By Dan Brillman
Do Americans have a codependent relationship with a
document? Georgetown Law Professor Louis Michael Seidman thinks
so. In a New York Times op-ed, Seidman says it's time leaders in
Washington treated the U.S. Constitution less as scripture and
more as a travel guide.
The idea might seem radical, but Seidman says his only
regret is that it took him almost 40 years of teaching Con Law
to reach it. "Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us
with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the
merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse," he
Seidman points to many examples of legislative, executive
and judicial digression from the Constitution, such as the
scrapped Articles of Confederation, The Emancipation
Proclamation and the landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of
Education. In that case, Justice Robert H. Jackson even said he
cast his vote out of a sense of moral right, though it
contradicted a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
While most of the judicial debates center on the "original"
versus "interpretive" reading of constitutional law, Seidman
says that's almost beside the point. If your arguments are
forever tethered to how you view a document, he muses,
"whichever your philosophy, many of the results -- by definition
-- must be wrong."
Who wants to see a millionaire?
By Eileen Daspin
GOP strategist Karl Rove and his conservative allies are
invoking a landmark civil rights case to defend the right of
rich political donors to keep their identities secret, accordingto NPR. In the 2012 campaign season, secret money played a huge
role, the station says, with the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation
reporting that secretly funded groups spent well over $200 million, primarily on behalf of Republicans. But as some
election monitoring groups and members of the media continue to
accuse the super PAC funds of hiding donors' identities,
conservatives are fighting back.
"I think it's shameful," Rove said on Fox News. "I think
it's a sign of their fear of democracy. And it's interesting
that they have antecedents, and the antecedents are a bunch of
segregationist attorney generals trying to shut down the NAACP."
Rove apparently is referring to NAACP v. Alabama, a landmark
case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the NAACP could keep
its membership records secret because members were being
harassed, firebombed and threatened following the Montgomery bus
boycott, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to
a white woman. The court found that revealing the names of the
members would violate their First Amendment rights.
"You look at the kind of intimidation and harassment that
has occurred in the past year or two towards conservative
political donors, and it makes you realize that the Supreme
Court got it right," says Heritage Foundation legal fellow Hans
Courts have never extended NAACP v. Alabama to cover donors.
In a related 2010 case challenging a state disclosure law, the
Supreme Court ruled that people who had petitioned against gay
marriage had no right to secrecy. NPR describes Justice Antonin
Scalia as "scathing" in his ruling. "Running a democracy takes a
certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does
not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls," the
Similarly, University of Chicago Law School, constitutional
scholar Geoffrey Stone is skeptical of the conservatives'
argument and tells NPR that proponents are "a bunch of overly
sensitive, thin-skinned billionaires who want to be able to have
profound influence on the political process without being in any
App-y New Year
By Eileen Daspin
Are you a lawyer looking for tech innovations to help make
your practice easier to manage? Legalproductivity.com, a site
that tracks the business of law, offers a list of the 10 most
popular apps featured in its App of the Week series in 2012,
based on the number of page views each program received.
At the top of the heap is Card Munch, a free app from the
folks at networking site LinkedIn that allows users to turn
business cards into contacts. According to
legalproductivity.com, all you do is snap a picture of a
business card from within the app and, presto, the information
is transcribed by LinkedIn into a contact on the iPhone or other
Apple device. Not quite as cool, but arguably just as useful, is
the mobile version of Bluebook, the ever expanding style guide
for legal citation, which is available for $39.99 on all Apple
iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Our favorite might be Smart Dockets, an app that aims to
remove scheduling errors, which, according to the site, are a
leading cause of legal malpractice lawsuits. Smart Dockets is
free and lets lawyers and their assistants calculate dates and
deadlines using court rules. If you've got some app you love
that isn't mentioned on the list, you can suggest it to
Summary Judgments for December 28
Summary Judgments for December 27
Summary Judgments for December 26
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