"I've got a really hard election," Senator Claire McCaskill said. "If you had a really hard election and it was after Labor Day would you go to North Carolina to a bunch of parties and glad-handing or would you stay home and work as hard as you know how...?"
Would any #Lawyers or #Law School Students care to share any advice for the application process? (Just FYI: I have a B.S. w/ a major in physics and minors in astronomy & integrated science and am interested in patent law due to its nice mix between science and law)
(P.S. Can anybody tell me what, "How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened." means?)
-President Obama, The State of the Union Address
Barack Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, couldn't have started his address with a greater outright falsehood. In fact, the Constitution, intended to secure the rights of mankind, was specifically designed to foster just such power rivalries among the branches of government.
Fearful of federal power aggrandizing in one tyrannical ruling body, the framers codified the principle of "separation of powers" in the Constitution, vesting the legislative, executive, and judicial powers in their respective branches; even further separating the legislative power into two Houses of Congress. And so no single branch could exercise power in complete isolation from another, the framers also incorporated "checks and balances" in the Constitution, allowing branches to restrain certain actions of others as well as requiring cooperation among them to exercise certain powers. James Madison explained the necessity of structuring the branches of government to quarrel amongst themselves when he stated in Federalist No. 51 that "[a]mbition must be made to counteract ambition."
To highlight just one case (making its way through the courts) of how the Constitution was designed so everyone attending last night's State of the Union address quarrels for power, consider President Obama's controversial recess appointments last term: a Director for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and the two NLRB board members. The appointments ignited just such a rivalry between the Senate and the President over which office holds the power to define when the Senate is in recess. Each office insists they hold the correct view...
So much, then, for the other half of President Obama's echo concerning "partners for progress." It is obviously wrong, and easily dismissed. Have partnerships cursed Congress with such low approval ratings? Are partnerships on Capitol Hill the reason why politics is such a cutthroat game? Are partnerships to blame for why the two parties seem to hold each other in contempt? The climax of the State of the Union was President Obama's fervent insistence that a proposed gun control measure deserved a vote. That he expended such energy in attempting to persuade a body of Congress to simply hold a vote on a DOA measure should settle the question of whether the Constitution establishes "partners in progress" or "rivals for power."
Woody Boyd: I don't know about a debate, Dr. Crane. I'm no good at rendering opinions.
Fraiser Crane: Don't worry Woody, just tell some farm stories. People seem to love those. If that doesn't work, just say the word "Change" about 100 times.
"In my own case the words of such an act as the Income Tax… merely dance before my eyes in a meaningless procession: cross-reference to cross-reference, exception upon exception—couched in abstract terms that offer [me] no handle to seize hold of [and that] leave in my mind only a confused sense of some vitally important, but successfully concealed, purport, which it is my duty to extract, but which is within my power, if at all, only after the most inordinate expenditure of time. I know that these monsters are the result of fabulous industry and ingenuity, plugging up this hole and casting out that net, against all possible evasion; yet at times I cannot help recalling a saying of William James about certain passages of Hegel: that they were no doubt written with a passion of rationality; but that one cannot help wondering whether to the reader they have any significance save that the words are strung together with syntactical correctness."
- Judge Learned Hand, Yale Law Journal, Dec 1947
The Individual Taxpayer Earmark Principle: Taxpayers should have the right to earmark the money they pay in taxes to fund only those functions and institutions of the federal government they believe worthy of funding by their tax dollars.
What It Would Do: Individuals, if they actively acknowledged a desire to earmark their tax dollars (by checking a box on their tax forms or something comparably simple), would be able to express their acceptance, rejection, desirability, and preferred utilization of all the different various government
The Individual Taxpayer Earmark would serve as a precise check on the federal government directly by the people.
Currently, the best check the people have on the federal government and their elected officials that serve in it is voting during election time every 2 years. However, voting does not directly signal to elected officials what the voters' policy preferences may actually be. At best, in a two-party system, voting for candidate A over candidate B can be inferred only to mean that the voter generally preferred the sum total of the policy stances (those of which the voter had knowledge about) of candidate A over candidate B. No inference of specific policy stances by the voters may be drawn from the voting process except perhaps in the aggregate of the voting bloc.
