Patterico's Pontifications

1/19/2017

The Big Speech

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:35 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I must like being wrong when guessing the content of upcoming speeches, and apparently I am pretty good at it (at being wrong, that is). So I figured I might as well have another go at it.

At this point there is no doubt that President Obama is leaving office on an entirely ungraceful, self-regarding, and petulant note. Why, after observing him for eight years, would we expect otherwise? He’s done virtually nothing to try to scale back (let alone tamp down) the expected mass protests tomorrow by his supporters alongside of anarchists and other elements of the far left, and he is continually lecturing the majority party against trying to undo the damage he has done, much of it via Executive Order, over the past few years. For a man who spent the 2014 and 2016 elections insisting they were a referendum on his policies — only to see those policies strongly repudiated at the ballot box — to now exit stage far left as some sort of sagacious oracle who brought enlightenment to the dull-minded citizenry whom he graciously acquiesced to server is a level of narcissistic self-regard scarcely believable. But it’s hard to not believe that the soon-but-not-soon-enough-to-be ex-Presdent has rankled his successor in such a way that calls for retribution.

So I am now taking virtual and unenforceable bets on how our Forty-Fifth President of the United States responds in kind. The President-elect has declared that he wrote his own speech and given that he is a man who isn’t shy about settling scores the question remains of how he will treat the outgoing President in his speech. First of all, the new President is more or less obligated to throw out a line thanking his predecessor. Here are some notable examples where the two are of different parties:

Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981
[. . .] “The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

[to Jimmy Carter] “Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.”

Bill Clinton, January 20, 1993
“On behalf of our Nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression, fascism, and communism.”

George W. Bush, January 20, 2001
“As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our Nation, and I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace.”

Barack Obama, January 20, 2009
[. . .] “I thank President Bush for his service to our Nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.”

So based upon that I think it is safe to say that tomorrow’s speech will include a blandishment along the lines of “I thank President Obama for his service to our country.” If it is a grudge time, a different phrasing could suggest a harsher tone: “I thank President Obama for all he has done for me. And I mean that.” But it’s probably a safe bet that the new President will fall back on the bland tradition of his predecessors.

Where it really gets interesting is in whether or not our 45th President paints a dire picture of America and implicitly — or, given whom we are discussing, explicitly — blames the 44th President and his policies. Again, here is Obama from eight years ago:

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our Nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the Nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly. Our schools fail too many. And each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land, a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

[. . .]

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. [. . .] And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

In all, a pretty blistering appraisal of the Bush years. Here is what Ronald Reagan had to say about the close of the Carter Era 28 years earlier:

These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

[. . .]

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline.

Interestingly enough, at a tense time in the Cold War the man whose critics all derided him as a warmonger spent only four short paragraphs on foreign policy in his inauguration, promising to support freedom-loving peoples, oppose tyrannies, and always be willing to negotiate for peace. He did not so much utter the words “Soviet Union,” nor did he say “Iran” or “Afghanistan.”

So given the times, the circumstances, the built-up animosity, what do you expect out of tomorrow’s inaugural address? Will our new President name-check all of the ideas and policies of his predecessor that he finds objectionable? Will he instead be a little more arch and measured, and perhaps speak in favor of “the common man” without explicitly deriding the self-declared elites? Keep in mind that the President-elect has characterized his address as being on the shorter side, so perhaps the betting money is that it will be bland and boilerplate. In any case, here is how I see the odds stacking up:

Angry, score-settling address attacking his critics: 3:1 against
Brief, bland address covering well-trod ground from the campaign: 5:4 for
Long-winded recitation of detailed policy plans: 10:1 against
An emotional, heartfelt appeal for national unity: 7:1 against
A repudiation of every position he took during the campaign: 15:1 against (let’s hope!)

Feel free to make predictions in the comments and we can come back tomorrow night and see how everyone did.

– JVW

Fiona Apple Releases Song Protesting Trump with . . . An Amusing Title

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:30 am

These silly protestor types crack me up.

