Wed, 03 Aug 2005
The editor (that's me) is away until the 14th of August, when posting will resume. Until then, feel free to browse the archives, and can we suggest you read about Judge Roberts here to prepare for the fall nomination follies?
22:36 - 03 Aug 2005 [/y5/jy]
Mon, 25 Jul 2005
For those who like Faulkner.
14:31 - 25 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Read these, and then let's talk about economic development, and whether what we do here in Rhode Island under that name has any useful function at all.
14:05 - 25 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Sat, 23 Jul 2005
According to this article, the Governor is claiming that "only Tennessee, Mississippi and California have rates at or above 7 percent," in service of a push to cut the state sales tax this coming year.
While technically correct, the statement overlooks the fact that counties and cities also charge sales tax. This is not true in Rhode Island, but it is true all over this great country of ours. There are places in over 27 states where the combination of state and county taxes is substantially greater than it is in Rhode Island, including much of California, for that matter.
The Governor, like his predecessor, has presided over a massive shift in the burden of taxes: from wealthy people to the less wealthy. Income taxes have been cut, capital gains taxes have been cut, corporate and business taxes have been cut, and property taxes have continued their rise. His solution? Cut some more.
Sales taxes in general are regressive taxes, but through targeted exceptions, they can be made less so. Rhode Island, by exempting groceries and clothes, does ok on this count, and the incidence of our sales tax isn't anything to be ashamed of. But the incidence of the property tax is highly regressive, and—what's much worse—is quite arbitrary besides. Shifting the tax burden further from sales to property taxes will only deepen our current funding crisis.
22:34 - 23 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Fri, 22 Jul 2005
(Tue 7/26) Useful links at the NY Times: a career summary with links to Roberts's decisions and opinions.
(Mon 7/25) Yet more update: A NYTimes article about whether Roberts' writings as a Deputy Solicitor General are covered by attorney-client privilege. Let's remember that the Solicitor General's office exists to argue the Government's case, not the President's. The President has his own counsel, and Ken Starr said that even those lawyers were not covered by the attorney-client privilege, so long as they were employed by the government. This is why Clinton and other White House staff retained their own private attorneys during the Whitewater/Lewinsky probe. The idea that any principle resides behind the unwillingness to share opinions or briefs written by a Solicitor General or one of his deputies is laughable.
(Mon 7/25) Still more update: Read this. (subscription required, but here's the money quote):
Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).
So presumably he would either vote no on choice, gay rights, pornography, or anything else that matters to the Pope, or he wouldn't vote at all? Isn't he essentially saying here that his first allegiance is to the Church before the Constitution? I wonder how he feels about separation of church and state.
Update: briefing memo from the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority staff.
Other links, mostly from dKos.
10:18 - 22 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Wed, 20 Jul 2005
It's been pointed out that what many (like me) fear most, is another Justice as activist and willing to impose their own personal views of righteousness on all of us as are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. To that end, one tack to take is simply to ask the new nominee about the most egregious of their opinions. My favorite: Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, from 1992, where Scalia seems to invoke precious little precedent and ignore the fact that the case before the Court had been rendered moot by the South Carolina legislature two years earlier. This case is the linchpin to a series of cases decided in the past few years that severly undercut the ability of any governments to issue land-use regulations.
To reach this decision, Scalia had to reach back 70 years to find precedent, skipping over all the stuff in between, and where he found it was in an opinion of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who might in a kind of convenient shorthand be called the antithesis of Antonin Scalia. But that precedent could be read to support what Scalia wanted, so citing him apparently was ok, despite their disagreement on almost everything else.
In his dissent in Lucas, Justice Harry Blackmun pointed out that Scalia was purposefully misunderstanding Holmes's opinion, and the others he cited:
[T]he Court seems to treat history as a grab bag of principles, to be adopted where they support the Court's theory and ignored where they do not... What makes the Court's analysis unworkable is its attempt to package the law of two incompatible eras and peddle it as historical fact.
