SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

SEN. FRIST'S BACKING DOWN FROM "FRIST PRINCIPLES" ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS AND FEDERAL FUNDING. Sen. Frist's prospects for obtaining the Republican nomination for President in 2008 weren't great to begin with. But now they have taken a big hit in light of his recently-announced opposition to the President's policy on federal funding of embryonic stem cell harvesting and research. Hugh Hewitt has a recent post that includes discussion of this issue, with some pertinent links.

Sen. Frist has lost some credibility with those Americans who think human life should not be created for the purposes of its destruction and harvesting as research materials. Not all ends justify all means--and that is certainly the case here.

I support the President's current policy, whereby funding is allowed for research on existing embryonic stem cell lines, but federal funds cannot otherwise fund the creation of embryonic stem cells for destruction and harvesting. This would still allow federal funding of the very promising research in adult stem cells and likewise allow for private funding of embryonic stem cells. Further, I think an across-the-board ban on somatic cell nuclear transfer--i.e., human cloning--is very necessary. This is the general position advocated by Dr. Leon Kass, Chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics.

At Secondhand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith's recent post "Senator Frist Surrenders His Own 'Frist Principles'" gives some insight into this matter. Smith isn't surprised by Sen. Frist's move on this issue.

But Sen. Frist is still Sen. Frist and President Bush is still President Bush, so I expect a courageous veto from our nation's Executive. It's just too bad that the President has to exercise this power to fend off a short-sighted move by a Senate Majority Leader within his own party.

(Blue Ash, OH)

Friday, July 29, 2005

JUDGE ROBERTS, WORK PRODUCT AND EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE: WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT? Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts is a solid man and a thoughtful attorney. It comes as no surprise to me that the 75,000 pages of Roberts' work product from his Reagan Administration days that was just released by the White House reflect positively upon him, according to early reports. (I'll get back to that in a moment.) But, like the editors at the Wall Street Journal, and commentators such as Prof. Steven Calabresi and Manuel Miranda, I worry about how this turnover might erode executive power.

In their Opinion Journal editorial from yesterday, the WSJ editors note:

A President needs confidential advice from his White House lawyers as much as he needs it from his Justice Department. Advice from lawyers working in both offices is part of the deliberative process and is covered both by attorney-client privilege and the broader doctrine of executive privilege.

Of course, the Republicans never asked for similar kinds of work product to ascertain judicial nominees views or judicial philosophy. Consider this another unprecedented attack upon a President Bush judicial nominee. And, as the editorial notes, the Senate Democrats paid back the President by blasting him for refusing to turn over documents from when Judge Roberts served in the Solicitor General's office for his Administration.

Prof. Steven Calabresi's piece at Daily Standard, notes the problems arising from such work product surrenders. He suggests that it is now only fair for Sen. Charles Schumer to turn over all of HIS staff's internal memos about Judge Roberts and the selection of judicial nominees. Heh. We ALREADY know that Sen. Schumer thinks this whole thing is a WAR. His staff's memos would probably make for fun reading.

But the turnover of the 75,000 pages has happened. So now what? Manuel Miranda gets it exactly right in his latest "The Next Justice" column:

The key question now--more important than whatever Democrats find in the Roberts papers--is whether the White House Counsel's office has the stomach that a Supreme Court confirmation fight requires. Having drawn a line as to what privileged documents it will and will not surrender, the White House now must stick to it. It must not waver, tire, falter and fail later.

Given their response to the President's gesture, it appears the Democrats have no intention of playing fair. Regardless, the President has gone above and beyond what is expected of him in accomodating the Democrats, so now he must hold firm. The Democrats are NOT entitled to Judge Roberts' work product in the Solicitor General's office. They should NOT get it.

Fortunately, the President has a solid nominee slated for hearings sometime in September. And according to Miranda, the work product reflects very positively upon Judge Roberts. For one, there's this tidbit about the Roberts work product, from Miranda: favorite is his response to the House Democrat who proposed that the White House and Congress hold a "conference on power-sharing" to iron out the duties of each branch. Said then-Mr. Roberts: "There already has, of course, been a 'Conference on Power Sharing. It took place in Philadelphia's Constitution Hall in 1787, and someone should tell [Congressman] Levitas about it and the 'report' it issued."

