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August 16, 2015

R.I.P.: Julian Bond

The New York Times reports: Julian Bond, a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75.

Mr. Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after a brief illness, the center said in a statement Sunday morning.

He was one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, while he was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

He moved from the militancy of the student group to the top leadership of the establishmentarian N.A.A.C.P. Along the way, he was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer, college teacher, and persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy.

He also served for 20 years in the Georgia Legislature, mostly in conspicuous isolation from white colleagues who saw him as an interloper and a rabble-rouser. -- Julian Bond, Former N.A.A.C.P. Chairman and Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 75 - The New York Times

August 10, 2015

Thomas Gilmore, former sheriff of Greene County and long-time pastor, has died reports: Thomas Gilmore, Greene County's first black sheriff and the second black sheriff elected in Alabama, died Sunday in Birmingham, according to WVTM-TV.

The 74-year-old, a longtime pastor at First Baptist Church of Ensley, was born in Forkland and briefly lived in Los Angeles before returning home to Greene County in 1963. ...

Inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Gilmore tried to be non-violent, even while working in law enforcement, and was known as "The Sheriff Without A Gun."

"When I arrest someone, I believe my approach is more important than my authority," he told a reporter in 1978. "I never insult a suspect. I never threaten him....Usually, I have no trouble."

After retiring as sheriff, Gilmore went on to serve as a pastor in Ensley for more than three decades. -- Greene County's first black sheriff has died: Thomas Gilmore was the 'sheriff without a gun' |

Note: I had the honor of working with Tom Gilmore while he was sheriff. May he rest in peace.

January 8, 2015

"AP's Alabama political reporter Phillip Rawls retiring"

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Associated Press reporter Phillip Rawls, the longest-serving member of Alabama's Capitol press corps and a recognized expert on state politics, is retiring after more than 35 years with the news cooperative.

Rawls, 63, developed a reputation for fairness and accuracy during a 40-year career in journalism, nearly all of it spent with the AP covering politics and government in Montgomery.

Rawls' tenure spanned seven Alabama governors, from George Wallace to Robert Bentley, and 35 regular sessions of the Legislature. His retirement takes effect later this month. -- AP's Alabama political reporter Phillip Rawls retiring

December 25, 2014

Alabama Supreme Court guilty of sloppy bookkeeping reports: A state audit accused the Alabama Supreme Court of years of sloppy financial practices, including leaving thousands of dollars in checks uncashed, and underpaying its own members.

The report, released by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts this month, said the clerk's office failed to deposit $61,050 in checks from October 2009 through September 2013. ...

The Supreme Court routinely failed to make deposits and reconcile its two checking accounts for four years ending in 2013, the audit said.

"Performed correctly, monthly bank reconciliations allow entities to compare their accounting and banking records in order to expose any discrepancies. Not performing regular bank reconciliations increases the possibility of undetected loss due to error or theft," the examiner report said. -- The Alabama Supreme Court isn't too good with handling money, audit finds |

October 15, 2014

Dr. Paul Hubbert, may he rest in peace

It was my honor and pleasure to work with Dr. Hubbert over the last 3 decades. reports:
Paul Hubbert, who built a small, struggling and apolitical Alabama Education Association into a juggernaut of political power and influence during four-plus decades at its helm, is dead.

Hubbert, 78, was born on Christmas Day, 1935.

Hubbert's death came not quite three years after he stepped down as AEA's executive secretary, a decision he said he made after concluding his health would no longer allow him to do the job.

At the time of his death, Hubbert was battling ailments on several fronts -- and battling is the term to describe Hubbert's long fight to live.

In 1989, the then-54-year-old Hubbert underwent liver transplant surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The transplant saved and extended Hubbert's life. At the time of his death, he was one of the longest-surviving liver transplant patients in the world. -- Paul Hubbert, teacher lobbyist whose AEA shaped Alabama politics for decades, dead at 78 |

Some additional details from the Montgomery Advertiser: "The teachers of Alabama lost a true friend and a true champion," Reed said Tuesday night.

A cause of death was not immediately available. Hubbert had been fighting heart and kidney ailments.

The group also formed one of the first political action committees in the state, and influenced policy that went beyond classrooms and made the group a beacon to some and an enemy to others.

Survivors include Hubbert's wife, Ann; two daughters and several grandchildren. -- Paul Hubbert, longtime AEA head, dies at 78

July 4, 2014

Twelfth Anniversary of Votelaw

It was 12 years ago today when I started this blog and made the first entry.

June 29, 2014

In memory of Libby (1945-2007) and Ginny (1952-2014)

Teal ribbon

June 14, 2014

It's Flag Day. What are you flying?


July 4, 2013

Eleven years

Eleven years ago today I started this blog.

June 26, 2013

"ALEC influences Alabama legislators"

Alabama Political Reporter reports: From voter identification laws to immigration bills, many states seem to be acting as if from the same agenda in recent years. It's no secret that lobbying groups impact public policy on all levels, but many states are being influenced by a stronger, more powerful group.

