Wednesday, January 7, 2004
A heartening tale for students writing law review articles:
Reader Jared Gross writes:
I am writing to inform you of . . . [the] help you provided me, which has resulted in my Journal note being given an offer of publication. My own Journal . . . declined to print my note . . . . [But] another law review has made me an offer . . . . So instead of a "student note" it is an "attorney article."
Why do you care? When I began as a staff member on my journal, I was advised to read your piece on writing a student note. Then, a week ago, I was perusing your blog and followed a link that brought me to the list of journals/reviews accepting submissions via email. Well, two weeks later, and I have an offer.
This could be you!
Sex discrimination in New York Times book review? Duncan Frissell
discusses the subject.
The Harvard Law Review
, vol. 117, p. 481, counts the percentage of times that each pair of Justices voted together in the 2002-03 Term (apparently the number of times they joined the same opinion, not just reached the same bottom line -- "the number of decisions in which the two Justices agreed in a majority, plurality, dissenting, or concurring opinion"). According to this table, which Justices were most often aligned?
I'll post the answer tomorrow, and note the first person who figured out the correct answer -- but no fair peeking! (UPDATE: The answer is here
UPDATE: The first three responses were Scalia and Thomas. But if the answer were that obvious, why would I be asking?
NOTE: I originally omitted "in the 2002-03 Term"; sorry about that! Fortunately, most of my correspondents seem to have assumed this.
The new Bush immigration plan:
offers one summary. The key plank is to give illegal workers a three or possibly six-year temporary visa if they step forward with an [illegal] job in hand. When the temporary visa expires, then they have to leave the country. In the meantime they could apply for a greencard, although they would not receive preferential treatment.
The full details remain to be hammered out, but I see at least one obvious flaw with the idea. Most illegal immigrants do not much trust governments of any kind. Unless they expect a significant boost in wages, why should they step forward? To enjoy the benefits of U.S. federal labor regulations? Try telling that story around rural Mexico, where many of the workers come from. The only question is whether you get laughs or hostility in response.
I wonder also how employers of illegals should feel about such an offer to legalize the workers. Either wages will go up or not. If wages don't go up, workers won't step forward. If wages do go up, employers won't necessarily want illegal workers to step forward and may pressure them not to. There is also the question of what legal liability the employer would have, if his workers step forward and admit their illegality.
I can see that this policy is a move in the right direction, but I suspect that a true, workable amnesty will have to be more "blanket" in nature.
Cultures of Fear:
Mark Steyn has an interesting column, Go ahead, burglar, make my day
, in which he compares a community that allows personal self defense from one that discourages or punishes it.
But that's the point: you're there, the police aren't. And, even in jurisdictions whose constabularies aren't quite so monumentally useless as Britain's, a citizen in his own home should have the right to make his own assessment of the danger without being second-guessed by fellows who aren't on the scene.
And, once you give the citizen that right, he hardly ever has to exercise it. Take Miss Smith's situation: she's at home, but the burglar still comes a-knocking. Thanks to burglar alarms, British criminals have figured out that it's easier to wait till you come home, ring the door bell, and punch you in the kisser.
In my part of the world, that's virtually unknown. In America as a whole, 12.7 per cent of burglaries are of "occupied homes"; in Britain, it's 59 per cent. Installing a laser system may make your property more secure, but it makes you less so. As for Ann Widung's "culture of fear", it's not American therapists but English ones who've made a lucrative speciality out of treating children traumatised by such burglaries.
(Thanks to Instapundit for the link)
Observant versus non-Observant Jews:
(via How Appealing), about local opposition to a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue, spurred largely by less-observant Jews, reminds me of what my observant Jewish friends often tell me: the worst boss to have is often a secular Jew, who often evinces hostility to the observant Jews' religious requirements; much better to have a Christian boss, especially a religious Christian boss, who tends to be far more accommodating of Sabbath observance, kashruth, and other concerns of the observant Jewish employee. On the other hand, concerns by less-observant Jews about the religious makeup of the community are not motivated by pure prejudice. Less-observant Jews tend to be extremely loyal to, and supportive of, good local public schools, while Orthodox Jews usually send their kids to Jewish day schools and therefore have far less interest in the public schools (which can also affect local property values).
Imperialism and Colonialism
Chris Brooke is plugging
Sankar Muthu's excellent book Enlightenment against Empire
. I've mentioned it before, as well, but thought I'd take the occasion to mention the upcoming conference "Colonialism and Its Legacies"
I'm cochairing with my colleague Iris Young April 23-25. (That's the same weekend that APA Central is in Chicago-- philosophers coming to town for that conference should feel free to walk the couple of blocks to our conference as well. Muthu is among the presenters; as are most of the other leading historians of political thought about empire and colonialism.
With the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy
meeting out of the way, the colonialism conference becomes my next full-time preoccupation. But speaking of the ASPLP, the newest volume of its Nomos
series is out: Secession and Self-Determination,
coedited by Stephen Macedo of Princeton and Allen Buchanan of Duke. I think it's an especially good one, with contributions from Donald Horowitz, Wayne Norman, Margaret Moore, Mark Brandon, and Buchanan himself, among others (where, yes, "others" includes me.)
Ninth Circuit (Sort of) Gets it Right:
Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard
conflict between Peterson and Hewlett- Packard arose when the company began displaying "diversity posters" in its Boise office as one component of its workplace diversity campaign. The first series consisted of five posters, each showing a photograph of a Hewlett- Packard employee above the caption "Black," "Blonde," "Old," "Gay," or "Hispanic." Posters in the second series included photographs of the same five employees and a description of the featured employee's personal interests, as well as the slogan "Diversity is Our Strength."
