Author Archives: SHG

Schneiderman’s Pardon Play

Out of the blue, Trump pardoned Scooter Libby, which could only be explained as his way to send a message to his cohorts that they should keep their mouths shut and they too will be the beneficiaries of his largesse. Whether Libby deserved a pardon is irrelevant. It was clearly a message.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has a plan to thwart any Trump effort to use the pardon power to keep his minions silent.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York is moving to change New York state law so that he and other local prosecutors would have the power to bring criminal charges against aides to President Trump who have been pardoned, according to a letter Mr. Schneiderman sent to the governor and state lawmakers on Wednesday.

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Texas Revenge Porn Law Unconstitutional

Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, took another law down for violating the First Amendment. This time, it was Texas Penal Code 21.16(b), the so-called “revenge porn” law. In Ex parte Jones, the 12th District Court of Appeals reversed the court below and held that the statute was facially unconstitutional.

As has been argued from the day Mary Anne Franks began her efforts to create a criminal revenge porn statute, it clearly implicated the First Amendment’s prohibition against laws infringing on free expression, to which she merely screamed her denials and did her best to deflect by creating a fantasy interpretation of the First Amendment. The court made swift work of it.

In the instant case, Section 21.16(b) proscribes the disclosure of certain visual material, including any film, photograph, or videotape in various formats. Because the photographs and visual recordings are inherently expressive and the First Amendment applies to the distribution of such expressive media in the same way it applies to their creation, we conclude that the right to freedom of speech is implicated in this case.

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The Rat Prof Cometh

The notion of mandatory reporters seemed to make an enormous amount of sense at the fringes. After all, if a teacher saw her elementary school student with cigarette burns, how could she not report the child for protection? A child abused needed protection, obviously.

But then came the other end of the spectrum, where it was hardly clear that the child was being abused and yet the law required a mandatory report. And a child would be taken from her parents, put into foster care, a home, while an investigation was conducted. If it turned out that the broken arm just happened, because kids fall and get hurt because they’re kids, the solution proved far more harmful than the putative disease. But hey, it made an enormous amount of sense at the fringes.

When it was a matter of objective physical harm to a defenseless child, it was one thing. In the hands of SJWs, however, it goes off the railsContinue reading

Your Right To The Internet

The village square is empty. There you are, soapbox in hand, ready to climb atop and harangue the throngs with your opinions, your call to action. And there’s nobody there. They no longer have to be, as they’re busy on Facebook, or the twitters, or checking their Instagram and Snapchats.

Does that mean the First Amendment demands you be given equal access to the web? After all, if you’re not on it, you can’t be heard. Your voice may not be silent, but your words fall on empty space if there’s no one to hear them. The ACLU has taken the position that equal access to the internet is a right, and the government must provide it.

In a report issued last month titled “The Public Internet Option: How Local Governments Can Provide Network Neutrality, Privacy, and Access for All,” the ACLU calls on cities to build and operate their own broadband networks.

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Tuesday Talk*: The Hannity Exception

Granted, there seems to be no end to the peculiar, no, bizarre, twists stemming from Cooley Law’s most famous graduate, Michael Cohen. But even in the scheme of oddities gone wild, the hearing before Southern District of New York Judge Kimba Wood took a turn that only a made-for-TV hack writer could have devised.

Cohen, whose bona fides as a lawyer have come under scrutiny as a product of his challenging the execution of a search warrant for his records, claimed he was a legit lawyer and had three clients. One, of course, is Donald Trump. The second was Republican fund-raiser Elliott Broidy. The third?

It should be noted, at this point, that it’s entirely possible, and legitimate, for a lawyer to represent only one client. It’s not just Tom Hagen who did so. In-house counsel does so. Other lawyers representing wealthy (and litigious) people do so. There is no rule that says your law practice requires three, or ten, or 1000, clients to be a “real” practice. It’s real if it’s the practice of law. Continue reading

Weed and The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Trump has let up on it, promising to take away Jeff Session’s video of Reefer Madness. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner, has “pivoted,” now that he’s out of office and powerless to do anything other than profit from it, calling for its “de-scheduling.” And upstate amateur lesbian gubernatorial candidate and former Sex in the City lawyer Cynthia Nixon is running on a platform of legalizing it.

Marijuana. So what if Nixon doesn’t grasp the difference between jail and prison, or that among the many sound reasons to legalize weed, racial disparities in arrests isn’t one of them.* Continue reading

Harvard In The Eye Of The Tiger

It’s not that they wanted to be the wedge in the battle for affirmative action, but there is a dirty secret desire to end the discrimination against them, without becoming the target of the ire of others also fighting for their hegemony. Asians are in a very awkward position.

A group that is suing Harvard University is demanding that it publicly release admissions data on hundreds of thousands of applicants, saying the records show a pattern of discrimination against Asian-Americans going back decades.

The group was able to view the documents through its lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 and challenges Harvard’s admissions policies. The plaintiffs said in a letter to the court last week that the documents were so compelling that there was no need for a trial, and that they would ask the judge to rule summarily in their favor based on the documents alone.

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Short Take: Wrong Views Wrongly Destroyed

As a matter of policy, I support a woman’s right to an abortion.* It’s the law, though the foundation, Roe v. Wade, is a poorly reasoned decision. And that’s my position. But I recognize that others disagree, and I appreciate their arguments against abortion. I don’t agree, but that’s neither here nor there. They are entitled to their well-founded opinion, even if I don’t share it.

This preface is flagrant Gertruding, because what I’m about to write about would otherwise be dismissed in outrage by those who would impute improper motive to me. After all, why else would someone question what happened at Fresno State?

From a press release from Students for Life, an anti-abortion group: Continue reading

Fingerprints, Not Just For ID Anymore

The introduction to this Atlantic article is disturbingly shallow, ignoring the fact that the long-held belief that every person has unique fingerprints may not be the case, and more to the point, that the number of points required to make a match has been increased numerous times.

Fingerprints are the oldest and most widely used biometric marker. Artifacts unearthed from ancient Babylon, China, and Persia show that fingerprints were often used on clay tablets and seals for business transactions and official documents. The loops, whorls, and arches that emerge from the “friction ridges” that form on a fetus’s developing fingers become unique to each person, and it’s no surprise that fingerprint identification has also been the gold standard in law enforcement and forensics since about the early 1900s. More recently, fingerprint verification technology has become almost ubiquitous in our daily lives as an access key for everything from smartphones and computers to bank accounts, offices, and even health records.

So it’s unfair to expect much depth from someone who has no reason for knowing that he’s spewing “common wisdom” that’s kinda malarkey? Fair enough, although perpetuating myths isn’t really the sort of thing that someone should do if the point of their article is to raise a new problem in forensic science. Continue reading

Running, Running But Why?

If things are bad, the natural reaction is to seek change. But that ignores a truism, that things can always get worse. In 1994, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans pulled off a paradigm shift with the Contract With America. Then there was the Tea Party in 2009. Did they achieve what they promised? Anything? The answer will shift based on expectations, but one thing is clear. America wasn’t “fixed” as far as its national debt is concerned.

The midterm elections of 2018 offer another shift, this time motivated progressives, a very significant number of whom are women, have decided to run for office. One of the complaints was the lack of female elected officials, until someone pointed out that you need to run for office to be elected. If women didn’t run, they had no one to blame but themselves.

So this year, they’re running. That’s good. It’s always good to expand the universe of candidates from which to elect the people who best reflect what we seek in an elected official. But as much as you can’t win if you don’t run, that’s only the first step in the process. Continue reading