Monday, January 28, 2013
Before the final curtain, MacDuff has beheaded Macbeth and succeeded to the throne.
No need for term limits back then. Indeed killing people has a long and storied history in the politics of human governance.
Louis XVI, Benito Mussolini, and Muammar Gaddafi are all rather well known examples of leaders mortally removed from office by their constituents.
Some victims, like Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy are seen as martyrs. Many others are hardly noticed.
Fifteen political leaders were assassinated in the United States in the 19th century.
Seventeen more, including John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, were murdered in the 20th century.
We’re off to a strong start in the twenty-first century.Five American politicians have been killed in the first decade:
Derwin Brown, a Georgia Sheriff-Elect, murdered on orders of the man he defeated.
James Davis, New York City Councilman, Bill Gwatney, Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, Mike Swoboda, Mayor of Kirkwood, Missouri, and John Thorton, the Mayor of Washington Park, Illinois.
All condemned to death for the crime of aspiring to public service.
Of course voting with guns and knives goes both ways. Bashar al-Assad has reputedly slaughtered tens of thousands of his constituents in a frantic effort to stay in office.
There is a substantial body of literature in the United States which presumes that the Counter Intelligence Agency, popularly known as the CIA, and frequently dubbed “the company” is, from time to time, expected to ‘eliminate’ dangerous enemies of the nation.
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne romps through a series of CIA shoot ups; Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson and the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, get in their licks with AK47’s , and the peace and prosperity of the land is saved from the bad guys. Again.
My predecessor as Chief Justice of Michigan, a folksy Dutchman, used to say that the first issue in every murder trial is, “Should the deceased have went?”
No doubt, in the court of public opinion, the moral dimension of homicide is determined in just about that way.
Far too many Americans believe that the President of the United States has the power of life and death. His writ runs around the world, wherever a drone can land.
Osama bin Laden had it coming. The Navy Seals are heroes. The President is applauded on both sides of the aisle. He has taught those al-Qaeda guys a lesson.
Now we don’t have to worry about them any more. Do we?
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki. The father was killed in Yemen by an American drone. An American citizen who reputedly renounced his citizenship, the father was known to be an advisor to Nidal Hasan, who slaughtered a dozen Americans at Fort Hood.
The son, a sixteen year old American citizen had gone to Yemen trying to find his father. He was killed by another drone two weeks after his father.
Former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs defended the killing by saying that the boy should have had a more responsible father.
Even the mainstream Washington Post has reported that the administration has a secret ‘kill list.’ Too many Americans are content to think that when someone is killed by a drone, “they must have had it coming, or we wouldn’t have killed them.”
I cannot subscribe to that kind of thinking.
I suggest that it is time for a national debate on the issue of Presidential powers.
Does the President of the United States have the power of life and death? Should he have that authority?
It is campy to say that ‘the buck stops here’ in the Oval Office. But how is it that the buck ever gets there in the first place? Who recommends names for the kill list? And why?
I would endorse a constitutional amendment like this:
Except in the prosecution of a war duly declared by the Congress, the President shall not order nor authorize the killing of any human being without the prior advice and consent of the Senate.
If you disagree, I invite you to tell us just who you think the President can kill and why.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
My analogy divides people vertically. Horizontal division uses those awful words, left, right and middle.
I describe a house. You’ve got the folks in the basement and those on the roof, but most of the people are in the first or second floor.
In the basement are those who revere the constitution as a divinely inspired document, written once for all times. They abhor the idea of amending the constitution. They say that whatever is wrong in American government stems from the simple fact that the politicians don’t keep their oaths to support the constitution.
To them, there is no better way to do things than the design drafted in 1787.
Up on the roof are the cynics who insist that the constitution is archaic, outmoded and caput. Leader of the pack is Professor Louis Seidman of Georgetown Law Center, who recently opined in the New York Times that we really don’t have a written constitution.
All we have are traditions and practices.
In effect, he says that whatever government does is constitutional. The document in the National Archives is just a relic to him and the rest of the rooftoppers.
