Tell Me What You’re Going to Say, Say It, Then Tell Me What You Told Me?

Can President Obama use a WWII-era Supreme Court precedent to detain U.S. citizens? That’s the question posed by an appeal to the Supreme Court, Hedges v. Obama (docket 13-758). The concern is that the President might rely on the infamous 1944 decision Korematsu v. United States to detain U.S. citizens under National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The following language in the act is at issue:

Authorities. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States. [Section 1021 (e)]

Attorneys for the plaintiff argue that the President could claim that Korematsu is “existing law or authorites” under the act and that therefore he has the power to detain U.S. citizens. A Federal District Court in New York agreed with the plaintiff and issued a permanent injunction against the use of those detention powers; however, the 2nd Circuit stayed the injunction.

Will the Supreme Court reverse the 2nd Circuit? The attorneys who represented Korematsu and others in a successful effort to remove the stain of Korematsu v. United States from their names are hoping Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will join with them is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.  Should be interesting.

What interests me now is the letter the attorneys sent General Verrilli, asking for his support, and my question is simple: Should the attorneys have stated their thesis/agenda at the beginning of the letter or in the 4th and 5th paragraphs, second page of their three-page letter? Better yet, should they have stated their thesis/agenda in the same paragraph rather than in two separate paragraphs?

I would have stated my thesis/agenda at the beginning; otherwise, General Verrilli remains in the dark as to my intentions until the second page–and he would be in the dark, given that the letter leaves him there until the middle of the 4th paragraph on the second page. Until that point, he could very well be wondering what the purpose is of the history lesson laid out on the first page. A thesis/agenda at the beginning would resolve that problem and give meaning and punch to the first page.

What would you do?


Were the Founders Shredders?

Four snowboarders are suing Alta Ski Resort in federal court for the right to destroy moguls and cut in lift lines. (Okay, I’m a skier.) Will this case turn on the standard of review the court uses or on whether the judge rides a snowboard? Should the plaintiffs win? Depends on who you ask.

The ban excludes a “particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders,” [attorney Jonathan Schofield] said.

It pits those who stand sideways on a single “snowboard” against those who stand forward on “skis,” creating hostility and divisiveness, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Diane Harrington–a boarder and a skier–seems to agree:

“I think it should be figured out in the courts. I think it’s OK that Alta restricts use of the lift, but I don’t think it’s fair that they keep people off (U.S.) Forest Service property,” she said. “Our taxes pay for it equally. It’s almost like discrimination of sorts.”

Not so fast says Kevin Hurley:

“It’s the only place left. Give it to ’em. Snowboarders go anywhere else you want to go, but leave Alta for the skier. Where we live, we gotta deal with snowboarders, and we’d rather deal with skiers.”

Stay tuned.

Political Fun with Words

Poetry. I’m thinking about, no, reading, poetry. Deadline poetry to be exact. Deadline poetry written by Calvin Trillin, who is the designated Deadline Poet at The Nation. (He also writes for The New Yorker, and his short book About Alice is a gem–it’s about his wife Alice.)

Deadline poetry is essentially poetry written on deadline that captures some little bit in the news that day in poetic form, generally in rhyme. Given that Trillin writes for The Nation, most of his poems take shots at Republicans and rich people, but he’s not unwilling to take a shot or two at those on his side of the aisle. And so it was that on the day that Hillary Rodham Clinton went on The Today Show to defend Mr. Clinton at the beginning of what Trillin refers to as “the . . . unpleasantness,” he penned the following:

And so it’s up to our Ms. Rodham
To prove Bill’s White House isn’t Sodom.
It’s left to this adroit señora
To show that it is just Gomorrah.