Saturday, August 07, 2004

Judging Associations reports on an interesting ethics change proposed to the American Bar Association (ABA). The rule change would prevent federal judges from belonging to groups that discriminate against homosexuals. The ABA already prohibts judges from belonging to clubs that discriminate on the basis of race or sex (while the ABA has no official legal authority, most courts use their recommendations, with modifications, in forming their own ethical standards).

I think both sides have persuasive arguments. On the one hand, I can see how it would be disconcerting for the judge hearing their case to be a member of an organization which discriminates against them. Such a situation would call into question the impartiality of the judge. On the other hand, their are serious freedom of association issues at stake, and it does seem a bit silly to ban judges from working with the Boy Scouts or the National Guard, both of which prohibit openly homosexual persons from membership. Of course, that both the Armed Forces and Boy Scouts are WRONG in prohibited homosexual members is very clear. But I doubt most people who join the Navy do it to express a deep seated hatred of homosexuals.

An important issue that needs some serious thought, that's for sure.

Free Press Card

For LDers researching on the "Media Monopolization is antithetical to the Public's Right to Know" topic, I offer a quote from Pennekamp v. State of Fla., 328 US 331 (1946) Justice Felix Frankfurter concurring
Without a free press there can be no free society. Freedom of the press, however, is not an end in itself but a means to the end of a free society. The scope and nature of the constitutional protection of freedom of speech must be viewed in that light and in that light applied. The independence of the judiciary is no less a means to the end of a free society, and the proper functioning of an independent judiciary puts the freedom of the press in its proper perspective. For the judiciary cannot function properly if what the press does is reasonably calculated to disturb the judicial judgment in its duty and capacity to act solely on the basis of what is before the court. A judiciary is not independent unless courts of justice are enabled to administer law by absence of pressure from without, whether exerted through the blandishments of reward or the menace of disfavor. In the noble words, penned by John Adams, of the First Constitution of Massachusetts: 'It is essential to the preservation of the rights of every individual, his life, liberty, property, and character, that there be an impartial interpretation of the laws, and administration of justice. It is the right of every citizen to be tried by judges as free, impartial and independent as the lot of humanity will admit.' A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor an independent judiciary to a free press. Neither has primacy over the other; both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom of the press in itself presupposes an independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if necessary, be vindicated. And one of the potent means for assuring judges their independence is a free press.

A free press is vital to a democratic society because its freedom gives it power. Power in a democracy implies responsibility in its exercise. No institution in a democracy, either governmental or private, can have absolute power. Nor can the limits of power which enforce responsibility be finally determined by the limited power itself. See Carl L. Becker, Freedom and Responsibility in the American Way of Life (1945). In plain English, freedom carries with it responsibility even for the press; freedom of the press is not a freedom from responsibility for its exercise. Most State constitutions expressly provide for liability for abuse of the press's freedom. That there was such legal liability was so taken for granted by the framers of the First Amendment that it was not spelled out. Responsibility for its abuse was imbedded in the law. The First Amendment safeguarded the right.

You have to wade through some stuff about the importance of a fair judiciary too, but I think with some cutting it could be useful.

The full opinion can be found here,

Friday, August 06, 2004


The Budget Deficit continues to soar through the roof, hitting a projecting $445 Billion for this year. With the economy slipping, Rahm Emmanuel put it very nicely:
One thing we can say of President George W. Bush is that we'll forever be in his debt.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Real Flip Flop

I posted earlier about a hilarious Daily Show clip that shows that Bush is just as much as a flipflopper as Kerry ever was.

Now Richard Cohen writes an impressive article in the Washington Post detailing some of Bush's numerous flipflops.

I tend to agree with what Bill Maher said on Real Time last week though: that all flipflopping means is that you are still thinking about an issue and adjusting to changing situations or new information. And while I generally don't like him, Michael Moore raised a good point when he asked Republican Rep. David Drier if Moore or Maher's conversion to the Republican party would constitute a "flip flop."

That being said, I think that Cohen ends his article with an important distinction between Bush and Kerry flipflops:
But it is the areas in which Bush's convictions have not changed that are the most troubling, and this includes a religiosity that comforts him in his intellectual inertness and granite-like beliefs that are impervious to logic, such as his tax policy and his relentless march to war in Iraq. Flip-flopping, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder. It can be an indicator of an alert mind, one that adjusts to new realities, or it can be evidence of ambition decoupled from principle. With Kerry it's a mix of both. With Bush, who changes his positions but never his mind, it is always the latter.

On the issues that matter, Bush has only changed his mind in response to the political impossibilty of maintaining his current view. This is the case with the 9/11 commission, and it was the case with the department of Homeland Security. You will never see a Bush reversal on the need for constant tax cuts for the rich because their isn't as large a political upshot. And that's very disappointing.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Washington Gay Marriage Victory

A Washington State Court has just ruled the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage illegal under it's state constitution. The case is Anderson v. Sims.

Just a quick note: If I hear a single conservative organization saying how this shows how the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision will quickly be forced to spread across the land, I'll go ballistic. This case dealt solely with the Washington state constitution and how its interpreted in Washington. Every other state has its own constitution, with its own clauses and interpretations. So while, yes, the FMA would have stopped this ruling, that's only because the FMA contained a clause telling states how they could and couldn't interpret their own constitutions, which is ridiculous.

The ruling, by the way, was stayed until the Washington Supreme Court could weigh in.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Jordan Blasts PA

Thanks to The National Review for the link.

The Israeli paper Maariv reports that Jordan's King Abdullah has harshly criticized the PA for failure to enact reforms, a mistake that has severely hampered their efforts to gain an independent Palestinean state on the maximum amount of 1967-occupied Israeli land.

I just loved Palestinean Communications Minister Imad Al-Faluji's response:
It is a shame that the Jordanian king chooses to criticize one side rather than the other

By golly he's right! Arab states need to stop their blatant favoritism for Israel and begin acting more aggressively in support of the Palestinean cause!