Blawg Review #195

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Edition


King photo courtesy of USNavy

King photo courtesy of USNavy



Welcome to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Edition of Blawg Review. OBABL is honored to be your host. For those of you visiting OBABL for the first time, welcome. We’re casual here, so feel free to take your shoes off and air out your ideas. We’re also family, so rather than polite conversation, brace yourself for some true talk. We are sometimes controversial, often snarkyand always relevant.We hope you have a good time and invite you to visit again.

As for our faithful readers, who may not be familiar with Blawg Review, allow me to turn you on to something really cool. Blawg Review is a weekly “Carnival” of law blogs. Each week Blawg Review’s editor picks a different blawg to host. Bloggers and fans of the Carnival send in blog posts for inclusion, and the Editor forwards the posts to the upcoming host, who combines those posts with posts of his or her choosing to create the Review. (Information about next Monday’s host is at the end of this post.)

Now, let’s get this party started! This years MLK Day Blawg Review theme is Dream Realized. We’ll begin with companion clips from the March on Washington and The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. Interestingly, the “I have a dream” riff from Dr. King’s 1963 speech was not an original component, but rather a general hook that he incorporated into many of his sermons. It has been said that the gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, standing behind him on the stage urged, “Tell ‘em you have a dream.”

Dr. King would be proud of Mr. Obama for many reasons, among them, the President-elect’s oratory skills. Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, David Post, is hoping that Obama’s Inauguration speech is a blockbuster.

 …I cannot for the life of me remember a single inaugural address since Kennedy’s — and Kennedy’s, whatever else went wrong with his presidency (and plenty did), was a speech that nobody who heard it, live or on TV, would ever forget. Nothing makes me happier about Obama’s election than the fact that he has, single-handedly, brought serious oratory, and serious concern for our beloved English language, back into politics, from whence it has been missing for a long, long time.

The election of President-elect Barack Obama is only one of the ways in which Dr. King’s dream is becoming a reality. Here are some other examples.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Last year Above the Law held a reality blogging competition, in which readers selected ATL’s first ever black editor, Elie Mystal. We tip our hat to the ATL’s founding editor, David Lat, opted to allow his readers to decide their next editor, rather than simply tapping a friend (or frenemy) the way governors do.

New York’s governor, David Patterson, is catching heat for seeming to favor appointing Caroline Kennedy to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton. That Gov. Patterson is black and Kennedy a member of a political dynasty only adds to the drama.

George over at Employment Blawg has some interesting things to say about the heretofore wife, author and mother, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her midlife crisis quest for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat. (And, yes, George, we must agree with your wife. You do seem a bit obsessed).

In a section called, “So What About Her Qualifications for the Senate Job?” George probes Sweet Caroline:

Amongst the millions of other Americans who remember Caroline as a little girl in such tragic circumstances, there is probably much good will and affection for her after all these decades. But that’s not a justification for handing her the job, is it?
Let’s look at her resume highlights (per wikipedia):
Radcliffe, A.B., 1979
Columbia Law, J.D., 1988 (consistently ranked among the top three U.S. law schools for academic reputation; among the most highly selective)
Mother of three children, currently 20, 18, and 15 years old
Commission on Presidential Debates, board of directors
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, board of directors
Kennedy Library Foundation, President
Harvard Institute of Politics, adviser
American Ballet Theatre, honorary chairman
Coauthor, In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights In Action (1991), The Right to Privacy (1995)
So … impressive credentials in many respects; but not a close fit with conventional qualifications for a Senate seat, given the glaring absence of prior political office of any kind.

Illinois politics continues to dwarf that of New York, in spite of the Spitzer sex scandal. Thanks to the workings of a rogue impeached governor, Illinois has its third black Senator in two decades. Earlier this month, Michael Dorf had an interesting take on what the court would do if the Senate refused to seat Roland Burris.

There are reasons of etiquette and separation of powers why a court that is willing to declare Burris a Senator might nonetheless not go so far as to order that he be seated. Still, for my money, a Court that was willing to end the post-election Presidential contest in 2000 notwithstanding the Constitution’s pretty demonstrable commitment of the matter to Congress would likely be willing to order the Senate to seat Burris given that Powell expressly holds that the Constitution does not commit to Congress the right to make judgments beyond determining the qualifications spelled out in the text.

Some have suggested that Mr. Obama’s elevation to the most powerful man in the world ushers in the Post Racial era. History will judge whether this is indeed the beginning of such an evolution. Regardless, there is still work to do now.

The cell phone recordings of an Oakland police officer shooting a facedown-unarmed black man was incredibly disturbing; however, there is one constructive lesson to be taken from it according to TalkLeft’s The Citizen Witness As Video Journalist

After reading this, I fiddled around with my cell phone until I learned how to use the video camera. “The videotaped shooting death of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day marks how far technology has advanced since the 1991 videotaped beating of Rodney King. The cell phone video recorded by BART rider Katrina Vargas shows that Grant was unarmed, and that he apparently was not acting in a manner that would compel an officer to consider using a firearm. Grant’s death was recorded by several other cell phone video cameras, and may have been recorded by BART security cameras. The videos were posted immediately on the Internet, where they were seen by thousands, if not millions of people before being picked up by the Mainstream News Media.”

