Saturday, June 29, 2013

Massive resistance

After the Supreme Court's Brown decision in 1954, segregationist politicians developed a strategy of massive resistance to the ruling. Even though integration was now the law of the land, these resisters developed a variety of clever means to try to stem the tide of history. One by one, these efforts mostly failed in the courts, but they succeeded in delaying implementation of desegregation for many years.  Even now, patterns of segregation and discrimination still persist in many areas. But no respectable politician would ever proclaim, as they did in the 1950's and 1960's, that discrimination is acceptable or that re-introducing segregation would be a good idea. To that extent at least, the strategy of massive resistance was futile.

Congress is now refusing to authorize appropriations to educate the public and promote implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Many states are refusing to help their citizens learn about their benefits and responsibilities under the law. So the administration has reached out to private enterprise to help with this task. Rather than embracing this resourceful effort to save public funds and enlist private enterprise to help make people aware of the benefits and requirements of the health care law, Congressional leaders went on the attack. This week, Senate Minority Leader McConnell and Senator Cornyn wrote letters to six professional sports leagues warning them not to get involved with any campaign to promote public awareness of Obamacare.

There are lots of outrageous statements in these letters, such as calling Obamacare a "bill," when in fact it is the law of the land; treating the requirements of health insurance as subject to debate; and trying to distinguish Obamacare from Romneycare (because the state of Massachusetts had obtained help from the Boston Red Sox to educate the public about the benefits of the state's health insurance law) on the ground that Romneycare was bi-partisan. (Isn't it the definition of chutzpah to refuse to participate in health care reform and then attack the end product on the grounds that it is partisan?) It's also fair to ask these opponents of Obamacare why, if you are counting on public disapproval of the law to repeal or scale it back, you would want to deprive people of the opportunity to learn what is in the law. Are you afraid that people might actually like it once they understood it?

What this resistance campaign ultimately fails to recognize is that it is on the wrong side of history. Those who seek to delay and obstruct implementation of the law are likely to suffer the same fate as those who championed the cause of racial discrimination during the Civil Rights era. They will likely live to have to embrace the values they once fought against, and they will eventually try to re-write history to downplay their own ignominious role in it. Strangely enough it is senators of McConnell's and Cornyn's region and political persuasion who have ended up on the wrong side in both battles, proving that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

The same fate is likely to await those who resist recognition of gay marriage across the land. An article in the New York Times this morning talks about the difficulties facing legally married same-sex couples who move to states where their marriages are not recognized. The logical response to this problem would be gradually to harmonize the states' approaches to this issue, and provide legal protections to couples in this situation. And for congregations opposed to gay marriage, the rational response should be to refuse to perform such services in their churches, something they have every right to do. The denialist, anti-historical approach, on the other hand, would be massive resistance. Resistance, and even rollback. The president of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, promised to “roll back gay marriage” wherever it exists. Ironically, he went on to quote Abraham Lincoln's statement that the country cannot persist half slave and half free, seemingly unaware that the anti-freedom position did not ultimately prevail in Lincoln's time.  It would run counter to the tides of history to expect that laws that recognize the equal dignity of gay couples, and that make health care affordable for all are ultimately going to rolled back by a campaign of massive resistance. History has a way of rolling over those who try to stand in its way.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to filibuster

I've written about 17 posts with the label "filibuster," none very favorable to the tactic, which has slowed work in the U.S. Senate to a crawl the last few years. In general, filibusters are anti-democratic, because they thwart the principle of majority rule. They are unfair because they prevent the majority party from taking the responsibility of governing, while letting the minority party off the hook for obstructionism. And they waste a lot of time.

