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Category Archives: Government Documents

“Historical Fanfiction.” The Deceptive, Dangerous Simplicity of Originalism in American Politics

LitHub – Madiba K. Dennie on the Antiquated Conservatism Underpinning the United States’ Highest Courts of Law. “Lawyers don’t often admit this in mixed company, but I’ll let you in on a secret about interpreting the Constitution: there is no one objective way to interpret the Constitution. If there were, what would be the point of judges? We could resolve legal disputes by simply inputting our claims and evidence into a computer that would output uniform rulings. We don’t do that, though, because judging calls for…well, judgment. A classic hypothetical law can show you what I mean: imagine a statute reading, “Vehicles are banned in the park.” One would have no trouble discerning that such a law would be broken by an adult wantonly driving a sports car over the public’s flowerbeds. But what about a child driving a toy convertible? Or a tourist riding a motorized scooter? Or a first responder driving an ambulance to an injured park-goer? Whether those are “vehicles” within the meaning of the law’s prohibition is debatable, so legal arbiters make judgment calls. Judgment is generally exercised in the American legal system through methods of constitutional interpretation. These methods tell us what should or shouldn’t be considered in order to figure out a law’s meaning. Judges need a fair and consistent way to determine what constitutional provisions mean and how to apply them in new and different cases. And “legal interpretative method” is a fancy way of saying “There’s a method to the madness.” There’s been considerable debate historically over what sources and analytical approaches form the best basis for judicial decision-making. Indeed, courts may and often do consider more than just one interpretative method in isolation; they call upon a variety of factors including judicial precedent (what courts have done), historical practices (what people have done), and of course, the text of the Constitution itself. But over the last forty years or so, the conservative legal movement has been wildly successful at promoting the idea that “originalism” is the only legitimate way to interpret the Constitution. The originalist method ostensibly determines constitutionality by relying on the original public meaning of the Constitution at the time it was drafted. Circumstances may evolve, but the Constitution’s meaning does not—or as former Supreme Court justice and fierce originalist Antonin Scalia famously put it, “It’s not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead.”…

If Opiates Are Killing Americans, Why Won’t the FDA Let Us Try an Alternative?

Reason: “For more than a decade, patients who’ve needed certain controlled medications have suffered from ill-advised, untenable policies the U.S. government has instituted, allegedly to mitigate the ever-surging numbers of drug overdose deaths. These policies have been a dismal failure on multiple fronts: Not only have deaths continued to surge, but the terrifying intrusion of… Continue Reading

Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case

The New York Times Opinion – Law Professor Leah Lipman [unpaywalled]: “…As of Tuesday, 110 days had passed since the court agreed to hear the Trump immunity case. And still no decision. This court has lost the benefit of the doubt for myriad reasons, including its willingness to act quickly in cases that benefit Republican… Continue Reading

CISA, EAC release communications guide for state, local election offices

NextGov/FCW: “The top U.S. cybersecurity agency and federal election information clearinghouse jointly unveiled a guide to help election officials develop a public communications plan for conveying accurate information on election administration and security. Both the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Election Assistance Commission targeted state, local, tribal and territorial officials in the guidance released… Continue Reading

Clarence Thomas, the Gordon Gekko of the Supreme Court

Prevail: “There’s a scene in Wall Street where Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko is explaining to Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox the difference between being rich and being rich. “I’m talking about liquid,” he says in the back of his limousine. “Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred… Continue Reading

A Detailed Analysis of Article 50 of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act

Gils, Thomas, A Detailed Analysis of Article 50 of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act (June 14, 2024). Chapter to appear in an upcoming commentary on the EU AI Act (Q3-4 2024)., https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4865427 – “Article 50 of the EU’s AI Act contains transparency requirements for (i) interactive AI systems; (ii) synthetic content (including synthetic audio, image,… Continue Reading

10 Times as Much of This Toxic Pesticide Could End Up on Your Tomatoes and Celery Under a New EPA Proposal

ProPublica: “When you bite into a piece of celery, there’s a fair chance that it will be coated with a thin film of a toxic pesticide called acephate. The bug killer — also used on tomatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts and other fruits and vegetables — belongs to a class of compounds linked to autism, hyperactivity… Continue Reading

ProPublica Updates “Supreme Connections” Database With New Justice Disclosures

“We updated our “Supreme Connections” database on Wednesday with new entries from recently released financial disclosures from Supreme Court justices, as well as five filings from 2003 to 2007 we had previously been missing. “Supreme Connections” is our database that makes it easy for anyone to browse justices’ financial disclosures and to search for connections… Continue Reading

Durbin Reveals Omissions of Gifted Private Travel to Justice Clarence Thomas from Harlan Crow

“In exclusively obtained information from Harlan Crow as a result of Durbin and the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority’s Supreme Court ethics investigation and subpoena authorization, Durbin releases details of gifted private travel to Justice Thomas that Thomas has failed to disclose. WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary… Continue Reading

So What Is Going On With the Supreme Court in 2024?

Slate [read 5 articles free before paywalled] – “If you’re interested in understanding more about what the high court is, how it functions, and why it seems to have recently lurched to the right, start here…The 5 Circuit Court of Appeals covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Trump appointed six judges to this bench, some of… Continue Reading

There’s a Trump Presidential Library at the National Archives and It’s Hiring

No words for this via Washingtonian – “Now here’s a fun job listing: This position is part of the National Archives and Records Administration. Incumbent serves as the Deputy Director of the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library within the National Archives and Records Administration. Serves as a principal advisor to the Library Director. At the… Continue Reading

Google sued by top textbook publishers over ads for pirated e-books

XM: “June 5 (Reuters) – Google was hit with a lawsuit on Wednesday by educational publishers Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill and Elsevier accusing the tech giant of promoting pirate copies of their textbooks. The publishers told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that Google has ignored thousands of copyright-infringement… Continue Reading