Upstairs on the second floor is a very large segment of the population, which includes most of the national media and the vast majority of academia. They hold that the constitution remains what it says it is: the supreme law of the land.
But they tend to agree with Charles Evans Hughes’ blunt assertion in 1907 that, “the constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is.” Most of those on the second floor would endorse Felix Frankfurter’s dictum, “The Supreme Court IS the constitution.”
These folks are quick to admit that there is much in the constitution which is outdated, and that much needs to be added, but they do not trust the people to speak to those issues.
They prefer amendment by interpretation. And interpretation of interpretation, until constitutional ‘doctrine’ has superseded the document itself.
On the ground floor of my analogy we find another large body of citizens. These are the traditionalists who insist that the constitution is indeed the supreme law of the land, just as George Washington intended when he insisted that the words of the constitution are binding and obligatory until changed “by the explicit and authentic act of the whole people.”
Most first floor folks insist that they respect and support the entire constitution. That includes Article V which provides the means of amending the original charter.
At all four levels, there is a lot of discontent with the way things are in Washington, and there are a number of kitchen table constitutional amendments floating around on the Internet, which purport to offer quick fixes to whatever ails the feds.
Unhappily, few if any of them have any stomach for cooperating with each other. Most proponents of constitutional amendment are leery of any proposal except their own.
As a result, there are many voices raised against the convening of an Article V amendatory convention.
Their concerns are best summarized by my friend Jim, who thinks the constitution should be amended, but the process shouldn’t be too easy.
I did a little research on what it takes. The thirteen smallest states, with less than four percent of the population can block the ratification of a constitutional amendment. Conversely, the 38 smallest states, with only 41 percent of the population can effectively ratify an amendment.
Of course, population is not always just a question of numbers. Density counts. No doubt the citizens of Delaware, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have more in common with New York and California than they do with Wyoming and Alaska.
Still, even when grouped by density, the thirteen least populated states comprise a mere six percent of the nation and the thirty-eight most sparsely inhabited states together represent about fifty-five percent of the nation.
Bottom line: amendment isn’t easy. It requires a national consensus.
Monday, January 21, 2013
THOMAS COOLEY LAW SCHOOL
President LeDuc, Board Chairman and member of the inaugural Cooley Class, Larry Nolan, Board Member Emeritus and surviving member of the first Board of Directors, Jack Cote, Distinguished members of the Board of Directors, Learned and Beloved Members of the Faculty, Graduates of the Alfred Moore Class, Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Husbands, Wives and assorted relatives, friends and…creditors of the graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen:
This is a great day for all of us.
For you graduates, it’s a day of achievement, satisfaction, accomplishment, relief, survival, escape.
Whatever you call it. You feel good today.
And so do I.
I want to thank President LeDuc for inviting me to speak here this afternoon.
I’m complemented to be called the Founder of Cooley Law School, but in truth, Don LeDuc has provided the academic and executive leadership which has earned Cooley a special place in the hierarchy of American education.
He invited me to speak because, this month, the Law School celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the meeting of the first class on January 12, 1973.
President LeDuc and the entire Cooley faculty and staff deserve our special congratulations.
For forty years of service to the legal profession, and to the nation..
On this day forty years ago, Richard Millhouse Nixon was sworn in for his second term as the thirty seventh President of the United States. Today, Barack Obama begins his second term as the forty fourth President.
Forty years and eight Presidents. It’s one heckofa along time.
I wonder how many of you graduates of the Alfred Moore Class were walking around back then.
I wonder. Would all those graduates who were born after January 12, 1973 please stand up.
There they are, ladies and gentlemen, the happy faces of the Facebook generation.
Let’s give them a hand. (Applause)
You know, standing up here looking out at this vast auditorium, and at literally thousands of people, I can’t help but remember the night we met with our very first class.
It was a cold, wintery Friday evening.
We gathered in a rented upstairs room. Seventy six nervous and excited students, each of whom had signed an acknowledgement that Cooley was not accredited.
We had no library. No Dean. No full time faculty. No blackboard. No chalk.
