Delaware Law Office
of Larry D. Sullivan, Esquire

A Weblog?
The column to the right, is a news/editorial/comment column. It is a weblog, also know as a blog.

The weblog thing comes from, which offers us a convenient way to manage the posting, administratively. You don't really need to know all of that, but we have included this explanation so that you won't be confused by the term "blog".

Another important topic here is that since the column includes editorials and comments, you can be sure that we are just exercising our free speech rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and as not yet abridged by a reactionary opportunistic vocal minority.

opinions, everybody's got one...
If you would like your opinion published here, forward it for consideration and editorial review to:
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We encourage the exchange of responsible ideas.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Wee the People - a little proposal to change jurisdiction of the Courts

How much power does Congress have over the jurisdiction of the federal courts?

Do they have the ability to tell the Courts not to adjudicate legal claims involving state or local laws, policies and regulations involving the "free exercise or establishment of religion" or based upon the "right of privacy", or equal protection issues involving rights to marry regardless of sex or sexual orientation?

Should federal judges be impeached for handling claims of those types?

From the We the People Act, introduced into the House of Representatives on March 4th:
The Supreme Court of the United States and each Federal court--

(1) shall not adjudicate--

(A) any claim involving the laws, regulations, or policies of any State or unit of local government relating to the free exercise or establishment of religion;

(B) any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction; or

(C) any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation; and

(2) shall not rely on any judicial decision involving any issue referred to in paragraph (1).
Congress does indeed have the power to determine jurisdiction for the courts, though there may be some limitations to that power when it comes to issues under the constitution. The truth is that federal judicial jurisdiction is a complex subject. I'm not sure that you can frame and limit it as simply as the proposed legislation does.

A nice introduction to the powers and jurisdiction of the Federal Courts is a guide from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts called Understanding the Federal Courts. It doesn't get into complicated issues invoving congressional oversight of judicial activities.

The American Judicature Society has a brief discussion online about the power of Congress to change the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts. Here's a snippet from that page:
When Congress uses its power to determine jurisdiction it is often attempting to change constitutional law without complying with the procedural rules for amending the constitution. Since constitutional amendments are difficult to get passed, Congress will often attempt to alter court decisions by changing jurisdiction. Congressional attempts to circumvent the established means of registering dissatisfaction with the courts do not effectively remove the offensive ruling
Another interesting article on the subject of the stripping of jusridiction from the Courts looks at how such a limitation of jurisidiction might limit the ability of the Supreme Court to supervise other federal courts. See: Jurisdiction-Stripping and the Supreme Court's Power to Supervise Inferior Tribunals.

How much power does the Congress have over federal jurisdiction of the Courts? How much of the Courts power is granted directly through the constitution, and possibly limited in its ability to be curtailed by Congress? How effective is the type of legislation proposed, and how likely is it that it will move from proposal to law?

A birthday party for Republicans?

I'm a little surprised to discover that I share my birthday with the Republican party. On March 20th, the Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce will gather at a Little White Schoolhouse and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Republican party. I'd share some cake with all of you Republicans out there, but there are just too many of you.

I wonder if George Bush will accept his invitation to speak at Ripon.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Electronic voting must read

There's been a considerable amount of controversy and dismay over electronic voting machines. So, what happens when a well known critic decides to get a closer look at the whole process?

I like the idea of getting a closer look before I discount something as bad or harmful.

Definitely recommended reading, from computer science professor Avi Rubin: My day as an election judge

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Drugs, Reporting Requirements, and Internet Pharmacies

The federal government wants to know if you're on drugs.

Well, they want States to monitor people's prescription drug usage, and to maintain databases of information that can be shared with officials from other states, and with the federal government.

That's the first part of a proposed bill (pdf) before the House of Representatives.

It also imposes a number of reporting requirements upon internet pharmacies.

Amongst a number of other provisions involving with interstate pharmacies, it also looks as though the bill would allow the government to demand that someone linking to an "illegal Internet pharmacy" remove the link:
(c) LINKS TO ILLEGAL INTERNET PHARMACY.?Section 302 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 332) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(c) In the case of a violation of section 503B relating to an illegal Internet pharmacy, the district courts of the United States and the United States courts of the Territories shall have jurisdiction to order a provider of an interactive computer service to remove, or disable access to, a site violating such section, or a link to a site violating such section, that resides on a computer server that such
provider controls or operates. Such relief shall

(1) be available only after provision to the provider of notice and an opportunity to appear;

(2) not impose any obligation on the provider to monitor its service or to affirmatively seek facts indicating activity violating section 503B;

(3) specify the provider to which the relief applies; and

(4) specifically identify the location of the site or link to be removed, or to which access is to be disabled.

Home Schooling and Law and Order

The President of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) sent a letter yesterday to Dick Wolf, Executive Producer of the three Law and Order series about an episode of one of the shows in which home schools were "shown" to be a "haven for abuse".

The media does often shape our opinions of practices such as home schooling. How do we distinquish between fact and fantasy, especially when advertisements about each of the Law and Order's tell us that their storylines are "ripped from the headlines."