Peterson describes himself as a "devout Christian," who believes that homosexual activities violate the commandments contained in the Bible and that he has a duty "to expose evil when confronted with sin." In response to the posters that read "Gay," Peterson posted two Biblical scriptures on an overhead bin in his work cubicle. The scriptures were printed in a typeface large enough to be visible to co-workers, customers, and others who passed through an adjacent corridor. One of Peterson's postings was taken from Corinthians 10:12. The other featured the following passage from Isaiah:
The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves. Isaiah 3:9
Subsequently, Peterson posted a third scriptural passage. This time he chose the well-known and highly controversial passage from Leviticus:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be put upon them. Leviticus 20:13
Peterson's direct supervisor removed the scriptural passages after consulting her supervisor and determining that they could be offensive to certain employees, and that the posting of the verses violated Hewlett-Packard's policy prohibiting harassment. Throughout the relevant period, Hewlett-Packard's harassment policy stated as follows:
Any comments or conduct relating to a person's race, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic background that fail to respect the dignity and feeling [sic] of the individual are unacceptable.
*2 Over the course of several days after Peterson posted the Biblical materials, he attended a series of meetings with Hewlett-Packard managers, during which he and they tried to explain to each other their respective positions. Peterson explained that he meant the passages to communicate a message condemning "gay behavior." The scriptural passages, he said, were "intended to be hurtful. And the reason [they were] intended to be hurtful is you cannot have correction unless people are faced with truth." Peterson hoped that his gay and lesbian co-workers would read the passages, repent, and be saved.
In these meetings, Peterson also asserted that Hewlett-Packard's workplace diversity campaign was an initiative to "target" heterosexual and fundamentalist Christian employees at Hewlett-Packard, in general, and him in particular. Ultimately, Peterson and the managers were unable to agree on how to resolve the conflict. Peterson proposed that he would remove the offending scriptural passages if Hewlett-Packard removed the "Gay" posters; if, however, Hewlett-Packard would not remove the posters, he would not remove the passages. When the managers rejected both options, Peterson responded: "I don't see any way that I can compromise what I am doing that would satisfy both [Hewlett- Packard] and my own conscience." He further remonstrated: "as long as [Hewlett- Packard] is condoning [homosexuality] I'm going to oppose it...."
Peterson was given time off with pay to reconsider his position. When he returned to work, he again posted the scriptural passages and refused to remove them. After further meetings with Hewlett-Packard managers, Peterson was terminated for insubordination.
Peterson asserted that he was subjected to disparate treatment because of his religion, which he clearly was not, and that H-P failed to reasonably accommodate his religious beliefs, which also is a nonstarter, as H-P, as the court holds, is under no obligation to make all of its employees feel totally comforable at the expense of corporate policies intended to increase productivity and profits (especially when this would involve the uncomfortable employee intentionally making other employees
feel uncomfortable). On this much, the Ninth Circuit and I agree. (Edit: Indeed, I don't think Peterson needed to be acommodated at all. His religious beliefs were in no way being violated. No one asked him to endorse the morality of homosexual conduct, just to tolerate signs asking employees to be tolerant of gays as co-workers.)
However, the opinion, written by arch-liberal Judge Stephen Reinhardt, suggests that H-P's case is strengthened because trying to stop internal discrimination against gays is consistent with the "spirit" of federal and state antidiscrimination laws. Ahem. Neither federal law nor Idaho law bans employment discrimination against gays. There is no such "spirit" of the law, except in Reinhardt's imagination.
Moreover, Reinhardt throws in gratuitous references to Grutter v. Bollinger
(upholding affirmative action in state university admissions and noting the importance of a diverse workplace to corporate America) Romer v. Evans
(invalidating a Colorado initiative banning local gay rights laws) to support the court's conclusion that requiring H-P to take down its pro-diversity posters re gays would create "undue hardship" for H-P. You have to read the whole opinion closely to see it, but I read Reinhardt as subtly suggesting that a company may have a statutory obligation with regard to other minorities, supported by constitutional interests, to enforce pro-diversity policies at the expense of other concerns. By contrast, Reinhardt makes no reference at all to the Dale
case (upholding the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right to exclude gay scoutmasters), even though that opinion suggests that H-P may have a constitutional interest in controlling its own message regarding diversity issues (Dale
is not quite on point because H-P isn't a non-profit expressive association like the Scouts, but it's certainly closer to the mark than is Grutter
). In short, Reinhardt's dicta suggests that H-P's case is strengthened because of public, statutory, and constitutional interests in having companies proactively prevent a hostile environment for minorities, not because of the public, statutory, and constitutional interests in preserving corporate autonomy from antidiscrimination laws that attempt to regulate speech.
Oddly enough, Peterson failed to raise his strongest claim, that H-P's diversity campaign subjected him to a hostile working environment as a conservative Christian-surely the "be tolerant of gays" campaign created a subjectively hostile environment for him
! I think this claim would have lost on the legal merits (and should lose under any rational, and/or First Amendment protective statutory scheme), but then again, a Christian manager won a large settlement from Dairy Mart
for being required to sell Playboy
magazine at the store she managed. I wonder how Reinhardt would have squared his obvious concern for having the law encourage proactive action against hostile environments for other minorities with such a claim by Peterson.