So why was I, and a lot of other people sympathetic to her position, thrilled to watch Texas State Senator Wendy Davis stand up for approximately 12 hours to prevent a strict anti-abortion bill from taking effect? Because Wendy Davis conducted her filibuster the old-fashioned way, keeping the spotlight squarely on the obstructionist minority, and performing physical feats of almost superhuman stamina. Not for her (and evidently not permitted in Texas) the quiet, sneaky filibusters of the kind favored by Mitch McConnell and the Republican minority in the Senate, that subjects any bill they wish to a 60 vote threshold simply to bring it to the floor for a vote.

A proper filibuster is conducted out in the open, so everyone can see exactly who is responsible for holding up the legislature's work. Not the kind where the minority can prevent bill after bill from coming up for a vote, and blame the majority party for not being able to get anything done. A proper filibuster allows everyone sympathetic to the views of the filibusterer to view their champion as a hero, rather than being mystified at the way the body's arcane rules seem to prevent anything from happening. A proper filibuster should be a rare and dramatic event, not something that takes place in the shadows. A proper filibuster should require a strong bladder and suitable shoes.

This is why the Senators who are seeking to reform the filibuster rules in the Senate are not suggesting that we eliminate the filibuster. Instead they want to bring it in the open, to force those employing this tactic to take responsibility for it, and to make it a relatively rare event. That way the legislature can get on with business, but pause every once in a while for a dramatic moment that can allow the public to honor the passionate views of the minority.

If Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans want to continue their filibustering ways, why shouldn't they be required to show they at least have the same size balls as Wendy Davis?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Justice Scalia, Humorist

People are having trouble understanding Justice Scalia's rants in the gay marriage cases today. What they fail to appreciate is that Scalia can only be properly understood as a humorist. His opinions are intended for entertainment purposes only.

For example, you might wonder how Scalia can exalt the "democratically adopted" DOMA statute that the Court partially struck down in the Windsor case (to his chagrin), when he joined the majority opinion in the Voting Rights opinion issued only yesterday, in which the Court showed no respect whatsoever for the considered judgment of a democratically elected Congress. This makes no sense, until you realize that Scalia was just having a little joke at Congress's expense.

Then there is this hilarious quote from the DOMA case: “However, even setting aside traditional moral disapproval of same-sex marriage (or indeed same-sex sex), there are many perfectly valid — indeed, downright boring — justifying rationales for this legislation. Their existence ought to be the end of this case.”

First, there is Scalia's reference to "traditional moral disapproval," a sly little dig at his colleagues, who ten years ago affirmed that people actually have a constitutional right to engage in what Scalia amusingly calls "same-sex sex." OK, Scalia is saying, "you guys might have decided that those private consensual activities are constitutionally protected, but give me a break. We're talking about sodomy here."

Even more hilarious is the way Scalia introduces the idea of those things that we traditionally morally disapprove of: Let's set that "traditional moral disapproval" aside, Scalia says. As if we could ever even think about doing that! Are you kidding me? Does anyone think Scalia is setting aside "traditional moral disapproval" for one second? What a knee slapper!

Finally, we get to the part about the many valid--indeed downright boring--rationales for this legislation, which leads Scalia into a lengthy discussion into such problems as the thorny choice of law issues that might confront a gay couple married in New York who decide to move to Alabama. As if Scalia actually cares about this hypothetical couple's problems! What's funny is to imagine Scalia's secret glee at the thought of the newly-married same-sex couple from New York introducing themselves to their new Alabama neighbors. And the idea that DOMA was intended to help people in that situation, and we should uphold it for that purpose!

Again, the whole thing is even funnier when you remember that only yesterday, Scalia joined the opinion striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in spite of Congress's expressed concerns in that legislation for dealing with real problems: namely the real problem of states enacting changes in their voting procedures to disenfranchise minority voters, of which we have seen a major upsurge in the last couple of years. We don't need to worry about those little problems, Scalia is telling us. We have to throw out the whole pre-clearance framework of the Voting Rights Act because we don't think Congress did a good enough job. The Voting Rights Act? That's only the most respected and effective statute from the Civil Rights movement, one that has stood the test of time since 1965 and been repeatedly extended by overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in Congress. We need to gut that statute! On the other hand, there's DOMA, which was only enacted in the 1990's and has been of dubious constitutional validity since Day 1. Now there's a statute we need to respect!