We had nothing but hopes and dreams and determination to make something out of nothing.
I told the class that night that someday, Cooley would be known for its campus, for its buildings, for its alumni. And when that day came, I said, it would seem that Cooley Law School always was.
I remember browsing in the state archives some years later and stumbling across a three by five index card about Thomas McIntyre Cooley.
It said that Thomas M. Cooley was a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in the nineteenth century who founded the law school in Lansing that bears his name.
So much for the pride of being the Founder of Cooley Law School.
But you didn’t come here this afternoon just to hear me talk about the good old days.
Or hear me tell you that when I was your age, we thought a lap top was where you put a napkin at dinner.
Or googling was what young men did when a pretty girl walked by.
Or that an Ipad must be something prescribed by an opthamologist.
I suppose when you were young your grandfather told you that, when he was your age, he had to walk five miles to school every day.
Rain or shine.
In the snow.
You probably didn’t believe him either.
No sir, you didn’t come here to listen.
You came here today to walk.
You came to walk up onto this stage and receive your diploma. You’ve earned that piece of paper and you’ve come here this afternoon to claim it.
To feel it in your hand. To show it to your family and your friends.
And to hang it on the wall and show it to the world.
So I am going to talk to you today about that diploma, and I’m going to tell you just three things:
It is a Doctor of Laws from Cooley.
Now the first point is that your diploma is a doctoral degree. It represents 90 credit hours of postgraduate education.
You know, there’s a lot of talk these days about the economy.
Folks are questioning the value of a college education. Young people are graduating from college and they can’t find a job.
Some folks are beginning to question whether the cost of higher education is worth it. Graduates are often saddled with huge student loans, and there’s a lot of gloom and doom out there.
But let’s take a moment to get things in perspective.
When I graduated from Law School in 1952, I worked as a title examiner at an abstract company for about two years.
I jumped at a chance to work in a law firm. Took a 27% pay cut to get into the practice of law.
My secretary at that law firm made more money than I did.
So did my wife, who was a substitute teacher in the public schools.
After two years at the law firm, I went out on my own, and I never looked back.
So maybe you can see why I tell people that there is no such thing as an unemployed lawyer.
If you are a member of a learned profession, you have knowledge and skill that have value in the market place.
You never hear any talk about medical doctors or dentists being unemployed.
If you can hang out a shingle, you can find work to do.
It’s a funny thing. Everybody wants a job, but nobody wants a boss.
If you have a profession, you can be your own boss.
There are over three hundred and eleven million people in the United States.
Less than half of one percent of them are lawyers. That means there are over two hundred and fifty potential clients for every lawyer.
It ought to be some comfort to you graduates, as you sit here this afternoon to know that there are two hundred and fifty people out there waiting to give you money to do what you learned to do in law school.
Of course, first, you have to pass the bar exam.
I got an email a few weeks ago from a fellow named Jim, who graduated from Cooley about 25 years ago.
I remember him well. He failed the Bar Exam three times.
When he came to see me back then, I told him he didn’t have to be a licensed attorney to be successful.
I suggested he talk to some of our alumni who were doing very well in business. He just smiled and said, “You’ll see.” And walked out of my office.
Today, he is a Chief Assistant Prosecutor in New Jersey with eight younger lawyers working for him.
Bar examinations aren’t easy. They’re not supposed to be. But your diploma entitles you to sit for the exam, and your education at Cooley has prepared you to pass it.
I can assure you that if you really want it, you will have a license to practice law to hang alongside your diploma.
Of course, if you just want a job … if you want a boss, and a paycheck and a 401 K and health care, and paid vacations and a chance to get promoted, I can tell you that the piece of paper you are going to get up here will be your boarding pass on the flight to security and success.
Think about it. There is hardly a job description in the business world that you are not qualified – maybe even overqualified -- to do.
Does a bank want to hire a loan officer? Does an insurance company want a claims adjuster? Does a manufacturer want a personnel officer?
Who wouldn’t choose an applicant with a law degree over someone with a four year college education?
And consider this: Your law degree tells more about you than how much you know.
