A series of pertinent – and impertinent – comments on military justice
SUPREME COURT: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes touchingly about a Nation which welcomed a Jewish woman to sit on the highest court of the land. She remarks:
What is the difference between a New York City garment district bookkeeper and a Supreme Court Justice? One generation my life bears witness, the difference between opportunities open to my mother, a bookkeeper, and those open to me.
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SECOND AMENDMENT. Without taking sides on gun control, it’s interesting to read a recent claim in the Washington Post Opinion section: Of 76 NRA directors, dues-paying members elect only one. A small committee nominates candidates to fill the other 75 positions; only lifetime members may vote.
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COURTS OF EQUITY. Historians suggest the origin of equity courts in England – originally, the crime of rape could only be committed against a virgin. Later, English jurists considered an allegation of rape against a married victim. Breaking with precedent, the courts extended the doctrine to violation of a married woman. Allegedly, it was the first “stretch” of judicial interpretation beyond the words of the statute.
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THE WELFARE STATE? Economist Steven Pearlstein comments on a radical proposal to end the “welfare trap.” The idea is to provide a guaranteed income to everyone as an effective way to relieve poverty and cushion the effects of economic dislocation. Proponents argue that robots and intelligent software are becoming so sophisticated that millions will soon be out of work. This radical proposal is one option on dealing with a world where leisure is abundant and there are insufficient good paying jobs to go around. Long-term experiments are underway in Finland and Kenya to test the concept.
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$$$$ AND THE COURTS. Some have argued that today’s Supreme Court is similar to that of the pro-business Court of the 1890s. David Callahan has written “The Givers,” which discusses philanthropy in what he calls a “new gilded age.” Some interesting points:
· for the first time in decades, the rich exercise undue power in modern America
· We have lax tax laws under which even entirely political contributions are treated as tax-deductible
· When oilman J Paul Getty died in 1976, he left an estate of about $8 billion in today’s dollars. He was supposedly the richest man in America. Today, he would rank number 55.
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MODERN POPULISM AND INDEPENDENT JUDGES? Political analysts keep rehashing the 2016 presidential campaign. There is general agreement that President Trump mined the anger and resentment of those left behind by economic globalization, cosmopolitanism, and “the rich getting richer.”
Authors such as John Judis claim that the result is modern populism –
· anti-elite, critical of the established political, cultural, and economic leadership
· anti-pluralist, claiming clear-cut answers for what ails the country
· exclusionary –the “in crowd” opposes those it sees as takers, inauthentic, and not really “the people.”
How to spot modern populism? Watch for [a] placing loyalists in formerly nonpartisan bureaucratic positions [b] undermining of judges, [c] challenges to the media, and [d] calling down the full force of the law against foes, but not against friends.
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UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S JURIES. Litigators might consider the views of Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank when considering how to argue to a modern military jury. Milbank sees a vague feeling of discomfort in the country. He suggests that the United States has clearly turned inward. A great part of the switch is due to the economy, which has not fully recovered from the financial collapse of 2008, the worst since the Great Depression. Those who have unjustly profited are the “boomers” – the successful elites, who are often excessively narcissistic, impulsive, and uncompromising. They have trashed the country, transferring wealth away from everyone else and into their own pockets, says Milbank.