Thursday, May 27, 2004

FREE SPEECH RESTRICTIONS IN A PUBLIC PARK

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Just in case you haven't had enough of Christian street preachers being prevented from spreading their message, here's another story:
Split verdict reached for street preachers

CHRISTIAN EXAMINER

HARRISBURG, Penn. — Three pastors conducting street preaching during a PrideFest event last year earned mixed court verdicts April for trespass and disorderly conduct.
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The ministers were arrested July 26 while evangelizing outside of a public park where the annual gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender PrideFest event was taking place. The daylong event featured various activities, including the sale of pornographic materials, public nudity, men dressed like women and obscene language over a public address system.

The ministers were not permitted inside the public park, so they remained on public property outside the main entrance. They were arrested while they were preaching in this public area.

The arresting officer, Stephanie Barrelet, who was filmed on video hugging other lesbian women entering the pride event, jailed Grove, Garisto, and Marcavage for several hours until the PrideFest event was over. Lymon, the first to be arrested, was cited and released.
Here's some commentary on this story:
This is an odd news story, and perhaps there is more to it than this source is telling. I can't seem to find any other coverage of what would seem to be a pretty gross violation of freedom of speech. But perhaps it is because of who did the complaining.
And more:
It's hard to tell what exactly the protesters were doing, so perhaps some of their conduct was indeed punishable; the stories unfortunately don't give many details.

But I think that even given the abortion clinic buffer zone cases, there's no justification for imposing such a 100-foot-diameter buffer zone around a political event, with little evidence of past court orders that had been flouted (as in Madsen) or of a serious threat of more than just possible fisticuffs (as was the case in the Second Circuit case a year or two ago that involved an intended protest outside the United Nations).
I'm interested to see what the ACLU does. It sued the LDS Church for restricting speech on its own property. Will it sue the police officer and the city for restricting speech in a public park?

Enquiring minds wanna know!

Monday, May 24, 2004

HEARSAY FLOWCHART

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I'm looking for feedback on a "hearsay flowchart" I've developed. It's designed so that an attorney would start at the upper left and work his/her way through it by answering "yes" or "no" to the questions (the solid-line arrows represent a "yes" answer and the dotted-line arrows represent a "no"). It's based on, and hence requires familiarity with, the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Comments pointing out any logical flaws, gaps in treatment, etc. would be greately appreciated. Email me at rsm24 at lawgate dot byu dot edu.

Here it is:


Thursday, May 20, 2004

DENYING COMMUNION = STOKING ANTI-CATHOLICISM?

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I've written a bit about how Catholic politicians like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi risk losing access to Communion because their voting record is at odds with the position of the Roman Catholic Church. This has really given me pause:
48 Catholic congressmen warn bishops on bigotry
By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post | May 20, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Forty-eight Roman Catholic members of Congress have warned in a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., that US bishops will revive anti-Catholic bigotry and severely harm the church if they deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

The letter's signers, all Democrats, include at least three House members with strong antiabortion voting records.

"For many years Catholics were denied public office by voters who feared that they would take direction from the pope," they wrote. "While that type of paranoid anti-Catholicism seems to be a thing of the past, attempts by church leaders today to influence votes by the threat of withholding a sacrament will revive latent anti-Catholic prejudice, which so many of us have worked so hard to overcome."
So how should we view this? Is the Catholic Church trying to "influence votes" or simply regulate the behavior of its members? Or is regulation of this sort tantamount to influencing votes?




UTAH'S NEW ABORTION STATUTE

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This is troubling:
Because of a new Utah law, Suzie Combe had to go a clinic instead of her hospital to have her fatally deformed fetus aborted.

She and her husband, Glen, had to act quickly after discovering the fetus had organs growing outside its body and could not survive. They had only days to have the procedure performed before a more complicated procedure would have been necessary.

They went to clinic Wednesday and found the service was "kind and caring and professional" beyond what they expected, Glen Combe said. Suzie Combe was recovering at home in Roy Wednesday night.

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Under a law enacted by the Legislature this year, it is a crime for doctors, clinics or hospitals that receive any state funding - directly or indirectly- to perform abortions except for rape, incest or the likelihood that a woman would suffer "permanent, irreparable and grave damage to a major bodily function" if she delivers.

The legislators voted down an amendment that would have allowed abortions in the case of grave fetal deformities.

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The Combes, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, say they are not pro-choice. They have two other children.

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It is estimated that in Utah, 70 women a year terminate their pregnancies due to fatal fetal deformities.

Bramble said last month that trying to define fetal deformities was a "slippery slope."

