Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ah, Politics

You knew with Dubya and Cheney in the White House it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a really clever slogan for the upcoming election. Voila, Abstinence Tour 2004. It's slogan: "Practice abstinence: No Bush, No Dick."

Monday, June 28, 2004

If Only All Operas Were Like This

A modern production of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio in Berlin is raising a ruckus. The revised opera, originally set in a Turkish palace, is set in a brothel and includes "prostitutes, full-frontal nudity, drugs and sadistic violence." One corporate sponsor of the opera house, DaimlerChrylser, is not amused. An adviser to the DC chairman said "[w]hen the prostitutes were massacred on stage I had to leave." Well, of course - why stick around once the T&A has been killed off?

Forever Holding Your Peace

ReasonOnline has a column about last week's Supreme Court decision in Hiibel, in which the Court held that you must answer a police inquiry into your identity if the police had reasonable suspicion to seize you. The column points out some of the practical problems arising from the decision, and concludes that it is much worse for personal liberties than other commentators claim.

More Blakely Fallout

Pundits and commentators continue to weigh the impact of last week's Blakely decision by the Supreme Court. Articles from The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times give a pretty good overview of the situation. For more updates and discussion, head over to Blakely Blawg.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Guideline Requiem

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the Supreme Court's Blakely decision, which seems to spell the end of the US Sentencing Guidelines, as we know them. As I worked on a brief on that point this afternoon, I thought of three possible scenarios as to how this might develop.

First, the federal courts could just stick their collective heads in the sand (or elsewhere) and make a meaningless distinction between the USSG and the Washington scheme overturned in this case. If that could reach the Supremes, one of the majority Justices from Blakely might have enough buyer's remorse to save the USSG. This would, in my opinion, require considerable self-delusion and intellectual slight of hand. It's hard to believe that federal defendants on the wrong end of even worse enhancements than Blakely received wouldn't engender some sympathy.

Second, the courts could seize on a potential limiting factor in Blakely I found this morning. The "enhancement" at issue in Blakely was closer to an "upward departure", as understood in the federal system, than an "enhancement." A court could apply Blakely to USSG departures but not run of the mill offense level increases. Based only on an evaluation of the Washington scheme, that's a plausible argument. Again, however, one would need to ignore a colossal amount of Scalia's opinion about the Constitutional requirement that sentences be based on facts found by a jury. But it's possible.

Finally, of course, the courts could just submit to the inevitable and declare the USSG unconstitutional. That may happen in some districts, we'll have to wait and see.

I have no idea what will eventually end up happening. I know which one I'll be arguing for, tho'.

As the War Turns (Against Dubya)

CNN reports that, for the first time, a poll shows that a majority of Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake and that it has not made the country any safer. If only some other presidential candidate were able to seize that momentum . . .

Jerkin' Justice

Sometimes I wonder what makes people do the things they do. Rank stupidity is a leading theory, but even it doesn't explain this. The Oklahoma Attorney General has filed suit to remove a state court judge who was caught, among other things, masturbating (or "whackin' the criminal") while on the bench. Well, actually underneath the bench, but you get the point. A penis pump is also involved. The thought processes of said judge escape me. As someone said on Bob & Tom this morning, no wonder justice is blind.

Dog Days Are Here

I came home to find a real treat in my mailbox, the new Mike Keneally Band opus Dog. The spiffy version I got came complete with a second CD EP (Pup) and a DVD that promises "an unreasonably generous audiovisual extravaganza." I don't doubt it. So what the fuck are you waiting for?!? Go get yourself one right the heck now!

All this, Blakely, and ALMS at Mid-Ohio in one week - life is good. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The World Turned Upside Down

As the Supreme Court steams towards the end of its current term, major decisions are beginning to come down. News accounts of today's action will no doubt focus on cases involving Dick Cheney and the death penalty. The most important in the long run, however, may be Blakely v. Washington, which declared Washington's sentencing scheme unconstitutional.

Blakely abducted his wife and later pled guilty to kidnapping, a charge that carried a 10-year statutory maximum sentence. The Washington sentencing guidelines, created by the state legislature, set the normal sentence for kidnapping at 49 to 53 months. The trial judge, not satisfied with that range, departed upward to impose a sentence of 90 months. Blakely appealed, arguing that the upward departure by the judge, made without a jury finding the facts on which it was based, was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court today, to my great surprise, agreed with Blakely. In a 5-4 opinion, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment and the Court's earlier decision in Apprendi prohibit the enhancement of sentences based on facts other than those found by a jury or admitted by the defendant. As the dissenters point out, this calls the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, with which I wrangle each day, deeply into question. It may, as Justice O'Connor worries, sweep away the last 20 years of Federal sentencing law. That possibility is truly exciting.

