Archive for October, 2008
posted by Frank Pasquale
There was a good discussion of end-of-term regulations we can expect from the last days of the Bush Administration on the Diane Rehm show. Now the Washington Post has foreshadowed the lasting environmental impact the Bush agencies are planning:
Many of the rules that could be issued over the next few weeks would ease environmental regulations, according to sources familiar with administration deliberations. A rule put forward by the National Marine Fisheries Service and now under final review by the OMB would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions and would give review authority to regional councils dominated by commercial and recreational fishing interests.
Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that is strenuously opposed by Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups. One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA’s estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming. A related regulation would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks. A third rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.
Though these moves may be reversed under the terms of the Congressional Review Act, it has not proven to be very effective in the past. Senate holds may permit just one senator to keep in place a particularly retrograde rule–and the notice and comment needed to reverse it within the executive branch may take a long time. If the hold practice remains robust, Sens. Inhofe or Coburn of Oklahoma may simply block Congressional reversal of any of these moves.
posted by Kaimipono D. Wenger
This post continues a series on incorrect information being circulated about California’s Proposition 8. I previously blogged about religious freedom issues — that is, whether churches would be forced to marry gay couples.
A second major category of lies about Prop 8 relates to antidiscrimination laws. For instance, one widely circulated document lists as various “consequences” if Prop 8 does not pass: “photographers cannot now refuse to photograph gay marriages, doctors cannot now refuse to perform artificial insemination of gays even given other willing doctors.”
posted by Danielle Citron
Election officials try to alleviate voters’ concerns about the reliability of e-voting machines with the following refrain: labs ran our machines through rigorous testing and certified them as reliable and safe. But, of course, those officials fail to explain that many of the e-voting machines in use today were certified by labs whose credibility has been seriously called into question. The Election Assistance Commission has just suspended SysTest Labs, a company that tested and certified voting machines since 2001, due to their “failure to conform to procedures and requirements set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.” According to the EAC, SysTest failed to create and validate testing methods, maintain proper documentation of its testing, and employ properly trained or qualified personnel. The key question is really: if all of that is true, what did the testing lab do at all?
To add to voters’ worries, another lab involved in testing today’s e-voting equipment, CIBER, similarly faced suspension by the EAC in January 2007 due to its lax oversight of vendors’ e-voting systems. And even long before CIBER’s suspension, it was roundly criticized for its security and reliability problems. (CIBER appears to be back in the testing game, along with three other companies).
All of this suggests that the certification of these machines should give us little comfort–two of the four testing labs that certified the software running our voting machines were less than reliable. Moreover, as for all of the e-voting machines that we will use on Tuesday, vendors paid for the testing labs’ services and the certification reports were never released to the public, raising concerns about the lack of impartiality of all of the testing labs.
posted by Neil Buchanan
Early last month, in my first guest post on Concurring Opinions, I posted some comments about the differences between the ways economists and lawyers think about problems. Today, in my last guest post, I return to the subject of lawyers and economists.
While any observation about the mindsets of lawyers and economists (or anyone else, for that matter) surely oversimplifies, I noted in my earlier post that — based on my experiences both as an economics professor and as a law professor — each profession seems to instill certain tendencies in its practitioners. While lawyers seem to take an all-or-nothing approach to problems (leading them too often to reject useful partial solutions because “that won’t solve the problem”), economists come to believe their models just a bit too much. On the latter point, Alan Greenspan’s recent testimony before Congress to the effect that he has been in “shocked disbelief” at the failure of his long-held model of how the economy works (unregulated markets will lead to good results) has shown the potentially enormous negative consequences of the economist’s default mindset.
