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

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Balkin & Posner Debate Liberty vs. Security on

Two leading Constitutional Law Profs, Jack Balkin (Yale) and Eric Posner (Chicago) face off on debating various aspects of Liberty vs. Security, focusing on whether or not we live in a time of emergency, the threat from government in a surveillance state and what it means for our civil liberties.

Jeffrey Toobin might forgive Justice Thomas for being black or conservative, but not both

Jeffrey Toobin’s recent article Unforgiven, in this week’s New Yorker, is the latest in a long line of Supreme Court pundits puzzling over the enigma of a Supreme Court Justice who is both black and conservative.

Thomas came of age at a time when broad swaths of American society thought it was time for African-Americans to be given chances that had been denied to their forebears. To be sure, all that Thomas received in these places was a leg up, and he succeeded each time based on his own skills. Thomas’s career looks like a model of how affirmative action is supposed to work. But that isn’t how Thomas sees it.

Toobin finds it clear that every job and opportunity Justice Thomas was given in his career was given to him because he was black. This is the necessary narrative folklore required to posit Justice Thomas as a hypocritical ingrate, even though it’s been noted that Thomas was in the top 1-2% of his class at Holy Cross and with a decent LSAT score should have had a shot at Yale law no matter what color he was. This oft-repeated treatment that Thomas was somehow demonstrably unqualified for the Supreme Court on his own merits seems to prove Thomas’ own point that affirmative action has just as often served to undermine his career as advance it. Comically, Toobin seems shocked and appalled that Thomas would be less than forthcoming on his jurisprudential philosophy in confirmation hearings less than four years after Bork became a verb. Toobin’s attempt at psychoanalysis boils down to a plea – equally paternalistic and pathetic – why Clarence, oh why can’t you be the reliable liberal vote you, as a black Justice, were born to be?

For a more nuanced interpretation of Justice Thomas’ views on race, see Mark Tushnet’s Clarence Thomas’s Black Nationalism.

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.

Coming Up, Constitution Day

Indeed, it has a day. The website breathlessly refers to it as “Celebrating the Birthday of your Government!” but I think the more appropriate analogy might be as our nation’s bar mitzvah, a coming of age a dozen or so years after independence.

In late 2004, Senator Byrd passed a legislation requiring that all schools, colleges and Federal agencies receiving Federal funds offer annual educational programming involving the Constitution of the United States on Constitution Day, September 17th.

Not satisfied with a mere day for our nation’s most scrutinized document, the University of Houston is celebrating Constitution week, beginning tomorrow, Sept. 12th. Almost makes me want to go tell the world about it in one of our designated free speech zones.

The University of Houston Constitutional Day website features a video presentation by the law center’s own Victor Flatt. Be sure to wear something Constitutional lest you be within Congress’ enumerated power to regulate pinching. And if you’re asking the obvious and painfully ironic question I suspect you are – please refer to Nelson Lund’s Is Constitution Day Constitutional?

‘IV the Amendment’ T-Shirts Available

Knowing when to milk a good idea, Mark Bennett has released the latest of his HCCLA ‘summer collection’ of amendment apparel, as aware of our constitutional rights as they are fashionable. Amendments are the new black. Available from Cafepress. I got mine.

Lest you think for a terrifying moment that you’re dyslexic and never knew it (as I just did), allow me to point out that the new items feature the IV (fourth) and not the VI (sixth) amendment, like the previous sticker.

C’mon, you know you want one. Everyone’s gonna have them.


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