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, "is the only state legislative organization that adopts policies and creates model legislation for its members to use in their states," the ALEC website says. "To date, ALEC has nearly 1,000 pieces of model legislation."

Alabama has seen several pieces of "model legislation" in various forms in the past legislative sessions.

For example, ALEC offers model legislation on "The Parental Choice Scholarship Tax Credit Accountability Act," which describes a program similar to the one laid out in HB84, the Alabama Accountability Act. -- Read the whole article --> ALEC influences Alabama legislators

May 13, 2013

"Broke. Broke. Broke." reports: Acting state Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley lowered her head and slowly shook it side to side when summing up the financial condition of her once powerful party.

"We're broke, broke, broke," Worley told the party's Executive Board in a special called meeting Frida.

How broke is broke? Worley didn't sugar coat the answer.

"This is my 18th day as chair and thirty minutes after I took over on April 22nd the landlord of the building where our party headquarters are came in and said he wanted us out, that the rent was overdue and was always overdue," said Worley. -- Read the whole article --> The Alabama Democratic Party: "We're broke, broke, broke." |

November 8, 2012

Hale County Probate Judge race still not decided

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Hale County residents won't know until next week who won the election for probate judge.

Election officials had to repair a broken voting machine before tallying the votes Wednesday. But the 3,650 write-in votes won't be counted and certified until Nov. 16.

The race is now between three-term incumbent Leland Avery, who received 3,350 votes, and write-in candidate Arthur Crawford Sr.

Rebublican Bob Hoggle is out of the race with 1,409 votes. -- Read the whole story --> Hale County probate judge race unresolved |

Note: Crawford won the Democratic Primary, but was disqualified for failing to file some campaign-finance reports on time. He launched a write-in campaign.

June 22, 2012

Job openings

Immediate Opportunity to Make a Difference

The Community Voters Project is immediately hiring Citizen Outreach Directors to run non-partisan grassroots voter registration offices through October 2012. Help make a change by helping register African American voters. For more information, contact Recruitment Director Jeff Sprague at (303) 623-4900 ext 201 or

Citizen Outreach Director, Community Voters Project

Immediate Openings: Philadelphia, Raleigh, Milwaukee, Denver, Colorado Springs

Possible Future Openings: California, Florida, Ohio and Virginia

Experience: college graduate or experience working on campaigns or managing canvassing operations

Salary: $1980 a month

We are looking for smart, motivated, action-oriented organizers who are interested in politics and have a commitment to social justice organizing. Citizen Outreach Directors will build and manage a team to run a campaign which will register 10-30,000 voters between now and November. Directors will recruit, manage and motivate staff, manage outreach sites, conduct registration and train canvassing staff to register voters. Nationally, we will register voters in eight states to help 350,000 disadvantaged voters find their voice. The Community Voters Project is a project of Fair Share Education Fund. Citizen Outreach Directors will work for Work for Progress, through a partnership with Fair Share Education Fund. To find out more, and to apply now, visit:

June 13, 2012

14 June is Flag Day -- fly your flag


March 21, 2012

Graysville petitioners want mayor impeached (UPDATED)

The Birmingham News reports: A group of Graysville residents today filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court a petition to impeach Graysville Mayor Doug Brewer.

The petition accuses Brewer of willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, abuse of power and incompetence.

Graysville resident George Helms, one of the petition organizers, said 200 residents signed the petition. ...

The next step in the petition filing is for the Jefferson County Circuit Court to assign the matter to a judge.

Helms said the group of residents that filed the petition has done so on its own, but will likely hire an attorney to handle the case. The group began collecting signatures for the impeachment petition in December. -- Read the whole story --> Graysville residents file petition in Jefferson County court to impeach mayor |

UPDATE: The standards and procedure for impeachment cases are found in Alabama Code §§ 36-11-1 through 25. You may find the Code online on the Alison site; click on the "Code of Ala" tab on the left side.

March 15, 2012

Thanks for the shout-out ...

from Kyle Whitmire on The Second Front of Weld for Birmingham.

February 16, 2012

"Is this Alabama?"

The Birmingham News reports: Hollywood entered the debate over Alabama's immigration law Wednesday with the debut of four short videos that the director said are meant to be an emotional gut-punch about the law's ill effects and to motivate people to demand it be repealed.

Chris Weitz, who also directed "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," said the series is not a documentary telling both sides of the debate, but a brief and purely human portrait of how HB56 is hurting families.

"I want to make them curious and have an effect on a visceral, emotional level," Weitz said in an interview after the videos were premiered at the Center for American Progress in downtown Washington, D.C. "These are choice bits of emotional content that could drive people to want to know more."

The videos are available at, but there are no plans for formal distribution. Each video is less than 2½ minutes, and they are clips from interviews done in Alabama. Collectively, they show Alabama as a place with a bitter past and lingering bigotry, colliding with attitudes of compassion, sympathy and religiosity. -- Read the whole story --> Debate over Alabama's immigration law gets a taste of Hollywood politics (video) |

February 14, 2012

"Slavery by Another Name"

"Slavery by Another Name" was on last night on PBS. I highly recommend it. You can watch the whole program or various clips from it on the PBS website.

