Blogging has so habituated me to writing down every dumb thought that crosses my mind, I found myself doing it last night while I was supposed to be doing homework. Presented without further comment:
A good name for a blog about NY appeals: New York Court of Errors.
Page 3 of my Legal Methods book claims that legislators always have a purpose. Does anyone know what exactly is the purpose of the laws against commerce in sexual aids? The Curmudgeonly Clerk scorns the idea that male legislators are threatened by them; what are the other possibilities?
In a whole article on such bans, Professor Michael Dorf never gets to that issue, being more occupied with the questions of whether a law should stand if it achieves its purpose very imperfectly, and whether sex toys are part of a fundamental right to sexual privacy. But even on a basis of minimal rationality, there doesn't appear to be a reason to ban sex toys.
This reminds me of the various states' proposals to tax lapdances. I don't have anything against such taxes per se -- if there's a commercial activity that's getting past the tax man, by all means bring it back into the government revenue stream -- but I dislike having them lumped with alcohol and cigarette taxes. Alcohol and cigarettes impose costs on our society due to the ills of drunk driving and other dangerous behavior fueled by booze, as well as the health costs of liver disease and lung cancer. Lap dances, on the other hand, seem like a relatively society-friendly enjoyment. Unlike actual prostitution, they do not spread STDs, so what's the harm?
Page 4: "throughout our encounters with statutory materials, your objective should be to create for yourself workable approaches to identifying and resolving issues of statutory interpretation."
Does that mean that we must find ourselves as textualists (the statute means whatever its plain surface dictionary meaning is, with disagreements about the proper dictionary to use); original intenters (the statute means what the legislators meant for it to mean); living constitutionalists (the statute means what it ought to mean in the context of our contemporary society)… ? I know I'm caricaturing the actual legal philosophies of these movements, but I'm a little staggered by the thought of having to have a consistent approach to resolving issues of statutory interpretation.
I am living the truth of the cliché "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." It is not so much dangerous, precisely, as it is annoying. My educated layperson’s knowledge about law slows down my reading to a ridiculous extent, as I find myself thinking, "Ohhh, so that’s why…" or "Hmm, I wonder if that’s because…"
For the first time, I profoundly envy people who go to law school not because they’re already interested in law, but because it seems potentially useful, profitable or at least respectable. I imagine them digesting this material with the same Metamucil-esque ease as I enjoy in reading science fiction novels. Where an engineer might be constantly halted by thinking about whether a proposed innovation could be possible, I cheerfully breeze through books untroubled by such considerations, because I have no previous knowledge for my brain to attempt to link to this new information.
Could people be restructured with nano-technology to improve our physical capabilities? Hell if I know, or even care very much. If I had to take a quiz on whether the book said that people could be, I could answer the questions correctly, but really, that stuff’s for nerds.
Did the pre- Civil War state jurisdiction over the trials of civil cases involving federal law have results similar to that which the federal courts would have produced? And could we make a comparison based on the percentage of cases that were successfully appealed to the federal courts after state trial (i.e. pre Civil War) compared to the percentage successfully appealed to the feds after federal trial (i.e. post Civil War)? Now that’s interesting.