It testifies to your work ethic, to your commitment, to your dedication and perseverance.
It tells an employer that you will show up. That you will be prepared. That you know how to get a job done. That you know how to meet a challenge with guts and grit and come out a winner.
So the first point is that after today, you will be a doctor. A doctor of laws.
The American Bar Association tells us that medical doctors have their most productive years between their twelfth and twentieth years in practice.
And lawyers have their best years between their twentieth and their fortieth years in practice.
Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but my guess is that if you work as hard at your profession as you did at your education, you will make a decent living over the next forty or fifty years.
The second point I want to leave with you is this: your diploma is a doctorate of laws.
The law is the most interdisciplinary science.
It touches on everything people do, on everything that happens in life.
When Judge John Fitzgerald, God rest his soul, taught the first class at Cooley, he began by writing a quotation from Chaucer on the blackboard, “The life so short, the craft so long to learn.”
One thing you surely understand by now is that nobody knows all the law.
A lawyer is defined as a person who is learned in the law.
To be a person learned in the law is to be a person who studies the law, reads the law, contemplates the law, discusses the law, knowing that the journey takes more than a single lifetime.
Your diploma says that you are learned in the law. It says that you are a lawyer. And it is a very BIG, impressive and credible document.
It has the familiar Cooley logo prominently displayed.
That logo features the crown of a pillar and the Latin motto, “In corde hominum est anima legis.”
Forty years ago, we didn’t have a logo. I went into the class one day and showed the students some drawings and asked them to vote for the logo.
They picked the one with the Ionic column.
We bought the old Masonic Temple a year or so after that. It looked like a law school. Had pillars out in front. Unfortunately, they were Doric and not Ionic columns. But we never changed the logo.
I came up with the Latin motto for the school. “In corde hominum est anima legis.”
I told the students that it meant “the spirit of the law is in the hearts of men.”
A couple days later a committee of women students came to my office.
They called themelves CATS. An acronym for Cooley Action Team Sisters.
They let me know that the spirit of the law is also in the hearts of women.
I assured them that the Latin word hominum means mankind in the generic sense, and not just the male of the species.
That got me off the hook.
To tell the truth, there is no such Latin word as ‘hominum.’
But I figured since I made up the word, I was also entitled to make up the definition.
So we settled on the translation “The spirit of the law is in the human heart.”
And so it is.
That motto is more than just a catchy slogan. It is a statement of philosophy.
It is an affirmation of the existence of natural law. It testifies that there is such a thing as objective truth.
It reminds us that deep within the very heart and soul of every human being there abides the faculty of conscience which strives to understand the meaning of our lives, to distinguish between good and evil and to chart a course for the pursuit of true happiness.
The spirit of the law is within us.
The Ten Commandments that Moses carried down from Mount Sinai are etched in our hearts as surely as they were written on tablets of stone.
And the Codes of Hamurabi are emblazoned on our instincts as surely as they were on the pillars of Babylon four thousand years ago.
Every religion known to man proceeds from a belief in an intelligent Creator. Even the folks who believe we originated from a big bang would have to concede that before the bang there was the idea of the bang.
If the bang was inevitable, then the bang was not the beginning, being preceded by the conditions that led to the bang.
And if it was not inevitable, then it was the result of choice or decision.
Human beings are said to be made in the image and likeness of their Creator because we have the two faculties that are always ascribed to the Creator of the universe: intellect and free will.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The pursuit of happiness.
The never ending chase.
The striving. The searching. The climbing up. The reaching out.
The quest for the Holy Grail. The journey to the promised land.
California, you may know, is the only state that claims to be heaven on earth.
That’s true. The constitution of California says that all people have the right to pursue and to obtain happiness.
That might explain why so many people move to California.
And why the Golden State has a budget deficit of 16 billion dollars.
Too many people think that freedom means being able to do whatever you want to do.
But the pendulum of human history that swings back and forth between anarchy and dictatorship, as it does today in the Middle East, teaches the hard truth that there can be no true liberty without the rule of law.
