Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The US Constitution - of Inequities and Education

The US Constitution and the Inequities of our Day

Via Lessig,
The Stanford Daily Online Edition has an October 20, 2003 article by Whitney Sado & Camille Ricketts, which reports on a law panel held at Stanford Law School.

The law panel included US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, Law Profs. Pamela Karlan and Lawrence Lessig, as well as History Prof. Jack Rakove, all of whom have written about the US Constitution and Constitutional Law.


The Stanford Daily Online article states:

"In discussing Brown and the preceding Plessy vs. Ferguson case, which set the foundation for the "separate but equal" doctrine, [US Supreme Court Justice] Kennedy added, " 'We are blind to the inequities of our own times.' "

My comment here

is that NOT EVERYBODY is blind to the inequities of their own time.

However, it is undoubted that many people surely ARE blind to these inequities, not just in the political and legal sphere, but in all fields of human endeavor, including education and science.

Why is that?

Is it true that men are only moved when they are pushed?

Is it true that men are only moved when they are pushed hard?

Or is it just mass ignorance?


In that same Stanford Daily Online article, Kennedy is reported as saying:

"A democracy will fail if there isn't a will to uphold its universal values.... It requires people to be interested and knowledgeable about the Constitution."

Agreed. Agreed.

So, perhaps MORE should be done in the schools to get the students - as future citizens - to UNDERSTAND their Constitution and perhaps LESS should be done to force things such as the indoctrinational Pledge of Allegiance down their throats or to force the placement of some devout man's personal religious symbols such as the Ten Commandments in our schools or office buildings.

Many in our nation have their "priority wires" crossed.

How about making a test of the understanding of the U.S. Constitution a prerequisite for getting into college?

That would be a start.

See ETS on the Issues for more on educational tests.

The Other Side of Patents: Get a Lawyer

Via LawMeme - The Forgotten Inventor of Surround Sound, Steven Wu points us to a November 2, 2003 article by Dave Scheiber in the St. Petersburg Times entitled "Sound Recognition".

The author of the article, Dave Scheiber, is the cousin of Peter Scheiber, who is the inventor of "quadrophonic sound", and his article relates the trials and tribulations of his cousin in the patent law and litigation world.

As I understand that article, Scheiber was too much his own lawyer and did not properly bring in the right legal professionals to protect his interests as an inventor. His experiences are a lesson to every prospective inventor. If you DO make a signficant discovery capable of patentability, get the best patent lawyer you can find and recognize that while you may be an expert in YOUR chosen field, you are not an expert in the law. Scheiber simply made too many legal and negotiation-related mistakes along the way and now has been left holding an empty bag. But it appears to be his own fault, not a fault of the law.

The US Supreme Court - For God's Sake - No Questions

The US Supreme Court - For God's Sake - No Questions

In a very interesting article by Charles Lane in the Washington Post online entitled Questions From the Bench Seen as Clues to Final Outcomes (washingtonpost.com), Lane discusses a forthcoming article by Sarah R. Levien, 25, a third-year student at Georgetown University Law Center, who claims to have discovered a system for predicting the Justice's decisions in a given case.


The key, as Levien has discovered by sitting in on US Supreme Court oral arguments,

is to observe the judges in their questioning of lawyers during those oral arguments.

She found that:

1. Few questions to one party to a case means they are going to win.

2. Many questions to one party to a case means they are going to lose.

3. Friendly questions to one party to a case means they are going to win.

4. Hostile questions to one party to a case means they are going to lose.

In other words, questions during oral argument seemingly are not made by the Justices in order to clarify difficult issues of law in the minds of the judges at the time of oral argument, but rather to put the parties in their proper places, as winners OR losers. In other words, it would appear that the judges already have their minds made up and their decisions made - prior to oral argument. So what is the point of oral argument? Is this not a colossal waste of time? Or is it done to show the authority of the court - as in the phrase "WE ask the questions around here" - the personal touch??


Actually, I was not surprised by Levien's findings in the least. But listen, "I have a question...."

What does this mean about the asking of questions in our society as a whole?


Watch your next political press conference and you will see the same above phenomenon at work. The news media in a press conference do NOT ask questions to clarify difficult issues in their mind - or in the minds of their public - as based upon the answers given to them by the person to whom the questions are directed.

Rather, questions are used as a weapon of either verbal attack or verbal assistance. In fact, we have observed long ago that you can usually quite easily tell the partisan affiliation of reporters by the manner and substance of their questions. The reporters usually have an AGENDA they are pushing. They are NOT merely interested in NEW FACTS or BETTER ANSWERS.

In any case, the next time you are faced with questions, ponder the circumstances.

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