Friday, April 29, 2005

We put the Fun in fundamentalise extremism

So, the big thing with Substantive Due Process is whether ofr not something is a fundamental right. And the problem with fundamental rights is that there's nothing that really defines what is or isn't fundamental. This conceivably stems from the liberty prong of the 5th and 14th Amendments. If a right is fundamental, then it's subject to heightened scrutiny review, whereas non-fundamental rights are subject to Rational Basis review. Does that sound about accurate?

I submit, that with all the debate surrounding what is and what isn't fundamental, and with all the hubbub around Gay marriage, etc., it mightn't be a bad idea for Congress to do something about it other than bitch and moan.

Congress has the power to enact laws pursuant to the Constitution. Is there any reason why it couldn't pass a "Fundamental Rights Act" that might provide a definitive source for what is a fundamental right? If it's enacted to define what is fundamental under the 5th Amendment's due process, then it's subsequent to the Constitution, so it could arguably be Constitutional.

Right now, from my notes, I have the following as recognized fundamental rights:

i. Voting

ii. Traveling

iii. Marrying

iv. Abortion

v. Access to courts

A hard-charging freshman Congressman should be able to draft up a quick bill defining what these rights entail and what other rights might currently be considered fundamental. The Congressman could then finish the proposed bill with a statement to the effect of "The enumeration in this Act, of certain fundamental rights, does not include ALL fundamental rights, and as future rights become recognizable, may be incorporated into the Act." This would alleviate the stress of having a one-size-fits-all bill... Additionally, since it would be enacted under the Constitution, it would fit under Art. VI's Supremacy Clause, which would hold those activist judges to what's written...

What do you guys think? Am I way off target here?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Shame shame

Read This

The gist of the story is that the President of the Young Republicans in Colorado was involved in an incident where three people were removed from a speech given by President Bush because they arrived in a car with an anti-war/anti-Bush bumper sticker. The story is that the man who removed them was masquerading as a Secret Service agent. I got this courtesy of The Moderate Voice.

Let's consider this for a moment, and assume that the story is true. (If it's not true, then there's not much to say other than shame on them for making up such a story.)

At a tax-funded event where the leader of the country speaks, people who exercise their right to air their grievance are barred from attending.

I could understand if this were a private event. I could even understand (Though with much more difficulty) if they were actively threatening the President. All these people did was show up with a bumper sticker that offended somebody. I can't imagine that this is acceptable by the GOP, just as I can't imagine this being condoned by the Democrats.

I don't blame the GOP. Rather, I'm upset with the people directly invovled in this incident, and I hope that, if this is a true story, that they get their comeuppance. I don't like trampling on liberties.

Strange stuff...

Exploding Frogs

I encourage you to click on this link. These are the things that you just can't make up. Apparently, there is a pond in a suburb in Germany where frogs are randomly bloating until they explode, and scientists can't figure out why... I love this world

A three legged dog walked into the bar and said "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw"

It's Wednesday!

My son is eating
Macaroni for breakfast
And we still have milk

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Just remember

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you get rained out. But you have to dress for all of them."

- Satchel Paige

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Voltaire once said

Something to the effect of this:

"If there are two religions in a nation, those two will constantly be at odds with each other. If, however, there are thirty religions in that nation, all will live in harmony."

Now, I know that's not an absolute, but it does seem to have an air of truth to it, don't you think?

This is no fun

Well, I lost my hearing in my right ear. I know this isn't life or death, or anything, but it's annoying as all get out. At first I thought it was just a little thing, so I went to the doc to get it cleaned out. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The hearing loss isn't due to wax, it's a pretty nasty ear infection. The good news, I'm on antibiotics, and my hearing should be back sometime this week. The bad news? I can't hear much more than a whisper out of my right ear, and I can't miss any more school, which is going to be a ton of fun when it comes to taking notes. I suppose it's my fault somehow, though I'm not really sure what I did to cause it. It didn't hurt, so there was no way for me to really say "Hey, I think my ear has a problem."

At least it's not during finals, though I do wish it had happened during the reading time. ugh.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hats off to our Prof!

We found out in class yesterday that one of our professors was cited in a Supreme Court Decision! How fab! All right, it was the Supreme Court of the Philippines, but, still, he can go the rest of his life discussing his Supreme Court citation.

It had something to do with Maritime law, or something. He didn't really go into detail.

I just hope the citizens of the Philippines don't throw a fit for their Court's citation of an international opinion.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Why ask Why when there's recourse for it?