And the massacre of innocent women and children at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut reminds us of the horror that lurks when freedom is disconnected from sanity.
President Dwight Eisenhower urged Americans to act in their “enlightened self interest.”
Pope John Paul II wrote that freedom is the right to do what we ought to do.
At its core, the science of law is the accumulation of human knowledge and experience about what people ought to do, how we ought to live,
The words of Justice Cooley announce from the side of the Temple Building in downtown Lansing, “Law students must always remember that they are preparing themselves to be ministers of justice.”
Justice is defined as giving to every man his due. To be a minister of justice, then, is to be concerned with the oughtness or the shouldness of things.
Common law judges do it all the time. Who ought to win the case? What ought to be done in these circumstances? What should happen in this factual situation?
Right and wrong are not determined by the flip of a coin, but by reason, logic, experience, knowledge and tradition.
You’ve read a lot of old cases in these last three years. Heard a lot of lectures and spent a lot of time debating with classmates and professors.
You know that there is more to law than you will find in Wikipedia.
The Law, they say, is a jealous mistress. But if you really love the law, I can promise it will be good to you.
It has been very good to me.
Which brings me to my third and final point.
The diploma you will receive today is from the Thomas Cooley Law School.
Forty years ago, nobody had ever heard of the Thomas Cooley Law School.
Today it is the largest accredited college of law in the United States.
Over the years, Cooley has built a reputation that, frankly. I’m very proud of.
It has always been known as the easiest law school to get into, and the hardest law school to graduate from.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a nice letter from a fellow who graduated in September of 2000. He is now the Senior attorney for the New York State Education Department, making four times his former salary as a police officer.
His letter said, “By the end of my first year, all of my close friends flunked out or left school. I used to joke that at Cooley, it’s not look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t be here next year, it’s look to your left and look to your right, all three of you won’t be here next year.”
It’s not quite that bad, but I do remember a dermatologist telling me that Cooley is an excellent law school.
I asked him how he knew that.
He said he had a patient who went to Cooley and she was so nervous about her examinations she was losing her hair.
Of course, I was never in favor of making our students go bald, but it didn’t bother me when students complained about the difficulty of our program.
It was great public relations.
They were making the case in the community that Cooley was tough, demanding and professional, in spite of our liberal admissions policy.
Beginning that very first day, we were determined to make the American dream of opportunity a reality.
We very intentionally threw the front door wide open to every qualified college graduate who wanted to go to law school.
And from the very first day we always assured our students that no one would graduate from Cooley who did not measure up to the standards of professional excellence that were exemplified by our namesake, Thomas McIntyre Cooley.
You know, Cooley Law School educates more minority lawyers than any other law school in America.
And we have always done it without the kind of favoritism and discrimination that some schools use to create an artificial sense of diversity.
How do we do it?
The answer is simple. If you open the front door wide enough, you will get a cross section of the American people.
As you watch these graduates walk across the stage and hear their names announced, you will see what I mean.
These graduates are what America is all about. They are exceptional men and women who have worked and risked and sacrificed to earn their diplomas.
They will join a virtual army of nearly twenty thousand lawyers living and working from Poland to American Samoa; men and women who are proud of their Cooley diplomas, proud of their superior professional education and practical training, proud to be associated with like-minded graduates of Thomas Cooley.
Get on your computer and Google “Cooley Pride.”
You will see what I am talking about.
Forty years ago, Cooley was a Mom and Pop, do-it-yourself storefront operation.
My dear wife, Polly, sat behind a card table answering the phone and processing applications while I was out buying books and hiring law teachers.
About four in the afternoon on January 12, 1973, Polly decided to admit one more student.
So I had to run out and buy another student desk.
We began that first session when Lou Smith, the Secretary read the roll call, and asked each student to rise and tell us what degrees they had.
When he finished, I had a few words to say, and now as we celebrate forty years of legal education, I ask your indulgence as I read those few words:
“With unspeakable joy, I welcome you to the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Others will come after you. There will be many, many other first days and first nights. There will be many other times to remember and to relish and enjoy.
