wasn't as mean as she looked on TV, she was much worse. He said he would field no questions about Trump's hair. That was pretty funny. He also talked about the deal that Trump put together that was his first real estate deal. It was really his first big deal. George drew up all the deals on the legal side and all the contracts and agreements for that deal.
The best part about this thing was there was a reception afterwards. George Ross came up and I was suprised that nobody was talking to him for like the first couple minutes. So a small group went up to him, including me, and started talking to him and asking him questions. He gave a lot of good advice and I just kind of planted myself there and listened to what he had to say. I was suprised that more people didn't want to talk to him. As you all know he is one of the top real estate lawyers in the country and had a very prolific career before joining the Trump organization. I think it was very helpful to listen to him give advice just about being a lawyer and gave a few points of advice that I think will really help in my own practice.
One thing I think that was really important that he said was to learn your client's business. You can always give them legal advice, but learn what they do and what makes them good, or bad, businessmen. He said this makes you infinitely more marketable and allows you to treat your client better. He said this also allowed him to change from just being a lawyer to being the person making the deals.
I wish I didn't have to go do contracts now. Oh well. good day

Sunday, March 06, 2005

just a though

I don't know if this has been brought up or argued anywhere, but right now I just had to read, for property class, Baker v. State 744 A.2d 864 (Vt.. 1999). In this case they pretty much say that homosexuality is a suspect classification based on Article 7 of their Constitution. (Again all cites come from the case and so I will not put in internal citations and say anything referring to this case comes from the case) I was thinking about this because of all the stuff that is going on. I was thinking about Carolene Products footnote 4 and think I have come to a conclusion.
Homosexuals are not a discrete and insular minority. Homosexuals come in all shapes and sizes and of all races and genders. They hold a plethera of jobs. I think they have a fair shot at political recourse. They may lose, but they have a shot at it. Let's not forget that white males, the most unprotected class in all of America, has representatives among it that are homosexual. So no I don't not think they are a discrete and insular minority that is disserving of automatic judicial protection.
I am still a bit vexed about the equal protection claim. First off I think a truck that wants to put it's own companies advertise on it and a truck that wants to put other companies advertisements on it are different. That is not treating similarly situated individuals differently. I know that this will be disagreed with on the whole, but I think it is true. The company that puts up it's own adds also cannot put up other people's adds.
How does this apply to the debate at hand. Well it will go something like homosexuals have all the exact same rights as straight couples. Neither set of couples can marry into the same sex. People will argue that the proper class is people that want to get married and that you are discrimination against certain people that are within the class of people that want to get married. I dont' really see this because I think you can seperate the classes into people that want to marry those of the opposite sex and those that want to marry the same sex. I think these are differently situated individuals. That being so you are still not allowing people to marry the same sex and treating that class of people differently from another class of people. Ok that may be true, but since you are not a discrete and insular minority you ought to take that up with the legislature.
Personally I don't really care who gets married. I dont' think arguments saying that the institution of marriage will be irrepairably harmed by allowing same sex couples to be married carry much weight. I think if you like that argument then you pretty much have to hate no fault divorces because they caused the number of divorces to skyrocket and I can think of nothing that hurts marriage more than a divorce. So that argument I just think is no good. So where do you go from here. i think it is a state issue. Vermont allows civil unions and it looks like Massachusetts is going to allow gay marriage. Great for them. Some states have decided to put it into their own constitutions that they don't want to allow it. Great for them. One reason I like having autonomous states is that they can choose to live differently than other states. That means those who hate gay marriage can live in Michigan and those who love it can live in Massachusetts. This is also why I agree with Raich in Raich v. Ashcroft. I think people that want to go either way should create movements in their states to push their lifestyle. Most states will respect your property interests once you move to another state so you can live somewhere and get married then move to another state and keep your property interests if you need to. What I love about this country is the freedom to be different. I think that also means the freedom for one state to allow something and another state to not allow it.

couple things

First Kelo v. City of New London has been argued in front of the Supreme Court. I don't know how I feel about this use of the takings clause. I mean I have serious doubts that giving land to a private developer based on the fact that the city will get more in taxes is really a public use. Now I haven't studied the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on this issue terribly much, but I do get the sense that it is kind of a political anomily. In cases like these generally minorities and the elderies are put out of their homes for big business to come in and create something. It seems like the perfect liberal chance to take a stand. Yet, all the liberals I know, especially a bunch in the UAP department at Virginia Tech, jumped up in defense of these projects. They were also big supporters of zoning initiatives that increased building cost because they thought that things looking good was more important.
This is also an issue where conservatives are against big business. They defend the property rights of the owner not to be taken so that somebody can build a higher priced residential development. They usually go against these extra zoning initiatives and for takings for these types of uses even though their 'base' is generally the ones that are benefitting.
Personally I think taking property to redistribute it to a private contractor is horrible. I think it is the Nanny State run amok. I would also think that minority groups and poor groups would hate this. Think about it. I am a private developer. I see there is a 5 square block 'slum' (or hood or whatever derogatory term you want to use) next to a downtown that is going through a revitilization. This slum is gaining in potential value because of it's proximity to downtown. So I want this property but I don't want to have to pay what it is worth becuase I want maximum value. So what do I do? I ask the government for help and tell them that if they help me get the land I will renovate it into expensive lofts aimed at young professionals making a lot of money with no kids (pretty much the ideal person in local governments eyes. Little money spent on providing them services, but a huge benefit in taxable income). So the government goes to the people and says we are going to spend taxpayer dollars to buy this land off you and you can't say no. Then the private developer buys the land up at cost and makes a fortune after renovations. Say things don't go as planned and the people won't sell their property. The government can then just condemn the buildings and kick the people out and then sell the land. The government is happy and the private developer is happy and the people that are mad can't afford to live where they were living and vote for different officials so it doesn't matter anyways.
I think this is horrible. You will be told that these new developments may have to be 5% affordable housing for low-income residents. What you don't hear about is the myriad of ways developers can get around those rules and in some particular localities those rules don't exist.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Roper v. Simmons