February 4, 2012

Private Sector Job Creation

Move your mouse pointer across the graphic to get additional information.

February 1, 2012

Two GOP Congressional candidates promise to impeach Obama

The Mobile Press Register reports: Riehm and Young were asked if they would commit to introducing articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama. Both gave a resounding 'yes,' drawing vigorous approval from the crowd. ...

Young qualified his answer, saying he would first put the president 'on notice' before attempting impeachment.

'It's a serious step, and I wouldn't take it lightly,' said Young. "First, I would cut off his funding. If that didn't work, I would introduce a resolution describing what he's done wrong. The last resort, which I am willing to take, would be to impeach him. We simply cannot allow him to continue to operate the way he has."

Riehm provided a detailed description of the president's duties as defined by the Constitution, and a list of his alleged violations -- including the failure to enforce federal laws on immigration, elections and the Defense of Marriage Act. -- Read the whole article --> Alabama candidates vow: 'Impeach Obama' (George Talbot column) |

December 14, 2011

Why is this a scandal?

Alabama politician Bill Johnson caught in sperm donation scandal in New Zealand |
The Mobile Press Register reported on Monday: Bill Johnson, a former top state official who made a failed bid for governor in 2010, has been living a secret life in New Zealand as a sperm donor for lesbian couples, a New Zealand newspaper reported today.

Johnson, a Republican from Prattville, has spent much of the past year in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a contractor working on the recovery effort from a deadly earthquake that struck the city in February.

The New Zealand Herald reported in its Sunday edition that Johnson, who is married, has been using an alias to meet women who want help getting pregnant. The newspaper said it confirmed at least nine women had received sperm donations from Johnson, and at least three were pregnant.

The newspaper cited fertility medicine specialists in New Zealand who said that donors should not make sperm available to more than four families, to prevent accidental incest and lessen the stress donors and children face if they meet. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama politician Bill Johnson caught in sperm donation scandal in New Zealand |

For background on Johnson and the story, see --> Behind New Zealand sperm scandal, an Alabama political legend

July 4, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday to Votelaw

Chocolate birthday cake

Yes, it was on this day in 2002 that I started Votelaw.

[Picture credit: By Simply south (talk).Simply south at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons]

June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day


May 15, 2011

Alabama opens a Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Fifty years ago, the former Grey­hound bus station on Court Street was a witness to a pivotal point in Mont­gomery's civil rights history.

A group of young people -- the Freedom Riders, who were testing fed­eral laws that were supposed to end segregation at bus and train terminals -- was attacked and beaten by angry whites when their bus arrived at this station in May 1961.

But the buses that come through the city now are far removed from this site, and don't come downtown any­more. The buses that do roll through periodically are tour buses, usually full of tourists who are interested in the stories of Montgomery's civil rights past.

Until now, there wasn't much to look at here at the station. A perma­nent historical marker greets visitors on the sidewalk out front, and informa­tive panels that tell the story of the rides were attached to the exterior in 2008.

But beyond that, there wasn't much else to see. The station wasn't open to the public.

That will change this week, the 50th anniversary of the day the first Freedom Rides bus stopped here. The Freedom Rides Museum will have its public opening, and several dignitaries and former Freedom Riders will be here to help celebrate. -- Read the whole story --> Freedom Rides: Historic bus station's transformation into a museum now complete | The Montgomery Advertiser |

April 27, 2011

Alabama: yours truly appointed to Alabama Advisory Committee to US Civil Rights Commission

From a press release: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has appointed 15 Alabama citizens to its Alabama State Advisory Committee.

Kimberly Tolhurst, Delegated the Authority of the Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, announced the appointment of Valerie Askew of Birmingham, Norman Baldwin of Tuscaloosa, David Beito of Northport, Lula Bridges of Notasulga, Margaret Brown of Birmingham, Jim Couch of Tuscumbia, Leida Javier-Ferrell of Mobile, Richard Finley of Birmingham, Randy Kelley of Gadsden, Shana Kluck of Vance, Raphael Maharaj of Mobile, Kevin Newsom of Vestavia Hills, Maurice Shevin of Birmingham, L'Tryce Slade of Birmingham, and Edward Still of Homewood. The Commission appointed Professor David Beito as Chairman. The appointments are for two years and members serve without compensation.
-- U.S. Civil Rights Commission Announces Appointments to the Alabama State Advisory Committee -- WASHINGTON, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

February 9, 2011

One day, Title 52 USC

The Office of Law Revision Counsel reports on the codification of "voting and elections" laws: The bill gathers provisions related to voting and elections and restates these provisions as a new positive law title of the United States Code. The new positive law title replaces the former provisions, which are repealed by the bill.