But none so sweet --
None so sweet as now.
We are here, all of us, because we believe.
Because we believe in ourselves.
Because we believe in each other.
And because we believe, whether we realize it or not, in a spirit which gives purpose and meaning to the things that men do quite beyond our poor capacity to understand or appreciate.
In time, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will be a great and distinguished institution of higher learning.
And in that time, it will seem always to have been.
It will seem to have a life of its own, independent of its officers, its faculty, even its student body.
It will be seen and known in terms of its real estate, its library, its pension plan, its alumni, its publications, its corporate resources.
But the genesis of human achievement does not lie in corporate resources, or tangible, physical things.
It lies in the unique and God given capacity of the human spirit.
To envision what is not, but can be.
To embrace what is unfulfilled, and cause it to happen. To make an act of faith and turn unreality into reality.
It is given to all of us here tonight, as it is given to few men and women, to taste and feel and to know the power of human purpose.
And we shall remember.
But we shall remember too, despite our pride and satisfaction this night, that a long and difficult road lies before us.
As we go down that road, let us ask or permit no excuses of each other.
You have a right to expect that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will embody all of the excellence in legal education that the great judge, scholar and teacher, Thomas McIntyre Cooley represents in the history and tradition of Michigan and American jurisprudence.
And we will expect no less of you than total absorption in the study of the law, total dedication to this institution, and a fierce, unyielding pride in what you are doing for yourselves and your future.
And in what all of us, together, are doing for those who will come after us.
It was, I must say now, as I look back, a rather prophetic night.
What I didn’t realize or expect that night was that three years later, the Cooley class would have a better passing rate on the Bar examination than the graduates of the University of Michigan.
One of the chores I took on in the early days was to compose a song; the Cooley Alma Mater.
It’s printed on the back of your programs and later you’ll hear a recording of it by the Michigan State University Chorale.
I don’t have any musical talent or experience. I had to number the keys on the piano with a magic marker in order to plunk out a tune.
But if you are going to compete with the University of Michigan you need a song.
Cooley has no football team, no marching band, no cheerleaders, but it does have a spirit that reflects the bonds of affection and dedication that have tied your class together over the last three years.
I like to think that the words of the song I wrote somehow reflect the way most of the members of the Alfred Moore Class feel today:
Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, Mighty Temple of the Law Where first we touched the face of justice Full of wonder, full of awe.
Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, Reservoir of truth sublime Where first we tasted sweetest reason Learning wisdom grows with time.
We came to you in Michaelmas Different as the Autumn Trees And working grew in friendships through Snowbound Hillaries We’ll say farewell to Trinities Treasuring the memories
Of Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater As we wear your white and blue We proudly sing your highest praises Thomas Cooley, Hail to You!
Thursday, January 17, 2013
It seems that Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming were all weighing the adoption of laws which would prohibit courts from considering Sharia law in any of their decisions.
At first blush, it sounds like the American Bar Association is in favor of scrapping the tried and true common law we inherited from England in favor of the religious and legal traditions of Islamic nations.
This view seems to have been re-enforced in a recent promotion by the ABA of a book by Hauwa Ibrahim, a female Muslim lawyer practicing in Nigeria.
The title? Practicing Sharia Law: Seven Strategies for Achieving Justice in Sharia Countries.
Frankly, the notion that the American Bar Association wants to prepare American lawyers to practice Sharia Law boggles my mind.
If anything, the ABA has been in the forefront of support for liberal causes for as long as I can remember.
How an organization that defends abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, decriminalizing recreational drugs and the whole panoply of Western decadence can promote Sharia law without appearing schizophrenic is beyond me.
Still, there may be a thread of consistency.
In Waltham Forest, a suburb of London, radical Islamist Abu Izzadeen distributes posters declaring the town to be under Sharia law.
Gambling, drinking alcoholic beverages, use of drugs, and social mingling by men and women are prohibited. At least that’s what the posters say.
As fast as Izzadeen puts them up, the local police tear them down.
About 15% of Waltham Forest’s residents are Muslim. Nearby hamlets of Newham and Tower have 25% and 33% respectively.