They say that when the British surrendered at Yorktown, their military band played a popular tune called "And the World Turned Upside Down." Reading Blakely, I know how they must have felt.

Congress Crowns the Messiah

The truth really is stranger than fiction. The New York Times reports that in March the Reverend Sun Myung Moon donned a crown after declaring himself the Messiah. That, in and of itself, is not that weird, considering the good Reverend's track record. What's alternately shocking and amusing is that it took place in a Senate office building with many Congressmen in attendance. Who screens the schedule for these people?

On a side note, the article informed me that Moon owns UPI and The Washington Times. Again, says quite a bit, doesn't it?

More Michael Mania

I stumbled across an article from Slate written last week in advance of the US Grand Prix profiling Michael Schumacher. It has some interesting bits in it (Ferarri spends $100 million a year more than Williams?!?), but I question the research. How many F1 drivers really think Giancarlo Fisichella is the best driver in F1 (aside from Giancarlo, of course)?

Safety and F1

In the wake of the US Grand Prix, one would think it would be a good thing to hear that the FIA and Max Mosley are poised to make changes in the name of safety. It's a bit curious, however, when you realize that those changes are not related to the incidents at Indianapolis (particularly the criminally slow response to Ralf Schumacher's accident) but to the proposed F1 rule changes regarding engine size and the like. Now that the "consensus" among the teams to support the changes seems to have vanished, Mosley and company are floating the idea of mandating the changes in the name of "safety." Ah, F1 - there's nothing quite like it.

Just Like Clockwork . . .

It's as inevitable as death, taxes, and dishonest politicians: a fresh attempt to amend the Constitution to prohibit flag burning. The latest attempt, which is debated in USA Today today here and here. This attempt is a little different, as it only gives Congress the power to ban flag desecration, but it doesn't mandate it. Nonetheless, it's a stupid idea that should be shelved, at least until we've dealt with things like terrorism, poverty, etc. The "con" side pretty well points out that there is not now, nor has there ever been, an epidemic of flag burning, anyway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

More Soccer Madness

The New York Times has an interesting article comparing the light turnout in Europe for recent EU elections with the fervor generated by Euro 04.

Only In Soccer (and Only In Italy)

The group stage of Euro 2004 was not kind to the big names of European soccer. Spain and Germany both failed to make it out of there groups, Spain losing out to the footballing power that is Greece! But by far the most contentious exit is that of Italy, who bombed out yesterday. Italy was done in, on the final day, by a 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden, which saw both Scandinavian countries move on to the quarterfinals.

Some of the Italians are crying foul, alleging that the Danes and Swedes conspired to make the game 2-2, guarantee their own survival, and knock the Italians out. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said "I'm very bitter, I didn't believe this would happen with peoples who are proud of their spirit of fair play." The Italian netminder also opined: "Someone should be ashamed and it's not us." Well, let's see, Gianluigi, you managed a staggering 1 goal in your first two group matches and the only win of the competition came 2-1 against Bulgaria, whom the Swedes beat 5-0 and Danes beat 2-0. Had your squad managed to score just one more goal in 180 minutes of play Italy would have been through, no questions ask.

Truth is, the Italians were punished for playing the type of "take no chances" soccer that sadly permeates the big competitions. God forbid a team should actually try to score more goals than just the one. Of course, given the Italians' dismal form of late, that may have been too much to ask.

The Rehabilitation of Bob Barr

Back in the days of the Clinton administration, Bob Barr, then a Republican Congressman from Georgia, was one of the most strident Clinton attackers. He was even one of the house managers during the impeachment. If there really was a "vast right wing conspiracy," Barr was definitely near the top of the organizational chart.

Since he has left office, Barr has staked out a position of being a fairly principled conservative. He no longer touts the GOP party line when it conflicts with the conservative principles that supposedly animate the party. His latest public jousting with the administration comes in the gay marriage debate. No, Bob's not for it (perish that thought!), but he is going on record against a proposed federal marriage amendment. It's a state's rights issue, as he sees it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Qualify, Race, Reboot?

