links for 2007-07-16

3 thoughts on “links for 2007-07-16”

  1. A great opinion? I got about half-way through, and found it to be pretty good, but I grew impatient and skipped to the “I concede” section. Suddenly we’re out of neutral judicial judgement and just outright mocking the plaintiffs. He whines about the time “wasted” by the judge and jury, but never stops to consider why the plaintiffs, who are also sinking time and money into this, are fighting. He apparently has no understanding of the idea of fighting for the principle of the thing. That it happened years ago and is only for two dollars isn’t the point. The point is that the resulting chilling effect is still active, a point he concedes.

    Sometimes as a judge you’re going to get cases you think are silly, but your job is to approach all cases neutrally as possible and apply the law as fairly as possible. You’ll need to put out of your mind that you may dislike one or both of the sides. Instead of doing his duty, he engaged in name calling and mockery. Instead of a principled stand to remove a restriction that has suppressed speech in their newspaper, apparently it’s “a slow-motion tantrum….” He suggests that left-learning journalism is somehow advocating the beliefs of a mass-murderer in the form of Pol Pot. Ignoring that a student newspaper is frequently a place for students to experiment and learn. Experimenting and learning means one is going to print some gawdawful garbage, he mocks them. “A selection from the illiterate piffle in the disputed issue of the College Voice is set out in the margin for the reader’s fun.” For a followup, perhaps he’d like to mock his six-year old’s art. Ultimately the first amendment doesn’t care if the work is good or bad, or if the creators are biased. The judge’s entire rant was completely off topic.

    I’m only thankful for one thing: at least the man was honest about his bias. The only thing more dangerous than a biased judge is a biased judge who is skilled at concealing his bias.

  2. A) Is applying the law fairly in this case fair to the jurors that have to sit through it, over $2, for a verdict that won’t mean a thing because everybody has moved on?

    B) The newspaper broke the election rules, regarding use of student activity fee money to support political candidates. It might be a learning experience, but instead of stopping at learning to obey the rules or get them changed they decided that their speech was being chilled, and sued. Over $2.

    C) This all happened in 1997. Ten years ago!

    D) Yes, at least he was honest about his bias. I like that. I also happen to agree with him. Get this crap out of the legal system, and grow up.

  3. Ultimately the judge’s bias against the plaintiffs shouldn’t influence his decision. As it’s presumably not influencing his decision, it shouldn’t be appearing in his decision. Even if we assume his appraisal is absolutely correct; that they’re Pol Pot-worshipping clueless “children,” it has zero bearing on the legal matter at hand. The first amendment protects them or fails to protect them just as much as it protects “adults”.

    This isn’t “over $2.” This is about the principle. This is about the resulting chilling effect that lasted years beyond the original incident. “Judge Gershon noted that chill was reflected in the College Voice’s coverage of subsequent student elections, and that such a chill amounted to a First Amendment violation.” If one genuinely believes that claim, a claim that at least one judge agreed with, it is only right to challenge that violation.

    Maybe the plaintiffs were completely and totally in the wrong. I don’t know, and I really don’t care. But these plaintiffs took a principled stand to defend our nation’s fundamental principles. Taking that stand cost them time and money. Excepting $2, which might cover parking for one day at court, they will receive zero direct benefit. They are fighting to defend the First Amendment. They may be wrongheaded, but they deserve respect. Instead of mockery, they deserve clear, honest legal reasoning about why they are wrong.

    There is no small amount of irony in the judge describing the plaintiffs as children, then devoting 22 out of 33 lines on a page to mocking the quality of college-level journalism. If Judge Jacobs wishes to share his humorous take on the ills of society, I suggest that he either get a job as a newspaper columnist, or start a blog. His current position is the wrong place to do so.

    Judge Jacobs acted like an ass in this matter. If this is indicative of his normal work, then the man lacks the neutrality and open-mindedness that a judge requires.

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