Beyond the tendencies that are drilled into members of the two professions (or which, perhaps, lead to self-selection into the two professions), a more interesting question is what lawyers and economists actually do. More precisely, when we have a public policy problem, how do the skill sets of lawyers and economists determine their respective usefulness in dealing with the problem? Again, I make no claim that
posted by Frank Pasquale
Having suggested some conditions for the coming digital library of Alexandria, I should have commented on this Google deal earlier. But I’ve been way too busy to read the details in the proposed settlement. No one can doubt its importance–as Mike Madison has said, we may be “seeing the early stages of the beginning of the end of copyright law as we know it.” Google’s side of the story can be found here, and I look forward to reading their and the Authors’ Guild account of it. For now, I’m worried by Harvard’s decision to criticize the deal and back out of Book Search:
“As we understand it, the settlement contains too many potential limitations on access to and use of the books by members of the higher-education community and by patrons of public libraries,” Harvard’s university-library director, Robert C. Darnton, wrote in a letter to the library staff. He noted that “the settlement provides no assurance that the prices charged for access will be reasonable, especially since the subscription services will have no real competitors [and] the scope of access to the digitized books is in various ways both limited and uncertain.” . . . . “For now,” the statement concluded, “the Harvard University Library will continue to explore other ways to open up its collections more broadly for the common good.”
I had thought that legislation would be an ideal way to assure that Google’s aspirations here best served the public interest–and that there would be a long time to think about how to do that well (for example, the Copyright Act of 1976 evolved over at least 16 years). But it now appears that this settlement may govern the dominant means of digital access to and distribution of books for a very long time–and that those who care about these issues will have to organize quickly if they want any input.
posted by Susan Kuo
The acrimony of the current election season has created rifts between family members, friends, and strangers alike. Finger pointing between Obama and McCain supporters has become knee-jerk habit; neither side has qualms about assuming the worst with respect to the other. Yesterday, my local rag featured a small-scale example of this in its Letters to the Editor (here):
As I drove around my neighborhood recently, I was happy to see signs for both political candidates. I thought how lucky we are to live in a free country where we can have different beliefs but still get along.
Imagine my shock, then, when I got up recently to find the McCain signs gone from our yard and our neighbors’ yards. The Obama signs were not taken. But then I thought that this is a typical thing for liberals to do. They do not really want to have us all living in harmony (like they’re always saying), but have always and still do want to force us to believe the way they believe.
I guess they don’t realize that if we are not allowed to keep signs up in our yard that are different from theirs, then this is no longer a free country.
To the folks who are going around town stealing Obama campaign signs from yards: Friends, you are doing the right thing. Desperate times demand desperate measures, and you are clearly desperate. Of course, your childish vandalism will have no effect on the outcome of the election, which your candidate is on the way to losing.
In fact, having a campaign sign in your yard probably won’t have much effect on the outcome, but folks have a right to free expression, of which our yard signs are a form.
So what your thefts say about you is that you cannot stand free expression and that you apparently believe you have a right to interfere with others’ political speech. Why am I not surprised?
I’ve heard it said that the bond of shared experiences can help folks on opposite sides of an issue find common ground. Maybe that’s where we should be putting our campaign signs.
posted by Miriam Cherry
The legal blogosphere (with good reason) has been so abuzz (ablog?) with the financial crisis that I felt adding my two cents might be overkill (I’d add links to all the good blog posts, but figure it’s just easier for you to scroll down and read them).
I will say, though, that teaching Business Associations this fall has been fascinating yet challenging because I’ve really (really, really!) wanted to spend time talking about that lumbering elephant swinging its trunk and trying to get into my classroom. At the same time, of course, we have to go through the basic doctrines – choice of entity, piercing the veil, shareholder primacy, etc., etc.
I have been striking a balance by having a few limited discussions of the root causes of the crisis, and to use it as a way to discuss matters already raised, including conflicts of interest, excessive risk, and principal-agent problems. I am also using this as a vehicle to explain “short sales,” and giving an introduction to some of the broad outlines of securities regulation that I examine later in the course. My students also analyzed the initial text of the Bailout Bail (the rather alarming short version), and they write short “response papers” to stories in the W$J.