Thus, egregious abuses of power may be undertaken by officials in the federal government, but if the voters still generally prefer the sum total of policy stances (including the abuses of power) by those officials over their electoral competitors come election day, it can reasonably be deduced that the abusive officials will be reelected and such behavior will likely continue as no significant enough disincentive exists to halt it.
How can the citizenry directly and effectively signal to their elected officials their policy preferences? Empower the citizen to earmark their tax dollars as they see fit in order to fund the functions and institutions of the federal government they believe worthy of funding.
For example, consider the long train of unconstitutional abuses by the TSA. Their contempt and utter disregard for 4th Amendment protections is regularly on display, and as a result of this and other abhorrent behavior and distinguished failings characteristic of the TSA, the average citizen has, and rightfully so, a very negative outlook on the TSA. Yet the policy preference of the citizenry, namely a much less-intrusive, functioning TSA (or no TSA at all), is not reflected in any substantive way at the federal level. Why not? Must the TSA reach a level of extremism wholly intolerable before action is taken by elected officials to change it? Surely waiting for such extremism to inevitably develop is intolerable in and of itself. If the individual citizen is empowered to earmark their tax dollars specifically to not fund any aspect of the TSA or its expenditures, the citizen sends a powerful message to government officials about that citizen's outlook on the TSA. If enough citizens similarly earmark their tax dollars (again, to not fund the TSA), the issue of drastically changing the TSA (or ending it) will become a necessity for elected officials to address, thusly compelling them to rectify the situation earlier than it otherwise might have been.
How It Would Work: Taxpayers will be required to pay the full amount they owe in taxes, however, where those tax dollars are allocated throughout the federal bureaucracy will be up to the taxpayer. If the taxpayer has no preference in allocating their tax dollars, normal budgeting rules will take precedent. But when the taxpayer specifically expresses their preference for tax dollar allocation, that allocation must be adhered to. This includes the ability of the taxpayer to specify a preference that all their tax dollars are to be used to pay down the National Debt.
If the taxpayer decides that a portion of federal bureaucracy is becoming unruly, s/he may signal so by allocating less money in tax dollars than in previous times. For example, if the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice begins to file indefensibly boneheaded lawsuits against the most successful and innovative companies in the United States, the taxpayer may signal their well-justified dislike in the Antitrust Division's newfound dimwittedness by allocating fewer tax dollars for them than in previous times. In the aggregate, this behavior would send a powerful signal to the Antitrust Division that their empty-headed shortsightedness needs to stop.
Tell me what you think about my Individual Taxpayer Earmark proposal, whether you love it, hate it, or find it somewhere in between. I would love and greatly value any and all feedback!
I arrived at the Supreme Court about 1:00 pm yesterday (Monday), and spent the whole night in line. In the morning (~7:30) I was interviewed by C-SPAN about my thoughts on the individual mandate (Start at the 1 hour mark: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Washington-Journal-for-Tuesday-March-27/10737429370/ ) and ended up being number 44/60 of those who had the privilege of sitting in the Courtroom for the entire 2 hour Oral Argument.
It was absolutely insane; just about every politician (>10 Senators including Mitch McConnell) and public official (including US Attorney General Eric Holder & Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius) was sitting practically within whispering distance of me. The three lawyers arguing were all pretty good (I particularly liked the last gentleman whose name I forget but managed to throw out a reference to the !)
Anyway, I've got an obligation soon, but Please Feel Free to pelt me with questions and I'll share more later if anyone's interested (including some pictures).
Nice catch spotting the similarities between the arguments in the debate and in the Courtroom. There's good reason for it, too, since Paul Clement (one of the Fed Soc debaters) was the main lawyer arguing against the individual mandate during all 3 days of the Supreme Court's Oral Arguments. He was within a stone's throw from me in the Court. Then again, I could have hit anyone with a stone in that small a room.
The other lawyer arguing against the individual mandate's constitutionality (just on the day I went) was Michael Carvin.
Here's another debate, which I think is really good since it features both Paul Clement, Michael Carvin (the other lawyer who argued in the Supreme Court against the individual mandate's constitutionality), and Akhil Amar & Neal Katyal (two very prominent constitutional scholars who are on the other side of the debate, but nonetheless brilliant):
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