Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.17.22 AMThere is an interesting twist this morning on the controversy over the Halbig decision that we have previously discussed. As I have stated in testimony before Congress and columns, I do not view the law as ambiguous and agree with the conclusion in Halbig as a matter of statutory interpretation, even though I think that the change ordered by the Obama Administration makes sense. Nevertheless, the White House and various supporters have insisted that the key language in the law linking tax credits to exchanges “established by a State” was a typo and nothing more. One of those voices has been Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a major role in the drafting of the law and was paid almost half of a million dollars to consult with the Administration on the law. He told MSNBC recently that “It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.” However, a libertarian group just uncovered a video showing Gruber saying quite clearly after the passage of the law that this provision was a quid pro quo device: state exchanges for tax credits. Conservative sites have lit up over the video below showing Gruber essentially describing the very tradeoff identified in Halbig.

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23ARIZONA-now-master180We previously discussed the botched execution in Oklahoma and the questions that it raised about our methods of execution. Now we have another horrific execution story to report. In Arizona, it took almost two hours for the prison to execute Joseph R. Wood III. The execution took so long that his counsel had time to file emergency papers with the federal court saying “He is still alive.”
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250px-Bed_bug,_Cimex_lectularius220px-US_Capitol_Building_at_night_Jan_2006The halls of Congress have been crawling for years with lobbyists and influence peddlers seeking to cash in on government largess. However, one creature proved too much this year in the Senate. The Architect of the Capitol rolled out yellow police tape and sealed off a bathroom in the Dirksen Senate Office Building after a woman was spotted crawling with bed bugs while waiting to attend a Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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250px-US-CourtOfAppeals-6thCircuit-SealBy any measure, former Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree was a disgrace to the bench. The worse of his violations was his affair with the wife of a man in a child-support case before his court. However, while calling McCree’s conduct “often reprehensible,” a three-judge panel ruled that his affair with a litigant before him was still covered by judicial immunity when the former husband Robert King sued for damages in a civil rights case. The United States for the Sixth Circuit barred such recovery as a matter of judicial immunity in what will likely be a highly controversial decision.

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150px-YouTube_logo.svgCalifornia lawyer Daniel Bornstein is controversial for his work on behalf of landlords and the use of eviction laws in San Francisco. It was not entirely unexpected therefore when protesters suddenly appeared at a 2014 seminar on eviction law. I have always opposed such protests that seek to prevent others from hearing the views of speakers or teachers. I can understand therefore why Bornstein was upset. However, he has been accused by an activist of taking the step of filing a copyright infringement claim with YouTube to get the company to pull a video of the incident below. It is not clear if the video below is the same video or whether some material has been removed from the original.
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250px-Holt_Renfrew_MannequinsThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continues to show the world how systemic murder and terror can be justified in the name of religion as the work of the faithful. Now, after brutalizing the population of Mosul, ISIS has turned its attention to those godless tramps of fashion: mannequins. ISIS has ordered that all mannequins be covered in veils as another application of medieval Sharia law.

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Southwest_Air_LogoIt appears that passengers now tweet at their own peril on airlines. We have previously seen how tweets have gotten passengers pulled from planes, including tweets that simply joked or criticized an airline. Now in Minneapolis, Duff Watson says that he was pulled from a Southwest Airlines flight because he tweeted his dissatisfaction with a gate agent. He says that the agent told him that his tweet calling her rude left her feeling threatened and that he could only fly with his children if he deleted the tweet. It appears a new twist on the company’s slogan, If it matters to you, it matters to us.

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230px-CPR_training-04190px-Falk,_Benjamin_J._(1853-1925)_-_Eugen_Sandow_(1867-1925)Below is my column today in the Chicago Tribune on the rivaling rulings in the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit over a critical provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As an academic interesting in statutory interpretation and legisprudence, the opinions are fascinating and capture two different but well-argued views of the role of both courts and agencies in dealing with legislative language.

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Patch_of_the_San_Diego_Police_DepartmentThirty women who work at two strip clubs, Cheetahs and Expose, are suing the city of San Diego and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman for what they allege were “license inspections” that were really photo ops for officers who snapped pictures of dancers in dressing rooms during a raid on July 15, 2013. (No, those are not supposed to look like two stripper poles on the police patch).

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US-CourtOfAppeals-4thCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaSoon after the D.C. Circuit delivered a major loss to the Administration in rejecting its statutory interpretation under the ACA in Halbig v. Burwell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has delivered an equally important victory on the very same issue in King v. Burwell. This tale of two circuits only increases the likelihood of a Supreme Court review and perhaps the case for expedited appeals.

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US-CourtOfAppeals-DCCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaAs I have written about in columns and testimony, the most significant challenge to Obamacare was never Hobby Lobby but Halbig vs. Burwell that has been pending in the D.C. Circuit. I described Halbig in my testimony as a live torpedo in the water for Obamacare. Well, that torpedo just hit. The D.C. Circuit has found that the Obama Administration effectively rewrote the law on a critical provision dealing with tax credits and state exchanges. It is another major blow against the Administration and more importantly another judicial finding that President Obama exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws.

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180px-Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detailarticle-2700967-1FDCEF1900000578-380_306x418Sometimes saying “God is my co-pilot” is more than an aspirational bumper sticker. Prionda Hill, 25, insists that she took it seriously when she said that God told her that he would drive her 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. Either God is another elderly driver past his prime or he wanted to do in Anthony Oliveri, 47, because he immediately ran the car off the road and slammed into Oliveri on his 2001 Harley-Davidson.

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UW-Madison_logo.svgLee Hansen, a professor emeritus of economics at UW-Madison, has caused a stir in academic with an article entitled “Madness in Madison” with the John William Hope Pope Center for Higher Education, a North Carolina-based think tank. The article quotes at length from a UW-Madison guideline entitled Forward Together: A Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence that refers to equity in grading and also references how minority students should be allowed into special programs or high-demand majors. The broad language raises concerns with faculty like Hansen over how professors are supposed to achieve these goals and whether they will be evaluated based on such guidelines. Hansen is a well-respected economist with a long and impressive academic history.

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6379cc40-1106-11e4-bcb6-efa0f914c309_shoplifted-dress-illinoisDanielle Saxton clearly wanted to look hot and she succeeded. The 27-year-old Illinois woman was arrested after she posted pictures on Facebook showing herself in a shoplifted dress. The multicolored leopard print dress with a black waistband was stolen from Morties, a store located in West Frankfort where Saxton resides. Saxton added the caption “Love my dress.” She was not alone.

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JeffreyAndersonMugShot-279x300There is a disturbing child pornography case out of Nebraska that also raises some challenging legal questions. Jeffrey Anderson, who entered a conditional guilty plea for one count of distributing child pornography, after digitally editing a photo of a naked adult woman having sex and replaced the face with that of an 11-year-old girl. He then sent the girl the photo with the caption “This is what we will do.” The Eighth Circuit upheld his 10-year sentence in rejected the conditional challenge to the charge.

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