“Clerical Personnel Are Not Covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act”

February 29, 2008

Those were the words opined today by Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in this ruling concerning exemptions for religious employers.  Posner distinguished the plaintiff’s ecclesiastical administration of a church from the ordinary commercial activities of a religious organization.  Under Posner’s view, employees working in the latter arena are entitled to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections whereas the former are not.  I don’t see the rationale for a religious exception here; this is not analogous to a religious employer discriminating against non-believers in hiring/firing.  Shouldn’t clerical personnel be entitled to the same wage benefits as all other commercial employees?

Your odds are 1 in 100!

February 29, 2008

Those are some pretty good odds if you are asking me if I want to buy a lottery ticket.  Instead, they represent the odds that any given American is in prison or jail as I type.  The NYTimes reported yesterday that 1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars.  Crikey.

Then, NoObamakoolaid emailed me this:

I ran across an article this morning in my hometown newspaper that was essentially praising the fact that state funding had finally been approved for new construction on prisons around my city in Colorado.  The article was written in a positive vein because 170 new jobs are expected.  It would not surprise me to see a follow-up article in a couple of months that features a group of city and county leaders jovially shoveling out the first mounds of earth for these new prison beds.  It appalling how short-sided some can be.  Most of the economic literature on this subject is quite clear.  Prisons are obviously costing many billions of dollars that would be better spent elsewhere.  But the direct cost pales in comparison to the total cost when you consider the loss of production of these incarcerated men and women.  
Are we getting something for this besides an international black eye and a big bill?  Anyone feel safer (they talk about this in the Times article — the difficulty of measuring the relationship between incarceration and crime reduction.  I don’t think there is much of one.
And, if you think that is troubling, try reading Devah Pager’s new book, Marked.  It is about how difficult it is to get hired once you are out of prison.  I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Who’s This Guy?

February 29, 2008

He’s revered by many in the San Francisco Bay Area, a former member of the SF Board of Supervisors, practicing lawyer, grad of Stanford Law, musician, artist, poetry-lover, Green Party member AND Ralph Nader’s veep choice.  Meet Matt Gonzalez…….

Linda Greenhouse takes buyout offer

February 27, 2008

I don’t know whether any of you follow legal reporters, but one of the biggest names – Linda Greenhouse, the Times’ Supreme Court reporter and a Pulitzer prize winner – has accepted a buyout offer and will be leaving the paper soon. According to the AP story, Greenhouse has worked for the Times for 40 years and has held down the SCOTUS beat for the latter 30. John Paul Stevens was the only sitting justice when she started in 1978 who’s still on the court today.

Though the 61-year-old Greenhouse says she was planning to retire soon anyway, this is yet another indicator of troubled times for journalism. The Times will be offering buyouts to 100 of its newsroom staff in the coming months.

Jeremy’s Old Blog

February 26, 2008


Sometimes on Scatterplot, Jeremy links back to his old (now defunct) blog.  He did today and it led to this most amusing post. 

Keeping your doors open

February 26, 2008

Go and participate in this experiment.

Then read this.

Then someone try to convince my mom. 

Sunstein Moves to Harvard

February 26, 2008

Not sure if our audience is very interested, but Cass Sunstein is moving from U of Chicago to Harvard.  This seems like a significant blow to Chicago.  Here is the Harvard weblink.  Did this go unnoticed or am I slow or does no one care?

Don’t know much about the 4th amendment, but . . .

February 25, 2008


SCOTUS has taken a case to clarify when the police can search your car.  Well, not your car, unless there is an arrest warrant out on you and you are driving on a suspended license.  I’m guessing our reading audience does not include many like that, but you get the idea.

ANYWAY, under those circumstances, can the police search your car?   Even though I understand they must have probable cause that there were drugs in your car, I guess I thought that once you were under arrest for something (like an old warrant), the probable cause requirement was gone and they could search the car. 

I am guessing that will be the result, but I guess I am here expressing surprise that it was not already the case. 

Heat Wave the play – 2 thumbs up!

February 24, 2008


 So, at Ellen’s suggestion I saw Heat Wave the play last night.  It was really great on various levels and I give it 2 thumbs up.  If you are in Chicago, go see it. 

So it is interesting because it is an adaption of a sociological monograph.  You don’t see that very often.  The book, by Eric Klinenberg was great, but how would it fare as a play? 

Turns out, it was great.  The cool thing was how the play and the production (like the book) make it clear that there were/are various ways to think about what happened in the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 (in which almost a thousand people died).  It can be seen as a failing of individuals and a “natural” disaster versus a failure of social services with a profoundly disparate impact on older people of color living in poverty.   By the end of the play (or if you cannot get to it, the book), you feel pretty darn sure which interpretation seems more true to the events. 

So – playwrites out there:  street harassment.  think about it as a stage production.  I envision actors posing as audience members, sitting int he audience, harassing actresses on the stage.


February 24, 2008


No one wants you here