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Category Archives: Legal Research

“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.”…

Artificial Intelligence Is Making The Housing Crisis Worse

The Lever: “…Landlords are increasingly turning to private equity-backed artificial intelligence (AI) screening programs to help them select tenants, and resulting cases like Robinson’s are just the tip of the iceberg. The prevalence of incorrect, outdated, or misleading information in such reports is increasing costs and barriers to housing, according to a recent report from… Continue Reading

The Opaque Industry Secretly Inflating Prices for Prescription Drugs

The New York Times [unpaywalled] – Pharmacy benefit managers are driving up drug costs for millions of people, employers and the government. “Americans are paying too much for prescription drugs. It is a common, longstanding complaint. And the culprits seem obvious: Drug companies. Insurers. A dysfunctional federal government. But there is another collection of powerful… Continue Reading

An elite handful of analysts, actuaries, and accountants have mastered Excel

The Verge – “…arguably the most important software in the business world. So what do they do in Vegas? They open a spreadsheet…Competitive Excel has been around for years, but only in a hobbyist way. Most of the people in this room full of actuaries, analysts, accountants, and investors play Excel the way I play… Continue Reading

Top 10 Generative AI Models Mimic Russian Disinformation Claims A Third of the Time

Citing Moscow-Created Fake Local News Sites as Authoritative Sources – “NewsGuard audit finds that 32% of the time, leading AI chatbots spread Russian disinformation narratives created by John Mark Dougan, an American fugitive now operating from Moscow, citing his fake local news sites and fabricated claims on YouTube as reliable sources. Submitted (with companies named)… 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

Most downloaded US news app has Chinese roots and ‘writes fiction’ using AI

Reuters: “Last Christmas Eve, NewsBreak a free app with roots in China that is the most downloaded news app in the United States, published an alarming piece about a small town shooting. It was headlined “Christmas Day Tragedy Strikes Bridgeton, New Jersey Amid Rising Gun Violence in Small Towns.” The problem was, no such shooting… Continue Reading

Forbes threatens Perplexity with legal action

Axios: “Forbes sent a letter to the CEO of AI search startup Perplexity accusing the company of stealing text and images in a “willful infringement” of Forbes’ copyright rights, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Axios. Why it matters: Publishers fighting to protect their intellectual property are stuck in a game of… Continue Reading

Nine Takeaways From Our Investigation Into Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Failures

ProPublica: “After Russian hackers exploited a flaw in a widely used Microsoft product duringone of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history, the software giant downplayed its culpability. However, a recent ProPublica investigation revealed that a whistleblower within Microsoft’s ranks had repeatedly attempted to convince the company to address the weakness years before the hack —… Continue Reading