While you don’t want to ignore that rather large creature with wrinkly gray skin, I also don’t want to do much more. I remember spending 99% of my legal ethics class (w/A. Dershowitz) discussing the ethics of the then-pending Clinton impeachment. It was a stretch, and only manageable because of who the professor was. How do you incorporate current events into the classroom?
posted by Deven Desai
Yes the favorite oddity of American culture is back and just in time for Halloween. We don’t mind ultra-violent films but say porno or show some nudity and it’s time to ban a film. First, note that part of the ad campaign for Zack and Miri Make a Porno have dropped the “Make a Porno” part of the title. Yes it is such a bad word. Now it seems that Larry Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz and the wildly cleverly named Megaplex Theaters has banned the film from his theater chain.
Fair enough. That is his choice. The odd part is that the chain has happily run Saw V “which features beheadings and explicit self-mutilation” and is “Rated R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity.” It also runs Quarantine “Rated R for bloody violent and disturbing content, terror and language.”
Now suppose that the issue is, as claimed, that Porno has “‘graphic nudity and graphic sex’ and that it was ‘too close to an NC-17.’” How does one explain that Sex Drive, Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some drug and alcohol use – all involving teens. is playing on a couple screens within the Megaplex chain?
It is perhaps one word, a five letter word, porno. AHHHH!!!!! RUN AWAY!! RUN AWAY!!!! The horror. The horror. Oh no that’s the porno. The porno.
Family Safe Media claims some rather wild numbers for the porn industry ($13.3 billion spent in the U.S. and $97 billion worldwide) and concludes “As you can probably see from reading the above statistics, it is important to have a complete Internet safety program in place consisting of an Internet filter and parental controls” which it happens to sell. Yet a Fox News story from 2007 claims that the U.S. porn industry had “Total revenue for 2006 … at an astounding $12.92 billion.” compared to $9 billion for “legitimate mainstream American cinema.”
With all that money being spent and all that media being consumed can just the word porno really cause such a stir? Apparently so.
Then again it may be that Kevin Smith just upsets folks. For some it is the subject matter of his films. For me, it is that some of his films are decent and some are rot. In fact, they’re all rubbish! That’s it! My theater chain hereby bans all Kevin Sm.. What? Oh the kids like his stuff? I don… Huh? He is doing a new movie called Jeb and Rebba Make a Gorno? Brief nudity and lots of dismemberment? All right. I kind of like that. Let’s run it on four screens.
posted by Kaimipono D. Wenger
Jaya’s post examines the issue on a micro level — should a Proposition 8 opponent allow a misperception to go uncorrected, in order to support their political goals?
But really, the same story plays out on a much larger scale. This is not limited to either camp; I’m sure that lies have happened on both sides of the debate. Politics brings out the worst in many people. However, one thing that has particularly bothered me as a Californian this election season has been the systematic dissemination of lies and misinformation by Prop 8 proponents.
This election has seen a number of specific, legal claims made about Prop 8 and gay marriage:
Churches will be closed. Ministers will be jailed. Gay marriage will be taught to kindergarteners as “just as good as traditional marriage.” Adoption agencies will be forced to kowtow to gay couples. Churches will be forced to perform gay weddings, contrary to their doctrine. Photographers will be forced to chronicle gay weddings. Churches will lose their tax exemptions. I’ve heard every one of these (often in multiple iterations) from friends and associates who support the proposition. And to top it off, of course, cute little girls will be sent home with copies of _King and King_. “Think it can’t happen?,” asks one commercial. “Think again!”
