Ok, ok, I have been totally remiss in keeping up the blog, for the 3 of you who check once in a while. Here are some recent events, articles, or cases of note.
The Supreme Court has accepted Kiyemba v Obama which will determine whether or not federal courts have the authority to order the release of detainees following Boumediene.
Is the rate of violent crime determined by levels of lead poisoning? Economist Rick Nevin argues that the drop in violent crime in the 1990s can be explained by bans on leaded gasoline and reductions in lead paint, and finds similar results in 9 different countries tied directly to the timing of lead reductions. While this may be similar to the widely publicized, and criticized, argument in Freakanomics that legalized abortion lead to the drop in violent crime, the fact that Nevin finds these results in 9 different countries, and the medical evidence on the effects of lead as a powerful neurotoxin, makes a strong case for his findings. If Nevin is correct, then it would seem we should divert as much money as possible from prisons to lead abatement programs. How likely is that?
Americans’ perceptions of the crime rate used to correlate pretty closely with actual crime rates. When crime rates went up, people thought they were going up, and when they went down, people thought crime was going down. But since 2001, perceptions and reality no longer correlate. Why? No one seems to know.
The Supreme Court is hard to study due to all the secrecy surrounding the justices and their deliberations. Very little material ever becomes public, and even when it does it may or may not shed much light on key cases. When Justice Stevens retires, the papers of Justice Potter Stewart, who retired in 1981, will finally become available. While there may be some new information about deliberations over key cases during his tenure, we won’t know until we see them. Maybe your grandchildren will get drive their flying cars to New Hampshire to study Justice Souter’s notes on Bush v Gore sometime during the Malia Obama presidency because they won’t be opened to the public until 2059.
The Supreme Court will be hearing a lot of business cases this term, and it may be interesting because there is speculation that Justice Sotomayor may be the first economic progressive on the court in a long time (Clinton’s nominees are considered business friendly moderates) although no one is really sure how she will vote in these business cases. She has already asked some searching questions about the practice of treating corporations as artificial persons having the same rights as actual human people.
Republicans in the Senate have pretty much shut down the judicial confirmation process.