Fiona Apple is gearing up for Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington with a new song, titled “Tiny Hands.”

The singer-songwriter teamed up with composer Michael Whalen to create the minute-long track, which Apple recorded on her phone and released Tuesday. The song, which references Donald Trump, is meant to serve as a chant for protesters speaking out against the President-elect, whose inauguration takes place Friday in Washington, D.C.

Sampling Trump’s own words from the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump made vulgar comments about women, Apple sings, “We don’t want your tiny hands, anywhere near our underpants.”

Here’s the song. It’s . . . not good. Pretty much what you would expect, though.

Hahahahaha.

I don’t care for Donald Trump or the leftists who are protesting him, so watching the two sides get upset at one another is pretty much a joyous event. (When the protestors threaten performers or plan to set off stink bombs, my distaste for Trump gets put aside and I take sides against the protestors, as all Americans should.) I find Fiona Apple’s song silly — except that I know how much it will upset Trump (given how insecure he is, especially about his tiny, tiny hands) and that’s sillier still. So I have to laugh.

There is a serious point to be made, though: as long as this sort of “art” (if you want to call it that) poking fun at our leaders is possible, without retribution from the government, we’re going to be OK.

I recently re-watched the movie “V for Vendetta.” (Minor spoiler alert if you have not seen it and want to.) It’s a story about fighting fascism and governmental evil. It’s based on a graphic novel written about Thatcherite Britain (which shows you how utterly overdramatic the left can be) but its storyline — about a government that creates its own terror attacks and finds a group to scapegoat for them, as part of its program of seizing absolute totalitarian power — arguably applies to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

In one memorable scene, a popular television personality decides to throw the government-approved script out the window and write an episode that brutally mocks the dictator. He thinks that he’ll get a slap on the wrist, but instead he is dragged away by thugs, never to be seen again.

Putin’s regime would likely not tolerate this sort of satire against the Great Leader without some revenge.

But making fun of the “leader” is still allowed in this country. That’s a good thing, and we should appreciate it and fight for it — because it doesn’t have to be that way.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

1/18/2017

President Trump Will Be the Same Man Non-President Trump Was

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm

I agree with almost every word in this article. Here is the part that resonates for me:

We will not change him—no one can. His children may be able to soften the edges and his most trusted advisers may deflect him off his erratic courses, but nothing will teach him gravitas, magnanimity, or wisdom. Until he is impeached, thrown out of office in four years, succumbs to illness, or lasts through eight years, he is what we have learned he is, and will remain so.

Seemingly unrelated digression that is actually related:

I’ve been listening to The Great Courses lately on Audible — in particular the music courses. (I’ll have a lot more to say about these. It’s a great deal; as an Audible Platinum member you pick up a 24-hour-long course, that sells for hundreds of dollars on the Great Courses site, for less than $12. Try a free trial.) One of my favorite parts of the music courses are the biographical stories — and there are a couple of great stories about the composers Beethoven and Liszt and their attitude towards royalty. I’ll give you links to other sources, but I heard these stories on the Great Courses series of lectures:

The Beethoven stories:

A nobleman once talked during a performance. Beethoven stopped playing and declared, “For such pigs, I do not play!”

He would say to the face of a prince and benefactor,
“What you are, is by accident of birth;
What I am, I created myself.
There are, and have been, thousands, of princes;
There is only one Beethoven.”

Another story, which you can read here, is about Franz Liszt, who was playing a concert in Russia when Czar Nicholas I arrived late and started yammering during Liszt’s performance. Liszt stopped playing and bowed his head. When Nicholas asked why, Liszt replied: “Music herself should be silent when Nicholas speaks.”

Ha!

These really resonated with me because at heart I respect people for their actions and not their titles.

I do not believe Donald Trump the President will be different from Donald Trump the non-President. “We will not change him — no one can. . . . [H]e is what we have learned he is, and will remain so.”

