Texas AG Paxton under the Microscope

It seems fair to say that statewide Texas politicians of the Republican variety are having some legal troubles.

Some of them have led to full-blown legal proceedings, like former Governor Rick Perry’s pending criminal charge, the civil fine against Attorney General Ken Paxton from the Texas State Securities Board (for an incident that occurred before he was elected), and the criminal securities fraud complaint filed against AG Paxton by Texans for Public Justice (which goes before a grand jury soon).

Some have remained in the realm of allegations and suspicions, like current Governor Greg Abbott’s alleged misconduct with regard to the Texas Enterprise Fund when he was Attorney General. I’m not sure if any formal complaints are currently pending against Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick—which is not to say he hasn’t had complaints (PDF file) before—but he sure does know how to stir people up.

"SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) - 26 June 2015" by Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 58151) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Most recently notorious, I’d say, is AG Paxton’s official opinion (PDF file here or here), issued on June 28, 2015 in response to a request from LG Patrick, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and the Fifth Circuit’s order affirming that ruling in De Leon v. Abbott. Continue reading


Truth Bomb in SCOTUS

This comes from Texas Freedom Network‘s daily “News Clips” email:

"This Congress, your honor?"


Here’s a bit more context, via National Journal: Continue reading


What I’m Reading, April 28, 2014

klsgfx [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)], via OpenclipartPlease, Please, Please: Do Not Make Your Kid The Center Of Your Universe, Cassie Murdoch, Jezebel, July 6, 2012

It’s impossible to say for sure that intensive parenting leads to depression and stress and being dissatisfied, but the links don’t really make sense if you flip them around. It’s also not clear whether intensive parenting has any great impact on the children, but Liss concludes that anything that makes moms depressed probably doesn’t benefit children in the long run. Plus, anecdotally some of us have observed that making your child the center of the universe tends to result in rather obnoxious offspring.

Justice Sotomayor accuses colleagues of thinking they can ‘wish away’ racial inequality, Robyn Pennacchia, Death and Taxes, April 23, 2014

Just yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the people of Michigan had the right, via mob rule, to ban the practice of Affirmative Action at state institutions such as the University of Michigan. It wasn’t a good ruling. Ever since the state voted to ban it, minority enrollment has declined significantly. Which is not surprising, because when you ignore unearned privileged and advantages, it’s hardly shocking when the priviledg and advantaged pull ahead. Obviously the person who starts the race in the middle of a marathon is going to have a better chance at winning.

Continue reading


What to Do Post-McCutcheon

"Corporate PAC Campaign Contributions Have Tripled Over the Last Two Decades" by citizens4taxjustice [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via FlickrI haven’t read the actual McCutcheon opinion yet (if ever). To be honest , the minutiae of campaign-finance law makes my head hurt, mostly because of the system’s artificial and inane complexity. To be more honest, I have generally always accepted that campaigns with more money tend to win, but I’ve never really understood the mechanics of why. Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money offers a bit of post-McCutcheon tough love that, I think, nails the real problem:

My thought on the McCutcheon case’s importance is as follows. Liberals need to quit whining about the money. I’m not saying the case isn’t a big deal. It is. But I am saying that the plutocrats have always had far more money than working people and they’ve always used it to control politics the best they can.


The problem today is that progressives believe the ballot box is where change is made, when in fact it is where change is consolidated. Organize on the ground to demand the change desired and the money can be overcome. But if you think a social movement is buying ad time on television or the right kind of media messaging, that’s a game that progressives are never going to win.

(Emphasis added)

How do political campaigns spend money? That’s actually a serious, non-rhetorical question. I know they pay for massive amounts of advertising, along with all the expenses of running a campaign. For the purposes of discussing how money influences politics, the advertising seems like the pertinent issue. Continue reading


I Am Justice Sotomayor!

