Sunday, July 25, 2010

You can go with this...

What I'm going to do Tuesday night at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Atlanta Airport South to relieve Bar tension:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inspiration

 With one week to go, we could all use a little pump-up speech.  I give you the best inspirational video ever (courtesy of my friend Amer):



And, an edit of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, if you need a little extra. (You think I'm licked?)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Old McDonald Had a Gun

This week, SCOTUS came down with their opinion in McDonald v. Chicago, the Second Amendment case that I blogged about back in March.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court finally and officially incorporated the Second Amendment to the states.  That is to say, SCOTUS confirmed that the Second Amendment's protection of the right to bear arms applies as much to states as it does to the federal government.  That is to say, a state cannot make more restrictive gun control laws than the federal government.


So, what do you need to know if old McDonald comes up at your next cocktail party? (Note: you may want to revisit my explanation of Incorporation if you're feeling rusty.)
A.  Find a better cocktail party.
B.  McDonald incorporated the Second Amendment right "recognized in Heller."  This refers to The District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 SCOTUS case that was primarily notable for three things.  First, establishing that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to possess certain weapons for lawful reasons, unlimited by participation in a militia.  Second, approving some restrictions on weapons as legitimate (like limiting possession by felons, the mentally ill, or owning crazy Terminator-style arms), but invalidating a D.C. ban on handguns used for home protection.  And finally, Heller is notable for almost totally copping out when it came to actually incorporating the Second Amendment.  
Useful cocktail phrase: "I don't even care how they incorporated it, I'm just glad SCOTUS didn't pull another Heller and dodge the entire issue!"
C.  Despite the fact that oral arguments made a big deal about "The Privileges or Immunities Clause" as a long-ignored but probably preferable means of incorporation, the Court rejected that reasoning.  SCOTUS went ahead and incorporated through the old 14th Amendment Due Process Clause, which was dumb but predictable.  Justice Thomas thought so, too, and concurred (making the McDonald decision technically a "plurality" not a "majority" opinion) saying he loves guns as much as Justice Alito but he really thinks P&I would've been a better way to incorporate.
Useful cocktail phrase: "I never thought I'd agree with Clarence Thomas, but Privileges or Immunities was the way to go!"

Follow up if someone asks you what "Privileges or Immunities" means: "Oh, I'd totally bore you with it, but just talking about The Slaughterhouse Cases around food makes me totally nauseated.  Let's just put it this way: using Due Process was dumb but predictable." 
In other cocktail-worthy legal news, Solicitor General Elena Kagan (nominated to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court) spent the week under fire at her Senate confirmation hearings.  If you're feeling less comfortable with your legal jargon (or you've had that third glass of room-temperature Pinot Grigio and "Privilege or Immunities" is getting harder to pronounce), try this subject instead.  The Kagan topic is easy to fake at a party because, though you didn't watch the hearings, no one else did either.  A quick overview to make it look like you're in the know:

The bottom line is that the hearing were pretty boring and uneventful and Kagan will almost certainly be confirmed as the newest Supreme Court Justice at the end of the month.  Some slick Kagan quips for every occasion:
If you're partying with snobs:  The senators took it so easy on her, it made Sotomayor's confirmation look like Robert Bork's!

If you're partying with Protestants: When Kagan is confirmed, it will mean SCOTUS is comprised entirely of Jews and Catholics!  I feel guilty already!

If you want to change the subject: Forget the hearings, forget the Second Amendment, did you guys know the Senate gets a WEEK off for July 4th?  Glad the Founding Fathers didn't sign the Declaration of Independence, mail it in, and then scamper off to their cottages in Maine for a week! Sheesh!
Happy Independence Day everyone.  Now go enjoy some fireworks, safe in your fake legal knowledge for one more day.