Please do not expect me to start respecting him just because he happens to hold power. I’m a Beethoven fan, and worshiping people because of their titles is just not how my personality works.

What Does Today’s Supreme Court Oral Argument Mean for the First Amendment?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:00 pm

Early this morning I previewed for you a major First Amendment case that was argued in the Supreme Court today: Lee v. Tam. The Court will decide whether the government can deny trademark protection to trademarks (like the band name “The Slants” or the team name “The Redskins”) which it finds to be disparaging.

I’ve now had a chance to read through the oral argument, the transcript of which is here (.pdf). Here are my impressions.

As I was this morning, I remain cautiously optimistic that the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act, which allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to deny trademark protection to so-called “disparaging” trademarks, will be struck down as a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I predict the vote will be 7-1 — with Justice Sotomayor, the “wise Latina,” in the minority.

Reading the tea leaves, I found it to be significant that Justices on both sides of the left/right spectrum seemed suspicious of the government’s asserted interest in preventing disparagement.

The government’s central argument this morning was a “government program” argument: that the disparagement clause “places a reasonable limit on access to a government program rather than a restriction on speech.” The “government program” argument came in for quite a bit of criticism. Right out of the gate, Justice Kennedy noted that copyright is also a “government program” but that a disparagement provision “wouldn’t work with copyright.” Justice Roberts observed: “Counsel, I’m — I’m concerned that your government program argument is — is circular.” And Justice Alito said: “I wonder if you are not stretching this, the — the concept of a government program, past the breaking point.”

It wasn’t just conservatives who didn’t seem to buy the government’s argument. Justice Kagan, a certified lefty, was particularly aggressive in her questioning of the government:

I always thought that government programs were subject to one extremely important constraint, which is that they can’t make distinctions based on viewpoint.

So why isn’t this doing exactly that?

That could be seen as a simple softball to get the advocate to articulate his position, but in context it sounded like Kagan was skeptical of the government’s position, especially when she followed up with comments like this:

So, for example, let’s say that I wanted a mark that expressed the idea that all politicians are corrupt, or just that Democrats are corrupt. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t get that mark, even though I could get a mark saying that all politicians
are virtuous, or that all Democrats are virtuous. Either way, it doesn’t matter. You see the point.

The point is that I can say good things about something, but I can’t say bad things about something. And I would have thought that that was a fairly classic case of viewpoint discrimination.

This analysis echoes what I said this morning in my preview post:

[T]his provision would allow the term “Scientology” to be approved as a trademark, while anti-Scientology trademarks could be rejected. When the government puts its imprimatur on the trademark of a cult, but refuses one to people who seek to expose the cult, that is not benign. But in addition, it’s simply not the business of government to be doling out privileges, or refusing them, based on the viewpoint of the people seeking the privilege.

I won’t quote Sotomayor’s rantings at length, but I got the impression that she might be the one Justice willing to vote for the government in this case.

Looking at the argument in its entirety, I concluded that the Court probably won’t announce a completely straightforward principle wherein the government can never deny privileges such as trademarks based on viewpoint. The questions to the attorney for the respondent (Tam, the Slants member) seemed to betray a concern on the part of some Justices that the government may have legitimate reasons at times to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint. For example, at one point Justice Alito said:

For example, could the government say — and maybe it already has said — that a manufacturer of cigarettes could not place on a package of cigarettes “Great for your health. Don’t believe the surgeon general”?

Based on the argument, I think that the Justices are more likely to decide the case on a narrower ground: that there is an insufficient connection between the disparagement clause and the specific interests that trademarks are designed to further.

If I’m right, it’s still a win for free speech. And that means a win for the good guys.

Of course, I predicted Hillary Clinton would be President this Friday.