Interesting letter. What would you ask Mr. Wolf if you were the President of that organization?

Monday, March 01, 2004

Martin Luther King, Jr., Coins

Will 2009 bring us Martin Luther King, Jr., dollar coins? It's a possibility. It would be a great way to celebrate the 80th anniversary of his birth.

Spy Block Act Introduced

Last Friday, the US Senate saw the introduction of the Spy Block Act. I'm not sure that I like the name.

SPYBLOCK = Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge Act

The bill intends to prohibit the malware and spyware that has been finding its way on computers over the net.

Can we legislate these problem programs away? I'm not sure.

While I applaud the intention, I was worried about the potential burden upon the manufacturers of legitimate and helpful software offered by many people, often for free, and the extra burden that this might place upon them. I don't think it will affect most freeware programs. Most of the provisions are aimed at parts of programs that collect information, and supply advertisements.

Will the law pass? Who knows?

Here are the notice, consent, and uninstall requirements under the bill:

(a) NOTICE- For purposes of section 2(a)(1), notice to the user of a computer shall--

(1) include a clear notification, displayed on the screen until the user either grants or denies consent to installation, of the name and general nature of the computer software that will be installed if the user grants consent; and

(2) include a separate disclosure, with respect to each information collection, advertising, distributed computing, and settings modification feature contained in the computer software, that--

(A) remains displayed on the screen until the user either grants or denies consent to that feature;

(B) in the case of an information collection feature, provides a clear description of--

(i) the type of personal or network information to be collected and transmitted by the computer software; and

(ii) the purpose for which the personal or network information is to be collected, transmitted, and used;

(C) in the case of an advertising feature, provides--

(i) a representative example of the type of advertisement that may be delivered by the computer software;

(ii) a clear description of--

(I) the estimated frequency with which each type of advertisement may be delivered; or

(II) the factors on which the frequency will depend; and

(iii) a clear description of how the user can distinguish each type of advertisement that the computer software delivers from advertisements generated by other software, Internet website operators, or services;

(D) in the case of a distributed computing feature, provides a clear description of--

(i) the types of information or messages the computer software will cause the computer to transmit;

(ii)(I) the estimated frequency with which the computer software will cause the computer to transmit such messages or information; or

(II) the factors on which the frequency will depend;

(iii) the estimated volume of such information or messages, and the likely impact, if any, on the processing or communications capacity of the user's computer; and

(iv) the nature, volume, and likely impact on the computer's processing capacity of any computational or processing tasks the computer software will cause the computer to perform in order to generate the information or messages the computer software will cause the computer to transmit;

(E) in the case of a settings modification feature, provides a clear description of the nature of the modification, its function, and any collateral effects the modification may produce; and

(F) provides a clear description of procedures the user may follow to turn off such feature or uninstall the computer software.

(b) CONSENT- For purposes of section 2(a)(2), consent requires--

(1) consent by the user of the computer to the installation of the computer software; and

(2) separate affirmative consent by the user of the computer to each information collection feature, advertising feature, distributed computing feature, and settings modification feature contained in the computer software.

(c) UNINSTALL PROCEDURES- For purposes of section 2(a)(3), computer software shall--

(1) appear in the `Add/Remove Programs' menu or any similar feature, if any, provided by each operating system with which the computer software functions;

(2) be capable of being removed completely using the normal procedures provided by each operating system with which the computer software functions for removing computer software; and

(3) in the case of computer software with an advertising feature, include an easily identifiable link clearly associated with each advertisement that the software causes to be displayed, such that selection of the link by the user of the computer generates an on-screen window that informs the user about how to turn off the advertising feature or uninstall the computer software.
Maybe we do need some steps to be taken like this. I've lost a good number of hours over the past year or two helping people infected by this type of software.

Annual IRS Scam Alert

If you've been paying attention, you might have noticed that the IRS issues an annual consumer alert every year warning people to watch out for different scams centering around taxes. Here's this year's Dirty Dozen. Be careful.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Talking about Equality in the First State

There is a great trilogy of stories in today's Wilmington News Journal which take a look at the tales being told about the search for equality in Delaware.

One tells of the efforts of Littleton Mitchell, who had been a long time leader of the push for civil rights in Delaware, including efforts to improve the lives of migrant workers.

Vivian Tribbett Hendricks was the first black girl to attend Harrington High School. It's enlightening to hear her words about what the experience was like.

The third article is about efforts to collect oral histories of black Delawareans. An even larger effort to preserve history is that made by the National Visionary Leadership Project.

Delaware Events

I was visiting Matt Haughey's A Whole Lot of Nothing when I noticed that he had a listing of area concerts on his page. I thought that it might be a good idea to do some type of listing of local events such as concerts, lectures, plays, and other things that I sometimes miss because I forget about them.

I also considered that it might be nice to put the list up on the Delaware Law Office page to keep our readers informed of some to the regional events that they could see if they were so inclined. I noticed that Matt was using a service through to list the events. It appears that anyone can use that site in a similar manner. I'm also using feedroll display the RSS feed that appears on this page. If you're interested in showing events on your site, definitely take a look. If you have any questions, please let me know, and I'll try to help out.

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