You've got to hand it to Antonin Scalia. Maybe he's not quite up to the level of Mark Twain, but he has a way with satire, that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Voting rights

I feel the urge to announce this news in one of those big, booming announcer voices they use for movie trailers, usually beginning with "IN A WORLD WHERE . . . . "

Something like this: 

IN A WORLD which has seen a huge increase in the last couple of years in efforts to make it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote, which mainly makes it harder for the elderly, the young, and minorities, our Supreme Court has decided that now is the time to eliminate the most effective mechanism we have for curtailing these practices.

IN A WORLD where excessive litigiousness is a problem, our Supreme Court has decided that we need more lawsuits to enforce voting rights, rather than cheap and effective administrative enforcement by the Justice Department.

IN A WORLD where Congress is dysfunctional, and excessive partisanship is seen by nearly everyone as one of our biggest problems, and where conservatives claim they are in favor of judicial restraint, our Supreme Court has seen fit to set aside the judgment of the people's representatives, and penalize Congress for one of the few times it acted in a bi-partisan and nearly unanimous manner, saying, "sorry guys, you didn't do a perefect enough job to meet our standards."

IN A WORLD where the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is almost universally seen as one of the proudest accomplishments of our era, our Supreme Court has decided to gut it.


The proof that the Supreme Court was absolutely, dead wrong in deciding that the world has changed so much that we don't need section 5 anymore is going to be thrust in all of our faces very soon. If the Supreme Court were right that the world has changed, then the jurisdictions currently subject to Section 5 will now demonstrate the Court's trust in their changed attitudes by encouraging everyone to vote, and making sure the process is fully open to minorities. Does anyone think that is about to happen? The idea is almost funny. No, what's going to happen now is open season on election laws. We are about to see a spate of new efforts, in almost all of the places subject to section 5, to make it more difficult for people to vote, which will fall most heavily on the elderly, young voters and ethnic minorities.  We can draw no other conclusion than that the Supreme Court welcomes those efforts.

Understand that what the Supreme Court is now endorsing, in those places that try to enact new voting restrictions, are new epic court battles over voting rights, of the kind we saw in Pennsylvania and Ohio last year. No more simple denials of clearance, as we saw for example in South Carolina last year, where the voter id law was quashed by the Justice Department. So get ready for teams of voting rights lawyers to descend on the courts  in the places formerly covered by pre-clearance requirements. If people in those places are bothered by that deluge, just tell them the Supreme Court sent them.

What a world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Climate change



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ask the Leader

I feel the need to set the record straight on the Nancy Pelosi appearance yesterday at Netroots Nation. What the reporting I have seen so far focuses on, of course, is that the House Minority Leader was heckled when she began to talk about the Snowden affair, and proceeded to defend the Obama administration's record on surveillance and security, especially in contrast to that of the Bush administration. This is either being portrayed as an indication of the left's rejection of Pelosi or Obama; or in some quarters as the left's lunacy in displaying the same disregard of facts and sense as we sometimes see on the right. As a witness to the proceedings, it was my impression that neither view is correct.

More important than the not-surprising incidence of vocal outrage at revelations of the extent of NSA surveillance is how beautifully Pelosi handled the situation. She told the heckler it was fair to ask the questions he was asking and to demand answers, and said emphatically that we need to have a full debate about these topics. She then took another unauthorized shouted-out question from the audience, about outsourcing national security to government contractors, and said she agreed with the questioner 100%. At that point, Pelosi had the audience almost completely on her side.