ADDENDUM (in response to readers' queries): Unlike in some cases, there is no hint in this case that H-P's diversity policy was undertaken to comply with federal antidiscrimination laws, and, indeed, the policy encompassed gays, who are NOT protected by such laws. It appears, though it is not certain, that H-P simply believes, rightly or wrongly, that its policy is good for business. If, however, H-P's policy had been responsive to concerns about legal liability, Peterson could have argued that enforcing the policy against his speech to protect against legal liability created a First Amendment issue. Of course, in the absence of direct or indirect state action, Peterson could not assert a First Amendment defense. On the other hand, H-P could at least plausibly raise a First Amendment defense to any interpretation of federal antidiscrimination rules that interfered with its diversity campaign.
Puzzling Bushism of the Day (Slate):
"So thank you for reminding me about the importance of being a good mom and a great volunteer as well."—St. Louis, Jan. 5, 2004
I don't get it -- what's supposedly wrong, otherwise Bushistic, or remotely noteworthy about this? I honestly don't understand. Is it that Bush, being a man, can't himself be a good mom? But he's not saying that it reminded him of the importance of his
being a good mom -- he's saying that it reminded him of the importance of being a good mom, which presumably means (quite soundly, as a matter of grammar and semantics) the importance of moms being good. (Thanks to reader Gregory Taylor for the pointer.)
The Guardian (U.K.) on the environment and on Lomborg: The Daily Ablution
has the scoop.
UPDATE: The Guardian
's environmental editor responds, also at The Daily Ablution; apparently they will be having more about Lomborg shortly.
The trouble with indirect citation:
, I quoted columnist Clarence Page, who was paraphrasing an item from Abigail Thernstrom's & Stephan Thernstrom's No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning
In the survey by Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University social scientist, published in his 1996 book, "Beyond the Classroom," most of the black and Hispanic students surveyed said they could avoid trouble at home as long as their grades stayed above C-minus.
Most of the whites, by contrast, said their parents would give them a hard time if their children came home with anything less than a B-minus.
By contrast, most of the Asian students, whether immigrant or native-born, said that their parents would be upset if they brought home anything less than an A-minus.
I said that this was a fair summary of what the Thernstroms said, but I was working from memory -- and my memory was subtly mistaken, as was Page's quotation: The Steinberg study reports that, to quote the Thernstroms, "Black and Hispanic students got into trouble at home only when their grades fell below C-" -- not that they could avoid trouble as long as their grades stayed above C-, which literally means they got into trouble only when their grades fell below an unmodified C. Not a huge difference (especially since studies like this can't be very precise, and thus might not really be able to measure subtle differences between parents' likely reaction to a C- and parents' likely reaction to a C), but it is a difference, and a reminder to always check the original, since even well-intentioned paraphrases can often mangle things, and multiple paraphrases can yield a game of broken telephone.
Incidentally, I did check the Steinberg book, and can say that the Thernstroms are properly reporting the Steinberg study.
Gibraltar: Anglo culture under siege?
The Rock of Gibraltar was the most interesting locale of my recent honeymoon. Typically we think of Anglo-American culture as penetrating the rest of the world, but in this case the positions are reversed. 30,000 nervous Gibraltarians are surrounded by 40 million Spaniards. Morocco is on the other side. Gibraltar is currently a territory of Britain and the natives hold British passports. Spain has wanted the rock back for many years, mostly as a matter of national pride. The British obtained the possession in the early eighteenth century. Many British politicians simply wish that the issue would go away, but they are reluctant to hand over the territory to Spain. Franco cut off the rock from the mainland for twenty years, a kind of Berlin blockade. It only strengthened the will and identity of the Gibraltarians. Today the country is prosperous and free. Independence under the EU is discussed sometimes, but Spain and Britain would have to agree on terms.
I found the Gibraltarians (sounds like something from a bad science fiction novel, no?) to be very patriotic, very proud of their British connection, proud of martial virtue, and very suspicious of the Spaniards. It does not matter that many of them have darkish complexions and names like Pepe. Gibraltar also has a thriving Jewish community, mostly Orthodox, two hundred families I am told.
Here is a good article
on the Gibraltar question and international law. The future of the rock affects the course of EU cooperation and military strategy, as well as how Taiwan is handled.
If you are ever in southern Spain, take some time and see Gibraltar. It has some of the most spectacular views I know. You also can see many strange remnants of British culture, such as an undue reliance on fish and chips shop, more per capita than you would ever see in Britain.
Why Football Stinks, Part XXVI:
Richard Sandomir, in today's New York Times, has an article
that explains part of the reason football games are becoming completely unwatchable. The big LSU-Oklahoma matchup Sunday night lasted for 3 hours and 43 minutes, of which -- get this! -- a total of 16 minutes and 28 seconds
was actual live football action. The NFL's worse; the Indianapolis-Denver playoff game had all of 12 minutes of live action. 12 minutes!!! It's pathetic, really. I feel sorriest for the folks up in the stands -- at least those of us at home can use our TIVOs to get at the good stuff (and/or switch stations to something decent, like a good, 90-minutes-of-action soccer game).
Israelis Have Given Up on the "Peace Process," For Now:
: "a clear majority of the Jewish public (59 percent) prefer a swift, unilateral separation by Israel from the Palestinians, with the other alternative being to work for an agreement with the Palestinians even if the process takes a long time (today only 29 percent favor that, and 12 percent have no clear preference). " Can you blame them?
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Concealed carry permits:
In California, local law enforcement has nearly complete discretion in deciding whether to grant a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Here's one citizen's tale
of his attempt to get a permit, or at least to get some information on who gets permits and who doesn't. It isn't pretty -- but it isn't surprising, either, when such important decisions are left to the unguided and unreviewed discretion of government officials.
