July 01, 2005

Recent SCOTUS decisions:

Recently, the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) make a couple of rulings (in the form of "opinions") that will affect your life.

1) MGM vs. Grokster Inc. (pops) - No real surprise here. They ruled (5-4) that MGM is in the right, and Grokster et al. are in the wrong. Apparently the crux of their opinion is that Grokster or anyone else who writes software that's primary use (legal or not) can be used for nefarious means is wrong. As far as I can tell, that means that if the terrorists who made 9/11 happen used Microsoft Word(tm) to jot down notes for their plan, then Microsoft is liable for what they did with it. That makes Microsoft party (through aiding and abetting) to their crime. Let's sue Microsoft and see what happens..

2) 10 Commandments on Government Property (pops) - This is just weird. In one instance, it's okay, in the other it isn't. I think the driver here is actually the American Public. I think that the SCOTUS wanted to avoid the huge number of protests that would come up when they tried to remove the monument from the TX state capitol grounds. That's all it is. Either way, I don't give a flying flip one way or the other. Neither is really a mandate from the government for any particular religion. It's a matter of opinion, and they liked the way they looked, and they had meaning for them. Still, I'm tempted to start my own religion and make flowers holy. Then I'll petition the government to remove all flowers from all govt property. Certainly, the money used to maintain them could find a better use elsewhere, hmmm?

and lastly:

3) Eminent domain use by local government and it's justification (pops) - All right, this one is truly imporant. It almost made me blog a post titled "Hell has Officially Frozen Over" because of it. The SCOTUS ruled that your city, county or state CAN take your property against your will for the right reasons. The reasons? Yep, you guessed it, Money. Plain and simple. If the new facility/property to replace what is there currently will bring greater tax revenue to the municipality then that's just fine. It's covered as "public good" under the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. It doesn't matter what you've paid, or that you own it full-on, square according to the land commissioner. If they want to build a gas station right on top of your den, have at it. Granted, they have to give you "just compensation" for the property, but "just compensation" is up for debate. For example, in the State of Texas, if the State wants to take your land, just compensation, what they are required to give you, is figured on the average single acre value across the WHOLE FREAKING STATE! How much is that, you ask? Well, in 1998, it was $1.06/acre.

So, why has "Hell Officially Frozen Over" in my opinion, you ask? Really, it's only for one reason. I actually agreed with the disenting opinion on this. Not unusual, really, except that the disenters were: Thomas, Rehnquist, O'Connor and Scalia. I thought for a second that I might have become a hard line Republican, but no. Still, I felt like I needed a shower.

Now, turn about is fair play, I understand. Read about the Lost Liberty Hotel with it's Just Desserts Cafe (you know the drill) that some developer wants to build in Keane, NH. This is just freaking genius. I want to set up a website to start taking reservations here. I know that if I'm back up near my hometown, I will make it a point to stay there if this thing gets built.

Also worth noting: Today, Sandra Day O'Connor tendered her resignation as an Associate Justice of the SCOTUS to the POTUS (Idiot in Chief). According to NBC, CNN and others, the front runners to be nominated are John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. CNN thinks that if Bush were to nominate Gonzales, is might help the Republicans in the next election. Fat freaking chance. Gonzales. Gonzales is the tie-wearing thug who rubber-stamped the torture methods used in Abu Ghriab and Guantanamo, ferchristsakes! Never mind the fact that he advised the President on how and where to house the "detainees" so that the SCOTUS couldn't touch them, and that it would be irrelevant as to whether or not their "enemy combatant" designation was held up.

Of course, Rehnquist is about to shuffle off this mortal coil any time now, and his replacement will be a doozy.

The only way out of this that I can see is if the Dems stop the nomination of her replacement (a la John Bolton) until the next Senate election, at which point we, (you and I, progressives) ACTUALLY get out and VOTE in the next election and give the Congress back to the intelligent people while taking it away from the monster theocratic idealogues currently running the show over there!

I'm so mad I could just spit. Not that you could tell or anything.

P.S. Oh yeah, new item on GeekWear: Just $17.99!


mark said...

A friend of a friend was saying that the US will see civil war within 50 years due to SC opinions such as these. What do you think would spark a second civil war (or at least an insurrection) in America?

Ernie said...

Mark, I think it's highly unlikely that we'll see a civil war in the next 50 years. There are several reasons for this opinion, but foremost in my mind is the undisputed fact that most people just don't seem to care. I refer to these people as "Sheeple" because they think and act as herd animals for the most part. Certainly there are not enough dissenters to foment organized insurrection, or civil war. I'm not sure what could start that kind of backlash short of a wholesale repeal of certain rights, and even then I don't think it would amount to an active, possibly violent backlash unless the repeal of those rights were rigorously enforced in a Hitler-esque manner.

Unfortunately, I have found that for the most part, the American people will trade a great deal of their liberties for the appearance of safety. 99.99999% of the efforts we go through in this country to keep the populace safe are window dressing that allow soccer moms to feel like their children aren't going to get killed sitting in their minivans. Keep in mind, I am a father, and I understand the desire for the safety of your child, but it's about time that we, collectively accepted the fact that just living like we do, in this country, is essentially unsafe. I just deal with it. I take reasonable precautions with my child to ensure as best as I am able that he's safe. I have no expectation the my government is going to take care of it for me, unlike a majority of Americans.

It seems that the only thing you have to do in order to seize control in this country is blabber on about how "everyone will be safer with [your] plan" and that we will "have to make sacrifices", and then it's game on! Pathetic, IMHO. Just plain pathetic. I hate to do this because it sounds to trite to me, but I'll do it anyway because I still think it can't be said often enough these days: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Ben Franklin

Another couple from good old Ben, worthy of repeating here is, "Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you." and "A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins"

Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

I'd like to keep it.