06 August 2021

Slightly-Dampened Link Sausage Platter

Fifty-one days without measurable rainfall. In Seattle. Nope, global warming and climate change are obviously just The Squad's rhetorical attention-getting device with no relationship to reality.

  • A piece in the local paper on barriers to non-road public transit in the US is interesting, but so fundamentally incomplete that it remains a questionable source of information. Not once does Mr Lindblom question either NIMBYism or the darker aspects of historical property ownership and misuse as relevant issues in nonroad transit (at present, "light rail") construction. This is, by itself, a sufficient explanation for the complete absence of light-rail planning in the fastest-growing-but-still-not-entirely-developed areas in the region, such as the corridor from Redmond to Renton on the east side of Lake Washington (let alone slightly farther east of Lake Sammamish). There are certain families with interconnected property interests there stretching back to the 1930s and earlier who block all transit solutions that (there's no nice way to put this, especially after their "performances" at school board meetings in Bellevue, Issaquah, and Renton in the 1970s) reflect racial, ethnic, and religious animus. (Reading between the lines of campaign literature last fall, nothing has changed. And if they had any humility to substitute for that self-righteousness, they'd recognize it in themselves… and then promptly dismiss it as either entirely justified or somewhat irrelevant. These are not nice people.)
  • If you need proof that Illinois governors — even, and perhaps especially, those who are convicted felons (of whom there are more than a few) — as a group are incapable of learning from their failures, consider Blago. I doubt that it was Trump who commuted Blago's sentence; I think it was the thing on Trump's head commuting the sentence of the thing on Blago's head. And for both of them, there's very little of substance underneath.
  • Last, in a little-noticed dissent, a federal judge demonstrates both that some judges understand what "litigation" and "judicial decisionmaking" concern… and that, precisely because it was a dissent, far too few do, especially when inundated with policy arguments from amici of dubious interest, and/or parties putting forth partisan and ideological tautologies.

    I concur in full in Judge Moore’s dissent. I write separately and briefly only to emphasize the determinative reason for my dissent.

    Facts matter. That premise applies in abortion cases, just as it does in other contexts. Judge Moore’s opinion ably sets forth the pertinent factual findings of the district court, which are well-supported by the record and which distinguish this case from Casey. The majority opinion treats these findings only at a high level of generality, an approach that obscures both the specificity and strength of the evidence presented by plaintiffs and the absence of meaningful response by the state. Ultimately, the majority’s inattention to the record enables a generic result that fits this waiting period within Casey and ignores the undue burden on Tennessee’s low-income women and women who experience intimate partner violence. For this reason, I dissent.

    Bristol Reg. Health Ctr. v. Slatery, No. 20–6267 (05 Aug 2021), slip op. at 57 (PDF logical) (Julia Smith Gibbons, J., dissenting; internal citation omitted, otherwise in full).

    Would that more judges would recognize that — even, and perhaps especially, on appeal; even, and perhaps especially, concerning challenges to the constitutional basis for statutes — the facts matter. One of the main problems with the Langdellian "case method" is that it deemphasizes facts, and in particular deemphasizes contested facts and the accuracy of judicial recounting of "facts," as mattering to high-minded explications of legal doctrine. Bluntly, judges (and, disturbingly often, the "greatest jurists") get the facts wrong far too often; and that, to this chemist and sometime "information scientist," is unacceptable. Eppur si muove is the least of the difficulties… because often, it doesn't move, but for an entirely different reason that undermines the stated rationale. There are sound reasons that the "Bohr atom" was a leading explanation in chemistry for only about three decades: The facts, and especially new facts discovered with new methods and instrumentation, didn't support the model. Law… not so much.