The bill was prepared by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel as part of the Office's ongoing responsibility under section 205(c) of House Resolution No. 988, 93d Congress, as enacted into law by Public Law 93-554 (2 U.S.C. 285b), ``[t]o prepare, and submit to the Committee on the Judiciary one title at a time, a complete compilation, restatement, and revision of the general and permanent laws of the United States''.

All changes in existing law made by the bill are purely technical in nature. The bill was prepared in accordance with the statutory standard for codification legislation, which is that the restatement of existing law shall conform to the understood policy, intent, and purpose of the Congress in the original enactments, with such amendments and corrections as will remove ambiguities, contradictions, and other imperfections.

The bill was delivered to the Committee on the Judiciary on February 27, 2009. The bill has not yet been introduced.

The Title 52 Codification page includes a copy of the draft bill.

December 22, 2010

R.I.P.: James A. Head

The Birmingham News reports: James A. Head, a prominent businessman and a key leader in pushing for racial progress in Birmingham, died Tuesday after a brief hospitalization. He was 106 years old.

From a hardscrabble childhood, Mr. Head, who never graduated from high school, launched an office and library supply business, James A. Head and Company, in 1926 at the age of 22. The business grew and went on to supply the vast majority of furniture to libraries in Birmingham and throughout Alabama.

In the meantime, Mr. Head acted on a basic aspect of his character: a respect for all people regardless of their race, creed or color. In 1932, he was among the founders of the Alabama Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, an organization that fought bias against Jews and Catholics.

As the crisis over civil rights brewed in the city, Mr. Head took on a central role in pushing for desegregation, mediating between black leaders and the white establishment.

"There was no other high-profile person in Birmingham who was as consistently outspoken as he was," said Ed LaMonte, recently retired history professor for Birmingham-Southern College. "I don't think there was anyone in the city that spoke as early, as consistently and as passionately as Jim did. He was really an extraordinary figure for any community, and for Birmingham he was super-extraordinary." -- Read the whole story --> James A. Head, businessman, advocate for racial equality, dies at 106 |

November 21, 2010

"The quiet authority of John Doar"

The Anniston Star comments: John Doar puts a lot of value in the softly spoken word. He doesn?t bark or scold, he could never be accused of thundering orders. He merely explains in a gentle way that carries forward an almost subliminal passion. It is a talent that has served him, and the nation, well.

Witness the closing arguments in the 1967 trial of men in Philadelphia, Miss., accused of killing three civil rights workers in 1964. Doar, then the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department and the lead prosecutor in the case, knew he had a tough case to sell.

Despite the strong evidence he had in this earlier example of American terrorism, he knew he would be standing in front of an all-white jury in apartheid-era Mississippi.

So he searched for the most compelling words he could find. At first, he turned to the law library. But the legalese wasn?t working. This demanded going to another level, to a place that would offer a deeper reflection of the sense of the horrors dished out to three young men in Neshoba County, Miss., during Freedom Summer 1964.

And so it was that he settled upon passages from Judge Robert Jackson?s closing arguments in the Nuremberg trials in 1946.

Calm but passionate language, rife with poetry and sprinkled with Shakespeare; it worked in the aftermath of Nazi Germany and it worked for John Doar in deepest Mississippi during its own time of terror. -- Read the whole piece --> Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

October 30, 2010

Montgomery AL: burglars steal computers from GOP

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Unknown suspects broke into the Montgomery County Republican headquarters over­night Thursday, stealing nine laptop computers that could contain sensitive information, and scrawling "Vote Dem" on two walls.

The last volunteer left at about 8:15 p.m. Thursday and when people arrived at 8 a.m. Friday they found that someone had used a crowbar to open the back door and steal nine com­puters, said Pat Wilson, chair­woman of the Montgomery County Republican Executive Committee.

She said they hope the police can recover the lost computers.

Wilson said she was not aware of any other items that were stolen and that she honest­ly feels "it was a break-in and they found the computers."

But, four days before the election, she said the break-in was suspicious. She said they have been at the location "for a couple of years with no prob­lem." -- Read the whole story --> Computers stolen during break-in at county GOP HQ | | Montgomery Advertiser

June 11, 2010

Monday is Flag Day

February 26, 2010

Alabama: 50 years later, Alabama State University rights a wrong

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Nine Alabama State University students expelled 50 years ago for taking part in a sit-in at a segregated lunchroom were "reinstated" Thursday.

ASU President William Harris, invoking the authority of his office, said later that it was the first step in seeing that the nine are awarded degrees at this spring's commencement program.

"I do, today, repeal the arbitrary, illegal and intrusive involvement of the governor of Alabama into the educational activities of ASU and hereby return the nine expelled students to their academic status as of the day of the forced expulsion," Harris said.