Let’s hope my prediction on this case is more accurate.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Killer of Family of Bryan Harvey (House of Freaks Lead Singer) Put to Death

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 pm

I recently wrote a post titled This Is The Greatest Thing I Have Seen on The Internet in Ages. You might remember it. It was about George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and his fanatical devotion to a great little band I once loved, and saw live twice, called House of Freaks. The post featured Wendt doing a karaoke version of one of the band’s great songs. If you missed that post, go read it and smile. The rest of this post is pretty dark.

In that post, I briefly alluded to the horrible murder of the band’s lead singer, Bryan Harvey, and his entire family, including two young daughters, by an evil degenerate son of a bitch. In a comment I noted that I had marked my calendar, as the murderer was slated to die in January.

Mark my calendar I did — and I bring the good news that the scumbag is dead.

Ricky Javon Gray was executed by injection Wednesday night for the slaying of two young Richmond sisters on New Year’s Day 2006.

Gray, 39, was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center. Asked if he had any final words, Gray said, “Nope,” according to a prison spokesperson.

Gray was sentenced to die for the Jan. 1, 2006, slayings of Ruby Harvey, 4, and Stella Harvey, 9. He and accomplice Ray Dandridge, 39, also killed their parents, Bryan Harvey, 49, and Kathryn Harvey, 39, in their Woodland Heights home.

A few days later, Gray and Dandridge killed Ashley Baskerville, 21; Baskerville’s mother, Mary Tucker, 47; and stepfather, Percyell Tucker, 55, in their South Richmond home. Dandridge, Gray’s nephew, was sentenced to life for those killings.

The Harveys were tied up, their throats cut and beaten with a hammer. Their house was set on fire by the killers when they fled and the victims were initially discovered by firefighters.

I’m not a religious man, but I hope Ricky Gray is burning in hellfire tonight. May he suffer for all eternity.

Programming Note

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

Several commenters have made incorrect assumptions about my recent post asking for an email if you really want me to see something. I read people saying, for example, that I was giving up the blog, that I was going to RedState exclusively, that I would no longer read comments on my blog, etc.

None of this is true.

Here’s the thing. This past Monday, when I put up that post, there were criticisms coming in at me from all sides. I won’t bore you with the details. I had responses to each and every criticism, but there were so many criticisms that it would have eaten up a good chunk of my day to type up all the responses.

I chose to spend my day (and my weekend) in other pursuits.

I’ve been through periods of intense criticism from commenters before. The time Obama first took office comes to mind. Back then, I had this idea that I had to respond to every criticism, no matter how silly or off-base, or it would look like I have no response, and therefore I would appear to be in the wrong.

It was very unpleasant. I’m not going to repeat that process.

I may take up criticisms from time to time, but it will be my decision, made on my own terms. If I don’t reply to your point, it does not mean that I had no reply. It could be that I did not have the time or energy for it.

Also:

I won’t lie, if I see a lot of negativity aimed at me — especially of the “your blog sucks now!” variety — it can get me down. In the old days, at least a lot of like-minded people would rise to my defense. Many of my favorite people have been driven away by the general tenor of the comment section lately.

I’m determined not to let my own blog become a negative in my life. If reading my own commenters gets me down, the best thing to do in that situation is to walk away from the keyboard. So, while I have always tried to read most of the comments, the more comments I see that are variants of “this blog is going downhill!” and “I used to email your posts to friends but no more!!!” . . . well, the more comments I see like that, the more likely I am to take a little break from responding to, and possibly even reading, the comments.

And this is why I say, if it’s really important for you to place something in front of me, send me an email.

And if it’s absolutely critical that you get a response from me, PayPal me $100 and I will respond. Absent such a payment, I’ll have to choose whether responding is worth my time or not.

The unpleasantness in 2009 passed, and this too shall pass. It’s not a big thing, when you take the longer view. Just wanted to clear up some of the many, many misconceptions I had seen in the comments (because I do read them, for the most part!).

I’m closing comments to this post because, frankly, I’m a little concerned that a lot of people would want to respond with something like: “You’re not understanding my point about why your blog sucks these days” . . . and guess what? Oddly enough, I’m really, truly, supremely uninterested in reading more comments like that.