It is true, of course, that the _Marriage Cases_ opinion had some legal effects, and that Prop 8, if it passes, will have some legal effects as well. That said, it seems clear that a number of greatly exaggerated, misleading, or downright dishonest legal claims are being advanced by Prop 8 proponents. This is particularly disappointing since some of these arguments are being made by individuals linked to religious organizations which have a stated institutional commitment to honesty and integrity as a religious value.
posted by Dave Hoffman
After the Phillies won last night, I went out to Broad Street with tens of thousands of my fellow Philadelphians to celebrate. I felt happy, but in a vaguely distanced way, stunned as I was by the unexpected reality of a major sports team championship in Philly. Because Philadelphia is such a small place (in some ways) I saw three students on the street in fairly quick order. Good times.
As I watched the celebration gather steam (fireworks! champagne! mosh pits!) I thought back to a post I’d written about watching Naples soccer fans celebrate a soccer victory back in ’07.
Apparently, Naples tied with Genova in a soccer match, resulting in both teams being promoted to Series A soccer, or the major league. This led to a general “celebration” consisting of an impromptu “parade” of thousands of mopeds and cars, flags flying and horns blaring, with the occasional firework (or pistol?) thrown into the mix. I expressed some doubt then and now about the celebratory atmosphere not just because there were some random acts of violence against Genovese fans, but because the scene was decidedly chaotic. I also question whether a parade can occur simultaneously on every main street in town.
Here, again, the naive foreign tourist might think to himself that the law had broken down, resulting in a potentially bad situation, a view itself reinforced by a Napolese citizens who told that tourist that it was “very dangerous” to walk to the train station. But a more realistic analysis demonstrated that so long as that tourist walked at a brisk pace while shouting “Forza Napoli” at intervals, he could effectively comply with the new set of norms and not be sanctioned by passing celebrants. Plus, I hailed a cab halfway through the walk.
This post was accurate, except that “brisk walk” really needs to be re-written as “a terrified shambling run, dragging luggage behind”. I remember thinking, while shambling, that if this were only happening in Philadelphia I wouldn’t be scared, because I would have a better situation sense of what was appropriate celebration and what was rioting. That is, a “riot” is a subjective thing, determined by your own contextual and culturally-determined view of what kind of public behavior is ok. I don’t speak Italian well enough to know what happy screams sound like, and without a nuanced sense of language, smiles start to look like the prelude to a mugging.
This is a long way of saying that while fireworks, smashing bottles, and random people screaming in Naples made me fear for my life, those same activities on Broad Street last night only made me feel closer to my fellow celebrants. I was right: when you are home, raucous celebrations feel entirely appropriate.
That said, it is true that I left the party around 11:30, before a night’s work of drinking kicked in and the scene turned a bit more ugly. (A few upturned cars, some smashed windows, but no reported serious injuries. (Cf. Boston).
(Image Source: Chris Bowers)
posted by Danielle Citron
Lisa Fairfax at the Conglomerate has a thoughtful post on state ballot initiatives to legalize gambling. She writes:
“[T]his election day, voters in several states will be considering ballot initiatives involving gambling or lotteries. Indeed, my own state of Maryland has proposed such an initiative, which would add a new constitutional amendment approving up to 15,000 “video lottery terminals” in five locations throughout the state. Like other states, Maryland’s initiative aims to raise money to cover its significant budget shortfall—a shortfall of about $430 million. As one can imagine, these initiatives have sparked considerable debate, and that debate seems to be heightened when viewed in the context of the current financial and economic crisis.
Proponents of the Maryland measure contend that the initiative could potentially raise $600 million, a significant portion of which would go to fund public education. From this perspective, in a time when states are strapped for cash and thus not only have had to increase taxes, but also have had to take measures such as slashing budgets and instituting hiring freezes and/or mandatory furloughs, it is hard to argue with a proposal designed to inject $600 million into the state’s coffers. As the Baltimore Sun noted in its recent endorsement of the measure, while raising revenue from gambling is not ideal, it may be better than the alternative choices of higher taxes or allowing public education and health care to suffer if budget cuts continue unabated. Proponents also point out that many Marylanders travel out of state to nearby states like Delaware or West Virginia where gambling is allowed, and hence we might as well enable these Marylanders to spend those funds in their own state.
