How Appealing

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

“Criticism of Voting Law Was Overruled; Justice Dept. Backed Georgia Measure Despite Fears of Discrimination”: Thursday’s edition of The Washington Post will contain a front page article that begins, “A team of Justice Department lawyers and analysts who reviewed a Georgia voter-identification law recommended rejecting it because it was likely to discriminate against black voters, but they were overruled the next day by higher-ranking officials at Justice, according to department documents.”

Posted at 11:40 PM by Howard Bashman

Life somewhat imitates The Onion: Last night, I linked here to a newsbrief published in The Onion headlined “Activist Wet-T-Shirt Judge Votes For Girlfriend.”

Today, The Los Angeles Times provides a news update headlined “L.A. Judge Ousted for Ethical Violations” that begins, “A Los Angeles judge who tried out for a reality television show by arbitrating a dispute between an erotic dancer and a strip club was removed from the bench today for ethical violations and lying to the state commission that reviews complaints against judges.” According to the article, “Ross arbitrated the dispute for television inside a Los Angeles strip club with ‘zebra carpet, neon, mirrors, pole’ and asked the plaintiff for details of the wet T-shirt contest she lost.”

Posted at 8:44 PM by Howard Bashman

“The End of News?” Michael Massing will have this essay in the December 1, 2005 issue of The New York Review of Books.

Posted at 8:28 PM by Howard Bashman

“Can I Get a Little Privacy?” Dan Savage has this op-ed today in The New York Times asking the question, “If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can’t the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment?”

Posted at 8:15 PM by Howard Bashman

“House Urges Ninth Circuit to Rehear Sex Survey Case”: provides this report. The text of the Resolution — “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit deplorably infringed on parental rights in Fields v. Palmdale School District” — can be viewed at this link. The roll call vote is here. And the Ninth Circuit‘s ruling in question is here, while my earlier coverage of the ruling is here.

Posted at 5:15 PM by Howard Bashman

“One Local Jurist Prepares To Join The Supreme Court, While Another Prepares To Leave It”: The most recent installment of my monthly appellate column appeared Monday in The Legal Intelligencer, and column is now freely available online at this link.

Posted at 4:40 PM by Howard Bashman

“Authentically Unhip”: In this upcoming Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine, Daphne Merkin will have an essay that begins:

Nerd. Dweeb. Geek. Dork. Misfit. Right-wing monk. Or, as some have darkly insinuated, a “determined reactionary.” Lord knows, you have only to take one look at Sam Alito’s college yearbook photo, Princeton class of ’72, to spot all the fateful symptoms, the revealing semiotic trail of blatant uncoolness, even if you didn’t know that he was a Nixon supporter and an R.O.T.C. recruit at a time when campuses across the country were jumpy with activism. First, consider those totemic Clark Kent glasses, a sure giveaway of hopeless doofusness when everyone was on to Warren Beatty-imprimatured aviators. Then there’s the ear-clearing hairstyle, which looks as if a mother had lovingly combed it, not to mention the lack of character-obscuring sideburns. And what about the set of the jaw, which appears pleasantly determined but not uncompliant, as if this guy actually believed people over 21 might have some wisdom to impart.

For now, the essay is available only to TimesSelect subscribers.

Posted at 3:12 PM by Howard Bashman

Mission (not exactly) accomplished? Someday, perhaps, I’ll be able to bring readers of “How Appealing” a message from David B. Lat, “Article III Groupie,” or some combination thereof. For now, here are my current thoughts.

Jeffrey Toobin’s current Talk of the Town essay in the November 21, 2005 issue of The New Yorker — which became available online and at newsstands on Monday of this week, and was then mailed to that magazine’s subscribers across the world — contains this explanation for why “Article III Groupie” decided to unmask herself: “Although he intended to remain anonymous, the success of the blog made coming clean irresistible. ‘I felt frustrated that I was putting a lot of time into this and was unable to get any credit for it,’ Lat said.” Today, U.S. Attorney David B. Lat’s authorship of “Underneath Their Robes” is the subject of an article in The New York Times, is a headline at The Drudge Report, and is the subject of an article on The Associated Press’s nationwide newswire.

Thus, Lat certainly has succeeded, perhaps even beyond his wildest dreams, in getting credit for his site. At the same time, sadly, since Monday evening the blog “Underneath Their Robes,” the site for which Lat desired to have credit, has not been readily available online because its password-protection feature has been enabled. Thus, on the one hand, Lat is receiving credit for the site from many major media outlets, while on the other hand members of the public curious to view the site are unable to access it. Having to take the site down so soon after Lat’s identity as author of the site was revealed could not have been the outcome that Lat envisioned.

The Bergen (N.J.) Record reports today that “A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was a ‘mutually agreed upon decision’ to remove the site.” That quote, which lacks any further context in the article, suggests that Lat’s employer, the U.S. Department of Justice, has “asked” him to take “UTR” off-line, and that Lat has agreed.

