Brett Stuff
Judging the Judges
Term Year: 2018

Discourse & Disclaimers
A Rather Long Winded Rant

I am not a lawyer. And none of the posts in this series (or anywhere else on this site for that matter) are intended to be legal writings... much less, legal advice.

I started reading Supreme Court Slips a few years ago... well, long enough ago, I cannot honestly remember exactly when or why I started reading them. Maybe it was on a dare. Maybe it was to see what Roe vs Wade really had to say for itself. Maybe (and this does seem to be the most likely) someone (or some blog) had referenced a legal brief and rather than take their word for it, I decided to read the raw text... much like I might read a Scientific Paper if someone claimed it 'showed this' or 'showed that', because experience has shown me that isn't usually the case.

So, it was randomness... happenstance.

Whatever the exact turn of events, I started pulling the slips off the Supreme Court website (where they are available to all, so I will not be posting them here) and reading them sequentially, as they were published.

And late last year (nearing the end of the 2017 Term), I decided I wanted a little more out of my reading experience.

See, I have no faith in the law. The Rule of Law means nothing to me. It's not a measure of right. It's merely what the cops are going to enforce... or are supposed to enforce... but I think we all know there is a slight (gulf of a) difference between the two.

But back to the main point. Slavery was legal, back in the day; maybe still is, depending upon how one wants to interpret things. But regardless of whether one wants to give credence to the idea of a Wage Slave, full on (chattel) slavery was most definitely legal, back in the day. Was that good? Was that bad? It doesn't actually matter. It was.

And the law today Is What It Is.

But as we all know, it is very difficult to know what is is.

Though, really, that's just clever words.

So, let's start over.

The study of Good & Evil (call it Ethics) is so complex as to be impossible to pull straight (and make right). I mean, so much Sin has been committed in getting us to this point in time (and space) that settling on the status quo would be unsatisfactory; but then, so is making major changes.

And I'm still not any clearer.

I don't believe The Law is about Right & Wrong. It's simply guidance for the police and the powers that be.

But then, maybe The Law should be about Right & Wrong.

Now, I give other people a hard time when they say Should, because there is no Should (as an inherent force of nature). But even if you are some sort of Boy Scout and believe there is a Should, it's usually a mistake to rely on other folks having the same interpretation of that Should as you.

So, um, do you understand?

Should does not exist.

And as such, this series is about MY interpretation of SHOULD (a thing which is so much fluff and dander).

What SHOULD the law be... given my limited understanding of the law... and my biases about society?

It's a statement of opinion: My Opinion.

It's not a 'Legal Opinion'.

And it's not 'Advice'.

No judge in the world cares what I have to say (about pretty much anything) nor will any of my arguments hold up in a court of law.

But maybe they SHOULD!

So, let's start over again.

See, I don't care about the legal arguments anymore, because in my world, that's all they are... arguments. I believe the decision (typically... and almost always) precedes the argument, that having come to a decision in the world of jurisprudence (which, I can only assume is the correct word), one must come up with 'legal arguments' to back up one's decision, which (once again, I believe) has been previously made (overwhelmingly) on moral grounds... rather than legal ones.
The decision to fight
And the fight itself
Take place in different venues.

The decision
And the arguments in support thereof
Exist separately.
Um, I probably can't convince you of this, but I will try.

The Second Amendment (to the Constitution of the United States of America) reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
So, like, there are laws against me owning anti-tank rockets. Personally, I think the Fourth of July would be a lot more fun if I had access to a few (call it an even half dozen) anti-tank missiles. But even if I just wanted to be part of a 'well regulated militia' (which I don't, I'd want any militia I was in to be highly unregulated), I'm thinking anti-tank weaponry would be an important piece of gear. But there are laws against me owning such things. Clearly, my right to 'bear Arms' has been 'infringed'. And if you are happy to infringe my rights, I'm happy to infringe yours and confiscate your hunting rifle.

You see, because the laws are not based on the constitution and (likely) never have been.

But you're probably still not convinced. And I've got another rant (call it an argument) loaded and ready to go. So, maybe I'll be quicker this time.

The First Glorious Amendment to the Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
So, let's just go through those, shall we?
You are free to disagree. I've only pencilled in the merest of outlines. But on an absolute scale, The Constitution is an unworkable and un-implementable document.

Compromises have to be made, a fine line walked between my freedom of speech... and your freedom not to have your face pounded into dust just because that's how I feel like expressing myself, today.


Laws regulating medical practitioners really just limit who call talk about medicine.

Hey! Don't I have a right to get bad advice? Or advice that conforms to my belief system? You know, my religion?

I've gone on for way too long here. So, accept it or not. Every law is a fine line, a compromise between this and that, this social good and that social evil. And we do not agree. At least, not when it gets to the level of the Supreme Court. I mean, the only reason a case ever gets to the Supreme Court is because lesser courts have already disagreed on the underlying legal principle.

But for the most, I don't care about the underlying legal principle, because in that way lies madness.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and rather than being the final arbiter of Law, it should be the final arbiter of Right & Wrong.

Sure, sometimes that Right & Wrong comes does to application of the law. And in others, who really cares what the law says?

If Justice has not been served, let's serve Justice.

So, I don't know if that's clear. I have ranted long enough. I think I have made enough qualifications:
Rather, I care about:
And that's what I intend to discuss when reviewing the Supreme Court Slips this year:
Also, I want to crunch some numbers. I want to record my opinions. And see how they statistically relate to The Opinions of The Court.

So, a big part of this project (for me) is going to be putting together some sort of tally sheet. At the end of the year, I want to be able to know which Supreme Court Justices I agree with and those whom I do not... and maybe even why?

Thus, my data sheet might look something like:

Number: 00
Case: 08-205
Name: Citizens United v Federal Election Commission

Opinion: Opinion of the Court
Author: Judge
Joiners: Judge, Judge, Judge, Judge
Do I Agree: Yes
Why: A Target Explanation of Five Words

Opinion: Concurring
Author: Judge
Joiners: Judge
Do I Agree: No
Why: Keep It Simple

Opinion: Dissenting
Author: Judge
Joiners: Judge, Judge
Do I Agree: Yes
Why: I'll Probably Throw the Text Out

After doing a year's worth of slips (I'm expecting +/- 85 cases), I should be able to compile all sorts of graphs, like which Justice is writing the most opinions, if there are any cliques (do the judges group), who do I agree with, am I just being belligerent and simply tend to disagree with the majority opinion, and so on and so forth.

And along with that, there will be a brief (or long) write-up of the thoughts and feelings that each case brings to surface and why I am voting for or against each opinion.

That's the plan.

It's not about law.

It's about emotion.

And although I've read hundreds of slips, I've actually never written one up, so I thought I would start with a historical case first, so I have some chance of catching conceptual glitches in my schema prior to getting too far along.

Thus, next up: Citizens United!

Judging the Judges

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