I've got one of those Charge of the Light Brigade briefs -- onward, onward, into the valley of "judgment affirmed" -- due today, in Federal court no less, so let's just take a quick spin around the web.
The Post-Heller landscape. I'd written a number of posts (here and here) suggesting that the Supreme Court's decision last June in District of Columbia v. Heller could have some major ramifications on criminal law. My argument was that the Court, by establishing a fundamental right to bear arms, had opened the door to claims that weapons disability laws, and even gun specifications, in some cases weren't based on a sufficient showing of a compelling governmental interest to pass constitutional muster.
There have been some interesting developments, but not the ones I anticipated. In fact, as Doc Berman's post over at SL&P notes, the courts have uniformly rejected claims that Heller altered the landscape for laws regulating gun possession. In fact, as this article demonstrates, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence views Heller as a plus: the establishment of a fundamental right to own a gun takes gun confiscation, the big bugaboo of gun rights groups, off the table, leaving room for "common-sense" gun regulations. As the Center explains:
The Court went out of its way to make clear that most gun laws are 'presumptively' constitutional while also putting to rest gun owners' fears of a total ban or ultimate confiscation of all firearms. By taking the extremes of the gun policy debate off the table, Heller has the potential to allow genuine progress in implementing reasonable gun restrictions, while protecting basic rights to possess firearms. The unintended consequence of Heller is that it may end up 'de-wedgeifying' one of the more divisive 'wedge' issues on the political landscape: guns. The net result of Heller would then be positive by leading to the enactment of the strong gun laws that we need -- and the vast majority of Americans want -- to protect our communities from gun violence.
And lo and behold, as this article notes, Heller's also getting some tough love from the right, with two prominent conservative Federal judges claiming that the decision "is illegitimate, activist, poorly reasoned and fueled by politics rather than principle," and contending that the ruling was "the right-wing version of Roe v. Wade." That's some serious smack.
Pissing in a bottle. Courtesy of Drug War Rant, we find this article, informing us that Polk County, Florida officials are brimming with enthusiasm for extending drug testing of students beyond athletes, and including "all students involved with extracurricular activities." Or, at least, certain activities:
The district's expanded testing will include students who participate in activities that involve some kind of competition, something in which a first-, second- and third-place award is presented, Kelley-Fritz said.
I was on the debate team in high school. Just think: if our school had something like this back then, me and my teammates wouldn't have done lines of blow in the bathroom before trudging off to a tournament to debate the anti-ballistic missile system.
Seriously, one of the main purposes of a system of public education is socializiation: to inclulcate young people with society's values. We are raising a generation of people to believe that the 4th Amendment and the concept of privacy do not grant rights, but are merely obstacles to the government's regulation of our lives. And trivial obstacles at that.
Good news, bad news. For lawyers, anyway. Turns out that the legal profession isn't immune to the economic slump, as this picture over at Above the Law shows. This Washington Post article details some of the carnage: capping associate salaries, layoffs, even firm closings. But there's good news, too:
Fees could reach a record $1.4 billion for lawyers, accountants and other professionals working on the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history.
Have a good weekend. I'll see you on Monday.