Speaking of good movies, for the heck of it, I decided to find an online version of the made-up article that led to the downfall of New Republic
writer Stephen Glass, the subject of Shattered Glass
. My immediate reaction: how could such obviously nonsensical crap
get past TNR's editors? The piece isn't as realistic as a mediocre Onion
I've recommended American Splendor
before, but it just won
the National Society of Film Critics award for best movie of 2003, which gives me an excuse to recommend it again. Go see it.
Affirmative action bake sales made real:
I bet you thought the campus "affirmative action bake sales," in which anti-race-preferences students sold cookies for a high price to white and Asian students, and a lower price to black and Hispanic students, were just a way to make a political point. It turns out that this is happening in earnest, with much more money at stake. Here's a Washington Post article
Consider the recent federal court settlement of a class-action suit involving a large and prominent savings bank that is an active player in the mortgage market nationwide.
Under the $1.2 million settlement in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, the lending institution -- Flagstar Bank of Troy, Mich. -- admitted "no wrongdoing, liability or improper conduct." But its internal loan pricing instructions distributed in writing to loan officers explicitly required them to charge different fees to different racial groups.
What is unusual, though, is that the instructions required loan officers to limit the fees they charged black and Hispanic home buyers while allowing higher fees to be charged to white borrowers. Here is what Flagstar's "Revenue Per Loan Procedure" policy required of loan officers:
* Minority home buyers could be charged no more than 3 percent in loan origination fees or "points," but white applicants could be charged up to 4 percent.
* Loan officers whose "revenue per loan average" from mortgages made to minority applicants exceeds their "non-minority [white] average" will be subject to disciplinary actions, including probation and termination.
* "Non-minority will be defined as any borrower who is determined on the loan application to be white, not of Hispanic origin." . . .
A Flagstar spokeswoman declined comment on the settlement, noting that the company has a policy against discussing litigation.
However, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Amy Ficklin DeBrota of Indianapolis, said the bank's loan pricing policy -- initiated in May 2001 and discontinued at the end of January 2002 -- resulted in higher mortgage fees being paid by approximately 1,000 white mortgage borrowers. The affected borrowers will receive refunds and non-economic damage awards from the proceeds of the $1.2 million settlement. The lead plaintiff will receive $10,000. . . .
DeBrota believes that while racial preferences in mortgage lending may appear to favor one group over another, the reality is that "it is a lose-lose situation." Those charged lower fees can also be harmed, she argues, "because it creates a disincentive to lend to them." When loan officers stand to earn less from one category of borrowers than another, they will naturally tend to emphasize making loans to clients who will bring them the highest fees and income -- white borrowers, in this case.
The irony behind the Flagstar loan pricing policy? Though not confirmed by Flagstar, DeBrota said the dual-standard loan fee policy originally was put into place as a way to avoid any appearance of discrimination against black and Hispanic borrowers.
Auditors from the federal Office of Thrift Supervision had warned the bank about a possible pattern of higher fees to minority applicants, DeBrota said. The resulting policy instruction to loan officers -- the "Revenue Per Loan Procedure" -- had a subtitle: "Monitoring Fair Lending Practices."
The way to achieve fair lending for minorities, in other words, was to enforce a policy of higher-fee lending to non-minorities. . . .
Thanks to David Boaz for the pointer.
"Jesus Really Had it in for Me Today":
The winning lottery ticket in the Mega Millions jackpot has been turned in, and not by the woman who claimed to have lost it. The apparent real winner told the media
: ''One thing I want to make clear: Luck had nothing to do with it. It was truly a blessing, truly a blessing,'' she said.
I've noticed that Americans have a tendency to publicly attribute any success they have had--anything ranging from winning a Little League playoff game to winning the lottery--to God's intervention on their behalf. But I haven't noticed a countervailing tendency to blame God when things go wrong, an especially annoying defect in the sports world, where victories are freely attributed to Jesus's blessings. If God wanted the Marlins to win the World Series, doesn't that mean he wanted the Yankees to lose? Just once, I'd like to see the losing Super Bowl quarterback tell the media "Guess Jesus really had it in for me today."
UPDATE: Right Coast blogger Tom Smith writes
that I've "walked into one of the great theological debates started by St. Augustine." And in an email beyond my theological depth, reader (and blogger) "Scipio" writes:
My personal suspicion on this is that it comes from the anti-scholastic religious revivalism America experienced in the 19th century. It reflects a wholly Augustinian appreciation of free will and human achievement that is part and parcel of modern Christianity, without any depth of understanding. This is what happens when you take On the Free Choice of the Will, make it a central doctrinal point of Christianity, and then don't explain to people what it really means.
Of course, Augustine's answer to the predestination vs. free will question is a kludge that is perfect from the standpoint of dogma: it applies only to Christians. If happiness comes from using your free will in accordance with God, and misery from defying God with your free will, then only Christians (or if you prefer, those who have the tools by which to properly intuit God's will) have a shot at regular happiness. Heathens are happy by accident, essentially.
Really, the athletes should be saying, "Clearly, my free will was not in accordance with God's providence" or "My will was in accordance with God's providence," rather than blindly ascribing victory to Jesus.
FURTHER UPDATE: Several readers wrote to tell me they think Scipio is wrong, but I'm not competent to judge, and I inadvertantly lost the most detailed critique in cyberspace.
William & Mary vs. George Mason:
Hate to kick a rival when it's down (Ed: Yeah, right!
), but if you are a pre-law student trying to decide between William & Mary and GMU law school, you should read this
. For that matter, so should anyone considering attending W & M in another department, or who is considering an academic position there. Will the College's trustees toss President Sullivan out on his tuchas
? Don't count on it.