That day was exactly half a century ago -- Feb. 25, 1960 -- when ASU's president at the time, Harper Councill Trenholm, expelled the students under pressure from then-Gov. John Patterson and the Alabama Board of Education. -- Read the whole story --> ASU reinstates 1960 sit-in participants | | Montgomery Advertiser

January 28, 2010

Justice Department announces job opening for Voting Section Chief

In addition to the trial attorneys and deputy chief, DOJ is now seeking a Chief of the Voting Section. Go to USAJOBS - Search Jobs

January 25, 2010

Voting Section seeks experienced attorneys [updated]

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division is seeking a Deputy Chief in the Voting Section and up to 10 experienced attorneys for the position of Trial Attorney in the Voting Section in Washington, D.C.

The Civil Rights Division is primarily responsible for enforcing federal statutes and executive orders that prohibit, among other things, unlawful discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, police services, public accommodations and facilities, and federally funded and conducted programs. The Voting Section enforces federal statutes designed to safeguard the right to vote. These statutes include the Voting Rights Act, as amended; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; and the Help America Vote Act.

More details --> [for the Trial Attorney jobs] USAJOBS - Trial Attorney

[for the Deputy Chief job] USAJOBS - Deputy Chief

August 30, 2009

Barney Frank, "Bull Durham," and the First Amendment

Jonathan Allen at CQ Politics ties together three of my favorites: Remember when Rep. Barney Frank asked a town hall meeting participant what planet she most frequented before telling her he felt like he was arguing with a dining room table?

The exchange is reminiscent of a scene in the movie Bull Durham, where veteran minor league catcher Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, tells Annie Savoy -- Hollywood's archetypal "baseball Annie," played by Susan Sarandon -- just what an argument with her feels like.

The banter's more balanced in the Bull Durham clip, but the similarities are fun, nonetheless. -- Read the whole article and watch the clips Allen has gathered --> CQ Politics | Notepad - Did Barney Frank Channel Crash Davis?

July 16, 2009

Congratulations to Brenda Wright and Tova Wang

From Demos: Demos is delighted to announce two significant staffing changes in its Democracy Program, which works to strengthen democracy in the United States by reducing barriers to voter participation and encouraging civic engagement.

Effective June 1, Brenda Wright has been named the Director of the Democracy Program at Demos. Brenda has been an integral part of the Demos Democracy Program since 2006, serving previously as its Legal Director. In her new capacity, Brenda will direct and oversee the full range of Demos’ research, policy, advocacy and litigation work on democracy issues. Prior to joining Demos, Brenda was the Managing Attorney for the National Voting Rights Institute, a legal and public education organization dedicated to voting rights and meaningful campaign finance reform. She has been a long-time leader in the voting rights and electoral reform legal communities, and has argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court: Young v. Fordice, and Randall v. Sorrell. Brenda is based in the Boston office of Demos.

Also, effective September 1, Demos is proud to welcome Tova Wang as Senior Democracy Fellow. Tova has been a Democracy Fellow at the Century Foundation since 2001, and she will retain that affiliation in addition to her Demos Fellowship. Tova also served as the Vice President for Research at Common Cause. Tova is a widely known and insightful researcher and writer, and has authored numerous publications on election reform, election administration, voting rights, and other key democracy issues. She wrote a well known report on voter fraud and voter intimidation on behalf of the federal Election Assistance Commission. Tova will join the Demos staff officially on September 1, and will be based with a growing group of Demos staff located in the nation's Capital.

Demos President Miles Rapoport said he was delighted to make the two announcements.

"Brenda Wright has been a stalwart for Demos as the Democracy Program's Legal Director the last three years. Her dedication to an overarching reform agenda and her skill as a manager, combined with her superb legal skills, make her the perfect person to direct this key program. In Tova Wang, Demos will be adding one of the most talented and recognized thought leaders in the Democracy movement to our program. In conjunction with The Century Foundation, Tova's work will advance the cause of reform and enhance Demos' contribution to it."

July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday

-- to the United States, only 233 years old. I was listening to the reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR's Morning Edition yesterday, and these words struck me:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Why did Jefferson think it necessary to preface our list of grievances against the King with this statement of principles? I don't know, but I know how important those words have been in our history.

-- to this blog, 7 years old.

April 1, 2009

Vernon Burton on Lincoln this Saturday

C-SPAN is airing my friend Vernon Burton's talk at the Woodrow Wilson Center with James McPherson's commentary this Saturday, April 4. It will air as part of C-SPAN's monthly Lincoln programming which begins at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 CT/ 5 PT on C-SPAN. The first 20 minutes or so is a program on the Lincoln Home in Springfield, followed by Vernon's talk and then a presentation by James Percoco on Lincoln memorials.

Vernon Burton is the author of The Age of Lincoln.

January 18, 2009

"This land is your land"

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen sing "This land is your land" with all the verses (today at the Lincoln Memorial):

The words are here if you want to sing along.

January 17, 2009

"When inspiration calls, ...

... you don't send it to voicemail.", on NPR's Morning Edition, 17 Jan. 2009.

November 30, 2008

What I've been doing lately

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

October 23, 2008

Q&A: Heather Gerken on Election Law

With less than two weeks to Election Day and record early voting expected, The Takeaway is talking with Yale Law School professor Heather Gerken about election law and voting rights. Professor Gerken is taking your questions about your voting problems, and we're talking about solutions...

