Sue Them? Issue a Writ?

How Appealing reports:

"Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Brings Federal Bench, Bar to Honolulu": The Public Information Office of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued this news release today. One of the scheduled presentations is titled -- I kid you not -- "Killer Asteroids and What We Can Do About Them."

OK, judges are just as entitled as anyone else to have some general interest presentations to add variety to their conferences, and I'm told Hawaii is known for its astronomers. Still, it's at first glance a funny juxtaposition.

Colin (mail):
Could it be related to Posner's recent book about disaster scenarios generally?
6.6.2007 7:58pm
Clearly this is a joke - note the URL, which is for CE9, not CA9, which is the Ninth Circuit's server.
6.6.2007 8:00pm
Colin (mail):
No, that's still CA9. "CE" just means that it's the office of the Circuit Executive. Jokes don't usually get posted on .gov servers anyway.
6.6.2007 8:02pm
Bill Woods (mail):
Issue an injunction, until they submit an Environmental Impact Statement?
6.6.2007 8:07pm
Investigation to be led by Ken Starr.
6.6.2007 8:17pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Killer asteroids? AEDPA, man. They haven't a prayer.
6.6.2007 8:20pm
ThePartyoftheFirstPart (mail) (www):
The Hawaii Judiciary occasionally seems to be one or two shrimp short of a pu pu platter. A few years ago, the Hawaii judiciary funded a "futures research" project. One of the results was an in-depth study of the legal rights of robots.
Yes, yes, I know, there are other lawyers who predict that robot rights are just around the corner, but they would probably say that even without taxpayer subsidies.
6.6.2007 9:48pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
If you read the entire program, you'll see that they also have a session on ocular health. It looks to me like they've just included a couple of non-legal sessions to spice up the program. The one on killer asteroids is probably partly just because it is cool and provides the opportunity for jokes about TROs and environmental impact statements and partly because as Eugene says astronomy is strong in Hawaii. (I understand that Hawaii is a good place for astronomy because it is, or was, relatively undeveloped and so had relatively little light pollution, and it has relatively high but easily accessible mountains on which to put observatories.)
6.6.2007 10:00pm

Hawaii is a great site for a couple reasons. First, it's smack in the middle of an ocean, so the airflow is quite smooth. This means that atmospheric turbulence is small, so the seeing (how well one can resolve things) is excellent. Second, Mauna Kea is at almost 14,000 feet, which puts it above much of the atmosphere and wator vapor (and often the clouds, which tend to stay low). Water vapor can absorb much of the light in the infrared. The lack of development is helpful, but not critical. The accessibility is a big help - the islands are shield volcanoes, which means they are very broad (easy to build a road).

Mauna Kea, on the Big Island, is probably the second best astronomical site after Chile.
6.6.2007 10:20pm
frankcross (mail):
Clearly, an invitation for judicial activism
6.6.2007 11:55pm
I had the same thought as Colin (Posner is big on the asteroid threat).
6.7.2007 12:22am
Dave N (mail):
Oh, no, not only is the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit, but so are the Cosmos (God's revenge for Newdow perhaps?)
6.7.2007 12:30am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1. The 9th Circus always holds their conferences in Hawaii. It gives them an expensive paid vacation in addition to their usual one.

2. It's a pretty good location for astronomy, actually. Just why it is so conducive to law and judicial conferences is mysterious. And I suppose they need a lot of presentations to ensure they spend sufficient time studying.
6.7.2007 1:54am
Further proof that the Ninth is incapable of acting as a court of limited jurisdiction.
6.7.2007 10:30am
Dave N (mail):
David Hardy,

I am no defender of the Ninth Circuit's overall jurisprudence or reputation, but I would note that the Ninth Circuit regularly conducts oral arguments in Honolulu, largely because the Pacific territorial islands are part of the Ninth Circuit.
6.7.2007 10:34am
Paul Johnson (mail):
The 2004-2006 conferences were in Monterey, Spokane, and Huntington Beach, respectively -- hardly in the luxury-vacation class.
6.7.2007 11:08am
BobH (mail):
Dave Hardy says: "The 9th Circus always holds their conferences in Hawaii."

I was a Lawyer Rep to two 9th Circuit Conferences, in the late 1970s. Neither was held in Hawaii (one was in Sun Valley, ID and the other in Monterey, CA). I wish the Conferences HAD been in Hawaii, since I was the Lawyer Rep from Guam and it would have been much cheaper for me to get to Honolulu than to either of the actual venues.
6.7.2007 1:19pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
That's just stupid. Everyone knows the real problem is invasion by extraterrestrials.
6.7.2007 2:40pm
Perhaps the judicial branch is just starting to catch up with the executive and legislative branches on the serious but low probability threat of large asteroid strikes. Some calculations put the risk of death by asteroid impact at 1 in 7500 lifetime, about the same as a plane crash. It's just that asteroid impacts will kill A LOT more people. No one should think of this kind of "black swan" event as a joke.

On the other hand, there's little obvious involvement for the judiciary, except in determining property rights for the asteroids. That is a serious issue (and a complicated one, from an international law standpoint), albeit one that is presumably a ways off.
6.7.2007 2:59pm