Law, politics, pop culture, sports, and a touch of Oregon.
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Reader BDM checks in, wondering what I think of the nomination of Third Circuit Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, and instead is aghast that I am pro-DH. I suppose I'll have to defend my view some other time.
As far as Judge Alito goes, I just have a few preliminary thoughts:
1) He is obviously well-qualified for the position.
2) I think it's too bad that President Bush drew the wrong lessons from the Miers fiasco. The problem with Harriet Miers, as I see it, was not that she was a woman, or that she had never been a judge. It was primarily that she was not perceived as sufficiently qualified or credentialed. That perception may have been based on unfair characteristics (such as where she went to law school) but it was also driven by some strong and appropriate concerns (her badly written questionnaire responses). Bush could have nominated Maureen Mahoney, another non-judge who nevertheless had stellar credentials (Chicago law school, for those school snobs; former Rehnquist clerk; former Deputy Solicitor General; Latham partner; won 11 of 12 cases argued before the Supreme Court), who I think would have brought a valuable and different perspective to the Court for simply not having been a judge before.
Yes, some conservatives would have questioned her Republican credentials given that she successfully defended the Michigan law school's affirmative action program, but I think she responds to that by borrowing a chapter from John Roberts' playbook: she's a lawyer, and UM came to her first. If Barbara Grutter had come to her first, she would have taken that side.
We just got back from my cousin-in-law's wedding in Chicago. The most notable thing was that, as we were waiting for a cab from O'Hare to our hotel, my wife pointed out to me that right behind us in line was Michael T. Weiss, who starred as supergenius Jarod in "The Pretender," one of my favorite shows from the 1990s (kind of like "The Fugitive" crossed with "Real Genius," with healthy doses of an "The X-Files"-like conspiracy backdrop involving "The Centre").
I waited until he was in a lull in his conversation with his friend/assistant/bodyguard? and then told him that I loved his show. He smiled and said, "Thank you."
Having spent much of my life in Los Angeles, I can't help but have seen numerous celebrities in person, the more notable ones being Sylvester Stallone, Mike Farrell, Eddie Murphy, Joey Lauren Adams, and Sandra Bullock's sister. It makes you a little less star-struck, perhaps, and in any event, I can see how celebrities might feel hassled if they're constantly asked for autographs, pictures, etc. Hopefully, a polite acknowledgment of how much I enjoyed his work on "The Pretender" was appreciated.
You don't often get second chances before the Supreme Court, but suspected terrorist Jose Padilla is taking his shot with a cert. petition seeking review of the Fourth Circuit opinion holding that under the government's version of the facts (as stipulated by Padilla for the purposes of the motion at issue) he could be detained an enemy combatant.
The cert. petition, authored by Stanford law prof Jenny Martinez, makes two main arguments: (1) the Fourth Circuit erred in construing the congressional Authorization to Use Military Force as granting the President the power to detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil; and (2) the indefinite nature of Padilla's detention is causing him irreparable harm.
On the first argument, the Court had, in the Hamdi case, concluded that the President did have the power to detain a U.S. citizen captured in a foreign combat zone. Although there is a Non-Detention Act that prohibits the detention of U.S. citizens except by Act of Congress, the Court concluded that the AUMF constituted such an Act of Congress.
The cert. petition seizes upon the distinction between foreign combat zones and U.S. soil to argue that Hamdi does not control this situation, and that Congress did not intend for the AUMF to extend to U.S. citizens captured in the country.
As to the second argument, I do think that the indefinite nature of this war on terrorism means that traditional law of war arguments are slightly inapposite. There needs to be some endpoint analogous to the signing of an armistice that ends a nation-state conflict. The dangerousness hearings that I argue for in this article would create a transparent model for determining such an endpoint with respect to individual detainees.
 I say "concluded," but the plurality opinion only had 4 votes. Add to that, however, Justice Thomas, who dissented because he thought the President had full authority to detain Hamdi under inherent Commander-in-Chief powers.
She's withdrawn, and there's plenty of time to play the guessing game about who's next. I will say that as someone who hadn't reached the point of declared opposition to her nomination but who was quite skeptical, I find myself feeling somewhat bad for her. Of course, it's easy for people to say that when offered the nomination, she should have declined, but I suspect that's the sort of thing that's easier said than done.
To the extent that this fiasco was apparent at the outset, it's the President and his other advisors who deserve the lion's share of the blame, not Ms. Miers. They are the ones who should have been objective enough to see the problems.
So just like last year, the National League team in the World Series failed to win a single game. How lame is that? It's happened three times where in back-to-back years, one league's representative has failed to win a single game, and you guessed it, it was the National League that was swept back-to-back all three times.
If it's not already clear, I much prefer the American League. It's got better ballparks (no more of those cookie cutter ballparks like they have in St. Louis and Pittsburgh), more interesting teams, and most importantly, the DH.
Yes, I am a DH supporter. Nothing is as boring as watching the pitcher go up to the plate and "attempt" to hit the ball.
A couple of book buying dilemmas I find myself facing:
1) ebay or amazon? I recently picked up a used copy of Richard K. Morgan's Woken Furies on ebay for about $6 cheaper than I could have at amazon, but when I think about it, maybe I shouldn't opt for used books unless the book is out of print. After all, the author gets no royalty from a used book sale, and if everyone did what I did (well, the market would dry up, but that's another story. . . .), the author would stop writing books.
2) Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer . . . read or skip? I've read every one of Connelly's mysteries/thrillers to date, but I'm not really a fan of legal novels, which this one is. Perhaps that's strange, given my profession and educational degree, but I also don't really like legal dramas on TV. The one exception is "Boston Legal," but that show is so over the top that it's not really about the law.
3) Any other recommendations out there? EBuz has recommended Margaret Atwood's The Handmaiden's Tale, which I've added to my amazon wish-list. (Previously, EBuz had suggested that I read more books written by women authors, which is probably a worthwhile suggestion but somewhat hard to implement unguided.) When it comes to fiction, the genres that I read are: (a) hard-boiled mysteries, exemplified by the Philip Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler; (b) adventure thrillers, of which I've found that I really like ones written by British Cold War era authors such as Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Gavin Lyall, and Duncan Kyle; and(c) modern day or near future sci-fi, such as Michael Crichton's books (which would be much better if he weren't so pretentious about his science) and Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. If readers (EBuz?) have any suggestions in those categories, please comment away. (And yes, for those who have read Richard Morgan's Kovacs novels, I am aware of Chris(tine?) Moriarty's Spin State, which I have but haven't read yet.