By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

WinVote User Interface

WinVote User Interface

A six year effort by Computer Scientist Jerry Epstein of SRI International has finally achieved fruition in his quest to decertify AVS WinVote Machines for election use due to what can described as extremely broken security measures and weaknesses in its design. Such deficiencies were so magnified the machines had not only the potential for fault but a relatively unsophisticated hacker could have brought down the State of Virginia’s election system.

Mr. Epstein reportedly stated the WinVote system “would get an F-” in security.

Continue Reading »

By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor

“Those situations in which the Court may require special treatment on account of religion are, in my view, few and far between, and this view is amply supported by the course of constitutional litigation in this area.”

-Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 423 (1963) (Harlan, J., dissenting)

Were Maurice Bessinger still alive, he would undoubtedly be a strong supporter of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Had that law been available in 1964, history might well read differently.

Mr. Bessinger owned a small chain of barbecue restaurants in South Carolina known as “Piggie Park.” As a matter of company policy, African Americans were prohibited from consuming food on the premises of his restaurants and were required to place and pick up orders from the kitchen window.

When a class action was filed against Mr. Bessinger under the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among his defenses was the claim that the Act violated the First Amendment because “his religious beliefs compel him to oppose any integration of the races whatsoever.” Newman v. Piggy Park Enterprises, Inc., 256 F. Supp. 941 (1966). The court had no sympathy for his defense. “Undoubtedly,” it said, “defendant Bessinger has a constitutional right to espouse religious beliefs of his own choosing, however, he does not have the absolute right to exercise and practice such beliefs in utter disregard of the clear constitutional rights of other citizens. This court refuses to lend credence and support to his position that he has a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of the Negro race in his business establishments upon the ground that to do so would violate his sacred religious beliefs.” 256 F. Supp. at 945.

Mr. Bessinger partially prevailed at the trial court on interstate commerce grounds, but lost on appeal and was assessed attorney’s fees for his trouble, the Fourth Circuit finding that in view of a prior Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the assertion that he was not bound because the law “contravenes the will of God” and constituted interference with “the free exercise of the Defendant’s religion” was legally frivolous. Newman v. Piggy Park Enterprises, Inc., 377 F.2d 433 (4th Cir. 1967), aff’d, 390 U.S. 400 (1968).

Had the Religious Freedom Restoration Act been in effect when Mr. Bessinger was sued, might he have prevailed? Perhaps.

Continue Reading »

IMG_2143I am at Stanford to speak at a conference at the law school this week. I had the opportunity to walk around this truly magnificent campus today, a renewed pleasure that I would recommend to anyone.

Continue Reading »

220px-Economy_Seat220px-Boeing_737-2A1_N25SW_Southwest_SAT_17.10.75_edited-2I have previously authored columns and blog entries criticizing the airline industry for its nosedive in customer services and accommodations. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). The includes the planned switch to “bench seating” where passengers are expected to start bringing their own cushions. Despite the rising criticism of airlines making record profits while continuing to strip away every comfort, there is a new report that Southwest is now turning its back on passengers. The airline and Airbus are going to stuff another seat into coach class with new A380 superjumbo carriers.

Continue Reading »

DrPatients in the Bronx have learned that the dentist who performed their procedures — including botched procedures — was actually not a doctor but an office manager. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, worked as an office manager at Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold’s office and claimed that she was a trained professional from her native Albania. However, even if true, she is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. but performed procedures on patients, including a root canal that left a patient with an infection and another with “persistent pain” two years after the procedure.

Continue Reading »

279B57E600000578-3040684-image-a-4_1429129084204There is a bizarre case out of Long Island where Dr. Anthony J. Moschetto, a cardiologist, allegedly had the office of another doctor torched, then attempted to have the doctor killed to get his business. The evidence in the case presented at the press conference is equally notable, though less compelling than the rest of the reported case against Moschetto.

Continue Reading »

gavel2A California judge has ruled that the girlfriend of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling must pay back the $2.6 million given to her in gifts from Sterling in a surprising ruling that defines these gifts as community property even though the couple was separated and moving toward divorce. Judge Richard Fruin Jr. awarded Shelly Sterling most of the nearly $3 million she had sought. I have previously discussed how the case highlights the often troubling line of what constitutes prostitution and what constitutes a gifts. [Notably both Sterling and Stiviano deny having a sexual relationship] If Sterling had given V. Stiviano money directly for sex, it would be illegal. Instead, he gave her millions in gifts as part of a relationship. Regardless of where to draw that particular line, Fruin said that the line on community property is drawn to include the house, luxury cars and expensive gifts given to Stiviano as she served as the companion of the octogenarian Sterling.

Continue Reading »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,274 other followers