"What is the definition of what's 'incompatible with life'? How long is it inconsistent with life? A breath? A minute? A month?" he said. "I have an inherent discomfort with trying to decide which child should live and which child it's appropriate to terminate their life.
Legislators and lawmakers have to make principled distinctions all the time. There will always be close calls, but this case certainly wasn't one of them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

PARK CITY IN THE SUMMER

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Over the weekend I took my family to Park City, Utah. We stayed at the Holiday Inn (a neighbor was selling coupons for two nights there for $25 - pretty good deal). Overall we had a great time. Park City was, as always, beautiful. We did manage to get wrangled into listening to a sales pitch for a timeshare condo in The Canyons (the company, WestGate, apparently has several properties throughout the U.S.).

The sales lady did a pretty poor job, I must say. I think she detected that we were a lost cause from the get-go (people who graduated from law school a month ago aren't likely to have ten grand or more lying around to dump into - as she put it - "vacation insurance"). However, she managed to drone on and on for 45 minutes, and pointed out several reasons why we shouldn't buy anything from her in the process.

What's up with that? I realize that it may be an effective ploy for the salesman to pre-emptively point out the buyer's potential objections with the goal of diffusing them. But this lady started out by saying "We can address pretty much every concern you may have, but if you're simply not interested, if you don't have the desire to do this [buy into a timeshare condo], then there's nothing I can do about that." Take a wild guess what I said at the end of her presentation?

We did get another two-night stay in Park City (at WestGate) for listening to the presentation, but my wife is expecting a baby in a few months, so we'll probably end up giving it away.

MORMON NEWS VIA GOOGLE

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Here's a good trick for those of you who are LDS and would like to see how the LDS Church figures in current events. Click on this link and then save it in your favorites. The link is a search for "mormon+OR+mormonism+OR+latter+day+saints" using the News feature in Google. It doesn't provide every news article out there that mentions the LDS Church or its members, and it also returns some irrelevant results (e.g., things like "mormon tea," "mormon crickets," "mormon lake," and "mormon bridge" come up). It is nevertheless a convenient and very fast way of gleaning news about the LDS Church.

My thanks to the evangelical outfit ApologeticsIndex for showing me how to do this (scroll down to the "Other Sources" section). This cultist salutes you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

BYU ATTORNEY TAPPED FOR D.C. COURT OF APPEALS

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Whoa. This is exciting news:
Following months of speculation, the White House has nominated Brigham Young University's top lawyer for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

President Bush selected Thomas B. Griffith, 49, for the opening on the prestigious court, a vacancy created with the retirement of Justice Patricia Wald. Bush originally nominated Miguel Estrada for the position, but Estrada removed himself from consideration last year after months of a Democrat-led filibuster.
I heard rumors about this months ago, but I didn't put much stock in them. More on this in the Deseret News and the Washington Post (the Post article is behind a login).

MORE: I should note that by "BYU Attorney" I meant "General Counsel for BYU." Thomas Griffith received his law degree from the University of Virginia. The first linked article above (from the Salt Lake Tribune) says he was "a 1978 BYU valedictorian." I suppose that's his bachelor's degree.

Monday, May 03, 2004

FEDERAL JUDGE ISSUES RULING ON MAIN STREET PLAZA ISSUE

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Check this out:
A federal judge late this afternoon ruled in favor of Salt Lake City and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a land swap involved in the deal.
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The ACLU -- which argued the plaza deal restricted free speech, and was engineered in favor of the LDS Church --- now says an appeal is likely.
I think the ACLU is going to lose. The land swap cuts constitutional muster.

UPDATE: The AP is reporting the story in two articles (here and here), as has the Salt Lake Tribune (which also has two articles - see here and here) and the Deseret News. The Deseret News piece included this observation:
[U.S. District Judge Dale A.] Kimball stressed words from the 10th Circuit's initial plaza ruling several times in his ruling Monday. Then, the appellate court said the city could either keep the easement and allow free speech on the plaza or "relinquish the easement so the parcel becomes entirely private."
When the Tenth Circuit's decision came out last year, I discussed it with my First Amendment professor. We speculated that it could prove the lynchpin of the Church's case should the ACLU contest it. Looks like we were right.

THE PERNICIOUS FAR LEFT

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Blogger Lt. Smash quotes some free advice being doled out by the far left:
Write a letter to a soldier to let him/her know what people really think of this war. Send a photo of a dead Iraqi civilian. Send a photo or message about an anti-war protest... Outreach to soldiers is the best way to persuade them to stop killing civilians. Maybe they will even begin fragging (killing their officers) like in Vietnam. It's worth a try...
I'd like to say that this post is (originally entering the Blogosphere via Blackfive) is an isolated rant by some sick wacko. Unfortunately, the subsequent comments show that "Jimmy" (the author) is not alone in his views.

The actual post and comments (warning: there's pretty rough language throughout) are here.