Writes about Human Rights and Law Student Rites
Happy World Human Rights Day! In commemoration of this day, which has taken on a deeper significance in 2007 in countries like Pakistan and Malaysia, part of this Blawg Review focuses on issues of human rights. The other half of this week's review is about another part of being human: the ceremonies, traditions and habits that particularly come to the fore at the end of the year, whether you're celebrating your religious faith or cursing your Constitutional Law professor.
ACS Blog points out that troubles abroad can affect Americans, as when two American activists were abducted by Pakistani authorities at gunpoint before later being released and expelled.
The two biggest American law stories this week have been the oral arguments in the Boumediene case, in which a Guantanamo inmate picked up in Bosnia is challenging his detention; and the revelation of the CIA's destruction of a tape depicting agents engaged in water-boarding an Al Qaeda operative.
Both received thorough coverage at Balkinization: Guest Jonathan Hafetz from the Brennan Center for Justice discussed "Easily Administrable" Human Rights Violations and declared the D.C. Circuit's review of Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) findings to be an inadequate substitute for the ancient Anglo-American right of habeas.
CIA agents, like the NYPD (as Scott H. Greenfield points out), are learning that they should get the recording devices out of the room before committing a potential violation of someone's rights.
Both stories also raise concerns about America's respect for human rights and due process during the war on terror, and should not be brushed aside as partisan bickering. As TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt notes, a bipartisan group from the House of Representatives -- including now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- was briefed on the CIA's detention methods in 2002, and raised no protest at that time.
(Perhaps an indifference to torture is what we should be scanning our politicians for?)
KipEsquire has several items about violations of the right of free speech, especially the 5th Circuit's inept application of the Bong Hits 4 Jesus precedent.
Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy is tracking a free speech challenge under what he calls "the strange Canadian human rights statute."
Law Student Rites
In the midst of those universal law school stressors, exams and job hunting, Jeanne at the University of Nebraska at Omaha lets us know that she's OK. Benjamin Duranske offers a virtual escape into Second Life Law School.
I'm currently sweating exams in securities and international antitrust, as well as a paper for my corporate governance seminar, but fortunately Concurring Opinions offers useful posts on two of the three:
Devan Desai on India's new merger regulations (surprise, they're excessively cumbersome!)
and Jeffrey Lipshaw on the 2007 Spencer Stuart Board Index, a database documenting the governance practice of the S&P 500.
Recently there was an exam for those hoping to enter law school; among the December LSAT-takers was a man recently exonerated of a crime for which he spent 16 years in prison. If this seems like a long time to wait for justice, consider Fiona de Londras's description of Brecknell v. United Kingdom, in which the European Court of Human Rights found that an attack in 1975 in which Northern Ireland police colluded was a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom.
The Innocence Project, which helped to secure Jeff Deskovic's release, is supporting efforts to compensate the innocent and a federal bill that would exempt that compensation from the federal income tax.
Many law students breathed a sigh of relief this week on receiving the news that they had passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. Despite the ease with which we may get through the technical requirements of ethics study, there are constant reminders of how important they are in our lives, such as John Steele's annual top ten legal ethics stories at Legal Ethics Forum. Number 7 on the list: "New rules. New York took a huge step towards adopting the Model Rules and saw some of its new advertising rules enjoined on constitutional grounds. California’s Rules Revision Commission (very slowly) headed in the same direction."
As if there weren't enough meaningful, important rules to learn about how to practice, Steve Minor informs us that the Supreme Court of Virginia uses only Courier in its own documents, and plans to require that all filings be made in that font or Arial or Verdana, while other courts forbid using such sans-serif fonts.
I am just going to hope that's not on the bar exam, nor any new rules that would govern "ethical law blogging." Kevin O'Keefe swears that such proposals have been made.
And for a final human rite, there's the need to have something inspirational, particularly around the holiday season. So here it is, courtesy of Kenshusei. Go forth, and be cynical no more.