Opponents first question whether gambling initiatives can be counted on to raise significant revenue. Given recent reports indicating that revenue has fallen sharply in many casinos, this is not an idle question. These reports reflect the reality that people no longer have discretionary funds to spend on activities like gambling. Then too, opponents insist that gambling has costly secondary effects because, as studies suggest, it is addictive, leads to increased alcoholism and otherwise negatively impacts other businesses and the surrounding community. Moreover, opponents express concern that gambling measures will prove especially harmful to lower class communities, imposing what some describe as a regressive tax on those communities. Again, such an argument has particular salience in these economic times. Indeed, if more people are living paycheck to paycheck, can or should we pin even part of our economic recovery on the hope that they will use part of their paychecks to gamble?
In the end, much like recovery/bailout measures at the federal level, these gambling initiatives sorely test our ability to find solutions that do not exacerbate our problems or otherwise offer short-term fixes that undermine our long-term ability for economic growth and financial health. In its opposition to the initiative, the Washington Post insisted that the gambling measure will not promote healthy economic growth and hence voters should resist the “false promise of pain-free revenue” that the gambling measure represents. The Baltimore Sun also recognizes the problems associated with relying on gambling revenue to finance government, but nevertheless suggest that while relying on such revenue represents a painful choice for voters, these extraordinary times require us to make painful choices.”
posted by Frank Pasquale
No comment needed here:
U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years. . . . Critics, including economists and members of Congress, question why banks should get government money if they already have enough money to pay dividends — or conversely, why banks that need government money are still spending so much on dividends. . . .
“The whole purpose of the program is to increase lending and inject capital into Main Street. If the money is used for dividends, it defeats the purpose of the program,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). . . [But] Ed Yingling, chief executive of the American Bankers Association, said he was increasingly hearing from banking executives who feel they should not be forced to accept money with so many strings attached.
posted by Frank Pasquale
As the election draws nigh, financial panic has given way to something like legislation-phobia in some swathes of the electorate. I think that caution can be overblown, but has a ring of truth when it brings up specific instances of misguided government responses to crises in the past. Sasha Abramsky’s recent article on fear provides a great example of the right kind of cautions for collectivists:
Today the very notion of “recession” is enough to put the Federal Reserve Board into a tizzy. Yet in rushing to lower interest rates to stave off a recession in the middle part of this year, and in then throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into hastily cobbled-together, poorly coordinated rescue packages for banks and mortgage lenders, the Fed may well ultimately have unleashed an inflationary spiral that will, in the long run, do at least as much economic damage as a corrective recession would.
As for climate change, while it’s clearly a massive problem, it’s also an extremely complex one. Yet suddenly, as the reality of a warming planet belatedly enters public consciousness, we’ve all become climate experts. Every storm, every deviation from the norm regarding daily temperatures, rainfall, wind speed, is now blamed on global warming. And so we look for quick-fix solutions. In glomming onto one such panacea, biofuels, we may actually have made the problem worse, while contributing to a massive global food crisis. In short, we’re becoming so fearful of the future — the next attack, the next economic collapse, the next environmental catastrophe — that we’re undermining the present.
It’s useful to compare that wise counsel to the usual empty rhetorical attacks on collective action.
posted by Frank Pasquale
Robert Pear’s piece “Women Buying Health Policies Pay a Penalty” describes one more sad side effect of efforts to make health insurance coverage more of a market:
Insurers say they have a sound reason for charging different premiums: Women ages 19 to 55 tend to cost more than men because they typically use more health care, especially in the childbearing years. But women still pay more than men for insurance that does not cover maternity care. In the individual market, maternity coverage may be offered as an optional benefit, or rider, for a hefty additional premium.
To the extent insurance spread risk, we’d see less of this. But as market forces subvert that function of insurance, we should expect any group with higher-than-normal costs to bear higher-than-normal burdens–even if they have no control over such costs.