Listen live online on Friday, October 24, 2008, at 7:45 a.m. or 9:45 a.m. (Eastern), then participate in a live Q&A with Professor Gerken at 10 a.m. (Eastern) at

Submit your questions now for a better chance to have one answered tomorrow:, 1-877-8-MY-TAKE or on our website,

Q&A: Heather Gerken on Election Law
Friday, October 24, 2008
10 a.m. (Eastern)

August 11, 2008

You need a break from politics

Watch the Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Choir singing "Sweet Home Alabama."

Hat-tip to Left in Alabama for the link. (But I found a better version from the same folks.)

August 9, 2008

Washington DC: National Park Service issues new rules on inaugural demonstrations

A Washington Post report begins: The National Park Service yesterday proposed rules that would expand the space for the public and protesters along Pennsylvania Avenue during inaugurations.

The proposals followed a March federal court ruling that the park service had violated the First Amendment by keeping war protesters from the parade for President Bush's second inauguration.

The court said the service allowed event organizers to ensure that the crowd was mostly Bush administration allies.

Under the proposed change, organizers will control 13 percent of Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Park. About 70 percent will be for the public and demonstrators, regardless of their views on a particular administration. -- New Rule for Inaugural Parade -

July 17, 2008

Google launces political-speech search gadget

The Official Google Blog reports: In this U.S. election year, what information could be more important than the candidates own words to describe their views, actions and platforms?

Our teams have been working to develop tools to make it easier for people to track election-related information. A few months back, YouTube encouraged everyone to participate in the discussion process through the CNN/YouTube debates, Google Checkout offered an easy and fast way for individuals to make contributions to political candidates, and the Geo team created maps and layers to inform voters during elections.

Today, the Google speech team part of Google Research is launching the Google Elections Video Search gadget, our modest contribution to the electoral process. With the help of our speech recognition technologies, videos from YouTube s Politicians channels are automatically transcribed from speech to text and indexed. Using the gadget you can search not only the titles and descriptions of the videos, but also their spoken content. Additionally, since speech recognition tells us exactly when words are spoken in the video, you can jump right to the most relevant parts of the videos you find. -- Official Google Blog: In their own words : political videos meet Google speech-to-text technology

Hat-tip to beSpacific.

July 4, 2008

6th Anniversary

Six years ago, Votelaw was launched on Blogger. Lots has changed since then. I hardly knew who Barack Obama was. My parents and my ex-wife were still alive. I was living in the Washington, DC, area (I am now in Birmingham). And crude oil was selling for $24.09 a barrel.

But some things have not changed. I still listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR. I still spend the 4th quietly. And I still blog.

"... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

June 14, 2008

Flag Day

The Gadsden Flag

Thanks to Wikimedia for the image.

June 5, 2008

40 years ago ... Bobby Kennedy

Forty years ago today, I woke up in a hotel room in Montreal where I had gone to visit the leftovers of the prior year's World's Fair. I turned on the TV. It took a few moments for me to understand what was happening. Bobby Kennedy had been shot.

What could have been ....

Ted Sorensen remembers on NPR.

May 16, 2008

A profile of Joaquin Avila

The Seattle University Magazine has this profile: Joaquin Avila is a highly lauded legal scholar, a distinguished assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law and a leading expert on minority voting rights.

His many accomplishments—degrees from Yale and Harvard, a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”) and honors from the State Bar of California and the California League of United Latin American Citizens—are even more remarkable considering how far Avila has come.

As a youth growing up in Compton, Calif., a city notorious for its high crime rate and rampant gang activity, Avila had friends with gang ties and was “teetering,” he says, on the edge of that lifestyle. But it was education and a drive to make something of himself that ultimately pulled him away. The turning point was when he hit the ninth grade and decided to take stock of what his life would be like if he didn't make a change. -- Seattle University - News & events - Featured stories

April 20, 2008

Alabama: Joe Mallisham, RIP

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Joe Mallisham, a pioneering civil rights leader and former Tuscaloosa County commissioner, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Raised by his father, the Rev. L.S. Mallisham, on the Bible, Shakespeare and history books, and as a member of the U.S. Army and a participant in the Korean War, Mallisham was never one to accept injustice where he saw it, his friends and relatives said Tuesday. ...

Mallisham returned from Korea in the early 1950s, and, facing the racism in Tuscaloosa that he had almost forgotten, he helped form the county’s chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founded by young Montgomery preacher Martin Luther King Jr., Williams said. ...

For years, Mallisham was also the local president of the Alabama Democratic Conference. When the Alabama Legislature changed the manner in which county commissioners were elected, from an at-large, countywide basis, to a district system, he became the first black to serve on the commission — and only the second black to be elected to any office in the county — since Reconstruction. -- Pioneering civic leader Joe Mallisham dead at 79 |

April 4, 2008

What we lost 40 years ago

Martin Luther King Jr, leaning on a podium
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964, (Picture credit: Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons)

February 22, 2008

Alabama: "Race matters less in politics of South"

The New York Times reports: The racial breakthroughs have come gingerly in Alabama over the years: a black mayor there, an old Klansman put on trial here, a civil rights memorial there.

