Banned T-shirts

January 31, 2008

bush_lied_front_nov06_big.gifOne of my favorite online progressive news sources is  One of its advertisers is a shirt and bumper sticker vendor,, whose products have been banned–yes, banned–in five states.  The shirts list names of some of the 3,700+ who have died so far in Iraq, over which is superimposed legends such as “Bush Lied” (on front); “They Died” (on back).  Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Economic Advisor speaks!

January 31, 2008

Austan Goolsbee, Senator Obama’s senior economic advisor, was on Marketplace this morning talking about Obama’s economic plans. I was a little surprised that he is in favor of “some kind of stimulus,” but I guess right now you can’t be otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

New books for the reading list?

January 31, 2008
  • The Times has a very nice review of Anthony Lewis’ new book, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate. It’s subtitled “A Biography of the First Amendment” but appears to include both history and predictions for the next 100-odd years.
  • Slate published three excerpts from Richard Thompson Ford’s The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. I found the second one, on the issue of champagne and hip-hop culture, particularly interesting… though I will say that none of this seems like rocket science, at least at first glance.

Criticizing Obama from the left

January 31, 2008

It’s been a while since I last posted (sorry! ::braces for whipping::), and it appears my good professor has since added a new category to her blog: “shameless plug.” Here comes one of mine: A week and a half ago I wrote this column in The Daily Northwestern and said, among other things, that Barack Obama just isn’t liberal enough for me. Predictably, most of the comments I received were negative. This is a college campus in Illinois, after all. (Oh, and please don’t mind the video. My first foray into multimedia journalism was quite embarrassing.)

You’ll notice that I offhandedly diss Hillary, too. Read the rest of this entry »

“Courting” the Presidential Election

January 30, 2008

Thanks, Laura Beth, for the invitation to join this blog.  (As those of you who know her recognize, it is very difficult to say no to Laura Beth Nielsen.)

Sitting here six days from Super Tuesday, and with the Republican and Democratic fields each losing a candidate today, I’m struck by how little we have heard about the U.S. Supreme Court in the campaign so far.  It hardly takes an actuary to recognize that the next president is likely to have two, if not more, seats to fill on the Court, and the open seats are likely to come from the left side of the bench. Read the rest of this entry »

airport absurdity and … Ebay?

January 30, 2008

 I’m a new poster/all-around blogger, so please go easy on me!  LBN asked me to do a post on food and law in Chicago, which I will do shortly.  First, I wanted to post about something about law and travel – about the ‘authorities’ that control our airport movements, or NTSA, to be more precise.  As many of us know, airport congestion and airline schedules have been particularly horrendous in the past year.  The New York Times recently hosted an awesome blog series, called Jet Lagged, on the thoughts of a half-dozen employees in the airline and airport industries: pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, security experts, etc.  Conclusion: the industry is as negative an experience for those working within it as for the rest of us.  

Every time I’ve flown recently, I’ve particularly thought about the laws and regulations surrounding the so-called security system at airports.  Thinking about systems of in-and-out and looking at the large garbage bins of confiscated toothpaste led me my next question – what happens to all the stuff that is collected at the metal-shoe-Listerine detectors?  Who at the NTSA regulates how these items are confiscated, destroyed, or …. Sold?  A simple search on Ebay for ‘NTSA’ turns up 290 items, mainly corkscrews and pocket-knives (sold both individually and grouped in lots).  Who are these sellers, and how did they get ahold of these items? How is it that the NTSA seems to allowed to profit from our confiscated items?  In many ways, the system of airport security is designed and kept as it is to make us feel safe, whether or not we actually are, but this is beginning to feel even more like a theater of the absurd.


Editor’s note:  welcome to our new blogger!  We are starting to be a party!!!  Foodgirl, give me  alittle bio and I will add you to the right column.

Civil Libertarians & Gun Control

January 29, 2008

District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the “DC guns case,” considers whether the second amendment confers an individual right beyond the state’s collective interest in a “well regulated militia.” The case is interesting not only because it is the first time since 1939 (U.S. v. Miller) that the Supreme Court has attempted to articulate the scope of the amendment, but also because the second amendment continues to trouble the meaning of civil libertarianism. Is a person who fights for First Amendment freedoms but favors a handgun ban for reasons of public safety a true civil libertarian? More directly, does the second amendment rise to the same level of importance as other, more notable individual rights? Some scholars believe that the second amendment is no different than other bill of rights amendments. What do you think?

It is worth noting that the support for the parties in the DC guns case has not been drawn along political lines as neatly as would be expected on gun control issues. For example, the Bush administration has distanced itself from the second amendment and Respondent Heller. Jack Balkin, of Balkinization, explains that the DC guns case may forever change the rhetoric that politicians and courts use to discuss gun rights. At the same time, some of my colleagues at the ACLU are inclined to support the handgun ban because of legitimate fears over handgun violence here in the DC area.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this case is the possibility that the Supreme Court will create a new individual right to bear arms. Were the Court to take such a bold and activist step, then civil libertarians who view the second amendment as somehow subservient to the others would certainly have some explaining to do.

Editor’s note:  Welcome to our new blogger!