The Likely Reason Bob Corker Says He’ll Pass on Tillerson’s Nomination to the Floor . . . No Matter What

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

Committee chair assures in advance that the vote of his committee will be meaningless. Wait, what?

In an unusual move, Republicans plan on bringing Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state before the full Senate for a vote even if he does not earn the support of the foreign relations panel.

Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s Manu Raju Tuesday that he would “absolutely” offer former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for a floor vote even if he is not given the blessing of his committee, which oversees the nomination.

“I plan on moving Tillerson to the floor,” Corker said. “Without getting into all the machinations, I would expect there to be a vote of Rex Tillerson on the floor and I expect him to be confirmed.”

Why is Corker doing this? I have an educated guess.

In recent days, I have gone way out on a limb and predicted that Marco Rubio will be voting “no” on Tillerson.

I haven’t found any talking head, columnist, or blogger who agrees with me. And I could be wrong. But after watching Rubio’s grilling of Tillerson, that’s my prediction and I’m sticking with it.

Wouldn’t that explain Corker’s announcement?

I think this means Rubio has decided he’s going to vote “no” on Tillerson, and Rubio got the word to Corker. (CNN says “Corker said he had not spoken to Rubio recently about his thinking” — but hey. Someone else could have conveyed the message.)

Unless a committee Democrat votes “yes” on Tillerson, Rubio’s “no” vote would put the vote at 11-10 against reporting the nomination to the floor. Absent an announcement like this, the story of the day would be a grand discussion about whether Tillerson would even get a floor vote. After this announcement, Rubio’s “no” vote will engender no such speculation.

I think that’s what’s happening. And I’m sticking with that story until it proves to be wrong.

Then I’m taking it back . . .

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Will Assange Keep His Promise To Turn Himself In If Manning’s Sentence Is Commuted?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

In an interesting side note to the commutation of Bradley Manning’s sentence, Julian Assange recently promised through his Wikileaks account that he would surrender himself to the United States if Manning were granted clemency:

Now that Obama has indeed commuted Manning’s sentence, the question is: will Assange keep his promise? This tweet would appear to confirm that he will:

Just one question, though: has Assange actually been indicted? Glenn Greenwald argues that it is “bizarre” to talk about Assange surrendering, given that there is no evidence that he has been indicted. Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, points out that indictments are typically kept under seal until an arrest is made. That being said, White also opines that, given the Obama administration’s leaky nature and penchant for grabbing headlines, the existence of an indictment is “possible but unlikely.” As of 2013, “senior law enforcement sources” told the Washington Post that no sealed indictment had been filed.

It’s as good a time as any for Assange to make his offer. He can find out whether the U.S. has indicted him. And if there is an indictment . . . well, if anyone is ever going to pardon Julian Assange, it would be Donald Trump, wouldn’t it?

And Hannity could give him the first triumphant post-pardon interview!

UPDATE: This post, drafted early this morning and scheduled to publish in the late morning, was…overtaken by events, to a large extent — events that occurred after it was written but before it was scheduled to publish. Assange now appears to be weaseling. (Hard to believe he might be dishonest!!!) More later, but I wanted to bookmark the weaseling over my lunch hour.

A Major First Amendment Case Will Be Argued Today at the Supreme Court

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Can the United States government refuse to give you a governmental benefit because it thinks your speech disparages a group of people, or even a belief? That is the issue that will be argued this morning in the Supreme Court.

The Court will hear argument today in Lee v. Tam, a major First Amendment case. Michelle K. Lee, the Petitioner (who is appealing) is the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (I’ll call them the USPTO in this post). Simon Shiao Tam, the respondent (defending the judgment below) is a member of The Slants, a rock group whose members are Asian. The group sought trademark protection for the name “The Slants” as an effort to “take back” the term, much as many black Americans have done with another racially ugly word. The USPTO denied the trademark, citing the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act.