And a few weeks ago, voters in a county that is more than 96 percent white chose a genial black man, James Fields, to represent them in the State House of Representatives. It is a historic first, but the moment is full of awkwardness. ...

Last fall, another black man, Eric Powell, was elected to the Mississippi State Senate from a district that is more than 92 percent white, and no one could find a modern precedent for that, either. Mr. Fields and Mr. Powell are Democrats who decisively beat white candidates in districts that traditionally support Republican presidential candidates.

Inevitably, there are questions about what this might mean for Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy in the Deep South, and the quick answer, perhaps, is not that much, at least in Cullman County at this moment. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Mr. Obama here, by a margin of four to one, in the Democratic primary this month, as many here readily point out.

Yet there are parallels. The very quality that voters here highlight, in so many words, as one of Mr. Fields’s more attractive attributes — that they are at ease with him — is one of Mr. Obama’s most important selling points. The implications are not lost on State Senator Zeb Little, the majority leader in the Alabama Senate and a Democratic power broker in Cullman: black politicians can win in unlikely districts, transcending history and partisan politics, if voters can see them as one of their own. -- Race Matters Less in Politics of South - New York Times

February 15, 2008

LexBlog Q&A

LexBlog just did a Q&A with me. -- Edward Still of Votelaw [LexBlog Q & A] : Real Lawyers Have Blogs

January 16, 2008

Important Public Health Announcement

Even though the video "Why Don't We Do it in Our Sleeves?" is funny, it contains a serious message about not spreading germs from coughing and sneezing. Spend 5 minutes being educated and amused.

January 13, 2008

Another test re the presidential candidates

Have you heard of the "implicit association test"? If not, get a bit of background on it at this site. You can take a quick (about 10 minutes) test to test your implicit associations between the main presidential candidates of one or the other party at this site.

Hat tip to The Monkey Cage.

January 11, 2008

Rs vs. Ds -- interesting findings

Law Librarian Blog quotes "Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health compared to 43 of independents and 38 of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income age gender church attendance and education." RJ -- Law Librarian Blog: Republicans Report Much Better Mental Health Than Others

Political Wire quotes Playboy: # 25% of all Republicans and 35% of all Democrats have had more than 10 sexual partners in their lifetime -- a higher percentage than vote in congressional and local elections.
# 55% of Republicans have sex at least once a week, compared with just 43% of Democrats.
# 14% of Thompson supporters and 12% of Obama supporters claim to have sex "almost every day." Just 5% of Clinton and Giuliani supporters have sex that frequently. -- The Politics of Sex

Do you suppose there is any connection between the findings of those polls?

December 13, 2007


Congratulations to my friends Gerry Hebert, Joe Rich, and Jon Greenbaum on being attacked by George Wills. Keep up the good work, guys. -- George F. Will - Paralyze The FEC? Splendid. -

November 27, 2007

Mississippi: Lott to resign but faces golden future

The New York Times reports: Senator Trent Lott’s announcement on Monday that he would resign in a few weeks added to the growing Republican exodus from Congress, but may have strengthened Mr. Lott’s post-Senate job prospects.

By retiring before the end of the year, Mr. Lott, the 66-year-old minority whip and Mississippi dealmaker who fell from power with a remark touching on segregation but then bounced back, avoids new rules forcing senators to wait two years before lobbying former colleagues. ...

James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Presidential and Congressional Studies at American University, said there was no question in his mind that Mr. Lott’s decision had been influenced by the new ethics and lobbying rules. Senators who retire this year have to wait only one year before lobbying their former colleagues, instead of the two years that go into effect in 2008.

“The new two-year cooling off period is encouraging people who have been around for a long time, especially in the minority, to leave,” Mr. Thurber said. “They know that the golden window of opportunity is immediate.” -- Mississippi’s Lott to Leave Senate Seat

October 29, 2007

Virgin Islands: Constitutional convention begins

Caribbean News Net reports: With US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh out of the territory on Friday, the duty of approving a bill passed by the VI legislature early last week enabling the long-awaited start of the fifth constitutional convention for the US Virgin Islands territory, fell on the shoulders of Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis. The Acting Governor, who is bound by US Virgin Islands law to serve as Governor when deJongh is not available, immediately issued a brief statement making bill no. 27-136 an official law.

The convention was originally scheduled to begin in late July, 2007. ...

The delegates have until October, 1, 2008, to complete work on the document, which will then be submitted to the Governor for consideration; then to US President George W. Bush for review. The President will then forward the draft constitution to the United States Congress for review and possible changes. The final draft document will then be officially returned to the US Virgin Islands, where voters may go to the polls to determine a final outcome. The USVI Constitutional Convention will begin Monday at 10:00 AM with the swearing in ceremony for the delegates. -- Caribbean Net News: USVI constitutional convention set to begin Monday

October 8, 2007

Why no DOJ blog?

