Thursday, July 03, 2003

Thinking on the Declaration. This is not a call for rebellion -- the drafters of the document observe "that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." Thus begins the tipping point, the transition to the statement of the case against the government: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." The bulk of the document "is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states..."

Interestingly enough, it begins not with a burdensome law or demand, but with this: "He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." That almost sounds like it could've been lifted from Scalia's dissent in the Lawrence case.

The drafters note that they have tried to obtain relief from these injuries: "In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. "

So they appeal to "to the Supreme Judge of the world."

Then they note that because of the repeated injuries effectively void the relationship with the prior state and create a new one: " that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do."

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Make Way for Mr. McCloskey. I just heard this news, via Orin Judd. (Yes, I'm even ripping off OJ's headline.)

Fittingly, I think, my wife and kids had gone blueberry picking today.

Rest in Peace, Mr. M.
When facing a protestor. Here's a statement, purportedly from the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division:
When you guys get home and face an anti-war protestor, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a p****

Monday, June 30, 2003

Mojo. The June 2003 issue of MOJO magazine has a nice CD included -- titled Instant Garage, the 28-track disc includes tracks by The Kinks, the Ramones, the Electric Prunes, and a lot of minor bands that might otherwise get overlooked.

mc5 – kick out the jams
electric prunes – i had too much to dream last night
sonics – psycho
new york dolls – personality crisis
ready men – shortnin’ bread
the bush – to die alone
jonathan richman and the modern lovers – she cracked
the express – wastin’ my time
gil bateman – daddy walked in darkness
love – 7 and 7 is
rocky & the riddlers – flash & crash
she – outta reach
ramones – i wanna be your boyfriend (demo)
kinks – milk cow blues
little john & the monks – black winds
alarm clocks – no reason to complain
count five – psychotic reaction
artesians – trick bag
dean carter – jailhouse rock
iguanas – again and again
the nazz – open my eyes
wailers – dirty robber
paul revere and the raiders – just like me
bunker hill – the girl can’t dance
the brave new world – train kept a rollin’
amboy dukes – baby please don’t go
the rats – rat’s revenge part 2
mouse and the traps – sometimes you just can’t win
A Tale of Two Cases. Most of you are familiar with the facts of the first case, as recounted by Justice Kennedy:
. . . officers of the Harris County Police Department were dispatched to a private residence in response to a reported weapons disturbance. They entered an apartment where one of the petitioners, John Geddes Lawrence, resided. . . The officers observed Lawrence and another man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a sexual act. The two petitioners were arrested, held in custody over night, and charged and convicted before a Justice of the Peace.
The relevant statute, Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 21.06, declares that an offense is a Class C misdemeanor under Texas law, subject to a fine of up to $500. Lawrence and Garner were each assessed $200 fines.

The facts of the second case, as described by Justice Souter:
In March 1997, Petitioner Gail Atwater was driving her pickup truck in Lago Vista, Texas, with her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in the front seat. None of them was wearing a seatbelt. Respondent Bart Turek, a Lago Vista police officer at the time, observed the seatbelt violations and pulled Atwater over. According to Atwater’s complaint (the allegations of which we assume to be true for present purposes), Turek approached the truck and “yell[ed]” something to the effect of “[w]e’ve met before” and “[y]ou’re going to jail.” He then called for backup and asked to see Atwater’s driver’s license and insurance documentation, which state law required her to carry. Tex. Tran. Code Ann. §§521.025, 601.053 (1999). When Atwater told Turek that she did not have the papers because her purse had been stolen the day before, Turek said that he had “heard that story two-hundred times.”

Atwater asked to take her “frightened, upset, and crying” children to a friend’s house nearby, but Turek told her, “[y]ou’re not going anywhere.” As it turned out, Atwater’s friend learned what was going on and soon arrived to take charge of the children. Turek then handcuffed Atwater, placed her in his squad car, and drove her to the local police station, where booking officers had her remove her shoes, jewelry, and eyeglasses, and empty her pockets. Officers took Atwater’s “mug shot” and placed her, alone, in a jail cell for about one hour, after which she was taken before a magistrate and released on $310 bond.

Atwater was charged with driving without her seatbelt fastened, failing to secure her children in seatbelts, driving without a license, and failing to provide proof of insurance. She ultimately pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor seatbelt offenses and paid a $50 fine; the other charges were dismissed.
[some citations omitted.] The original offense, driving without a fastened seat belt, is governed by Tex. Tran. Code Ann. §545.413 which provides a punishment of "a fine of not less than $25 or more than $50."

Disclaimer: Before I go on I believe I should add the requisite disclaimer that these laws are "uncommonly silly.”

So how did the Supreme Court view these cases? In the sodomy case, the Court found the Texas law an improper moral code that burdened a fundamental freedom. In the seat belt case, the Court found tossing a mother in jail for failing to fasten her seat belt was constitutional.

The Judges who voted with the majority in both cases: Kennedy and Souter.

Query: What if Texas were to pass a law requiring safe sex? I.e., no sodomy without condoms?