So i am reading the decision the court just put out. This case is a challenge to the constitutionality of the death sentence as applied to people under 18. More specifically those between 16 and 18 because you can't execute anyone under 16. This decision says that it is now unconstitutional to execute anyone under 18. this post may seem kind of cut up because as I read it, I read a bit of it earlier in the day, I am going to post reactions.
My first reaction is that they claim there is consensus against executing juveniles. They give some different types of evidence to support this claim. I will accept that a majority of states are against it. I dont' think that creates a consensus. I think a consensus being a general agreement of the whole sets a higher burden that just a majority. I think if 45 or 48 of the states were against it then you would have a consensus. In this case 30 are against it. That means 20 allow it. I think this is far from a consensus.
Next the court goes on to say that the death penalty is reserved for the worst offenders. They then give 3 reasons as to why juveniles are generally not the worst offenders based on their age. The court then says "these differences render suspect any conclusion that a juvenile falls among the worst offenders". That is all fine and dandy, but that is what sentencing is for. When in the sentencing phase you can introduce this as evidence as to why this particular offender doesn't deserve the death penalty. Even if it gets past the jury a judge can decide that the defendant has fallen short of the threshold and not apply the death sentence.
They then say that youths are more apt to reform and will stop participating in risky behaviors as they get older. First I don't think those committing murders where the death sentence is a possibility will be in society. They, at the least. will get life with no possibility of parole. Theis being so, why do we care what they will act like in the future. Next they talk about this like they are speeding or shoplifting. This is not risky behavior. This is soulless murdering. Very different.
They say a youth doesn't have the same culpability as an adult. Again I think this should be individually rendered by a jury and a judge. I am sure there is no difference in the culpability of someone who commits a murder a day before their 18 birthday as opposed to someone who commits a murder the day of their 18 birthday.
The court then says that this is no good because even one youth sentenced to death where the jury improperly attenuated his culpability is one too many. My personal feeling is don't commit heinous murders and you don't have to worry about a jury improperly assessing your culbability. Also we ask our jury to make this assessment for adults. I think a lot of this is a foreshadowing of the end of the death penalty itself.
The court then addresses the 18 year cutoff. They say earlier it was drawn at 16. They say society draws it at 18 for other things so they will do that. Basically this is a POLITICAL QUESTION. Why can't a state draw it at 16. There is obviously no constitutional provision that says you are not culpable enough for the death penalty until you are 18. Why not draw it at 21? The court can give you no answer for this.
The worst part of this whole opinion is the giant deference to other countries laws. We have our own Constitution and that is 100% controlling. They say this much, but right after that they ad that other countries laws "provide respected and significant confirmation for our own views". they are saying that since everybody else does it this way then that supports that we are right. I don't like this one bit. First, it shows that they are taking their own political ideals and making them law and saying that it is supported by everybody else. Second, we just interpret our Constitution. No other country has our exact Constitution. I will post later and longer on the use of international law in Supreme Court decisions. I agree with Scalia that it isn't good and shouldn't be done. Breyer needs to freakin quit it. Also don't think this is saying that other courts aren't smart or instructive. I think they are, but we can only decide based on our Constitution and we should be looking to our Constitution for the answers not some decision by a court not controlled by our Constitution.
One more thing about it. The court then says that noting other nations laws just underscores our beliefs. That is not what he is doing. He is using other nation's laws to justify his decision. He is not making a decision and then saying well who would have guessed that other countries think the same way he do. He is trying to sneak in international law which at best can be hoped to be a connondrum.
That is all for the majority opinion. I'll read the dissents and see what they think. Basically I think this is a poor judicial decision. I would like to think it would get overturned, but I think it is the first step in abolishing the death penalty. Lots of signs were prevelant that we will go that way. Then the court will pat itself on the back and say hey nobody else has it so we should interpret our Constitution according to their laws. Some days I am amazed at the wisdom of the Supreme Court and other days I am amazed at how activist they can be.
This is a prime example that tough cases shouldn't make bad law. Have a little faith in our jury system Mr. Kennedy.
All factual statements and quotes came from Roper v. Simmons 543 U.S. ___ (2005) I didn't put in cites because it would take too long, but everything came from that decision.