The market may do some magic, but it can’t reward women for the burden of childbearing. It can’t combat (and it may well promote) the continuing wage disparities between men and women. So to the extent we rely on it to distribute vital human goods, we settle into a system where women alone have to take the career hit childbearing entails, and often get saddled with a disproportionate share of responsibilities for children’s upbringing–and on top of all this they have to pay more for health insurance!
Aware of such trends, Prof. Elizabeth Schiltz wrote a superb article entitled “Should Bearing the Child Mean Bearing All the Cost? A Catholic Perspective on the Sacrifice of Motherhood and the Common Good” (in Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15 (2007)). In our upcoming presidential election, it’s fascinating to see how seriously one candidate takes this problem–and how eagerly the other would continue to segment risk pools.
posted by Howard Wasserman
One key to teaching procedural classes is to get students thinking about how to frame litigation when it is brought, incorporating all the doctrines and rules that we have been drilling into them. A good new example is Berg v. Obama, the lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania lawyer to stop Barack Obama from being elected President on the ground that Obama is not a natural-born citizen. The lawsuit was dismissed last week, correctly, for lack of standing.
But let’s assume Berg had standing to challenge the deprivation of his constitutional right to vote for an eligible presidential candidate (since many commenters on this site have derided reliance on standing as a dodge by Obama and the court). It is worth thinking about how one could go about bringing such a lawsuit–whom to sue for what claims and what relief. Berg’s initial strategy was to sue Obama, the DNC, and the FEC–and only the latter two were targeted on the constitutional claims. The big problem (mentioned, but under-analyzed in the opinion) was that neither Obama nor the DNC is a state (or federal) actor, at least not for purposes of running for election. Moreover, I do not see how, even if a court were to find that Obama is ineligible for the presidency, the court could enjoin Obama from running for president. Enforcement of the prohibition on a non-natural-born citizen becoming President does not rest with the non-natural-born citizen–it is not a constitutional obligation to refrain from trying to become President. It is a duty on the federal and state government officials who control the machinery not to allow him to be selected as President or to take the oath and assume the office. It is true that, in any suit against some state or federal electoral official, Obama would intervene as a defendant under FRCP 24 to protect his interests. But that is different than making him a party in the first instance and having the injunction run against him.
So who should Berg have sued? Let’s have some fun. My thanks to my colleague Tom Baker, who wasted fifteen minutes talking through this with me.
posted by Miriam Cherry
It’s been roughly four years since Larry Lessig called attention to the problem of so-called “email bankruptcy,” described in this article in Wired Magazine. Essentially it’s a type of sheer volume overload, where it becomes so overwhelming that the recipient “gives up” even trying to respond to the messages. In this case, the recipient sent out an automated message notifying the senders that they should not even attempt a reply.
Part of this is that Professor Lessig is a visionary and very popular, and the same could be said of any well-known “public intellectual” figure (our very own set of celebrities!). But I think this question is still lurking four years later: how do you deal with the creeping numbers of emails? I’m not talking about spam, but more just large volume from people you do know or should know or have some responsibility to.
I have a mixed relationship with email. I wonder if this is partially an age/lifestyle question. I went through high school without having an email account, only to go to a college where the phone sat unused and dates were made by sending a flirtatious email (far easier than getting up the nerve and getting past the awkwardness to ask out/be asked out in person!) All through law school, email was “fun.” I used to joke about my email addiction; partially I think the addiction is that it is a gamble – you never know what might turn up in your inbox. That long-lost friend gets in touch, someone starts a “flame” war, you get news of a breaking case.
Somewhere in there, working for the firms, actually, email (and keeping it up with it) turned into something to be “managed.” Step away from the computer to talk to someone and you might miss an entire conversation. Further, as easy as it is to insult someone on email (forget about tone), it’s equally as easy to insult someone by not replying at all, or in some cases replying late (if s/he really cared, my message would be opened rapidly and with glee).
