Political corruption on the docket for the last case of the SCOTUS term

By Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

Oral arguments for the last case of the Supreme Court’s term were this week. The case,  McDonnell v. U.S., was about ethics and potential corruption between a donor and the former governor of Virginia. The timeliness of this case is not lost on this citizen of Illinois, where we should probably consider putting links to contribute to our candidates’ legal defense funds on our ballots. That’d be funny if their chances of going to jail for ethics violations or corruption weren’t actually greater than fifty percent. Four out of the last seven governors have been imprisoned. But at least our criminal governors make it easy on the courts! Dear Children’s Memorial Hospital, I won’t release your $8 million of state funding until you give me a $50,000 campaign contribution. Sincerely, Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But what would it mean if for “the first time in our history that a public official has been convicted of corruption despite never agreeing to put a thumb on the scales of any government decision.” Do we have to wait for them to put a thumb on the scale in order for it to be punishable corruption? Today’s case shines a spotlight on former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and could serve as an opportunity for the Supreme Court to send a bold warning to elected officials everywhere that quid pro quo corruption need not be as heavy handed as a thumb on a scale. Continue reading

Sperm Bank Sued After Disclosure That Donor Responsible for 36 Had An Undisclosed History of Schizophrenia

sperm11n-2-webThere is an interesting lawsuit against a US sperm bank Xytex and its Ontario distributor, Outreach Health. At the center of the case is Donor 9623, James Christian Aggeles of Georgia, who claimed an IQ of 160, an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. He also claimed that he was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience engineering. In reality, he was a formal mental patient with a felony conviction. His sperm was used to conceive at least 36 children in Canada, the US and Britain. The result is a $12 million lawsuit against the companies.

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Kentucky Derby Party Cancelled For “Recreating An Antebellum South Atmosphere”

250px-Derby220px-Dartmouth_College_shield.svgWe have been discussing the battle over free speech on colleges and universities, particularly with the rise of protests and/or sanctions over “microaggressions” and speech deemed insulting or disparaging to any group. The latest such controversy is at Dartmouth College where a Kentucky Derby party hosted by Kappa Delta Epsilon was cancelled after protests that it was a racist demonstration. The objections however seem disconnected to the historical record of the race.

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Round One: Two Judges in Washington D.C. Get Into Physical Altercation

oah-logo-new_0It is rare to have a judge involved in fist fight but it is even more rare when the other combatant is also a judge. That was the scene this week downtown Washington where Administrative Judge Joan Davenport, 63, went toe-to-toe with Administrative Judge Sharon Goodie. Davenport was charged with misdemeanor simple assault.

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Marquette University Professor Facing Termination For Supporting Student Who Said He Was Barred From Questioning Same-Sex Marriage in Philosophy Class

McAdams_largeThere is an interesting controversy out of Marquette University, which has moved to suspend and possibly fire Professor John McAdams after his criticism of a junior faculty member Cheryl Abbate in a free speech dispute. Abbate was recorded by a student in saying that his views against same-sex marriage were not appropriate to be voiced in her class. The response of the university has some problematic elements for a free speech perspective.

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So long, Justice Scalia

Cara L. Gallagher, Weekend Contributor

Last week, the internet of trolls solace public opinion melted for a few days grounding every other political story to a halt. Justice Scalia suddenly died and a confluence of voices, both allies and foes, shouted loud enough to practically awake him from the dead. Once they quieted, the memorials began. Moments and stories told by those who knew him, Scalia “best-of” lists, and the resurrection of “argle-bargle” – Just when I thought we’d finally buried that phrase – dominated the news cycles, stealing the spotlight from Donald Trump. So many charming Scalia moments pointed to the complexity of a man I myself had complex feelings about.

My Scalia moment happened in July of 2012, my first year working at C-SPAN. My boss and mentor, Brian Lamb, knew my affinity for the Supreme Court and invited me to join him at the taping of a Q&A interview with the Justice, who’d just written his book Reading Law. After the interview, Justice Scalia’s handler shot me daggers as I hovered outside the green room. Had Mr. Lamb not intervened by introducing us, the picture below would never have happened. Here’s how one of my greatest celebrity moments went down:

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One of us is thrilled. The other would rather be hunting. (Sigh)

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Martin Shkreli In His Own Words

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

shkreli-smirk Former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli proudly continues his tenure as the industry’s greatest pariah. Speaking before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during a hearing on prescription drug prices, Mr. Shkreli displayed what can only be described as utter contempt for the proceeding and his own hubris.

Mr. Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when questioned by the committee, which of course is his right, but throughout the committee’s questioning he demeaned representatives with gestures such as rolling his eyes, playing with a pencil, and giving smirks. It is certain to garner almost equally the infamy of those smirks of Bernie Madoff.

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