As Concurring Opinions  points out, immigrants continue to be treated unfairly.  From the post, Privacy’s Inegalitarian Path: Immigrants in a Post-9/11 World:

The concept of privacy is often invoked for inegalitarian purposes. For over two hundred years, a husband’s privacy and that of his household prevailed over a battered wife’s interests: wife beaters were immunized from prosecution because courts refused to look into the “home closet.” Today, immigrants increasingly fall prey to privacy intrusions. As Raquel Aldana, Anil Kalhan, and Michael Wishnie brought alive at the AALS panel on Defamation and Privacy, immigrants and noncitizens have few privacy protections in our post-9/11 environment. Raquel Aldana highlighted the various ways that privacy policies negatively impact immigrants. Private landlords, hospitals, employers, and welfare offices can demand information on an individual’s immigration and citizenship status, which can produce harassment and discrimination. The Department of Justice plans to add DNA from tens of thousands of immigrants to its CODIS database, which would remain on file permanently for immigration violators (whereas genetic profiles from arrestees could be removed from the CODIS database if they are not convicted). According to Blurring The Lines: A Profile of State and Local Policy Enforcement of Immigration Law Using the National Crime Information Center Database, 2002-2004, the FBI’s criminal history database known as NCIC now includes civil enforcement immigration records, ending a decades-long policy that NCIC only included criminal data. Because NCIC is filled with inaccurate civil immigration information, over 40% of NCIC immigration hits were false positives, leading to unecessary arrests and harassment especially of Latin American nationals.

Deliberations reviewed Clarence Darrow’s May 1936 article Esquire Magazine, “How to Pick a Jury,” and found that at least some of us seem to have moved on from believing the rigid stereotypes of old:

Sunday’s post here asked where on earth a New York prosecutor could have read, as the state claimed in a recent Second Circuit Batson case, that “that heavy-set people tend to be very sympathetic toward any defendant.” Lawyer and jury consultant Mark Stanziano wrote me wondering if Clarence Darrow might have said it. “Darrow had lots of thoughts about heavy set people, thin people, Baptists, Methodists, lots of stereotypes,” Mark wrote. “It was the way he saw the world and the people in it. Clearly, a different age, but one the prosecutor may have ‘read about.’”

Mark pointed me to an article Darrow wrote in the May 1936 issue of Esquire, called “How to Pick A Jury.” It’s set out in full as part of a Darrow site maintained by Prof. Douglas Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Overweight jurors aren’t mentioned in the article; but stereotypes definitely are.

One of the most productive things we can do to advance equality and erode stereotypes is to take Kevin O’Keefe’s advice and continue to share our differing perspectives in the blogosphere.

[I]t’s the context she offers that means a lot to the blogosphere conversation. The blogosphere would be a hell of a boring place if all we had were the people who had ‘made it’ exchanging ideas. The conversation on the blogosphere thrives because there’s the sharing of ideas, insight, and commentary from all sides.

Blawgs on Dr. King, the election and other related topics


King photo courtesy of USNavy

King photo courtesy of USNavy



From Manpower Employment Blawg:  

As we pause to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his profound impact on the world, here are some of his mightiest words of wisdom for us all to consider . . .

WORK:  All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
LEADERSHIP:  A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
ETHICS:  Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.  The time is always right to do what is right.
SERVICE:  Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:  “What are you doing for others?
JUSTICE:  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
VALUES:  If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values — that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY:  Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION:  Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love.  Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
THE END OF DISCRIMINATION:  I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
PERSEVERANCE:  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land!  I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.  (From Dr. King’s final speech the night before his assassination)

We’d like to give a shout out to Michael Lines over at Slaw who reported that, just in time for Monday’s holiday, Morehouse College has made available online its collection of Dr. King’s papers and books.

BlackProf, Bryan Adamson savors election day.

f/k/a Thanks you, America!

PrawfsBlawg discusses Civil Rights Legislation in the Obama Administration

Althouse shows picture of mostly white crowd shouting “USA” and “Yes We Can,” after Obama’s win. MLK dreamed that black children and white children could play together. Well, this scene is mostly white adults cheering for a black president is along the same lines.

Feminist Law Professors asks “What Will Whiteness Mean in the Obama Years?”

Ms. JD salutes the new First Lady, fellow lawyer, Michelle Obama.

Blawgs on MLK Day

Simple Justice:  MLK: It’s Over But It’s Not

A Public Defender: MLK Day doesn’t just mean another day off…

Blawgletter:  MLK asks, “How long will it take?”

What About Our Clients?:  American Signage: Bed-Stuy, Seattle and Johnstown PA

Above The Law: If you’re at work, be proud.

f/k/a: MLK & BHO: let’s make it a year, not a day, of service


mlk2005_noline_300I’ve had a wonderful time hosting Blawg Review’s MLK Day tribute.  I’m off to join millions of Americans in a day of service.  I’ll leave you with Louis Armstrong’s, “What a Wonderful World,” courtesy of Tammy over at Conflict Zen.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and Instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.


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