Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Show, Gov. Huntsman

Refusing to accede to a popular but pointless and probably unconstitutional exercise of governmental power, Utah Gov. John Huntsman yesterday vetoed a bill to create penalties for retailers who sell video games recommended for adults to minors.

Even the bill’s sponsors conceded  that in its final form the bill was basically worthless policy-wise: in an apparent effort to aid the provision's prospects of withstanding a court challenge the Utah legislature added a loophole allowing retailers to avoid penalties just by covering up or removing the ESRB rating stickers on game cases.  But it seems that proponents still kept pushing the bill because of the standard urge to “send a message,” in this case that violent video games are bad, legal bills from defending the measure in court be dammed.

The pundit class has speculated about Huntsman as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.  Can’t say I’ve read a great deal about him before this, but this certainly makes a good first impression.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Joseph Albright, R.I.P.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Joseph Albright has passed away.  Albright had recused himself from the Court’s business since last fall, battling esophageal cancer.  He was 70.

I didn’t agree with his judicial methods on many points, but I heard from various sources that he was a good man and a force for conciliation on the Court, an impression that was supported by the few and brief times that I met the man and heard him talk about the Court’s business. R.I.P.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama: Signing Statements Are Wrongful Attempts to Expand the Power of the Presidency (Unless Issued by President Obama)

Remember candidate Obama’s denunciation of President Bush for using signing statements to announce that the executive branch would not abide by certain measures passed by Congress on the grounds that they infringed on his constitutional authority?  Well, today President Obama made a slight, uh, change to that position. An AP story informs us that Obama issued a signing statement today after putting his signature on an omnibus spending bill:

Obama's signing statement said he wouldn't be bound by provisions of the bill in five areas. They involved negotiations with foreign governments, limits on using U.S. troops in U.N. missions, protections for government whistleblowers, a congressional claim of authority over the spending of money already approved by Congress and congressional demands that the administration submit budget requests in certain forms.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Reminder: Tuesday, It’s On.

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in a case I never, not-in-a-million years thought they would take: Caperton v. Blankenship, the judicial recusal case out of West Virginia.  For those not terribly familiar with the case, The Washington Post has a thorough preview here.

Caperton is pressing SCOTUS to rule that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment is violated when a judge who circumstances indicate has a “probability of bias” refuses to recuse himself or herself.  I can’t fathom that the Court will accept that argument at the end of the day-- the implementation problems are just too monumental.  But then, I was shocked that the Court took the case in the first place.

In any event, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get a read from the justices as to whether Caperton has a plausible shot at winning.  I’ll have coverage up of the oral argument as soon as my schedule allows.