Category Archives: law

Should we narrow the First Amendment to forbid speech urging violence?

The limitations on “free speech”, as construed by the courts’ parsing of the First Amendment, are well known. No personal threats, no harassment in the workplace, no child pornography, defamation, or false advertising. And, of course, no calling for violence that will predictably lead to imminent violence.   The Encyclopedia Brittanica describes the law.  . . . […]

Supreme Court hands victory to Right and religion, compelling taxpayer to fund religious schools in Montana. Roberts votes with majority.

I haven’t read the decision, so I’ll just leave this in passing. But save your approbation for Chief Justice Roberts, for he joined the court’s 5-4 majority, and wrote the opinion that tax money could be used to support religious schools. The Montana Supreme Court had previously struck down a voucher scheme for school funding […]

Stare decisis rules! John Roberts again votes with the liberals, nullifying Louisiana’s restrictive abortion law

According to CNN and the New York Times, John Roberts has once again joined the Supreme Court’s four liberals to produce a fantastic 5-4 decision, this time overturning a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that would have effectively blocked nearly all abortions in the state, limiting the number of doctors in Louisiana who could provide abortions […]

Once again: is the higher per capita rate of black deaths at the hands of police due to racism?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve written about the views of the African-American English and Comparative Literature Professor John McWhorter (e.g., here and here) on whether the higher per capita rate of deaths of black people at the hands of police implicates racism.  His view was “not necessarily,” and he posed an alternative hypothesis. […]

Supreme Court blocks Trump’s attempt to dismantle DACA

This just in: by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to leave in place Obama’s DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) plan, protecting those immigrants known as “Dreamers” from being deported. The Trump administration had signaled that it was going to dismantle DACA. (There are about 700,000 of the Dreamers., who are surely […]

Calls to literally abolish the police

There’s been some discussion about what the demand for “defunding the police” really means. To some it means cutting police budgets in ways to minimize their brutality, and the example often used is their acquisition of discarded equipment from the U.S. military, or more training in social work by cops. To others it means deeply […]

Trump threatens to sue CNN for publishing a poll showing his low approval and status behind Biden; CNN swats Trump down like a fly

UPDATE: From Ken, a tweet from Team Trump with their threatening letter: .@CNN “reported” on our letter sent privately without linking to the full letter, then tweeted their response. Another attempt to skew the narrative! Here is the @TeamTrump letter we sent yesterday, out of actual transparency. — Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) June 10, 2020 […]

Dismantling (or defunding) police departments

One of the misguided goals of the recent protests ignited by the murder of George Floyd are the calls not just for “defunding” police departments, but to abolish them entirely. Now it’s often not clear what “defunding” means, but sometimes protestors conceive of it as diverting money from the police force to social programs. In […]

When both sides are wrong: George Floyd’s death and the violent responses

Let me state at the outset that I am not equating what the police did to George Floyd with the violence of the rioters responding to his murder. Looting, burning, and breaking into stores is not as horrible as murder, and of course most of the protestors against Floyd’s murder were peaceful. But violent protest […]

Robert Sapolsky on (the lack of) free will and its consequences

Here’s a 43-minute Scientific American podcast in which Stanford biology professor, author, and atheist Robert Sapolsky is interviewed by Robert Mirsky. Many of us have read Sapolsky’s recent book Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst, and Mirsky centers the talk on one of Sapolsky’s chapters from that book on behavior and […]