President Obama announced today that Anwar Al-Aulaki, an American/Yemeni leader of al-Qaeda, has been killed in Yemen.
Aulaki, who was born in New Mexico and was a dual citizen of the United States and Yemen, had been tied to terrorist attacks in the U.S. and in Yemen. Several of the 9/11 hijackers attended his mosque near Washington, D.C., before that attack. He reportedly played a more direct role in the attempted bombing of a civilian aircraft as well as the Fort Hood shootings, at a minimum encouraging both of the attackers in those cases. In February of 201o he gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he unrepentedly admitted his involvement and renewed his call for Muslims to kill Americans anywhere in the world. Aulaki justified this by noting that because the United States is a democracy all of its people bear responsibility for the actions of its government. He said:
Here are links to information related to the crash that occurred on Friday at the National Championship Air Races & Air Show in Reno, Nevada.
On Friday, Jimmy Leeward, a 74-year old stunt pilot flying a P-51 (originally built in the 1940s), crashed his plane in front of the VIP section of the stands, killing himself and 8 members of the audience, and injuring another 69 spectators. Leeward competed in the top field of racers at Reno, the Unlimited Class, with planes capable of flying 500 miles per hour around the oval course in front of tens of thousands of spectators. The Reno competition is the only air race still held in the United States. The official website for the air races now contain only a condolence message. The tragedy itself is reported by Jim Carlton, Andy Pasztor, and Tamara Audi, Death Toll Raised to Nine in Reno Air Crash, Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2011. They report that seventeen pilots have died since 1964 when the air races began in Reno, but until now no spectators had been killed.To read more or comment...
Twice in legal argument Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson invoked the phrase "leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the law." Both occasions were watershed events in the legal history of our civilization.
In 1945 President Harry Truman asked Associate Justice Robert Jackson, who had formerly served as Attorney General, to assume leadership of the prosecution of the Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg on behalf of the United States. On November 21, 1945, Jackson delivered his opening statement at this trial.To read more or comment...
Yesterday evening, after several years of failed legislative proposals to reform the Patent Act, the first major overhaul of the patent laws since 1952 took place. The Senate passed H.R. 1249 (89-9), also known as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly. Below are some of the provisions of the reform.
In this case, described generally in yesterday's post, a teacher, Cheryl Perich, who suffers from narcolepsy, is suing her former employer, the Hosannah-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, on the ground that she was fired because she threatened to file a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The parochial school that is the defendant in this case claims that it is constitutionally immune from the application of laws prohibiting employment discrimination in general and the Americans with Disabilities Act in particular because of the "ministerial exception," a judge-created rule. This post describes the brief filed by the Hosannah-Tabor Church and School in the United States Supreme Court.
In its brief the school attempts to build an argument that Ms. Perich violated church doctrine when she fought for her job. In describing the events leading to her dismissal, the school's brief states:
This case involves a parochial school teacher who was fired because of a disability. Her employer claimed that it was exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act because of the "ministerial exception," a judge-created doctrine that exempts religious organizations from the operation of civil rights laws in cases involving "ministerial employees."
On November 21, 2010, I posted Does a Parochial School Have a Constitutional Right to Fire a Teacher in Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act? That case, now entitled Menorah-Tabor Church and School v. EEOC, will be argued before the Supreme Court on October 5.To read more or comment...
In 1911 Roscoe Pound published The Scope and Purpose of Sociological Jurisprudence (which may be found in two parts at pages 140 and 489 of Volume 25 of the Harvard Law Review). A century later a consequence of Pound's legal philosophy is that the lines between "questions of law" and "questions of fact" are becoming ever more undefined in American law. And, as a result, the attorneys for Edie Windsor have filed a motion to strike in their case challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pound, along with other leading legal lights such as Oliver Wendell Holmes (The Path of the Law (1897)) and Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921)) founded the school of "legal realism" which now dominates American law. In the interpretation and application of our laws it would now be unthinkable - not to mention practically inviting defeat - to fail to make a policy argument when contending for a particular interpretation of the law. Regardless of the field in which a dispute over the proper interpretation of the law arises, whether the matter is civil or criminal, substantive or procedural, at trial or on appeal, it is always necessary to explain why the court should interpret the law favorably to our client. It is not sufficient to simply parse the language of the law in question or to merely cite precedent. American judges also demand to know what purposes the law is supposed to serve and how the proffered interpretation will achieve those purposes - why it will serve justice. Pound always asked of the law, "What are you good for?" That is, how will a particular interpretation of the law affect not just the parties in this case but all of society, and are those effects consistent with the underlying purposes of the law, the values that the law stands for?To read more or comment...
Does a city have a constitutional right not to fly a particular flag?
Lexington, Virginia, is an historic city of the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee and Thomas ("Stonewall") Jackson, the two greatest generals of the Confederacy - and two of the greatest military tacticians America has produced - are buried there, and the city is home to both the Virginia Military Institute, a storied military college whose students fought valiantly in the Civil War, and Washington & Lee University, renamed when Lee became President of the college after the Civil War.To read more or comment...