The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
legal rhetoric


Replacing Souter

Submitted by Jim Aune on May 4, 2009 - 11:05am

A compilation of lists of possible nominees is here. Some distinguished academics: Pamela Karlen, Kathleen Sullivan, Cass Sunstein. Of those I'd rather get Sullivan (Sunstein is way too squishily communitarian on the First Amendment). Sonia Sotomayor seems to be a favorite on "representational" grounds, but I know nothing about her another than her impressive life story.


Free Speech Absolutism: A Defense

Submitted by Jim Aune on April 8, 2009 - 12:18am

My NCA lecture on Free Speech is now available as an mp3 file here. Comments are welcome.


Varnum v. Brien

Submitted by Jim Aune on April 4, 2009 - 12:55pm

Here's the full text of the (unanimous!) Iowa Supreme Court opinion on gay marriage. I admire the rhetorical craft of this opinion--no soaring eloquence, just good Midwestern plain style, and an especially impressive analysis of the religious issues involved. --Oh, and I love the name of one of the plaintiffs: "Otter Dreaming."


Citizens United v. FEC

Submitted by Jim Aune on March 26, 2009 - 11:29am

I love it when the Supremes get to screen movies, in this case, Hillary: The Movie. I do think this case, like McCain-Feingold in general, raises legitimate free speech concerns, but I'm not sure we want to eliminate all legal constraints on campaign communication. This is a classic Isaiah Berlin negative liberty/positive liberty moment in the law. Adria, what do you think?


Rhetoric of Footnotes

Submitted by Jim Aune on March 12, 2009 - 9:30pm

"Justice Ginsburg's Footnotes." Jay Wexler Boston University - School of Law

New England Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, 2009
Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 09-12 (download here)



The Counter-Majoritarian Problem, Yet Again

Submitted by Jim Aune on March 3, 2009 - 12:50pm

Andrew Sullivan worries about using the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8. I do, too. This new lawsuit, against the federal government, makes more sense to me, however. Am I being inconsistent; if so, how? Hint: I think it's a "full faith and credit" clause issue (as Scalia worried about in Lawrence v. Texas).


More on the Summum Case

Submitted by Jim Aune on February 27, 2009 - 2:57pm

Alan Wolfe zeroes in on the central oddity of Alito's opinion: the claim that "government" has free speech rights.


The Anti-Abortion Movement After Obama

Submitted by Jim Aune on February 8, 2009 - 11:17am

"At 36 years old, the pro-life movement is still energetic and indignant—and trapped. Every year of Republican rule has increased the suspicion that pro-lifers are the GOP’s useful idiots"--from an interesting article in the American Conservative. There is still much to be written about the rhetoric and politics and law of the abortion controversy.


Chief Justice Roberts's Plot

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 20, 2009 - 5:00pm

I was thinking that Roberts messed up the oath intentionally to invalidate his inauguration, but Wonkette beat me to that argument. A transcript of the interchange (via Dahlia Lithwick at Slate):

The oath is supposed to go as follows:
I (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.


Forest Grove School District v. T.A.

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 16, 2009 - 3:17pm

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this really murky 9th Circuit case involving a parental request to be reimbursed for private education for their son. This sort of conflict occurs all around the country as a result of Congress' unfunded mandates to local school districts, who often dare parents to sue them for not providing special services for mentally ill or developmentally disabled children.