I like reading the DetroitFreePress, partly because I was born in Michigan, but also because I really like their sports columnists, Mitch Albom and Drew Sharp (sorry Michael Rosenberg, I've not read enough of you yet to form an opinion). On This Link, you will see Drew Sharp's reaction to what (I think) should have been a trite incident.

In short, Jermaine O'Neal questioned NBA commissioner David Stern's proposal to impose a 20 year old minimum age for entry into the NBA, not unlike what the NFL has. He asked whether it had anything to do with race. He posed the question because of the last 11 players under twenty drafted with the top 5 picks in the draft, 9 of them have been black. Now, Jermaine doesn't have a college education, and doesn't necessarily think things through (remember Malice at Auburn Hills), but his question was just that, a question. It warranted an answer. The answer is "No, this proposal is not motivated by race, there are other issues here." That's all the question warranted. He didn't deserve to be labeled a racist for asking a question; at worst, he needed to be told to think about the situation a little more closely before asking the question.

But that's not what happened. Instead, the issue revolves around the racist undertones of the question. Folks, that's stupid.

I'm not the biggest O'Neal fan. I'm a Pistons fan at heart, and he's a Pacer. But he didn't do anything malicious here; he asked an improper question. Answer it, and leave it to that.

Justices return to the case

High Court Justices Un-Recuse Themselves

If you click on the link above, you'll be transported to an article that says Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O'Connor recused themselves in the case of Merck KgaA v. Integra Life Sciences I, Ltd. They did so because they were both stockholders in Merck.
However, the company that the Justices own stock in is Merck, not Merck KgaA. They both apparently have the same founder, but KgaA works worldwide except for North America, where Merck has control. Merck, the article says is a wholly independent company. Because of this notifiation, sent by Merck's lawyer, Mr. Rosenkranz, the Justices returned to the bench.

I don't know if I should be troubled by this, yet I am. After all, it doesn't look as though the Justices are going to be trying to protect their own interests. However, I think that it looks... fishy, I guess, that they would return to a case that they said they'd not participate in.

The part that troubles me the most, I think, is that most people who look at this case aren't going to know that the two Merck companies are independent of each other, and that if they know that the Justices own stock in Merck, then the appearance of improper persuasion for the better of their own interests shines through.

Perhaps in this instance, it would have been best if the Justices had kept away once the stepped away...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The five dead people I'd most like to have lunch with

And I'll clarify that I intend this to be celebrity or semi-celebrity types.

1. John Marshall - He basically set up the separation of powers doctrine as we know it. I'm in complete awe of his mediative ability; that he could come up with a plan that has worked as well as it has, and lasted as long as it has with only occasional bumps. I know there are detractors, and people who think the Judiciary is too powerful, but I also know most of them answer to the word "Congressman."

2. Shaka Zulu - the man took a tribe of 1500 Zulus and in less than 10 years turned it into a nation of over 200,000. His tactics were astounding, to the point that the battles usually were over before they started. I'd love to hear his theories on tactics. interesting tidbit, "Shaka" comes from the word "i'shaka" which means "intestinal parasite," because his parent's marriage wasn't recognized as valid, which made her pregnancy (of him) morally wrong.

3. W. A. Mozart - Brilliant musisian. Party animal. Died too young. 'Nuff said.

4. John Levitow - Lowest ranked airman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor (not posthumously). I understand it affected his life in ways one can't imagine. I'd like to know what pressure comes with being rewarded and immortalized (he has a leadership award named after him in the Air Force) simply for doing his job. That sounds like I'm selling him short... he did his job exceedingly well and saved several lives, acting reflexivly to through an ignited phosphorous bomb out the door of his plane. He didn't set out that day to become a hero, which is what I meant by "simply doing his job." I'd like to hear what it's like to have lived in his shoes.

5. The Pope. I know he's a recent one, but he was a man whose company I can't imagine not enjoying. I'd be intrigued to hear him speak on most topics. Perhaps someday.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The fringe...

One of the problems with the news is that they want to get the most eye-popping stories so that they can get the viewers and increase their advertising dollars. This results in some outrageous reporting, and reporting of information that doesn't necessarily need to be published.

This also works in other ways. On one liberal e-mail I receive from the Texas Freedom Network (, I received the following:
"I heard a minister the other day talking
about the great injustice and evil of the
men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan, that
roamed the country in the South, and they
did great wrong to civil rights and to
And now we have black-robed men, and
that's what you're talking about."

-- James Dobson, founder and head of the
religious-right group Focus on the Family,
comparing the U.S. Supreme Court
to the Ku Klux Klan.
Now, depending on how you look at this, you could get upset in a couple different ways. First, you can blame the Conservative who compared the Court to the Klan as though they were equals. You could also blame the Texas Freedom Network for posting such an inflammatory headline with the hopes of swaying people from the right. Third, you could get mad at me for providing such an example to prove my point that it cuts both ways. Or, you could just not give a rip one way or the other.