For years, American F1 fans have longed for a major US company to back an F1 team and use that weight to put an American driver back in the series. Is the time at hand? ESPN is reporting that no less than Microsoft will partner with Toyota, becoming the team's major sponsor. Will the relationship with MS cause future Toyotas to crash more easily or turn blue when they break?

Fly Me to the Moon . . .

Yesterday marked a potential turning point in the history of space travel, as a private craft reached space for the first time. Is this the dawn of private space travel? Is it just a publicity stunt? Who knows?

Friday, June 18, 2004

More Changes for F1 Qualifying

Beginning with the British Grand Prix, it appears that single-car qualifying will be a thing of the past in Formula 1. While I understand some of the reasons for scrapping the current system, I do think the single-car system has some merits. For one, it really punishes mistakes, more so than the traditional open session does. I suppose the aggregate time setup will do somewhat the same thing.

More Newdow Analysis

If you've been busy and not had a chance to read any of the reaction / analysis of the Supreme Court's decision in the Pledge of Allegiance case, this FindLaw column sums it up pretty well. It takes what seems to be the developing academic line, which is that not only was the Court's opinion a punt, but it was a punt that may have done some damage to traditional notions of family law in this country.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Imagine Stevens on the Dance Floor

Jonathan Turley writes in Newsday today about the possible impact of the Supreme Court decision in the Newdow case. This latest example of "the Supreme Court shuffle," as Turley calls it, raises troubling implications for the future of family law in this country. The Court's reasoning may not even be based on a correct interpretation of California law.

What Role for Victims at Sentencing?

Sherry Colb has an interesting column on FindLaw today about an odd ruling during the Terry Nichols case last week. As in most capital murder cases, the prosecution presented testimony from the families of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, what is commonly known as victim impact testimony. They typically get on the stand, recount for the judge or jury the loss they've experienced because of the death of a loved one, and ask that the perpetrator be executed. The oddity in the Nichols case is that his defense team wanted to introduce testimony from some victims' families urging the jury not execute Nichols. The trial judge did not allow it. Colb makes a good case for why if victim impact evidence in favor of death is admitted then testimony urging the opposite should be allowed as well. Even more to the point, for me at least, is Colb's suggesting that such evidence in general is irrelevant and should never be admitted.

Now That is a Prototype

Ever since the inception of the GrandAm Daytona Prototype series last year, sports car aficionados have argued about what really makes for a "prototype." Well no doubt one example is the Nasamax DM139 that ran at LeMans this past weekend. It is powered by a revolutionary (for racing) bio-ethanol motor, which burns a fuel made up of alcohol distilled from sugar beets and potatoes. It went the distance at LeMans, becoming the first alternative power vehicle to finish the granddaddy of all endurance races.

Instructing While Drunk

A blind man in Georgia was arrested after his two mile jaunt driving a golf cart that eventually ended up smacking into a parked car. The driver was encouraged and guided by a drunken friend. The driver was charged with reckless conduct, but it seems the buddy should get hit with a charge of instructing while drunk. I'd say the fact that the driver managed to make it through two miles of city streets without hitting anything is a pretty good indication that, on his own, he wasn't so reckless. Hey, he took his guide dog along for the ride!

. . . the Band Was Tight

Findlaw's Joanna Grossman takes a detailed look at the much maligned "Ladies Night" decision from New Jersey. As she makes pretty clear, the law really required that the civil rights director reach the conclusion that he did. It makes no exception for de minnimis violations, not yet, anyway. The legislature, she points out, is free to do so.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Who Will Hear the Next Pledge Case?

In the wake of the Supreme Court's punting on the Pledge of Allegiance issue yesterday, How Appealing's Howard Basham poses an interesting question: can the three concurring justices hear a new case dealing with the same issue? If Justice Scalia properly recused himself because of prior statements he made about the Newdow case, do the concurring opinions dealing the substance of the Pledge issue require recusal of their authors? I don't think so. Scalia's statement was made out of court prior to the case being heard in detail (briefs, argument, etc.) and indicate an uniformed prior judgment. The opinions from Rehnquist, et. al, on the other hand, were the end product of the full Supreme Court process. That strikes me as a substantive difference.