I wonder though, if some of us don’t go through varying phases or cycles of email bankruptcy (perhaps selectively so). How many of us keep email open all day? Check emails from the phone? Read email only on weekdays? Read emails only during certain hours in the day? Print all their email out and mark it up (someone down the hall from me actually does this)? Check emails while on vacation? Go through a month where you answer only minimal emails only then to become very chatty the next month?
It is probably not the most efficient to keep email open all the time, but I always have had an email addiction, so I do that three or four days of the week when I’m working. I do try to prioritize student emails to make sure that they are getting answers fairly quickly, although that gets difficult when you have a Business Associations class approaching 100 students.
Are norms and best practices and efficiencies coming into place for this? Do any law schools have guidelines or suggestions for those who are getting overwhelmed? I ran into some short self-help articles and I’m sure if I went to the business section of the library or local bookstore I could probably find many general materials on effective use of email. But what about the law firm and specifically law school environments. Are there any special characteristics that might lend themselves to best practices there?
posted by Stanford Law Review
Lee Epstein & Tonja Jacobi
posted by Dave Hoffman
In light of the pervasive belief in electoral fraud discussed by commentators to this post, and the deep skepticism of the franchise evidenced by some notable bloggers, I am passing along the following lovely story:
Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country’s first black presidential nominee.
. . .
Jones, a delicate, thin woman wearing golden-rimmed glasses, giggled as the family discussed this year’s presidential election. She is too weak to go the polls, so two of her 10 children — Eloise Baker, 75, and Joyce Jones — helped her fill out a mail-in ballot for Barack Obama, Baker said. “I feel good about voting for him,” Amanda Jones said.
Jones’ father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Joyce Jones said. The family owned more than 100 acres of land in Cedar Creek at one point, she said.
Amanda Jones’ father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.
Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn’t recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said.
The antiquarian in me loves this story, not least because of the idea that we’re just two generations removed from the Emancipation proclamation, and the reminder that the poll tax was a reality for lots of living folks.
The troublemaker in me wants to find a countervailing story: “Son of confederate veteran votes for McCain.”
posted by Vanderbilt Law Review
Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 61, Number 5 (October 2008)
Scott Dodson, A Darwinist View of the Living Constitution, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1319 (2008).
Frances H. Foster, Individualized Justice in Disputes over Dead Bodies, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1351 (2008).
Darian M. Ibrahim, The (Not So) Puzzling Behavior of Angel Investors, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1405 (2008).
Austen L. Parrish, The Effects Test: Extraterritoriality’s Fifth Business, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1455 (2008).
John Haubenreich, The iPhone and the DMCA: Locking the Hands of Consumers, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1507 (2008).
Tory H. Lewis, Managing Manure: Using Good Neighbor Agreements to Regulate Pollution from Agricultural Production, 61 Vand. L. Rev. 1555 (2008).
posted by Frank Pasquale
New York City has mandated that many restaurants disclose calorie counts, and the results can be pretty surprising:
[W]hen three performers who spent the day rehearsing for “Shrek the Musical” walked into a restaurant on 42nd Street recently, they saw on the menu that a Japanese-style beef bowl had 1,090 calories. They decided to head down the street for a salad. “Counting calories is so 1980s,” said Rachel Stern, one of the dancers. “But when it’s right there, it’s kind of hard to ignore.”
500-calorie muffins and 1300-calorie salads are a real wake-up call. There are a few disappointments, though. As a frequent Dunkin’ Donuts customer (Starbucks’ Fritalian is way too elitist for me), I’ve noticed many of their franchises putting calorie ranges next to items–leaving customers to make a probabilistic assessment of how much a given donut will clog their arteries.
But some information is better than none, and it’s hard to see how people like Ed Glaeser can oppose a trend in policymaking as helpful as this. Philip Zimbardo sizes up the situation well–and explains how we can do more to promote good decisionmaking.