Eyes Wide Shut

Written by: Tucker Culbertson If a picture costs a thousand wounds should that speech be free? If answering “Yes” stokes a market, causing thousands more such wounds, should we answer “Yes”? This is about dog fighting videos. By a vote of 8 to 1, the Supreme Court recently struck down a federal law which criminalized some commercial depictions of cruelty to animals.  Justice Alito’s lone dissent says most of what needs to be said about what’s wrong with the majority opinion.  I’ve written this post only to emphasize that the Court, and most commentary, has buried the real headline.

Asexual Orientations

Written by: Tucker Culbertson April 10 was rough on me.  A certain performer – whose work I find nearly wholly reprehensible – stepped up, spoke out, and seriously represented. Worse still, she represented me.

Brave New Eaarth

Written by:  Angela Harris “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” As the oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico reaches, reportedly, the size of Puerto Rico, and BP continues to attempt to take the responsibility but not the blame, we can recall Donald Rumsfeld’s words. Bill McKibben would like to add one important fact to our store of known knowns: The planet Earth we used to know is gone.

Kagan Criticized

Written by: Jessica Silbey Angela Onwuachi-Willig, over at Colored Demos, has this to say about the Kagan nomination. I largely agree with Angela and hope, because I believe that Kagan will be confirmed, that Kagan’s record on faculty hires at Harvard is not a blueprint for her aspirations or capacity for change as a Supreme Court justice. Being a consensus builder is important on a Court that is divided to promote institutional legitimacy and stability, but it could wreak havoc on principles of substantive justice if consensus means reproducing the status quo. The Court is rarely the institution that leads the nation in social change, but when it does, in those rare cases it is asked to, the Court’s members need to be ready to speak boldly and with inspiration…. Continue »

Teacher First

Written by: Jessica Silbey It is that time of year again, a glorious time for professors when classes are over and exams to be graded have not yet stacked up. We plan our summer and the projects we aspire to complete. I have always felt so blessed this time of year for the time the summer affords me to think hard and long about problems I see with the law and about possible solutions in the way we think or act in regards to it. This summer I am taking some time also to think more about teaching. I was at the annual conference of the Association of Law, Culture and the Humanities some time ago and was discussing with folks on a panel about “Law and the Humanities and the State of … Continue »

57 Varieties of Whiteness (Part 1)

Written by:  Angela Harris There were maybe twenty of them. One or two women beamed encouragingly as I stood up. I love the ones who support you: open faces that track your face, smiles and nods, puzzled looks when they get lost. But the bodies of the ones who drew my attention were rigid and tight. Arms folded over chests. Gazes studiously focused on nothing. I was there with my black face and my assigned readings to talk to this colleague’s criminal procedure class about race and space.

Dare Doctrine, Redux

Written by:  Jessica Silbey Back in 2006, the first time I (eh hem) tried my hand at blogging, I was all afire about various states’ legislatures passing laws to restrict access to abortion services. At the time, South Dakota had just passed a law making it a crime to perform an abortion for any purpose except to save the life of the mother, clearly a violation of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. I called it the “Dare Doctrine,” as in “we South Dakota legislators disagree with you Supreme Court of the United States and are calling you into a game of chicken. We know you have explicitly held otherwise, but we are right and Roe and Casey were wrong. We dare you to make us take it back.”

Discriminatory Arizona Law Measures Nation's Racial Sensibilities

Written by: Karla McKanders If Arizona’s passing the immigration law on Friday is a measure of our nation’s racial sensibilities, our country has a long way to go.  Our country has a long history of racial discrimination towards minority groups, including Latino immigrants. In the 1800s, Congress passed the Chinese exclusion laws barring persons of  Chinese descent from immigrating to the United States and implementing forced labor for those who violated the laws. California instigated the passing of discriminatory and racist exclusion laws. In the early twentieth century, states also passed alien land laws which barred ownership of property by non-citizens. These laws were targeted at Japanese immigrants who, as non-whites were barred from becoming citizens. In 1965, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, the Immigration Act was… Continue »

A Failure of Capitalism?

Written by: andre cummings In 2008 testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the days following the failure of Lehman Brothers, former Federal Bank chair Alan Greenspan told Congress, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”  Law and economics icon Judge Richard Posner wrote in 2009 a book entitled “The Failure of Capitalism” that “we are learning from [the crisis] that we need a more active and intelligent government to keep our model of a capitalist economy from running off the rails.” How did the economy run off the rails in 2008?  New revelations have just surfaced that should add additional “shocked disbelief” to Greenspan’s admittedly flawed worldview. … Continue »

Immigration Reform on the Back Burner…

Written by:  Karla McKanders Shortly after health care reform passed, Republicans stated that there will be no cooperation with Democrats for the rest of the year.  Specifically, John McCain stated “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They [Democrats] have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.” In addition, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, stated that he was withdrawing support of an outline for joint immigration bill with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.  The joint bill proposed a pathway citizenship for undocumented immigrants by establishing biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; strengthening border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers; and implementing a tough but fair… Continue »