You Can't Say That! News:
The Washington Times
carried a nice review
last week, and the book's ideas received their first discussion in Abkhazia
(a Russian-speaking breakaway region of Georgia).
UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Kulick informs me that most Abkhazians are ethnic Abkhazes and their first language is Abkhaz, though they speak Russian as well.
I just found an incredible resource
for fans of The Simpsons
. Check out the episode guide
for one of my favorite episodes, "Like Father, Like Clown" (in which Krusty is reunited with his estranged rabbi father). The detail is incredible (though a few of the Yiddish translations are questionable). Also incredible is the site's "freeze frame fun" feature, which points out the exacting detail in The Simpsons' animation which most viewers miss.
Is Google Overrated?
Google will have its IPO shortly, and just in time arch-rival-for-advertising-dollars Yahoo leaks word
that it plans to dump Google technology for its own search engine technology. I used to love Google; it was a vast improvement over other search engines when it appeared, and, for my purposes, it's still the best around. But it has severe limitations, and rather than improving, it's gotten worse over the years as commercial interests have learned to game its technology and assure that their sites come up from searches rather than more useful sites. Try doing a search for a particular hotel, for example, and you will be bombarded with travel agent sites instead of reviews of that hotel. Beyond that, here are two improvements I would like to see in Google or future competitors: (1) the ability to do Boolean searches; and (2) the ability to search for webpages created within any time frame that one selects--currently, Google's "advanced" search option allows only very limited time-related options, and then only for when a site was last "updated." Let's say I want to find out whether any web pages created (or at least first spidered) in the last two weeks mention my book Only One Place of Redress
. Can't do it. The folks at Google perhaps should spend less time creating clever special-occasion graphics around the word "Google" on their home page and more time improving search capabilities. My own gut feeling is that Google is very vulnerable to an aggressive competitor. (And I wonder if Google has intentionally not improved its search engine much, the better to encourage visitors to click on the sponsored links that provide its revenue; a good short-term strategy to help the balance sheet before an IPO, but a long-term disaster when a rival exploits the weaknesses in Google-searching.)
UPDATE: As several readers pointed out, Google does have some
Boolean capabilities, but what I am really after is the ability to search for close-word searches, like (David /2 Bernstein) or (David /s Bernstein), as one can on Westlaw or Lexis. And another reader points out that Friday's Washington Post
contained a useful article
on alternatives and enhancements to Google.
FURTHER UPDATE: I've since learned that doing the search David * Bernstein provides what appears to be a David /s Bernstein search. You can learn amazingly useful things from blogging.
Monday, January 5, 2004
History, text, and election-related speech by corporations and unions:
The thrust of my NRO piece
is that there was no lost Golden Age of free speech, where the First Amendment was read broadly or even literally. In general, the constitutional protections for free speech are broader now than they ever have been; they're certainly broader than they were for most of the nation's history, from the 1790s until the 1950s. And this is true of speech on political and religious matters -- such as speech that criticizes elected officials, government policy (even in wartime), judicial decisions, and religious opinions -- as well as of art, entertainment, commercial advertising, pornography, and other kinds of speech.
Several correspondents asked me, though, to say more about the Supreme Court's upholding the ban on pre-election independent expenditures by corporations and unions. I think the Court got this wrong, as I said in the NRO piece itself, and also here
, though I think that the Court was probably right on the other half of the case, which upheld the limits on various campaign contributions (see Part III of this article
for my general defense of contribution limits). Might this be one area in which we have seen a retreat from historically accepted constitutional protections, even when in other areas we've seen advances?
I don't think so; to explain why, let me chart out a rough history of corporate and union speech as I understand it.
To begin with, I'm unaware of any real discussion of corporate or union speech rights at around the time of the Framing. Unions as we now know them (organizations of workers with significant government-created powers) didn't exist, and corporations were much rarer than they are today. There were municipal corporations -- government entities, such as cities, which had the corporate form -- and some private business corporations (such as banks), but they were created for limited purposes, and through special statutes passed by legislatures. The legislatures granted a particular corporation a charter, and the corporation could then only do those things that its charter authorized. I know of no early 1800s cases that discussed whether corporations had the free speech rights that people had. There just wasn't much discussion of the subject.
In the 1800s, states began to pass general incorporation laws, which let people create corporations without any special legislative intervention. In the late 1800s, as the courts began to protect economic liberty under the rubric of "substantive due process," they also began to treat corporations as having substantial constitutional rights, too (see here
for why I think that's generally the correct result). But corporations were not always treated the same as individuals; and in 1907, Congress specifically banned money contributions to federal election campaigns by corporations. In 1925, this was strengthened to apply to nonmonetary contributions. In the 1940s, this was extended to unions. And in 1947, it was extended to cover independent expenditures as well as contributions.
In First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti
(1978), the Supreme Court cast this into some doubt when it held that, as a general matter, corporations do have free speech rights, and may express their views in ballot measure elections. (Arch-liberal Justices Brennan and Marshall, as well as arch-conservative Justice Rehnquist and Justice White, who was generally fairly conservative, dissented; Justice Rehnquist took the view that would have most restricted corporate speech.) But in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
(1990), the Court held that corporate speech may be limited in candidate elections; and last month's decision in McConnell v. FEC
Now I say it again: I think that corporations and unions should
be free to communicate their views (or, to be more precise, the views of their managers representing their stockholders or members), even if this means spending a good deal of money. (Contributions may be a different matter, as I've mentioned above.) But I don't think that history, tradition, or the original meaning of the First Amendment is on my side here. The original meaning is neutral; the recent history is against me; the 1800s history is harder to figure out. Again, there's no lost Golden Age of First Amendment protection for corporate speech that those darned liberals on the Supreme Court have retreated from. I'm hoping for broader free speech protection in the future -- not mourning for a mythical broad free speech protection of the past.
