opinions, everybody's got one...
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--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 rulingAnother 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:
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:
SEC. 3. NOTICE, CONSENT, AND UNINSTALL REQUIREMENTS.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.
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 Upcoming.org 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.