Reading between the lines, here is where I gather things stand at this moment. Except for the notable absence thus far of The Newark Star-Ledger, Lat is receiving an amazing amount of media attention for his having authored the “UTR” blog. At the same time, “UTR” is off-line, presumably at the request of Lat’s employer, the U.S. Department of Justice. Moreover, if the USDOJ won’t allow Lat’s earlier “UTR” posts to be readily accessed, it follows that the USDOJ won’t allow him to add new posts to the site. And the ultimate conclusion thus seems to be that if the USDOJ won’t permit Lat to run, or readers to access, “UTR” now that Lat is known to be the site’s author, Lat shouldn’t (in the USDOJ’s view) have been operating the blog secretly while in the USDOJ’s employ, whether he ran the blog entirely on his own time or in part from the office.

As always, readers with differing (or even similar) opinions on this matter are free to share them with me via email for publication.

Posted at 2:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Pa. Senate approves pay repeal, sends bill to Rendell”: The Philadelphia Inquirer provides this news update, which notes that “The raises touched off an intense populist backlash that culminated earlier this month with voters refusing to give state Supreme Court Justice Russell M. Nigro another 10-year term.”

And The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides a news update headlined “Senate repeals pay hike.”

Although the repeal purports to return state judicial salaries to their pre-pay hike levels, the Pennsylvania Constitution may in fact prohibit this diminution in pay. Perhaps some judges who are too old to care about retention elections will sue to invalidate this aspect of the pay hike repeal.

Posted at 2:20 PM by Howard Bashman

“Judicial blogger is actually male prosecutor, not female lawyer”: The Associated Press’s New Jersey newswire provides this report, while the nationwide version of The AP article is here.

Posted at 1:54 PM by Howard Bashman

“A popular search term: ‘Underneath Their Robes.'” This post appears today at “Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground.”

Posted at 11:50 AM by Howard Bashman

“Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs: When academics post online, do they risk their jobs?” Robert S. Boynton has this essay online at Slate.

Posted at 11:48 AM by Howard Bashman

Divided three-judge Eighth Circuit panel decides appeal seeking to overturn preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of Missouri’s revised abortion informed consent law: Today’s ruling, which upholds the preliminary injunction in large measure, can be accessed at this link.

Posted at 11:35 AM by Howard Bashman

“Let the Borking Begin: Alito and the Haynsworth playbook.” Horace Cooper has this essay today at National Review Online.

Posted at 9:45 AM by Howard Bashman

“Jury is still out on fate of lawyer-blogger”: This follow-up article on the author of the (now defunct) blog “Underneath Their Robes” appears today in The Bergen (N.J.) Record.

Posted at 9:44 AM by Howard Bashman

“Can Transsexuals Sue Their Employers For Sex Discrimination?” FindLaw commentator Sherry F. Colb has this essay today.

Posted at 9:40 AM by Howard Bashman

And then he proceeded to found a highly-acclaimed U.S. Supreme Court boutique: Today in The Los Angeles Times, Henry Weinstein has an article headlined “Both Sides State Cases on Death Penalty Bill; Supporters say it would stop lengthy delays between convictions and executions; Critics worry that it will erode fundamental liberties” that begins, “After spending 24 years in prison for the murder of a Long Beach man, Thomas Goldstein was freed in 2004 when five federal judges ruled he had been wrongly convicted, largely on the word of an unreliable jailhouse informant.”

Posted at 7:20 AM by Howard Bashman

“Alito Prefers Scalpel to Sledgehammer; Allies Hope Less-Combative Style Makes Judge More Effective in Moving Court to the Right”: Jess Bravin has this article (free access) today in The Wall Street Journal.

In The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse reports today that “Death Penalty Case Gives a Clue to Alito’s Methods.”

The Boston Globe contains articles headlined “A coauthor says Alito was instrumental in Roe v. Wade brief” and “Alito tries to temper his ’85 opposition to a right to abortion.”

In The Los Angeles Times, Richard A. Serrano and David G. Savage have an article headlined “That Was Then, This Is Now, Nominee Says; Alito tells senators that he was ‘seeking a job’ when he wrote a 1985 memo, and that as a judge he would not impose his opinions.” The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled “Insight into Alito.”

The Yale Daily News reports that “Profs say there is no consensus on Alito.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “Alito tries to assuage Democrats; Nominee says views on abortion rights ‘very different’ now.”

The Rocky Mountain News reports that “Allard says he’s firmly in nominee’s corner.”

The Denver Post reports that “Alito gains Allard’s backing for seat on Supreme Court; Colorado’s GOP senator says he believes Alito would not be an ‘activist judge’ who would legislate from the bench.”

And Bloomberg News reports that “Democrats Avoid Criticism of Court Nominee Alito on Abortion.”

In commentary, The Birmingham News contains an editorial entitled “Imagine Bush picking a conservative.”

In The Washington Post, columnist Harold Meyerson has an op-ed entitled “Alito’s Smoking Gun.”

And in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Judge Stephen K. Lindley has an op-ed entitled “Justices diverge in interpreting Constitution.”

Posted at 7:00 AM by Howard Bashman

“9th Circuit can be split reasonably”: Today in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Michael B. King and John B. Schochet have an op-ed that begins, “As Democrats and appellate lawyers who practice in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, we support splitting the circuit because we believe it is simply too large to function effectively.”

Posted at 6:50 AM by Howard Bashman