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October 27, 2003

What I've Read Today

  • En banc provides an explanation for why Scalia has recused himself from the Pledge case -- "in attempting to remove even the semblance of impropriety, decided to sit this one out." His comments about the case may not necessarily have been enough to warrant his recusal. According to professor Bryan H. Wildenthal, "I don't think [Scalia's speech] amounts to a conflict of interest comparable to a personal or financial connection to a case. It's more analogous, as Sandy suggests, to generalized (or sometimes very specific) "intellectual bias" or "prejudgment" of an issue on the merits."

  • Republican lawmakers and conservative activists plan to make gay marriage a higher priority during next year's elections than restricting abortion. The question for Democrats, asks Kevin Drum, is how to address it? He's right that it's all in the presentation. He recommended the following:


    "How about one of those Reaganesque fables about someone who wasn't allowed to visit his longtime gay partner in the hospital because he wasn't "related" and then his partner died before anyone could step in?

    That's just to get the ball rolling. One liners, quips, stories, fables, etc., they're all good, so let's start collecting them. And remember, bonus points if they're actually true.

    I heard those same fables at the Massachusetts hearings for the "women's right to know" bill. Anti-choice women came out of the woodwork telling tales about their failed marriages and their psychological problems that they have chosen to blame on the abortion they had ten, twenty years ago. They blamed the men they were involved with who "forced" them to have the abortions against their will. Lots of tears were shed. One fable right after the other. Additional points for co-opting feminist language about "choice," "women's rights," and "empowerment. Jackpot bonus points if they brought their new infants along as political props.

    It shouldn't be hard for the Dems to come up with gay marriage fables of their own. The difference would be that the people who tell the tales will be working to improve their life situations. The women who "choose" to blame their current life crises on an abortion they had in their 20s don't understand that they will be further harmed by the anti-choice movement. Laws like "women's right to know" patronize women. They treat women as if they are incapable of making an informed decision on their own. They also border on harassment. The anti-choice movement does not work on behalf of women's rights and welfare.

  • Pacific Views has an informative post about blogging and community, including a Salon article about breaking through the blogosphere barrier so that your blog becomes more noticed.

  • 20 Great Google Secrets

  • A witch has won subsidies from the Norwegian state to run a business of potions, fortune-telling and magic." It's interesting that she had to promise not to try "harmful spells." It seems Norwegian lawmakers have confused Wicca with black magic.

  • The American Bar Association has written standards of practice for lawyers representing children in child custody cases.

  • Yet another article on Australia's fight to keep women trapped in bad, abusive, and unsatisfying marriages. This one mentions the push for presumptive joint custody down under (especially by the fathers' rights group Lone Fathers Association). It also states that "it can be just as damaging for kids – if not more so – for parents to stay in a loveless, acrimonious marriage. The problems that lead to the divorce in the first place – such as constant arguments or money problems – may be the root cause of these issues rather than the divorce itself." That's quite an admission within an article that for the most part is against divorce and supportive of joint custody.

  • A woman tried to protect her abused friend was murdered by her friend's husband. The women worked as waitresses at the same restaurant. When their shifts ended, this is what happened:


    The two women ended their shifts about 2 a.m. Saturday, and when they
    returned to Helms' home in Monroe, Michael Blount was waiting behind a
    tree with a shovel, Holly Blount told police.

    She said Helms ran toward the house to get her husband and call police.
    Michael Blount hit her over the head with a shovel, then hit her at least
    once more, police said.

    He forced his wife into a car and drove away, authorities said. She was
    later released unharmed and her husband was arrested.



  • The Feminist Majority provides instructions to take action against far-right nominee Janice Rogers Brown for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. When in California, Brown authored the badly reasoned and wrongly decided Montenegro v. Diaz, S090699. (Cal., 2001). Montenegro awarded physical custody of a 5 year old boy to a man who had never been married to the mother. The people who filed the briefs on behalf of the father are many of the same fathers' rights supporters who filed briefs in the LaMusga move-away case. In both cases, briefs were purposefully filed very late. According to University of California, Davis professor Carol Bruch, Montenegro made the "unfortunate suggestion" that subsequent modications (such as "minor alterations in the details of holiday and visitation schedules") are "relevant to the question of whether the [earlier dated custody] order was permanent when it was entered. This approach encourages non-custodial parents to churn litigation in order to avoid the changed circumstances doctrine -- a result that needlessly undercuts judicial economy and the stability of custody orders." Bias against a primary-caregiving mother who was seen as not "cooperating" adequately with her former partner also contributed to the father winning custody in Montenegro. Even though this was not a move-away case, the people who filed the briefs favoring the father chose it in the hope that winning it would eventually lead to turning over the Burgess move-away decision. Burgess has recently been made the law in California.

  • Debra Schmidt finally won custody of her daughters. A California court had awarded custody of the girls to their father, a registered sex-offender, after Schmidt refused to permit him to have contact with them. She spent a year in jail rather than turn her daughters over to California authorities. It's good that the court finally saw reason in properly awarding the children to their mother in this case.

    Posted on October 27, 2003 at 08:26 AM | Permalink

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