Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010

       A couple of legal notes today.  First, the U.S. Supreme Court says those of us who want to watch its proceedings can't go in by the front door anymore.  Sorry, folks, around to the side.  I assume the Justices can still use the front door while perhaps murmuring to themselves the slogan which adorns their building:  "Equal Justice Under Law."       Doors may not matter much, but the Court resists openness in a number of ways.  It will not allow the arguments before it to be televised.  A majority barred the planned video-streaming of a trial testing the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in the state barring same-sex marriage.  Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed bills that would order the televising of Supreme Court arguments and give lower federal courts more discretion in televising their procedures.  It's not something I say often, but "Go, Senate!"     Second, on a sillier level, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recently gave lapel pins to his staff, joking that it was a more "virtuous" version of the original.  It dates back to 1776 and shows the goddess Virtus standing victorious over Tyranny.  She wears a tunic exposing her left breast.  No vulgar detail, of course, it's just a rough sketch.  But the new lapel pin covered the boob.      This reminded some critics of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who spent $ 8,000. to cover up some half-naked statues in the Justice Department.  "When you ask to be ridiculed," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato told the newspaper Virginia Pilot, "it usually happens."  Cuccinelli's office said "It wasn't about covering up at all.  He was just trying to do something nice for his employees."      Un-hunh.  Cuccinelli's office says he'll stop using the revised pin and adds that taxpayer dollars didn't pay for it.  The original designer, by the way, was George Wythe, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
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