Blog Posts by Tag

Veterans Day

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In declaring November 11, 1919 the first Armistice Day, President Wilson said:  “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”  This year, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, it is imperative for us to remain committed to principles of peace and understanding, despite the discord and polarization of our current world.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

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From September 15 to October 15, our nation observes National Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the histories and the contributions made by of our ancestors who came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The 30-day period intentionally starts around the anniversaries of independence for many Latin American countries. September 15 marks the independence days of: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s independence day is the 16th while Chile’s falls on the 18th, and Belize on the 21st. This observance initially only spanned a week, until President Ronald Reagan in 1988 extended the observance to its current 30-day period, through Public Law 100-402.

The Passing of Linda Brown (Brown v. Education)

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Image of a young Linda BrownIn 1954, Brown v. Board of Education was one of the biggest legal victories of the civil rights era, overturning the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” case. Federal government was given the right to force states to integrate their schools, which allowed children of color equal opportunity for attending schools.

Linda Brown, the young girl at the center of Brown v. Education passed away Monday March 26, 2018 at the age of 76. Her father, Rev. Oliver Brown sued the Topeka, Kansas school board so that his daughter would have the right to attend the schools that were at the time all-white. Brown’s case was combined with four other school segregation cases to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Despite the decision, it took many years of continued legal battles and protests before ending segregation completely. The end of segregation also did not end the social issues surrounding racism that have persisted in this country over the years. Over time people have continued to fight for equal rights with perseverance, hope, and unity, using the legal system, politics, and social platforms. Let us all reflect on the impacts of this case on our nation as we remember Linda Brown, and her family’s contributions to equality in this country.

What is the Logan Act?

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Photograph of X-Men character WolverineIs the Logan Act somehow related to the Marvel Universe’s Wolverine and a prohibition against lacing a mutant’s skeleton with adamantium?  Well, no, Wolverine is Canadian and the actual act wouldn’t apply to him.  But it does have to do with the acts that occur between private US citizens and foreign governments, so the other X-Men may want to read up.

The Logan Act has been in the news a lot lately thanks to the exploits of ex-National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.  The controversy there surrounds the communications that Flynn had with a Russian ambassador about the sanctions the Obama administration was imposing on Russia for their attempts at influencing the Presidential election.  Is what he did really a violation of the Logan Act?

Turning to the act, it reads:  “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Conflicts of Law Regarding Recreational Marijuana (Cannabis) Laws in the U.S.

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This post is a continuation of the exploration of this subject in an earlier blog post.

The 2016 election saw the voters of 4 states—California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada-- elect to legalize recreational use by adults of marijuana in their jurisdictions while the 5th state where the issue was on the ballot, Arizona, voted not to legalize the use. This brings to 8 (the others being Colorado, Washington. Oregon and Alaska) the number of states where recreational use of cannabis has been legalized. (A complete listing of the status of laws regarding cannabis in U.S. jurisdictions can be found here.)

The New WhiteHouse.gov

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Since 1994, every President of the United States has had a website located at WhiteHouse.gov providing information and resources for citizens.  On Friday, January 20, 2017, President Trump’s new White House website was launched.  Though still under development, the site contains preliminary information about the new administration’s policies in a few areas.  It appears that, for the moment, the new administration has retained former President Obama’s We the People site, where citizens can petition the White House and receive responses, if they gather enough signatures.

Sugary Drinks Taxation

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Sugary drinks (including carbonated drinks or soda) taxes were on the ballot in several countries and cities this year. With the World Health Organization’s October 11, 2016 promotion of taxing sugary drinks as a way to curtail their consumption and health impacts, it is likely that more jurisdictions will join those who have instituted such taxes. However, there is not universal acceptance of the necessity or efficacy of such taxes.  It appears to be a good time to take a look at this global effort to improve health and the arguments for and against it.

The American Presidency Project

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Horizontal string of eight photos of former U.S. Presidents, including a photo of John F. Kenneday smoking, Richard Nixon making the "v" symbol, Ronald Reagan talking to his neighbor, Bill Clinton at a rally, George W. Bush smiling, and Barack Obama giving a speech with his hand in the air pointing at the audience.

With the Presidential election coming up very soon, now is a great time to reflect not only on the current candidates, but also on the Presidency itself and the individuals who have previously occupied the Oval Office.  There is a wealth of information available, but perhaps the best resource is the American Presidency Project (APP), hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  The APP is a non-partisan website that collects almost every public statement ever made by a President, or more recently, a presidential candidate.  Whether you are interested in the history of Presidential elections or only want to hear what the current candidates think about the issues, the APP has some excellent ways to find what you need.  You can browse through the different collections, or you can search the entire archive.

Public Education and the Separation of Powers

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Image of an open book with wire-frame glasses on top of the open pages and two closed books with an apple in between.On September 15, 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen filed an application for certification to appeal Judge Moukawsher’s groundbreaking decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell directly to the Supreme Court, signaling a looming constitutional showdown between the legislature and judiciary over the future of public education in Connecticut.

Other states have had similar controversy over the legislature’s constitutional duty to provide education, prompting intense debate over the separation of powers on a par with the fundamental questions asked in Marbury v. MadisonIn Washington, for example, the court held the legislature in contempt for failing to adequately fund schools and fined them $100,000 a day until they came up with a plan to assuage the court’s concerns.  And yet, the legislature, in control of the purse strings, has not even set up the segregated account for the fines required of them by the court.  How can the judiciary force legislative action?