Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I Have the Right to Remain Silent about Mr. Spitzer -- But I Won't Do So

A few minutes ago I received an announcement from the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. The Society is holding a conference called "Federal Courts, Inc?" at New York University. There will be many eminent panelists at this event -- for example, Martin H. Redish, Jeff Rosen, Nadine Strossen, and my colleague Alexander A. Reinert.

Eliot Spitzer, the announcement reveals, will give the keynote address.

What explains the choice of Mr. Spitzer?

His eminence as a legal scholar?

His exemplary conduct?

I am perplexed.

Do I need to recite the conduct that led to Mr. Spitzer's resignation as governor of the State of New York? I don't think so. Suffice it to say that Mr. Spitzer's conduct was unprofessional, unethical, and corrosive of the public's trust in government.

The choice of Mr. Spitzer as the keynote speaker of a major law conference is a disgrace.

The choice of Mr. Spitzer as the keynote speaker says volumes about the attitudes of the people who run the American Constitution Society.

I repeat my question: What explains the choice of Mr. Spitzer?

His aggressiveness and arrogance?

His fame? His infamy?

His wealth?

I assume it's some combination of the above factors.

When Mr. Spitzer was New York's attorney general, he was much less forgiving of his adversaries than the ACS is of him.

As governor, Mr. Spitzer did not do much better: He promised to be a steamroller.

Mr. Spitzer's arrogance alone should have disqualified him as keynote speaker at the conference to be held at NYU.

Perhaps sometimes there is such a thing as guilt by association.


The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Justice Brandeis on Zeal and Liberty

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Justice Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States (1928). Perhaps Ms. Napolitano thinks, "Aha, but I'm a woman. So the public need not fear full-body scanners. Compare Tillers's foolish class exercise."

There go my chances for a government job.


The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Soft Hard Science

On forensic science:

Some legal folk are accustomed to distinguishing between the hard sciences and the soft sciences. But if the truth be known, even the hardest of sciences have soft ingredients. Consider, for example, the methods now being used to search for earth-like planets whirling around other stars:

Dennis Overbye, Gazing Afar for Other Earths, and Other Beings NYTimes (January 30, 2011):

There is a hitch to confirming those planets, however. Such planets would not exert enough of a gravitational tug on their suns to be detectable by the “wobble” method, the main way their masses can be measured. Instead of confirming such planets, Kepler astronomers talk about “validating” them by using high-powered telescopes to make sure, for example, that there is only one star there and not a pair of eclipsing stars or some other phenomenon that could mimic a planet’s shadow.

“Earths are difficult,” Mr. Borucki said. “We’re concerned not to announce anything until we’ve proven six different ways it can’t not be a planet.”

As a result, more and more of Kepler’s future pronouncements will be statistical in nature. Natalie Batalha of San Jose State University, the deputy science team leader for Kepler, said it could be that they will wind up with, say, 100 planets they are 80 percent sure of, which could translate to 80 planets — useful for a census, not so helpful if you’re looking for a place to live.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said Sara Seager, an M.I.T. planetary astronomer who works with Kepler. “We will be faced with hundreds of planet candidates that may never be fully vetted as planets. We just have to live with statistics.”


The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Watch the C-Span program on the "bloodlands." The speaker is Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale and author of Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010)