Nor do I think that textual absolutism is the solution here. First, as I've mentioned before, the Court has never taken an absolutist view of the First Amendment; even if it should do this, we shouldn't assume that the liberal Justices' cavalier treatment of the text is the problem -- Justices of all political stripes have rejected First Amendment absolutism. (In fact, the one Justice who most called himself an absolutist, Justice Hugo Black, was generally seen as a radical liberal, though it turns out that even he really didn't believe in absolute free speech protection, despite what he said.)
Second, even if we stick with the strict text, there remains the problem: When may the government say "if you want this government benefit (e.g., a government job, a subsidy, access to government property), you must agree to these conditions"? I know of no-one who is a First Amendment absolutist even as to that question -- who believes, for instance, that government employees have a First Amendment right to reveal confidential government data (e.g., people's tax returns), or to swear at customers or coworkers with impunity. There's always some concession that, no, these aren't really violations of the prohibition on abridging the freedom of speech, because the government can impose certain restrictions as a condition of giving people a government paycheck.
The same issue comes up as to corporations and unions, which get significant government benefits. When may the government say "In exchange for the benefits of the corporate form, or for the special legal powers that unions have, we will insist that you not spend money on election-related speech"? (Most corporations are state-chartered, so that benefit is actually provided by the state government, not the federal government; but I don't think this matters, given the modern Congressional authority over interstate commerce, which would give Congress the power to preempt or modify state-granted charters.) That's a really tough question -- but the First Amendment text doesn't answer this question any more than it answers the question "When may the government say 'In exchange for a government paycheck, we will insist that you not reveal the tax return data that you'll be asked to process'?"
Again, I'm not
saying that restrictions on corporate or union independent expenditures on political campaigns should be upheld. I think they shouldn't be, and I have faulted the Court for upholding them. But the argument can't just be "The Justices are stripping away traditional First Amendment protections" or "The Justices are refusing to follow the clear constitutional text."
First Amendment history and incorporation:
Several correspondents e-mailed me about my NRO piece
to argue that I was wrong to talk about the First Amendment cases interchangeably with cases challenging state laws under state free speech guarantees. Let me briefly defend my decision to do that.
To begin with, a bit of historical background: The Bill of Rights was pretty clearly intended to apply only to the federal government. The First Amendment, by its terms, covers only "Congress"; the other amendments were likewise intended to bind only the federal government; and that was the general (though not unanimous) understanding of the Amendment throughout the first half of the 19th century. The post-Civil War amendments were the first to bind the states, and the Fourteenth Amendment was eventually (first controversially, now less so) interpreted as applying most of the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, as against the states. Before that happened (roughly in the 1920s as to the Free Speech/Press Clause), free speech/press cases challenging state laws were brought under state constitutional provisions, while similar cases challenging federal laws were brought under the First Amendment.
This brings up the argument that I've heard from some people: The First Amendment, they argue, was intended to be an absolute restraint on Congress, while state free speech/press guarantees were not intended to be absolute (and in fact their language is often less categorical than the language of the First Amendment). The Court, the argument continues, was wrong to incorporate the First Amendment (an incorporation that would make an absolutist view impossible, because state governments must have the power to restrict some speech, such as libel, threats, and so on). The right solution is to leave the First Amendment as a categorical restraint on federal power, and leave state speech restrictions to state courts applying the less absolute state constitutional restrictions. And this means that there was a Golden Age of absolute, textually clear freedom of speech and of the press (the point against which I was arguing) -- though only against Congressional suppression.
But I don't think this is right. Most importantly, from the late 1700s on, the First Amendment was not
seen by the courts, or as best I can tell by any broad consensus in the other branches, as an absolute protection. There were very few First Amendment cases in the federal courts, largely because the federal government enacted few laws generally, whether speech restrictions or otherwise; it's thus hard to speak of a specifically First Amendment tradition, as opposed to a free speech tradition more broadly. But the tradition that did exist was certainly not an absolutist or even very broad tradition.
In the late 1790s, lower federal courts (including in opinions by the Supreme Court Justices riding circuit) upheld the Sedition Act -- a restriction on political speech -- against First Amendment challenges. From the 1870s on, the Supreme Court upheld Congress's essentially unlimited power to exclude various kinds of speech from the mails. In the early 1880s, the Supreme Court upheld Congress's power to prohibit (on pain of criminal punishment) political contributions by federal employees. In the late 1910s, of course, the Supreme Court upheld restrictions on antiwar speech. Only in the middle of the 20th century did the Court begin to meaningfully constrain federal power to restrict speech -- incidentally at the same time that it was applying similar constraints to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment.
What's more, while there was some talk in the late 1700s and very early 1800s -- including by Madison and Jefferson -- arguing that the First Amendment was an absolute constraint, and was quite different from the state provisions, that was never a consensus view. By the middle of the 19th century, leading constitutional commentators (chiefly U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story
(1833) and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Thomas M. Cooley (1868)) were treating the First Amendment as being (1) not absolute, and (2) part of the same constitutional tradition as the state free speech/press guarantees.