At least according to this “personality quiz” from NonCuratLex.com:

Click to embiggen (via noncuratlex.com)

Click to embiggen (via noncuratlex.com)

I give props to whomever wrote this for not making it too obvious where the various answers will lead, and making it clever when it is obvious (“Philo Farnsworth’s original patents” was pretty inspired.) I cannot claim that my answer is entirely valid, though, because I came upon the question regarding Major League Baseball preferences. There are few issues about which I care less than Major League Baseball. The World Series of Poker comes to mind, along with anything involving Real Housewives. Anyway, I chose the Yankees, because I at least know that two guys with the same names as me have played for them. (That wasn’t the reason at the time, but it’s an excellent post hoc rationalization.)

We even have the same hairdo.

We even have the same hairdo.

Also, I really would “perform a silent jig of unadulterated joy” if asked to be on Sesame Street, although I doubt it would be all that silent.

Seriously, please put me in a sketch with Barkley. I have theater experience, and I’m good with dogs (even supernaturally large ones).

Back to the issue at hand, I can totally live with a personality matching Justice Sotomayor’s. At least I’m not Scalia.

Photo credits: Kyle at NonCuratLex; pvsbond (TBS Analyst David Wells) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


In the Battle of States’ Rights Versus Poop, Poop Won

772355_38434700Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court once considered the question of whether a state government could prohibit the importation of solid or liquid waste from across state lines, and concluded that no, it cannot. (I may have exaggerated a little in my title when I implied that the case was just about “poop,” but you’re reading now, aren’t you?) I came across this fun decision during a work-related Googling. It is amazing the things you find.

Anyway, Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (1978), caught my eye, because why would the city of Philadelphia be suing the state of New Jersey? In the 1970’s of all times? It turns out that New Jersey had a law that “prohibit[ed] the importation of most solid of liquid waste which originated or was collected outside the territorial limits of the State…” Id. at 618. Quite a few private landfills in New Jersey and cities outside of New Jersey had business arrangements, in which those cities shipped their trash to New Jersey. I’m lazy, so just make your own New Jersey jokes here. I’ll wait.

Those private landfills and non-Jersey cities were not too happy. The landfills didn’t like losing business, and the cities didn’t like not being able to ship their effluvia to New Jersey (I’m paraphrasing Justice Stewart’s recitation of the facts, but I imagine the mayor of Philadelphia raging about not understanding the point of being so close to New Jersey if you can’t dump your crap there. Al Pacino is playing the role of the mayor in my imagination. It’s some awesome scenery-chewing.) So they sued the state of New Jersey for violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Typically, when you hear the term “states’ rights,” you either think of segregation or the Tenth Amendment. More jurisprudence related to what states can and cannot do, or what the federal government can or cannot make states do, derives from the Commerce Clause and other provisions nearby. In this situation, rather than a federal government that, depending on how you look at it, was either the source of or the last bastion against tyranny, private businesses were suing their own state, and municipal governments were suing a foreign (i.e. different) state. It doesn’t quite fit the standard “states’ rights” rhetorical model, but it does bring up a good question: does a state government, ostensibly of, by, and for its people, have the right to keep other people’s garbage out?

Short answer, no. If you’ve read this far but would really rather be off elsewhere eating a Hot Pocket, you may go now. Continue reading


My First Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision

Last week, House Majority Leader John Boehner issued a plea to Republicans et al not to “spike the ball” should the Court strike down the law. It was a magnanimous, if futile gesture. Rush Limbaugh, never letting an opportunity to issue jowly gloats slide, admonished his followers to keep doing what they do best (i.e. commit mass asshattery). Here is what I imagine their ball-spiking party looks like today:

1241261617_football-fail(Source: GIF and video)

I’m surprised, first of all, at the way the vote split. The opinion just posted to the Supreme Court’s site, and I have not had a chance to read all 193 pages (go figure). I’m uploading a copy of the opinion below, if anyone wants to indulge.

Treating the individual mandate as a tax is an interesting outcome. I thought the Commerce Clause arguments were pretty solid, given precedent (stare decisis: look it up and explain it to Justice Scalia, please.)

At the moment, I doubt anyone outside the court itself has read the opinion, unless they have mad speed-reading skillz. It will be several days before there is any meaningful analysis or commentary. I will be ignoring the media drivel. If I can get around to it, I’ll delve into the topic some more.

Opinion of the Court, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Supreme Court of the United States, June 28, 2012