Politics and Catholicism

Today's USA Today has an article about the ongoing discussion in the Catholic church of the withholding of communion and other sacraments from Catholic politicians who don't vote based on Catholic dogma. The article raises a question (indirectly) that I've always wondered: in a country where only 10% of Catholics adhere to the Church's position on abortion, only 29% do so on capital punishment, and only 33% do so on euthanasia, what exactly does it mean to be an American Catholic? Is it wrong of John Kerry (or whomever) to be more in tune with his consituency than with the Vatican?

This Should Come As No Surprise

Now that Michael Moore's latest flick, Fahrenheit 9/11 finally has a US distributor, a new effort to suppress it has begun. It should come as a shock to no one that Move America Forward, a group created to rally support for the war in Iraq, is urging people to call theaters and ask them not to show the film. Yes it's true that MAF has the perfect right to do what it is doing (it's not censorship, really), but it is so stupefyingly typical of the right to try and squelch negative speech about the Pres.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Punting on the Pledge

After months of expectation, the Supreme Court has essentially punted on the issue of whether "under God" must come out of the Pledge of Allegiance. The majority of the Court tossed the case on a technical issue, holding that Newdow lacked standing to pursue a case on behalf of his daughter. I can't say they're wrong - Newdow's domestic situation did not make him an ideal plaintiff. The central issue, however, remains unresolved and will surely be taken up with a more appropriate plaintiff. For the time being, however, the Ninth Circuit's striking down of the Pledge is null and void. You can read the Court's opinion here.

The three concurring opinions are interesting, as they conclude that Newdow had standing and proceeded to the merits, each finding that "under God" can stay in the Pledge. Rehnquist and O'Connor seem of have drunk of the "ceremonial deist" Kool-Aid, although only O'Connor admits it: "That cannot be seen as a serious invocation of God or as an expression of individual submission to divine authority." Thomas goes way out on a limb, arguing that the Court should basically start anew on the Establishment Clause by holding that it does not apply to the states.

Reagan's Legal Legacy

Gerald Shargal has a column on Slate that discusses the recently departed President Reagan's less-than-enlightened impact on the legal system. Of note was the creation, during Reagan's second term, of the US Sentencing Commission and the accompanying Sentencing Guidelines. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.

Do They Treat Insurance Agents?

Today's USA Today has a disturbing article about the depths to which doctors are going to strike back against the legal profession, and those close to it. The latest salvo includes doctors who will no longer treat lawyers (except in emergency situations). For a profession supposedly dedicated to the well-being of their fellow man, that's pretty damn slimy. Nowhere in the article does it indicate that these same doctors are refusing to treat insurance agents, who share much of the blame for the current malpractice situation.

For All the 110-year Old Bulgarian Surgeons Out There . . .

For those of you who get honked off by being required to register to read a newspaper's web site (as with some of the ones I link to), your complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. Apparently, the newspaper folks are listening to your complaints. Kudos to all those who "fool" the system by providing bogus information. Apparently a lot of very elderly Bulgarian surgeons scanning the headlines.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Between a Constitutional Rock and a Hard Place

National Review Online today has an interesting column about the Supreme Court's dilemma in the Newdow case. As the author points out, the Court pretty much has two choices: affirm the Ninth Circuit ruling taking "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, based on fairly clearly established precedent, or overturn the Ninth Circuit by, basically, clearing all the precedent away. Both options have their problems.

It's the Little Ones You Have to Watch For

FindLaw's Edward Lazarus writes today about a recent Supreme Court case that slipped under the radar of most news outlets. The case, Dretke v. Haley, is a good example of how the procedure of the law sometimes obscures an obvious injustice. As Lazarus points out, the law, in this case, is definitely an ass.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Have We Arrived?

George Vescey has an interesting column in today's New York Times about the ascendancy of US soccer in the past several years. I'm not sure we're quite to the level Vescey thinks we are - the FIFA rankings, in particular, are a joke, as our being ranked below Germany and Italy but behind Mexico demonstrate. Still, it is amazing how far the men's game has come since the dark days of France 98.

Au Revoir, L.T.

West Virginia lost one of its treasures this week with the passing of Charleston Daily Mail columnist L.T. Anderson. L.T. was a gifted writer with a masterful command of the English language matched only by his scorn for those who abused it. He never shrank from an opportunity to poke holes the pious sanctimony of his fellow men and women, often with hilarious results.

Thanks for the words, L.T.

Couldn't Afford Lawyers, Huh?