I like that one, too. It's a cogent and proper perspective for a prospective Supreme Court Justice.

(Blue Ash, OH)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

JUDGE ROBERTS & THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY--SO WHAT? Some folks have been making an issue of Judge John Roberts’ ties—if any—to the Federalist Society. One minute, I hear he was a member. The next minute I hear he never paid any dues. Another minute I hear he was listed in an old directory of members. To this, I say BIG DEAL.

Many opponents of Judge Roberts simply don’t like the Federalist Society. In fact, some on the Left see the Federalist Society in black helicopter conspiracy theory-like terms. So it wouldn’t surprise me that those same persons on the Left who have long decried the Federalist Society would want to tie Judge Roberts to the group.

The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies is a group of lawyers, legal scholars, law students and other persons who are interested in our legal order and who have a respect for the rule of law, federalism, the separation of powers, the role of the judiciary, and individual rights. It’s a big tent group, comprised of conservatives and libertarians of various stripes—most of whom are at least committed in some way to a view that the original understanding of the Constitution of the United States is important. Quite often, members within the Federalist Society disagree with one another in their viewpoints, with many prominent members holding to strongly divergent conclusions on numerous legal issues. The Federalist Society has student chapters at law schools and attorney chapters in many cities. They put on scholarly debates and panel discussions (which often include left-of-center speakers) on legal issues, publish articles and white papers, and even publish a law journal.

Which of the above-mentioned items are hauntingly scary and the stuff of spooky conspiracy theories? Zero. I all but have to keep from laughing when I hear the Federalist Society described as a guarded and secret cabal worthy of our fear and distrust.

If anything, being a participating member in the Federalist Society has been incredibly FUN. As someone who loves law, interesting legal discussions, listening to legal experts discuss issues, or talking over law with friends over drinnks, the Federalist Society is a cool thing to be a part of. True, one can meet other attorneys through the Federalist Society and do some networking—but just about every legal organization does that. To be sure, as a member I might like the idea of having a fellow member appointed to the Supreme Court. After all, it would bring additional credit to the Federalist Society. And membership might give some hint as to a nominee’s views about the law. But given the range of views represented in the group, membership can only give some general hints, at best.

So I expect to keep hearing mention of the Federalist Society come up throughout Judge Roberts’ confirmation process. Given the characters weighing in for the Senate Democrats’ and the looney Left interest-group leaders, it could come up a lot. After all, the Federalist Society has flourished because of the important contributions that its members have made to legal scholarship and public understanding of the law—and the Left doesn’t like that.

A good read on this subject is Nick Gillespie’s recent Reason article, “Making a Federalist Case: Does it matter whether John Roberts was a member of the Federalist Society?” It’s a well written, spot-on article.

(Blue Ash, OH)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

MILLENIUM BOMBER SENTENCED; BRAVO U.S. ATTORNEY McKAY'S OFFICE! Today, the Millenium Bomber, Ahmed Rassam was sentenced to 22 years in jail for his attempted bombing of LA International Airport in December of 1999. Some adept and fortuitous work by border patrol agents spotted the suspicious Rassam as he was entering the country, apprehending him. Undoubtedly, the wonderful work of those agents saved many American lives.

The Western District of Washington is served by a very solid U.S. Attorney in Mike McKay. His office is to be congratulated for their hard work in securing the successful prosecution and sentence of Rassam. In a press release (available through a link, here) U.S. Attorney McKay said the following:

We must not forget why Ressam came here in the first place: to spread death and destruction, to achieve his terrorist goals. Ahmed Ressam's fate is to spend most of his life in a U.S. prison having failed in his effort to kill innocent American men, women and children before September 11th.

U.S. Attorney McKay's resolve in this matter comes in contrast to that of U.S. District Judge John Coughenor--who has served as Chief Judge of the Western District and presided over the case. Hugh Hewitt has some tough words for Judge Coughenor. In fact, Hewitt HAMMERS the Judge in a recent blog post. Judge Coughenor had used the sentencing as an opportunity to give voice to his opposition to military tribunals.