It's also worth watching the full video of the Pelosi interview to see how well the Congresswoman dealt with a whole range of other topics, from her brilliant dissection of Republican ineptitude in failing to pass the farm bill, to an inspiring lecture encouraging women to take an active role in politics, to an analysis of the politics of immigration reform, and her dismay at excessive partisanship in Congress, etc. Sure there are some things that some people in the room were unhappy about, and a few of them were vocal about their unhappiness. It has always been so on the left. Most of the discussion was held on a very positive level, however, and the audience in general was highly sympathetic to Pelosi's remarks from beginning to end, even including a slight rough patch that others have made so much fuss over. Kudos to the past and future Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and to the excellent job done by moderator Zerlina Maxwell.  




Watch live streaming video from freespeechtv at livestream.com

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Optimism

I heard Markos Moulitsas twice today explain his theory that because of demographic changes, and because Democrats  better reflect most Americans' positions on the issues, Democrats are headed for something that might approach permanent majority status in politics--so long as Democrats continue to strongly advocate progressive positions. He made this argument at a panel this morning on immigration reform, and again in an entertaining slide show at the closing session of Netroots Nation.

This theory makes a lot of sense, but I would probably be a little more cautious in predicting some kind of permanent shift in the electorate. History tells us that the pendulum of public opinion is more likely to swing back and forth a few times in the coming decades, and that it can swing back in a reactionary direction a lot quicker than people might think. A number of things could happen that would throw cold water on progressives' hopes of a permanent majority. First, you can't take the support of ethnic minorities for granted permanently. Sure, Latinos and Asians and African-Americans and recent immigrants from all over are more likely to favor Democrats now, but as they move up the economic ladder a strange thing happens. Lots of them adopt more conservative values. Not all of them, but more than now perhaps. It's ironic that the very policies that Democrats support (education, building a stronger middle class, infrastructure improvements, etc.) sometimes have the effect over time of creating more Republicans! It has happened before.

Second, you can't predict what kinds of wars or outbreaks of violence or other disasters and emergencies will happen in the coming years that could affect public opinion, and not always in a positive way.

People thought in the mid-1960's, especially after the LBJ landslide of 1964, that we were headed for a permanent Democratic majority. Then came Vietnam, riots in major cities, student protests, and the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and we ended up with Richard Nixon in 1968, who went on to his own landslide victory in 1972. People also thought (I thought!) after Watergate caused Nixon and seemingly his whole party to reveal their corruption and fall into disgrace, that we were moving toward another permanent Democratic majority. Then came a bad economy and the Iranian revolution and instead of a progressive consensus, we ended up with the Reagan revolution of 1980, and a seemingly permanent reactionary consensus. It took another 28 years before the pendulum swung strongly in the other direction.

Nobody can predict what future problems or cataclysms might cause another political shift to the right. And nobody can assume that the people who currently support the progressive agenda will continue to do so. Nobody should take any ethnic group or women or young people or gays or any other demographic for granted. I hope Markos is right that what we are seeing now are the death throes of the politics of fear and resentment, but I worry that that kind of politics always has a chance for a comeback.

All that leads me to treasure and support the Obama administration as strongly as I can, but others can draw their own conclusions. Just don't take anything for granted.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Reducing violence

Friday morning at Netroots Nation led off with an all-star panel to discuss gun violence. It's an issue that provokes strong emotional responses, particularly from the two panelists who represent teachers. But it's also an issue that provokes strong determination from the public officials represented on the panel, to continue to push forward legislation designed to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands. Panel members also pushed back strongly against the idea that the movement to reduce gun violence in this country has anything whatsoever to do with taking guns away from responsible gun owners who keep guns for legitimate purposes. That is propaganda spread by the NRA which plays on the public's distrust of government to accomplish their primary mission, which seems to be acting as a trade association for gun manufacturers, rather than acting in the best interests of the responsible gun owners they purportedly represent.