So my point remains: There never was a golden age of First Amendment textualism or absolutism in American history, even if you limit the First Amendment to Congressional power. Courts never took this view; some important Framers did take this view in the late 1700s, and some commentators shortly afterwards, but it was never the accepted legal position. Such an absolute view would almost certainly not have been tenable even if it had been adopted, since it would have foreclosed Congress from restricting threats, libel, false advertising, etc. in the District of Columbia or in the Territories (after all, the Bill of Rights restrains all the Congressional powers, including the District Clause and the Territories Clause powers, alongside the war power, the Commerce Clause power, and the others). But it was never the dominant legal view in the U.S. in any event. Free speech is in practice more protected today against Congress than it has been for most of the nation's history.
Liberal Law Professors:
Last night I attended a talk by Northwestern Law School professor John McGinnis detailing, based on political contribution data, the overwhelming Democrat-leaning orientation of law professors. The talk was cosponsored by the Federalist Society and the National Association of Scholars, and had an attendance of about fifty, which included a substantial percentage of the law professors who are active in the Federalist Society and otherwise consider themselves active conservatives or libertarians, and probably included a majority of such folks who were attending the main AALS conference two blocks away, where thousands of overwhelmingly liberal and leftist law professors gathered. I therefore chuckled when I read this post by Kevin Drum
implying that law professors lean conservative. Perhaps Kevin has been deceived by the wackily disproportionate percentage of conservative and libertarian law professor bloggers
My National Review Online
piece this morning deals with the argument -- made by some conservatives and libertarians -- that we're somehow losing traditionally understood First Amendment protections. One can certainly condemn particular government actions as unconstitutional, I argue; but if anything, free speech protections are on balance as strong now than they have ever been, and much stronger than they have been until the 1960s. The notion that the First Amendment was once super-strong and is now weak is a myth: For much of American history, the First Amendment was considerably narrower, even as to core political, religious, or social commentary, than it now is.
I've gotten a bunch of responses to this, which I wanted to react to, time permitting. Let me begin with one: Some people argue that whatever might have been done by the government in the late 1700s and 1800s, the Framers of the First Amendment understood the right as being broadly speech-protective, as the Congressional debates, the debates in state ratifying conventions or state legislatures that were considering the First Amendment, and The Federalist
make clear. So even if politicians strayed early from this broad understanding of free speech, the Constitution's original meaning does embody such an understanding.
Unfortunately, there's very little historical evidence on this score. The Federalist
says little about the freedom of speech or of the press (which makes sense, since it was an argument for ratifying the Constitution, not the Bill of Rights). There are no relevant records that I know of from the state ratifying conventions or state legislators. The Congressional debates on the First Amendment are very sparse, and say very little that's conclusive about what the Free Speech/Press Clause was specifically going to mean. The very first controversy in which the Framing generation discussed the issue -- the controversy over the Sedition Act of 1798 -- showed deep divisions about the most fundamental principles here. There simply is no evidence of a consensus at the time about the meaning of the provisions (except perhaps that they prohibited administrative censorship and discretionary licensing schemes of the sort referred to as "prior restraints").
So there is no lost Golden Age of the First Amendment from which we have strayed -- either in post-Framing history, or at the time of the Framing. One can still support a broad understanding of the Free Speech/Press Clause, and criticize the Court for decisions that one sees as mistaken; I have often done this myself. But one shouldn't argue that somehow there was a broad understanding in the 1700s or 1800s that we've retreated from. There's simply no evidence of that.
UPDATE: Forgot to include this link to a good resource on Framing-era documents related to the Free Speech/Press Clause
More French discrimination against religion:
A suburban Paris mayor who banned all religious symbols from civil weddings as part of France's campaign against the Islamic veil [has] brushed off criticism that his hard line will alienate Muslims. . . .
[Martin] banned the veil at civil weddings in November.
Patrick Devedjian, a minister in Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's cabinet, warned Martin last week of the risk of alienating citizens.
"A civil marriage service is often the only ceremony marking the wedding," he said. "Participants...find it natural on such an occasion to act according to their traditions."
Couples marrying in France must be wed at a civil ceremony at their local city hall and may also have a religious wedding.
Here the government is intentionally discriminating against a religious practice precisely because it's religious. Muslims aren't asking for favoritism, or exemption from generally applicable laws that happen to be inconsistent with their religious views. They're just asking not to be singled out for religious discrimination -- and they're absolutely right.
Thanks to reader Laurence Rothenberg for the pointer.
I had dinner and drinks last night in Atlanta, site of the annual AALS law professors' conference (and the concurrent one-day Federalist Society faculty conference
) with co-Conspirator Jacob Levy, whom I'd only met once before, Right Coast
blogger Michael Rappaport, Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit, co-Conspirator Randy Barnett, The Corner contributor Jonathan Adler, and some like-minded non-bloggers. Many serious and not-so-serious issues were discussed, and a good time was had by all.
Mike pointed out to me that the Blogosphere might be the first important piece of American cultural/political turf where libertarian-oriented thinkers truly hold their own, though arguably that's true of the think-tank world as well.
Strategy for the Libertarian Party:
2004, of course, is a Senate election year. As in past election years, there will likely be a few very close Senate races in which the vote totals of the Libertarian candidate will threaten to be greater than the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates. Republican strategists will call on the Libertarians to drop out and endorse the Republican. Most of the Libertarian candidates will refuse. One or more elections will be thrown to the Democrats, and mutual recriminations between Republicans and Libertarians will commence, with the Republicans accusing the Libertarians of aiding the more statist Democrats, and the Libertarians responding that Republicans have not earned libertarian support.
