Archive for March, 2012
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Max aka Birdpilot. We welcome contributions from our readers.
Initially, as a pilot myself, FAA v. Cooper looked to be a top priority, high interest case. A pilot carries a much higher degree of responsibility than the average citizen in the exercise of the privilege. Not only for themselves, their passengers and aircraft, but also for the people and property on the ground. If a pilot is going to be dishonest in following the requirements necessary for them to act as pilot in command, it is reasonable to question what other “shortcuts” they might take, potentially endangering those elements I mentioned above. But, as much as one would like to see the issue framed within that context, the matter at issue before the Court is the applicability of damages per the Privacy Act of 1974. (more…)
This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the PPACA, and the nation tried to parse every word, trying to handicap the Act’s future. An ever-growing chorus of voices discussed the death of Trayvon Martin, and the circumstances leading up to his shooting. We discovered that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney continues to exhibit tone-deafness, having chosen as his District of Columbia campaign co-chair a man by the name of Rich Counts.
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On Tuesday, I mentioned how various news stories can gain traction. In that case, it was the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in an Orlando, Florida, suburb. This month, another story has rapidly grown and recently reached critical mass.
This time, the story is about Facebook. But, unlike the usual Facebook stories, the company had nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s about other companies. On March 6, Bob Sullivan at MSNBC published an article describing how colleges and employers have begun to demand access to applicants’ Facebook accounts. Not merely being “friended” — they demanded the applicants’ usernames and passwords.
This story got picked up by hundreds of websites within a day.
But the meta story of the spread of the Facebook story isn’t really the topic of this article. Rather, I’d like to examine the boundaries of acceptable demands on the part of employers. (more…)
Today is the third and final day of oral arguments in the epic Supreme Court lawsuits covering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, ACA or “Obamacare”).
There are two issues before the Court today, the last day of oral arguments in the case. The issue called “severability” will be discussed for 90 minutes in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services. After a lunch recess, the Court will hear one hour of argument on the Medicaid expansion issue in Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services.
Most Court observers find the severability issue the more interesting one, and so I’m going to basically ignore the Medicaid expansion issue and talk about severability in this blog post. If you’re interested in Medicaid expansion, feel free to read up on this excellent analysis and then come back here to discuss it.
What is severability? Simply put, it’s the idea that Congress can pass a law that has an unconstitutional provision inside of it, but that does not necessarily invalidate the remainder of the law. With a law that weighs in at 2,700 pages, determining the severability of the PPACA will be a monumental task.
Severability is essentially an argument for judicial restraint and separation of powers: the Supreme Court should respect Congress’s lawmaking authority and not do unnecessary violence to Congress’s creations, even ugly ones like the PPACA. Remove the cancer, the argument goes, but don’t kill the patient. (more…)
A couple of people have expressed frustration over the amount of press the Trayvon Martin story has gotten, when there are so many people killed by gunfire every day in this country. An example from Mule Rider earlier today:
It’s frustrating when something like this soars straight to the front page or top of the news hour and drags out thousands upon thousands of people to protest the supposed injustice, but then something like this flies waaaaay under the radar and there’s nary a peep of protest for the supposed injustices of the innocents that were hurt/killed during that spree of violence.
I’m sure Monotreme can speak more to the psychological facets of this, but I’m addressing this with a quantitative analysis. Research on the Internet isn’t that hard to do, and it’s worth doing before jumping to particular conclusions.
Let’s start with the growth of the story. If you look at Google Trends, as shown in the graph above, you’ll see a classic S-curve. So let’s see what was happening at the various points along the way. (more…)
This week, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, ACA, or Obamacare). Audio of Monday’s argument can be heard here. It is fascinating to listen to the recording. The chance to hear a case as it is argued before the highest court in the land is a treat not to be avoided. One gets a feel for the people behind the names, the voices and personalities of a handful of people (except for Justice Clarence Thomas, whose voice is not heard) who decide some of the most vital issues of our day. It sounds like a polite and erudite conversation among witty but serious people. Just like the comments on Logarchism. On a good day, anyway. This is constitutional law at its finest. (more…)