: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

About that time of year – law student goes after casebook with assault rifle

From the WSJ Law Blog, we learn that a 3L at University of Indiana Law School was arrested after firing a rifle from his apartment balcony. Police later found what he was shooting at in a parking lot across the street. His copy of Nelson & Whitman’s Real Estate Transfer Finance and Development was mortally wounded by two rounds.

I can empathize.

WSJ Law Blog: Indiana Law Student Shoots Real-Estate Finance Casebook

Gault @ 40 Symposium at the University of Houston Law Center

We’re hosting an upcoming symposium at the Center for Children, Law & Policy on In re Gault a landmark 1967 Supreme Court Case finding a right to counsel for juveniles accused of crimes.

The case involved a 15-year-old boy, Gerald Francis Gault. After a trial in juvenile court, Gerald was placed in a “training school” for juvenile delinquents because of his alleged involvement with a prank call. As a juvenile Gault was denied many rights guaranteed to adults who are on trial for committing a crime – the right to notice of the charges, the right to confront witnesses, the privilege against self incrimination and the right to counsel. It was in this case that the United States Supreme Court recognized the similarities between juvenile trials and criminal proceedings and afforded children due process protections in juvenile court. 2007 is the 40th anniversary of this landmark decision and in honor of Gault, the Center for Children, Law & Policy (CCLP) of the University of Houston Law Center is hosting a special event.

There will be a free round-table discussion on Nov. 2nd at the University of Houston Law Center from 9am to noon. There will be 3.0 hours of CLE credit (including 1.0 hour of ethics) Click here for more information and to register.

The event will feature talks by Michael Lindsay, J.D., Ph.D., Fellow, Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center and founder of Nestor Consultants, Ellen Marrus, J.D., George Butler Research Professor of Law at University of Houston Law Center and co-director of the Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center, Steven Mintz, Ph.D., John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History at the University of Houston, Wallace Mlyniec, J.D., Lupo-Ricci Professor of Clinical Legal Studies at Georgetown University Law Center and Irene Merker Rosenberg, L.L.B., Royce R. Till Professor of Law at University of Houston Law Center.

Ad Absurdum – Las Cruces, New Mexico in legal fight over whether Symbol of Cross is Religious endorsement

Via How Appealing, comes this gem of a separation of church and state question – can the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico use the image of a cross in its emblem? I’ll point out that, if you never took spanish, Las Cruces translates into “The Crosses”. This wikipedia article on the city notes that the city government started using the crosses in the emblem in 1948.

Slate: Justice Scalia Joins 24

Script by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick inspired by a comment made by the Justice this summer.

Griffin on the Libertarian Religion of Ron Paul

Professor Leslie Griffin, who teaches a well-regarded course in Law and Religion at the University of Houston Law Center, for which she has recently published an excellent Law and Religion casebook, takes Presidential hopeful Ron Paul to task in a recent blog post for his Libertarian Religion.

The bases for Paul’s policy stances appear various and complex. Paul should be subject to liberal criticism if he bases his votes about prayer, abortion, marriage and other topics on biblical or Christian principles. Religion is not the appropriate basis for government in this democracy, which should be based on shared constitutional principles. What should liberals make of Paul’s libertarian commitments, which have connected him to a “network of true believers” in market-oriented policies? Are such principles more politically appropriate because they are secular and economic, not religious?

No. Political liberals expect politicians to bracket their religious and philosophical commitments and to govern according to political and constitutional principles. Christians justifiably complain of discrimination when they are asked to ignore their deepest convictions while non-religious politicians pursue their secular moral ideals. When setting public policy, Paul should be a constitutionalist first, not a Christian or a libertarian.

I’m not sure how Libertarianism can be called a religion in this instance and is still distinguishable from any other strongly held belief, but when you’re a hammer all the world’s a nail, so let’s accept it for the sake of argument. My first question would be – what are these shared constitutional principles we speak of? Separation of powers? Limited Government? In our era of 5-4 decisions I’m not sure there’s enough common ground beyond these basic tenets to reach the question of Constitutionally acceptable economic policy.

Professor Griffin goes on to quote Justice Holmes’ Lochner dissent in noting that “a Constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory,” but Holmes was arguing for the Court to give substantial deference to the collective wisdom of the legislature to embark on any half-baked economic scheme it saw fit to enact as a democratically elected legislative body. Paul hasn’t been nominated to any Court, he’s running for office and part of the strange beauty of democracy is that we can elect any damn fool we’d like. If Paul is on the other side of that deference, and surely he is as a legislator, then his libertarian ‘religion’ is an entirely appropriate basis for his votes in Congress, and the Court is bound to uphold it even if the only rational basis for his particular vote was that Jesus Christ and Milton Friedman appeared to him in a dream and explained the danger the post office monopoly posed to our general welfare.

As to whom we should vote for, would we prefer that Paul cloak his libertarian and religious views behind the shroud of shared constitutional principles, whatever we take that to mean? The Constitution is a remarkably short document and there’s a lot it leaves out. Are we to return, Thomas-like, to the original agrarian economy envisioned by our founders? Are we to accept the socialized-capitalism of our New Deal inheritance as our text as revealed by St. Roosevelt? When our next President must make a difficult choice and allocate our limited resources to what she or he believes to be it’s highest and best use, to what Article or Amendment are they to turn? In this respect the Constitution is like a shoe in that it protects and aids us on our journey, but it cannot be made to walk on its own.

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