Several of the panel members stressed the importance of engaging in a dialogue with gun owners, and couching arguments for gun control in a way that is not threatening to gun rights advocates, and that will appeal to the majority of public opinion. State Senator Darrell Steinberg, for example, made the excellent point that advocating for restrictions on assault weapon sales at the same time as acknowledging the need for mental health reform, are not either/or propositions. Some of the panelists also mentioned the need to support legislators such as Senator Joe Manchin, who took a courageous stand against the NRA position, despite a strong background in favor of gun rights.

It was interesting, however, that even on a panel devoted to the theme of reducing violence, gun metaphors and violence metaphors kept cropping up. Senator Steinberg repeatedly talked about "fighting" to enact legislation to reduce gun violence. I understand that strong opposition must be overcome, but it still seems a bit incongruous to talk about fighting to reduce violence. Somebody else talked about "shooting down" the opposition's arguments. And the moderator Jehmu Greene asked the panelists at the end to engage in a "rapid fire" round of final responses. It's an indication of just how strongly violence has permeated our culture when a group of people all sincerely and passionately dedicated to the cause of reducing violence has difficulty discussing that issue without resorting to the language of violence themselves. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We the People

Speaking of filibusters, I just heard Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the keynote speaker at Netroots Nation in San Jose this year, talk about how Senate rules must be changed this year if the Republican minority in the Senate refuses to confirm some critical Executive Branch and judicial appointments. In response to the fears that some members have expressed about the possible loss of this tool should Democrats find themselves in the minority in two or four or however many years, Merkley asked the audience if they had any doubts that a future Majority Leader McConnell would hesitate to change the rules on filibusters of presidential appointments if he found himself in a similar position to the position in which Democrats currently find themselves in the Senate. And if McConnell is going to change the Senate rules anyway when he gets the chance, why shouldn't Democrats do it now when they will get the benefit of speeding President Obama's appointments through the Senate, way too many of whom have been delayed by an obstreperous minority party. I guess that explains why Senator McConnell had to up the ante by threatening to eliminate filibusters altogether, as described in my previous post.

Merkley's theme was that reforming the filibuster is only one of the changes needed to restore the people's control of their government, and allow it to serve the people's needs. Another major change is to overturn by Constitutional amendment the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited amounts of secret money to influence our elections. 

Anyway, I was concerned that this being an off year, and with all the disgruntlement at phony White House scandals, there might be more than the usual negativity at Netroots this year. That hasn't proven to be the case, except maybe for one jerk picketing the exhibition hall with a ridiculous sign equating Obama with Cheney. In general, the attitude here more seems to be taking the president for granted, and looking beyond his lame duck term. The focus is on moving forward with the progressive agenda: health care, education, gay rights, improving the environment and the economy, etc. But the president did pop in for a visit by video, and was given a fairly enthusiastic round of applause.

Next year in Detroit!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The nuclear option

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks it is completely wrong that Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening to disallow any more filibusters on President Obama's judicial appointments. Reid's plan to change Senate rules is wrong, according to McConnell, even though it is exactly the same threat that McConnell himself made back in 2005, when Senate Democrats, then in the minority, were filibustering more of President Bush's appointments than the Republican majority at that time thought was appropriate.

Anyway, if McConnell so disapproves of Reid's plan to pull the so-called nuclear trigger, does that mean he has learned his lesson from when he threatened to do the same thing himself? Does McConnell now disapprove of using the power of the majority to change the rules? Well, maybe only if Reid is the one doing it. If Republicans ever take back majority control of the Senate, McConnell and other Republican leaders say, they will show the Democrats just how wrong it is to change the rules to end filibusters for judicial appointments, by ending all filibusters. That's right, and  here's McConnell's exact quote: “It would be naive to assume that you could break the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules for the Senate only for nominations. There would be a widespread clamor across our conference, where we to be in the majority, to take that precedent and apply it to everything else.” In other words, McConnell and the Republican Senate minority think that using the power of the majority to make majority rule the rule is so bad, they might just have to make it the rule in every case if they ever come to power. Or according to Senator Alexander,"if Democrats figure out a way to do anything they want with 51 votes, Republicans can figure that out too. And if we're in charge, we'll do it."