This scenario seems to occur every two years. I have a solution. What if the Republicans actually offered something tangible for Libertarian support, and the Libertarians accepted it? And what if that something tangible was influence over a discrete number of appointments to the federal appellate bench? Libertarians can't expect the Republicans to nominate hard-core Libertarian activists, but they can, in return for support in close races, ask the Republicans to nominate libertarian-minded Republicans: Alex Kozinski and Buzz Arnold rather than John Noonan and Robert Bork; Jim Ely (of Vanderbilt) rather than Lino Graglia (of Texas); Janice Brown rather than Charles Pickering.
I see a win-win situation here. The Republicans ensure that Libertarian votes don't cost them Senate elections; Libertarians actually accomplish something for liberty by boosting the prospects of libertarian-minded Republicans, something they don't achieve by either throwing close races to Democrats or dropping out of races without compensation. And since the parties are repeat players, there will be a strong incentive for the Republicans not to cheat on whatever deal is reached (secretly, one would assume).
UPDATE: Matt Yglesias is skeptical
that the Libertarian poobahs will think this is in their self-interest, but Yglesias commenter Bob McGrew is on my page.
Purely speculative thoughts about terrorism:
To me the big puzzle remains why Al Qaeda has not pulled off another successful attack on American soil. Look at the two snipers, they almost brought the Washington area to a standstill, and neither was close to an organizational genius. Over the last two weeks we have instead seen terrorist "chatter" leading to foiled plans.
One hypothesis is "terrorism as theater." In this view the terrorist group consumes the very sense of acting like terrorists. They enjoy the planning, the feeling of being in a working group, the secret code words, and so on. They don't admit it, but perhaps they enjoy the process more than they like killing people or achieving some political end. If this is the case, they will go ahead with their planning even if Uncle Sam is listening in, and they won't move to less centralized, more anonymous forms of communication. They get to do what they love, and that means sticking around as an organized terrorist group or cell. Furthermore since they don't actually end up having to attack and die, they will outlast those terrorists determined to be martyrs.
A second hypothesis is "terrorists as fundraisers." Perhaps the terrorists in the field are manipulating their donors. In this view they cynically realize that they don't want to attack at all. But they don't want to have to get a real job either. They want to receive funding support, false passports, travel, and the other "benefits" of the terrorist lifestyle. They don't want to be caught, but neither do they wish to succeed so much that they must attack and sacrifice their lives. They cannot do nothing, or they will have their funding cut off. So they continually half-plan a series of faux attacks, and then move on as they approach a high risk of detection.
I don't have any hard evidence for either of these hypotheses. But at least they try to explain why there have been no further attacks. After all, haven't you, like I, wondered why we have seen no "lone wolf" Al Qaeda attacks on American soil?
Mark Steyn on the limitations of international tribunals:
Seems right to me.
Conservative myths about the First Amendment:
I criticize them in this National Review Online
column. Here's the introduction:
The liberals on the Supreme Court, and in universities, have been undermining the Framers' First Amendment handiwork. The Court's decision upholding campaign-finance restrictions show that Americans are losing the liberties that they've long enjoyed; likewise with the speech codes that some public universities have been instituting. And this loss of liberty stems from liberals' disdain for the text of the Constitution, and liberal judges' willingness to make law, instead of simply applying it. Soon we will lose the freedom of speech that Americans have long taken for granted.
That's the story I've been hearing from many of my conservative and libertarian correspondents. And it's just plain false. . . .
Query about the music market:
I am doing some research on the music market, and was wondering if any VC readers knew of any data on the total number of music releases worldwide. The RIAA, of course, puts out such data for the United States. Comparative data over time would be especially useful, as would be any other quantitative measures of whether global musical diversity has been rising or falling. My intuition and personal experience very strongly suggest that many different kinds of music are more available than ever before, but it is hard to find any exact numbers to back up this claim.
By the way, my honeymoon was most enjoyable, we visited southern Spain: Grenada, Cordoba, and Seville. Gibraltar was a special treat, I hope to write more about that place, and its unique problems, soon.
Bush to Reconsider Clinton Under-regulation of Sludge:
It is unlikely you saw this headline, but you could have. This past week, however, the Bush Administration announced
that it would consider imposing additional regulations on the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer based upon a National Research Council study that found the scientific basis for the EPA's 1993 regulations lacking. While sludge has been used as fertilizer for years, under the Clinton Administration the EPA vigorously promoted the practice, as the New York Times reports
. The EPA rejected, at least for the time being, enjoining the use of sludge as fertilizer, but additional regulations governing the practice are likely as a result of the announcement -- regulations tighter than those adopted by the Clinton Administration.
The claim here is not that the Bush Administration is, as a whole, a more aggressive at promoting environmental protection than the Clinton Administration, let alone a more aggressive regulator. Rather the point is that this episode, like many others, illustrates that the common caricature of the Bush Administration as "anti-environmental" is overly simplistic and ultimately unfounded. Nonetheless, I assume some will still claim Bush is the "worst environmental president" since McKinley
Sunday, January 4, 2004
Ashcroft recusal and press subpoenas:
has an interesting theory:
I just realized there is a third reason beyond the two of No Prosecution and Unexpected Criminals for Attorney-General Ashcroft's removing himself from the Plame Affair prosecution: He doesn't want to put reporters in jail. They hate him already for his politics and religiosity, and if he vigorously pursues an investigation in which reporters are the main witnesses, he will have to make reporters talk, which they don't want to do. The media will scream "Reporters jailed for contempt--- Nazi Tactics!" if he pursues the investigation, and "Officials allowed to leak without punishment--Nazi Tactics!" if he does not. . . .
I'm not sure just how likely this is, but I thought I'd pass it along.