That I, Steve Houchin, of Houston by way of several other locations of the first part, do hereby give, grant, bargain, convey, and quit-claim, all my interest in the following, to wit:

The required completion of an appellate brief for use in Legal Research and Writing II, which I acquired through enrollment in Law School, situated in Houston, Texas, together with all the improvements made, constructed and corrected by me whereon, with all the rents, profits, easements, enjoyments, long suffering and appurtenances thereto in anywise appertaining, unto whomever should desire to sacrifice their sanity for 2 credit hours of the second part, to research and to write and to keep so long as they desire, or until the due date for same comes to pass, without recourse upon teh grantor or endorser.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set one finger and raspberry, this 15th day of April, 2005.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mark Twain once said:

"There is no distinctively American criminal class - except Congress."

Monday, April 11, 2005

There is something fundamentally wrong about this

I admit it, I can be downright hyperconservative at times, but I don't think this is one of them. I know that this is an allegation and nothing's been proven, but the idea is just reprehensible:

Woman Accused Of Giving Pot To Dauthter
I can't even think of what to say here. The girl is 5. Just completely wrong. I can't even write coherently about this. You guys take a look and decide what you think. I don't think it matters whether you are pro-pot or against pot, I would hope you recognize that there's something inherently wrong with giving it to a 5-year old.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wednesday, April 6

My appellate brief
Will put me on hiatus
Until I'm finished

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Things I had to learn by living in Texas

Just a brief moment of levity before I get back to the grind. This was from an e-mail I received a couple years ago and kept in my Yahoo! Mail forever, because I always forget to purge:

Armadillos sleep in the middle of the road with all four feet in the air.
There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Texas. There are 10,000
types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Texas, plus a few no one has ever seen
before. Raccoons will test your melon crop and let you know when they are
ripe. If it grows, it will stick you. If it crawls, it will bite you!
Nothing will kill a mesquite tree. There are valid reasons some people put
razor wire around their house. A tractor is NOT an all terrain vehicle.
They do get stuck. The wind blows at 90 mph from Oct 2 till June 25, then
it stops totally until October 2. Onced and twiced are words. Coldbeer is
one word. People actually grow and eat okra. Green grass DOES burn. When
you live in the country you don't have to buy a dog. City people drop them
off at your front gate in the middle of the night. The sound of coyotes
howling at night only sounds good for the first few weeks. When a buzzard
sits on the fence and stares at you, it's time to see a doctor. Fix-in-to
is one word. A TANK is a dirt hole that holds water for irrigation,
watering the cows, or swimming There ain't no such thing as "lunch". There
is only dinner and then there's supper. "Sweetened ice tea" is appropriate
for all meals and you start drinking it when you are two. Backwards and
forwards means I know everything about you. "Jeet?" is actually a phrase
meaning, "did you eat?" You don't have to wear a watch because it doesn't
matter what time it is. You work until you're done or it's too dark to see.

Sandy Berger pleas out

I'm more than a little offended that a person who confesses to taking classified documents. He said it was inadvertant, the taking of classified documents home in his briefcase.

I somehow doubt a person who served as National Security Director would "inadvertantly" place classified documents in a briefcase that he takes OUT of a secure facility on a daily basis. To punish him with a mere $10,000 fine and a 3 year suspension of his clearance (read: He can get it back) is completely unacceptable. If he had been some peon private, airman, even an NCO or entry-level civilian employee, do you think they'd let him get off with such a slight penalty? He'd probably be in a federal prison, his life ruined by the federal conviction (try getting a job with a federal conviction that doesn't include the phrase "would you like fries with that?"), and unable to get anywhere near a secure facility. Unconscionable.

Friday, April 01, 2005

GPS in kids

While taking my kids to daycare this morning, I hear on the radio a discussion about GPS in dogs, which switches (of course) to putting GPS chips in children. The radio personalities were specific in saying that they didn't want government ordered GPS, but they tacitly approved of parents putting GPS chips in their own children for ease of finding them if they're kidnapped.

I will say that I don't like this idea. The benefit of being able to find a kidnapped child is rather beneficial, yes, but I think that something like that could lessen parental accountability for the whereabouts of their child. It also would (I think) end up with the result of parents using the chips to keep tabs on their children when those children become teenagers. There are several ways to check on where your children are; you don't need to show them you distrust their judgment so much you need to tie an electronic tether to them. How can you teach trust to children if you don't show them trust to begin with?