Sounds like the Republican minority is not exactly admitting that their invocation of the filibuster for nearly every important piece of legislation proposed in the past four years--a record that is unprecedented in American history--was a tad abusive. It sounds more like old fashioned payback. And an illustration of the principle that principles change depending on who is in power. If you're in the majority, you extol the virtues of democracy and majority rule. If you are in the minority, you defend the principle that the function of the Senate is to protect the interests of the minority.

The only way to agree on reasonable rules that would limit abuse of the filibuster would be for Senate leaders from both parties to adopt the Rawlsian veil of ignorance and come up with rules that both sides could live with whether they are in the majority or the minority. Otherwise we are in for an endless cycle of payback. On the other hand, if payback means that we get closer and closer to eliminating the filibuster entirely, and permitting the majority party to adopt its program and take responsibility for it, is that a result we should be afraid of?

Berlin

Monday, June 17, 2013

Belfast

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cheers to Governor Brewer!



Governor Jan Brewer deserves congratulations for pushing Medicaid expansion through the Republican-controlled Arizona House of Representatives. She is smart enough to understand that Medicaid expansion represents a tangible benefit for hundreds of thousands of low income Arizona citizens. Not only that, it relieves a huge financial burden on hospitals, who must accept all patients in emergency rooms regardless of their ability to pay. Not only that, Medicaid expansion is a tremendous benefit to the rest of us, who must pay the costs of treating the uninsured in the form of higher insurance premiums and higher medical bills. With  expanded Medicaid coverage, all of those financial burdens are tremendously reduced, and lots of people will now be able to visit doctors and clinics instead of relying on much more expensive emergency room care.

Every state participates in the Medicaid program. Every single state. But since the Supreme Court gave states the option of refusing to accept the expansion of Medicaid, most of the states controlled by Republican Governors and Legislatures have said they will refuse to participate in the expansion. This can only be for political reasons. Otherwise how could these public officials refuse to allow their own citizens to obtain tremendous benefits at very little cost to the states, since the federal government picks up the lion's share of the cost of these programs? How could they condemn their own citizens to untreated illness and death? How could they deny hospitals and doctors the opportunity to obtain reimbursement for services, again at very little cost to state budgets? How could they refuse to relieve the burden on the rest of us, whose health insurance premiums and hospital billings must go up to cover the cost of uninsured patients that hospitals must treat at no charge?

Let's hope Governor Brewer's sensible actions serve as a model for other Republican governors and legislatures to break the logjam over Medicaid expansion, and get this much-needed reform in place for every state.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Watch out for bicycles!




Get a load of Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal talking about the grave dangers to our way of life posed by bicycles. For example, how they symbolize government tyranny. (Never mind that the New York City bicycle sharing program is sponsored by a private company.)

Then there is the unsightliness of these brightly-painted new bicycles "begriming" the city streets. Obviously these blue monsters are destroying the aesthetics of every neighborhood, unlike the pleasant noise and fragrant exhaust of thousands of taxicabs and buses. We're used to that, I suppose.

This self-appointed representative of the majority of the citizens of New York City (she actually claims that title, in contrast to the "autocratic" mayor who was only three times elected to office by a majority of voters), goes on to inform us that the real menace residents face is not posed by cabs, but by bicyclists. This is a puzzling assertion, given that more than four thousand pedestrians nationally are killed by motorists every year, while only a tiny number are injured by bicyclists. But Ms. Rabinowitz does not seem concerned about that carnage. She is more outraged by the idea that when she opens the door to exit a taxicab, she might have to look out for bicyclists. The horror!

We hear similar complaints in LA whenever they close city streets for a few hours for a parade or a construction project or a marathon or the semi-annual Ciclavia event. As if cars and trucks have a God-given right to monopolize city streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter how much noise and pollution and other forms of havoc they cause. As if our car-choked streets represent some kind of serene and natural state, which we must protect from the unwelcome intrusion of hordes of people riding bicycles.