Sometimes you hear stories of great ideas shot down by corporate "suits," probably lawyers, for one reason or another. Of course, there are stories going the other way, too, like this one from the UK. It seems that someone at Harrods had the brilliant idea of selling underwear and swimwear bearing the likeness of various Hindu goddesses. British Hindus are, understandably, quite upset. Who thought that was a good idea? Imagine if Abercrombie & Fitch started selling boxers with Jesus on the crotch!

A Dubious TV Anniversary

This week marks a dubious anniversary in TV history, the 50th anniversary of the televised McCarthy hearings. To be exact, today marked the 50th anniversary of Joseph Welch's lashing out at McCarthy during a hearing with the famous phrase, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" That was the beginning of the end for Joe. The whole thing was one of TV's first major bits of political theater.

Burying the Gipper

If you are, like me, watching the coverage of Reagan's funereal procession through the streets of DC, check out this article from today's USA Today. It explains some of the history and the rigor that goes into state funerals. I, for one, didn't know that the riderless horse dates back to the days of Genghis Kahn or that the catafalque upon which the casket will lie in state was built for Abraham Lincoln's funeral.

By the way, kudos to Fox News for actually shutting up during the procession. Not only do the images largely speak for themselves, but it allows us to hear the performances of the fine military bands in the procession.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Geez, Let the Body Cool, At Least

Well before Reagan's death over the weekend, his acolytes had been on a holy mission to place his name and / or visage on anything they could. His death would only intensify their zeal, I was sure, but I figured they would have the good taste to actually let the Gipper get into the ground first. The current push is to place Reagan's face on the $10 bill, a spot currently reserved for Alexander Hamilton.

The zeal of these folks is matched only by their ignorance (or chutzpah, I'm not sure which), as evidenced by this quote from Grover Nordquist, the head of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project: "Hamilton was a nice guy and everything, but he wasn't president." No, he wasn't president. He was only a Revolutionary War hero, chief of staff to George Washington, and an influential Treasury Secretary. He also co-wrote a little volume called The Federalist Papers, one of the most influential works of the Founding Fathers. At this point, to replace him with someone whose most enduring quality seems to be his quips, good humor, and optimism is shortsighted, at best.

The Joys of World Cup Qualifying

For the United States, and most of the rest of the region, the 2006 World Cup begins this weekend. The US hosts Grenada on Sunday in Columbus. The return leg, in St. Georges a week later, will be the first American incursion onto the island since the late President Reagan ordered an invasion in 1983. Unlike our current situation in Iraq, the Grenadans (Grenadians?) actually welcomed us as liberators. Who knew?

I Didn't Know God Was Lost

As the Terry Nichols trial moves into its penalty phase, his defense is resting its hopes for mercy on his religious conversion in prison. He has, as they say, "found God." For the record, I oppose capital punishment in all its forms. However, giving preferential treatment to those who profess a religious conversion is almost equally reprehensible. True remorse, regardless of the motivation, should count for something. But simply clutching the Bible (or Koran or Talmud or whatever) close and spouting hallelujahs shouldn't cut it.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Ashcroft's West Coast Losing Streak

The National Law Journal has an interesting article about two of John Ashcroft's recent defeats in the Ninth Circuit. He might not have the easiest time getting the Supremes to bail him out, either.

A Twist on the Abuse Excuse

It's become popular in recent years for the public and pundits alike to deride a defense attorney's use of an "abuse excuse" - i.e., he had a rotten childhood so, please, don't execute him. Hey, if that's all you've got to work with, you work with it. Now along comes a real stretch of the abuse excuse in Oregon. There a defense attorney, representing a man accused of killing a 2-year-old boy, is putting forward a slave trauma defense. Basically, because of the history of slavery in this country, African-Americans experience modern trauma that manifests itself, for some people, in outbursts of uncontrollable violence. No ruling from the trial judge as to whether to allow a jury to see this defense.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Perceptions of the French (Now and Then)

USA Today has an interesting article on the changing perceptions of the United States by the French. On this the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, many of those who lived through the war (or its aftermath) still hold the US in high regard ("Americans are God. The rest are (French expletive)", said one man). Younger French do not, regarding the US as just another country. It's a shame to see such a clear example of how our stature in the world has slipped in the intervening decades.

The Drinks Were Cheap . . .