The case has significance, not just for speech generally, but also for the Redskins trademark, which has also been rejected by the USPTO pursuant to the disparagement clause.

You can read the brief filed by the Respondent (the Slants) here. It presents the issue in this way:

The disparagement clause in section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

The question presented is whether the disparagement clause is contrary to the First Amendment.

The names on the brief include Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy, and my own pro bono lawyer Ron Coleman, about whom more below.

The answer to the question presented to the Court should seem obvious. The central purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the government from engaging in viewpoint discrimination — and viewpoint discrimination is precisely what the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act is all about. Sure, this may seem benign to some — who wants to see Asians or Native Americans disparaged? But it’s not benign, at all. First of all, this provision would allow the term “Scientology” to be approved as a trademark, while anti-Scientology trademarks could be rejected. When the government puts its imprimatur on the trademark of a cult, but refuses one to people who seek to expose the cult, that is not benign. But in addition, it’s simply not the business of government to be doling out privileges, or refusing them, based on the viewpoint of the people seeking the privilege.

We should get a sense today of how the justices feel. I’m cautiously optimistic.

A side note: today’s oral argument will be heard by eight justices, not nine. Donald Trump is two days from his inauguration, and while he has been meeting with potential replacements for Supreme Court nominees, he has not yet chosen one. This raises the issue whether Trump’s new justice, who is likely to be confirmed before this case is decided, could participate in the decision, even though he or she will not have participated in the arguments. A January 12 piece in the American Bar Association Journal notes that, in the past, cases have been decided only by justices who participated in oral argument. This is a matter of tradition, not law, and it could be broken:

The new justice could rule after reading briefs and listening to the oral arguments. But, in the past, new justices have ruled in argued cases only when they are reargued.

One of the experts who spoke with Supreme Court Brief is William Suter, the former clerk of the Supreme Court. “I know of no statute or rule that would prohibit a new justice from participating in such a case,” he said.

Suter nonetheless had misgivings about a new justice deciding cases already argued. “I think the ‘common sense rule’ would be that a new justice would not participate,” he told Supreme Court Brief. “It would look fishy, especially if the newbie voted with the majority in a 5-4 decision.”

The article notes that the Supreme Court has not scheduled arguments in some cases that usually would have been argued at this point. The court appears to be waiting for a new justice who might prevent a 4-4 split.

This tends to suggest that the Slants case is considered by the existing justices to be one of the less controversial cases on the docket. I hope so, and cautiously expect that to be the case. While I do not want to jinx Ron Coleman (one of the lawyers for the Slants), it would not surprise me to see a lopsided vote striking down the disparagement provision, such as 8-0, or 7-1. But we should know much, much more after today’s oral argument. Many of the justices tend to signal strongly in oral argument how they will vote. Time permitting, I’ll provide an analysis of the oral argument as soon as I can get to it.

Finally, three cheers for Ron Coleman. In 2015, he became a partner this year at Archer & Greiner, a firm which has definitely had its profile elevated by virtue of Ron’s involvement in the Slants case — and I know they appreciate him for that. In addition to his work for The Slants and in running the Likelihood of Confusion blog, Ron, along with the excellent and reliable Bruce Godfrey of Jezic & Moyse LLC, is still defending me in a censorious lawsuit brought by convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin. Not to mention that Ron — along with Kenneth P. White of Brown White & Osborn LLP and the essential Popehat blog — achieved an excellent result from me in another silly case in which I was sued, in which the plaintiff dismissed the claims without getting a cent or any other concession from me.

All three of these gentlemen are excellent lawyers, and they work for pay in addition to their copious and admirable pro bono work. Please keep them in mind.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Liberty Classroom Contest Winner

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

We have a winner in the Liberty Classroom contest I ran last Black Friday weekend: Jim B.

Jim wins a year of Amazon Prime, on me.

I have sent him an email but have not heard back yet. Hopefully this post helps bring his good fortune to his attention!

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