Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Defining Justice

I ask my students to define "justice." It is a term we use a lot, it is one of the chief cornerstones of our modern liberal state--up there with liberty and equality. It is the purpose of the Constitution, stated in the Preamble: "to establish Justice." Think, also, of the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance: "With liberty and justice for all."
So, what is "Justice"--Is it fairness? How is that defined? Is it playing by the rules? does it matter who establishes the rules? Is it "due process of the law" and if so, does due process have limits?
And, just as importantly, what does justice do? Does it seek truth? Right wrongs? Level the playing field? Allow for equality? Allow for liberties? Enforce any of these?

Justice, is not seeking the truth by all possible means but is a decision best left to the states and their elected officials and the strict following of established criminal justice proceedings. It is "a prompt and considered legislative response" according to Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority in this case that involved an Alaskan man, Osborne, incarcerated for rape and attempted murder. The case and conviction can not be reopened, because, in other words, justice had already been served. Justice is procedural.

[Osborne had asked to test the DNA evidence since DNA technology is much advanced since the time he was convicted. He had even offered to pay for the testing himself. (Pass your cursor over the title of this post will get you the link for the June 19th 5-4 opinion).]


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One baby step

Today, President Obama is supposed to sign a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination that will grant same sex federal employees' domestic partners, the same benefits that federal employees have as heterosexual couples, domestic partners or married.
Well, not exactly the same benefits...seems that according to a White Paper circulating (see below) there is a problem with full health benefits and the Defense of Marriage Act--or how the administration is reading DOMA.

Perchance, also, someone in the White House needs a dictionary to define "non-discrimination"


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Not Walking His Campaign Talk

We thought Obama was going to be the first"gay" president in the same vein that Clinton was the first "black" president. But all he has done is talk about gay pride.
He has done nothing but pass the hot potato --in the case of Don't Ask, Don't Tell --to Congress. And, now his administration in defense of the Defense of Marriage Act--remember that 1996 act signed into being by a bunch of serial monogamists and adulterers, that undid the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution? -- has liken same sex marriage to incest and pedophilia, while claiming to maintain a " cautious policy of federal neutrality." And the claim that marriage is traditional and universally recognized--sort of like the marriage of Chrysler to Daimler, I mean, Fiat????

So much about our pride!

1. re: Don't Ask Don't Tell
The President as Commander in Chief can decide that the national guard personnel who are being separated from the military due to DA,DT are critical to our national security and mission, as per the USMC, and keep them on, without an act of Congress, because this ability is already in the USC! Those personnel being separated are critical--they are linguists, for instance, and citizens. In their place we are recruiting foreign nationals. . .with the signing bonus that they will become American citizens on a fast track.

Or, the President can just issue an Executive Order that has the standing of law.

2. re DOMA

The President can order his/our Justice Department to really remain neutral, and not make an argument for a piece of legislation that is the antithesis of his campaign promise. Or, to file a brief that supports equality of same sex marriages. After all, same sex couples pay taxes just like heterosexual couples do, and thus, deserve the same benefits and recognition.

We need to pressure the President to do the right thing. Inequality is not tolerable, anymore! Here is his e-mail

Monday, June 08, 2009

Stay Tuned, Just Back

Yesterday's NYTimes Style Section had an article about the many blogs that get abandoned, even though I have not written in almost a month, this blog is alive and well. I was just busy with finals, re-reading theses, writing a paper myself so that right after graduation LK and I could leave on our almost 5000 mile epic road trip. We visited or drove through 14 states. The trip included: a visit (or two) to Rose (LK's Mom in Mason City IA), a great conference in Denver (Law & Society Association), a visit with an old friend, back to Iowa via back roads through the mountains of Colorado to Wyoming (where the deer, antelope & buffalo roam) & South Dakota, including Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Wall Drug and the Corn Palace. On the trip home a most wonderful tour through one of Eleanor Roosevelt's projects: Arthurdale West Virgina, meeting some of the sons and daughters of the original homesteaders.
What a wondrous country we live in--the scenery is breathtaking, the people friendly, and everything is buttered or fried (yes, today begins another diet).
Yet politics and economics were part of our trip --we drove through Elkhart Indiana, where the unemployment rate has hit almost 20 % as well as through Iowa City Iowa which has the lowest unemployment rate at just over 3%. We drove on a Wyoming road being widened courtesy of the stimulus bill. We talked to two family members who are real estate agents/brokers who say that things are picking up. We saw the gas prices go up and up for the weekends and now stay there for summer. We heard and read reports that people are taking more stayvacations and only spending on necessities. We drove past closed factories, empty strip malls and car dealerships with too many cars to sell.
We listened to books on tape--David McCullough's Truman and Jonathan Alter's Defining Moment (about FDR's first 100 days) besides a few suspense stories--we drove A LOT! And, while things are not as dire as they were during the Great Depression (unemployment was at its height 24.9%), we are experiencing a paradigm shift in the American Dream.

And, now we are home. I will write more.

On Arthudale:

The article on the abandonment of blogging:

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