It was Ladies' Night no more, at least in the swamps of Jersey, where the Division of Human Rights has ruled that such promotions violate equal protections laws. Granted, that ruling is legally solid, but is this really the most pressing "human rights" issue in the Garden State (or anywhere, for that matter)?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Herr Gropenfuher Gets One Right (Sort of)

FindLaw today has a column about an interesting tort reform proposal being floated in California by Governor Schwarzenegger. It would hit at one of the most reviled aspects of tort law in the public's mind, the punitive damage windfalls received by some plaintiffs. Schwarzenegger's proposal would allow the state to take 75% of punitive damage awards. It's an interesting idea, depending on when you take the cut (after attorney fees, presumably). I'd be in favor of earmarking those funds for indigent representation in the court system.

Targeting the God Gap

Today's USA Today has an article about the voting habits of frequent churchgoers versus we pagans. Not surprisingly, if you go to church every week you will likely vote Republican. Democrats are worried about how to tap into that vote. Overlooked by those opining in whole story is that only about 1 in 4 of voters fit the "go to church every week" mold. In other words, 75% of voters are less rigid. I'd say the Dems should focus on that fairly sizable majority of voters and leave the Bible thumpers for the GOP.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

It's All About Stategery

Slate has an interesting article today about the importance of litigation strategy in big civil rights cases. It contrasts the legal cases for gay marriage that developed in Massachusetts and California, concluding that the California experiment was doomed from the start because it wasn't properly strategized. As an historical reference, it points out that the powers behind the suit in Brown v. Board of Education waited for years to bring that case, until the political and social conditions were more receptive to it. They also carefully chose the plaintiff - she attended an all-black school that was, by all accounts, better than the all-white school in the area. That bit of planning essentially precluded the Court from propping up the separate but equal paradigm.

All You Need Is Blow

NEWS FLASH: The Beetles used drugs!!!

Wow, who knew? In an interview with a British newspaper, Paul McCartney has admitted some drug use during his long musical career. Tried heroin (didn't like it), but did coke for a while, with a bit of pot mixed in "to balance it out." Paul also sheds some light on the drug messages of various tunes, including "Got To Get You Into My Life" (pot) and "Day Tripper" (acid, obviously). Most interesting, he shoots down the long held theory (pushed by John Lennon) that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" wasn't really about LSD. You be the judge.

They Made Their Bed . . .

As the Supreme Court continues to ponder the case of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, the Department of Justice has started a PR press to highlight their "predicament" of how to deal with him. Guys, had you not decided to run roughshod over the Constitution in the first place, maybe you wouldn't be in this situation.

Gettin' Wet for Jesus

One of the problems with the current state of church-state relations in this country is that so many public figures have no clue as to what the First Amendment means. Take the case of baptisms in a public park near Richmond, Virginia. Apparently, a local Baptist congregation to perform full body immersion baptisms has been using a stretch of the Rappahannock River that runs through the park (they lack the proper facilities at the church). For some reason, the powers that be decided this was improper because it might offend those nearby. Civil rights organizations are on the case, including the ACLU, whose spokesperson accurately pointed out, "[i]f the park rules allow people to wade and swim in the river, then they must allow baptisms in the river." This should really be a no brainer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Can't You Hide Anything In Your Car Anymore?

The online equivalent of the National Law Journal has an interesting article today about the continuing erosion of rights as they relate to one's car. Specifically, the article discusses a case handed down by the Supreme Court last week, Thornton v. US, in which the Court extended the "search incident to an arrest" doctrine to include instances where the subject isn't even in the car when police approach. The Court got it wrong (as did the Fourth Circuit before them). The article rightly asks whether we now have any real expectation of privacy in our cars at all.

Is He the One?

Since Michael Andretti's disastrously brief term with McLaren in 1993, American F1 fans have fervently hoped for the arrival of The One who would lead the nation back to World Championship glory. Has the man arrived? The appropriately named Scott Speed, one of the beneficiaries of the Red Bull driver search, is setting Europe ablaze this season. Speed now leads both the German and European Formula Renault championships, the equivalent (roughly) of the Toyota Atlantic series in the States. While F3000 (or whatever it will be next) is probably in the cards next year, Speed's performances may generate enough interest from F1 teams to get some testing this season.

Mama We're Crazy

A study led by a Harvard researcher has determined that the United States has the highest rate of mental illness of the 14 countries surveyed. 26.4 percent of our fellow citizens are loons, apparently, compared to only 8.2 percent in Italy and 4.7 percent in Nigeria. Normally I'd have more to say on the subject, but the voices in my head are telling me to save it for later.