Those percentages go up every year.
The City of Dearborn, Michigan is about 40% Muslim.
While Sharia law is not yet formally enforced in Dearborn, it is clear that the local authorities have little interest in challenging the Muslim community.
This video demonstrates the bias in local law enforcement:
Sharia courts are common in Britain. They operate under general British law which permits people to select arbiters to settle civil disputes. If both sides want their dispute to be submitted to a Sharia judge, the British law will recognize the binding arbitration.
At first blush, the idea of a foreign system of laws being engrafted on our established state and municipal legal traditions seems contradictory and impractical.
Still, we have the practice of permitting Native Americans to operate their own courts, and conduct their own law enforcement.
Home Rule statutes being what they are, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Sharia-type regulations might be imposed by municipal ordinance where the population of a city favors them
And Muslims might not be alone when it comes to banning alcohol, pornography, prostitution, drugs, gambling etc.
When Abu Izzadeen comes to Dearborn, the American Bar Association will have to decide whether American hedonism trumps Home Rule.
I expect the rank and file among the organized Bar will continue to support its long established liberal agenda.
Still, they might just sell a boat load of copies of Ms. Ibrahim’s book. A lot of lawyers would want to know the Seven Strategies for Achieving Justice.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Louis Michael Seidman, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, has written an article for the New York Times which urges Americans to disobey their Constitution, claiming that the 1789 document and its 27 amendments are evil.
By way of supporting his opinion, Seidman characterizes the delegates who met in Philadelphia 226 years ago as:
“a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves”
It is always troubling to me when a man of apparently impeccable academic credentials chooses to publish statements which are false and/or snide.
Seidman surely knows that the Founders were men of considerable learning and knowledge about government, politics, human nature and the rule of law.
His ridiculous jab that they thought it was fine to own slaves is simply unworthy of a scholar. See: http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=122 for an enlightened discussion of the question.
And claiming that the Founders acted illegally is especially egregious. Let’s look at the record. This is what the Congress actually said:
Whereas there is provision in the Articles of Confederation & perpetual Union for making alterations therein by the Assent of a Congress of the United States and of the legislatures of the several States; And whereas experience hath evinced that there are defects in the present Confederation, as a mean to remedy which several of the States and particularly the State of New York by express instructions to their delegates in Congress have suggested a convention for the purposes expressed in the following resolution and such Convention appearing to be the most probable mean of establishing in these states a firm national government.
Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.
Here’s Seidman: “They were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation.”
Here’s Congress: “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.”
To “revise” is to change, to rewrite, to rethink, to reconsider, to do over.
The words “amend,” “amendment,” or “amendments” do not appear in the Congress’s resolution.
The preamble paragraph says that there are “defects in the present Confederation.” It does not say that there are simply defects in the Articles, but that there are defects in the Confederation itself.
Equally telling are the last words of that paragraph which speak of “establishing in these states a firm national government.”
Finally, Congress’s charge concludes with the goal of a “federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union.”
So Seidman ignores the plain words of Congress. He also ignores history. The fact is that the recalcitrance of a few states to agree upon amendments to the Articles of Confederation was precisely one of its principal defects.
Rhode Island didn’t send delegates to Philadelphia. Everyone knew that there would be no unanimous consent to the new constitution.
Professor Seidman has written a book titled On Constitutional Disobedience.
His deliberately provocative op ed piece in the New York Times is no doubt intended to go viral, cause a controversy and sell a lot of books.
He seems to be getting his wish. Start with about 700 emails, many offering to bust his nose, etc.
I’ll probably buy the book. He sounds like a liberal who is ready to scrap the rule of law and place the safety and happiness of the American people in the hands of a ruling elite, credentialed by Eastern Universities, sure of their own rectitude, and empowered by money and the political imprimatur that it buys.
Still, I have to agree that constitutional reform is imperative. That’s why I support an Article V Convention.
It’s the people’s charter. Elected officials are sworn to uphold it.
Constitutional disobedience cannot be allowed to stand.