Judicial nominations, part 2

President Obama's nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: 

Nina Pillard (from the Georgetown Law School website):
Professor Cornelia T.L. ("Nina") Pillard joined the Georgetown Law faculty after a decade as an accomplished litigator. Pillard's Supreme Court work includes more than twenty-five cases that she has briefed and nine that she has argued before the Court. Litigation highlights include United States v. Virginia (1996), which opened the Virginia Military Institute to women, and Nevada Dept. of Social Svcs. v. Hibbs (2003), sustaining Family and Medical Leave Act rights against constitutional challenge. Pillard is Faculty Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute, which assists lawyers from around the country in preparing for Supreme Court arguments, without regard to issue or position.
Pillard served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel (1998-2000); and Assistant to the Solicitor General (1994-1997). She also represented Georgetown as inaugural Academic Co-Director and Professor at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies (CTLS) (2008-2009). CTLS is a London-based semester academic program for law students from the U.S. and around the world.
A magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, Pillard began her legal career in a federal clerkship with the Honorable Louis H. Pollak (1987-1988), held the Marvin M. Karpatkin fellowship at the ACLU (1988-89), and litigated individual and class-action racial discrimination cases and appeals at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc (1989-1994). Professor Pillard teaches Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and a new seminar on corporate and multi-stakeholder efforts to assure that jobs in global value chains are abundant, fair and safe.

Hon. Robert L. Wilkins (from the D.C.District Court website):

Judge Wilkins was appointed United States District Court for the District of Columbia on December 27, 2010. A native of Muncie Indiana, he obtained his B.S. cum laude in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Following graduation, Judge Wilkins clerked for the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. He later served as a staff attorney and as head of Special Litigation for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and he also practiced as a partner with Venable LLP, specializing in white collar defense, intellectual property and complex civil litigation.
During his tenure with the Public Defender Service and in private practice, Judge Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff inWilkins, et al. v. State of Maryland, a civil rights lawsuit against the Maryland State Police. This lawsuit resulted in two landmark settlements that were the first to require systematic compilation and publication by a police agency of data for all highway drug and weapons searches, including data regarding the race of the motorist involved, the justification for the search and the outcome of the search. These settlements inspired a June 1999 Executive Order by President Clinton, Congressional hearings and legislation that has been enacted in over half of the fifty states.
Judge Wilkins also played a key role in the passage of Public Law No. 107-106, establishing the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission, and he served as the Chairman of the Site and Building Committee of that Presidential Commission. The work of the Presidential Commission led to the passage of Public Law No. 108-184, which authorized the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum will be the newest addition to the Smithsonian, and it is scheduled to open in 2015 between the National Museum of American History and the Washington Monument on the National Mall.
Judge Wilkins has received numerous honors and awards, including being named one of the “40 under 40 most successful young litigators in America” by the National Law Journal in 2002 and one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 years” by the Legal Times in 2008.

Patricia Millett (from Akin Gump's website):

Patricia A. Millett heads Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice and co-heads the firm’s national appellate practice. She has argued a total of 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and approximately 36 in the courts of appeals. She has briefed scores of cases in the Supreme Court and appellate courts across the nation.

From August 1996 to September 2007, Ms. Millett served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. During that time, she was awarded the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for representing the interests of the United States Government before the Supreme Court in July 2004, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Special Commendation for Assistance and Support in the Activities of the Division, in September 2005.
Prior to her employment with the Office of the Solicitor General, Ms. Millett worked for four years in the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Appellate Staff, where she briefed and argued more than 20 cases before the federal courts of appeals and, occasionally, state appellate courts. Before that, she clerked for two years for the late Judge Thomas Tang, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She also worked for two years in the litigation department of a Washington, D.C. law firm.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Electric cars

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Student loans