Alternatively, one could ask the new nominee about Justice Thomas's recent dissent in Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al., where the important cites were to a review of English common law from 1765, a dictionary from 1773, and a 1888 screed by a freelance critic that was already the minority view then. A lot has happened since these books were written. Asking the prospective Justice for a scholarly critique of opinions like these would, I think, be a productive—and defensible—possible path to arriving at an opinion on Judge Roberts.
(There's more about both of these opinions and related ones in the current issue of RIPR.)
Correction: Lucas was decided in 1992, 70 years after the Holmes decision, Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon. Text modified to say so.
18:18 - 20 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Sun, 17 Jul 2005
An article in Health Affairs (subscription only, but you can read the abstract here.) takes on the ideas that our health care is so expensive because:
The study also points out that the US spends about 53% more per person for health care than Switzerland, the second most expensive nation in the world.
(There's a Projo article with a bit more detail, but navigating the Projo site is a pain, I find. It was in the paper edition, so it's probably in the online one, too, but finding it is more than I'm currently up for.)
23:42 - 17 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Tue, 12 Jul 2005
The July issue of RIPR is back from the printer, and will be in tomorrow's mail. It's mostly coverage of the Kelo decision, and a discussion of the sinister cabal that has undermined environmental protection and sensible land-use planning over the past 18 years, mostly abetted by some very activist judges, willing to make all kinds of new law.
Don't you wish you were a subscriber, too?
For readers of the issue, look below for links to the court decisions and sources discussed in the article. They make more interesting reading than you might think.
p.s. The pension follow-up and the tax follies mentioned last week weren't forgotten, but they've been pushed to the next issue by space demands.
13:11 - 12 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Sat, 09 Jul 2005
Read this, and then let's talk about real economic development.
For those too lazy to click, the story is about how Toyota is about to open a huge new factory in Ontario, rather than in Alabama or Mississippi, because of the quality of the education there, and because health care costs are cheaper there.
The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.
16:54 - 09 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Thu, 07 Jul 2005
Having nothing whatever to do with who might replace Sandra Day O'Connor, although they might help explain some of why that question is so important.
These cases are mentioned in RIPR issue 12. Links provided to those who would like to see the decisions for themselves.
You also might be interested in a 1998 report which describes the network of legal foundations and lawyers who made much of this work possible. (ok, not the Hawaii decision, but the Lucas and Palazzolo decisions, among many other terrible cases).
This article is mentioned in RIPR issue 12, too. It's a scholarly look at the "public use" clause of the Fifth amendment.
14:29 - 07 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
An op-ed in the New York Times points out that the Supreme Court Justices we call "conservative," are the ones most willing to overturn acts of Congress.
The late Justice Blackmun had a similar view of his colleagues (mostly the same ones). He wrote of his "conservative" colleagues:
the Court seems to treat history as a grab bag of principles, to be adopted where they support the Court's theory and ignored where they do not.
The current labels we use to indicate political allegiance seem largely to be fairly unhelpful in their literal meanings. When the "conservatives" are the ones seeking to overturn the established order, and "liberals" the ones defending it, isn't it time to demand some truth in labelling?
10:14 - 07 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Tue, 05 Jul 2005
On the value of the Bible as the last word.
The Everlasting Gospel (frag.)
This is only a fragment of a much longer poem Blake wrote (or almost wrote). Nine pieces of it exist, but it's not clear what order they're meant to be read in, what parts are missing, or whether he ever considered it finished. But the other eight parts are as provocative and intriguing as this one. One ordering can be found here.
* Meletus was the main accuser of Socrates, whose prosecution led to Socrates's death sentence by hemlock. Meletus, interestingly, was a poet and religious fanatic recruited and used by the other two accusers, whose objections to Socrates were more pedestrian. (i.e. they had a lot invested in the traditional order he urged his students to question). Who says classic poetry isn't relevant to modern issues?
13:56 - 05 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
Mon, 04 Jul 2005
Happy independence day!
Posting has been light while I work on the new issue. Due out Real Soon Now. Articles:
Wouldn't this be a great time to subscribe?
20:14 - 04 Jul 2005 [/y5/jy]
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