Needless to say, I do not share Judge Coughenor's sentiments. Judge Coughenor is likely sincere in his views, but I think his views are sincerely wrong. His view of the war against terrorism as something that can be treated as a law enforcement matter is wrongheaded and dangerous. Such a view cannot even be merely dismissed as pre-9/11, since our history and constitutional jurisprudence have long recognized that acts of war and transgressions of the rules of war do NOT fall within the domain of federal courts. Our experience also bears out the wisdom of this history and jurisprudence.

Judge Coughenor had previously delayed the sentencing of Rassam, in a move completely surprising to all. While I would have hoped that Rassam had received an even lengthier sentence, I am still pleased that this case is finally in the books, with a terrorist sent up the river for a long, long time.

Heartfelt thanks are once again in order to the Border Patrol agents and to the U.S. Attorney's office.

(Blue Ash, OH)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ARKES EXPLAINS IT ALL. If you'd like some insight into President Bush's sense of strategy in naming Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court, Professor Hadley Arkes provides it in "Decoy Day," at NRO. Prof. Arkes describes his own recent advocacy of Judge Joy Clement, which helped to deflect attention from Judge Roberts. The left's leading voices and interest groups spent so much time and attention blasting other potential nominees, that the President took to himself the opportunity of properly introducing Judge Roberts to the American people. (Too slow, Teddy Kennedy.)

Prof. Arkes provides some analysis of what went into the President's decition on nominate Judge Roberts:

...the grounds for Bush’s choice were clear: He was inclined to go with one of the best lawyers that conservative jurisprudence could bring forth at this moment. Chuck Schumer and others were not even in Roberts’s league, and they would know that. The president could not know exactly what John Roberts would do with abortion, but he knew that Roberts knew the character of the administration that appointed him; he knew the circles from which Roberts had sprung; and he was willing to place his bets there for an appointment that could run for 25 to 30 years.

By the way, here's Prof. Arkes' own assessment of Judge Roberts:

The critical ingredient here was “quality of mind”: an evident good nature allied with a steady temper and a scholar’s knowledge of the Constitution and the laws. He was in command of himself, rightly aimed, with a sound judgment.

I love it when a plan comes together...

(Blue Ash, OH)

Monday, July 25, 2005

JUDGE ROBERTS AS JUDGE. Shannen Coffin's article from today at NRO gives some insight into Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts, discussing three cases that have come before the Judge in his time on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Noting the futility of attempting to divine Judge Roberts' views or judicial philoosphy from briefs he had written while advocating for clients as an attorney, Coffin turns to Judge Roberts' judicial record and says the following:

From a review of just a handful of John Roberts’s written opinions, a picture emerges of a restrained jurist, highly respectful of the political branches of government, empathetic yet unwilling to allow sentiment to color his view of the letter of the law, and with a gentle but never inappropriate sense of humor.

Needless to say, Coffin gives Judge Roberts a strong endorsement and supports his confirmation.

(Blue Ash, OH)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

CINCY IS NICE FOR BASEBALL, BUT IT DOESN'T MATCH SEATTLE. Today I had the opportunity to see Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. It was certainly an improvement over the old Riverfront Stadium. For one, the new park actually allows for a nice view of the river. Of course, the stadium still doesn't compare to Safeco Field in Seattle--or ot PacBell in San Francisco, for that matter. Safeco is simply the result of better construction. And increased cost. But humidity is never a problem in Seattle the way it is elsewhere. It was only tolerable to be in the shade today in Cincinnati.

In any event, it was a bit of a letdown after going to see my first National League baseball game in years, only to have Ken Griffey, Jr. NOT in the line-up for the Cincinnati Reds. On top of that, the only game that fit into my schedule was a matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers--a team I had seen several times before their switch out of the American League. In any event, Cincy won it 3-2, with a walk-off home run by Adam Dunn. Austin Kearns also homered for the Reds. The name of MIlwaukee's pitcher eludes me at the moment, but he pitched well, and it was a shame that his reliever blew his game.

(Blue Ash, OH)