The New York Times has A Look at Federal Government Blogs. There are no Justice Department blogs on the list -- and more to my interest, nothing from the Voting Section or the Civil Rights Division. Maybe if those folks wrote a blog and made daily entries, they might remember more things when questioned later by Congress.

July 24, 2007

A semi-hiatus

You may have noticed I have not been blogging much lately. I have had a lot more to do because of an increase in personal responsibilities (after the death of my ex-wife) and work on a book. I can't say much about the book, but will announce its availability later at a suitable date -- at 12:01 a.m. while crowds of lawyers wait in line to be the first to receive it.

I expect this "surge" to continue into September, so I won't be spending much time blogging. Things that I stumble across (such as the Thompson case, in the post just below this one) might make it into pixels, if I have the time to write a note.

July 19, 2007

Blog Survey

Please take my Blog Reader Project survey. The folks at Blogads have put together a survey of blog readers. I just took it -- some strange questions mixed in with lots of good information.

July 18, 2007

The Oldest blawg?

Robert J. Ambrogi asks on Inside Opinions, "Who was the first legal blogger?" In searchng for the answer he notes that he wrote a two-part column in December 2002 and January 2003 rounding up 62 blawgs then in existence and then notes that 24 are still publishing.

Votelaw is one of those 24. Gosh, it makes me old. And reminds me that I was so busy on Independence Day that I forgot to celebrate Votelaw's 5th birthday. -- - Inside Opinions: Legal Blogs

July 9, 2007

The Brain: emotions, not reason, rule in politics

The Savannah Morning News reports: Despite probing news reports, spirited debates and thoughtful editorials, most voters make political decisions based on their emotions, according to a new book by an Emory University psychologist.

Drew Westen, described by his publishers as a "clinical, personality and political psychologist," begins "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation" by recounting an experiment he and some colleagues conducted.

They had people read statements while hooked up to scanners so the scientists could see which areas of the brain were active. When the test subjects read statements by candidates they supported, they had trouble catching planted inconsistencies while they had no problems seeing the waffling of their opponents or neutral speakers like actor Tom Hanks.

Who hasn't spotted the same thing in friends while arguing politics at the water cooler?

What was interesting is Westen's observation of what parts of the brain energized. To evaluate the neutral speakers or the opponents, the test subjects' reasoning centers of the brain fired up. Smoking over the comments of a political favorite, though, lit up the part of the brain concerned with emotions, the amygdala, whether Republican or Democrat.

Put another way, no one likes to be wrong, and supporting a politician who flip-flops is merely proof of bad judgment. To avoid the conflict, our brain retreats from cold reasoning to the gooey province of emotions. -- Researcher suggests voters are led by emotions |

July 6, 2007

How I feel many days

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

June 24, 2007

R.I.P. Elizabeth Griffith (1945-2007)

My former wife, Elizabeth Griffith (better known as Libby), died early this morning from complications brought on by ovarian cancer. Libby and I were married from 1976 to 1997 but remained friends after that time as we cooperated and collaborated to raise our two sons, Martin (now 20) and Griffith (now 28).

A friend in Britain emailed me last week after he received my letter about Libby's prognosis. He mentioned that we had taken him into our home and treated him as a son while he was assigned to our parish, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, as part of his ministerial training nearly 20 years ago. As I read those words, I first ascribed all that as Libby's doing. To the extent I did anything like that, it was because she brought up the idea. Secondly, I realized that Libby's way of making the world a better place was to do something for one person (or one dog) at a time. David, our British friend, was not the only person she took under her wing over the years. And I lost count of the "foster dogs" we kept for the Alabama Animal Adoption Society until they could be placed with a suitable family.

Right after she was told the chemotherapy was not working to kill the cancer, I visited her in the hospital. We had a short personal conversation, and then she turned to the plans she had made for our sons. She gave me several assignments to start work on to comfort and care for both of them. She did not bewail her fate, except to note that she probably would not be able to collect her Social Security. She was right; she died just over 2 months before her 62nd birthday.

She will be missed by our sons, her many friends, her dogs, and by me.

June 6, 2007

The News Media and Immigration Attitudes

Researchers in the Political Science Department at Stony Brook University ask that you take their survey: This survey is designed to help us understand what Americans like you think about immigration and the news media. We are very interested in your thoughts on this matter and greatly appreciate your participation.

Click here to take the survey:

April 27, 2007

Off to Scotland

I will be leaving for Scotland on Saturday. Depending on the availability of computers and Internet connections in my hotels, I may be able to send a few posts.

Unfortunately, Tova Wang has had to bow out of the trip because of her controversy with the EAC.

To the EAC, "Free Tova Wang."

Video available from Conference on Elections and Democracy at Stanford

American Constitution Society announces: On April 6-7, 2007, ACS co-hosted a Conference on Elections and Democracy at Stanford Law School at which panelists shared perspectives of a wide variety of issues relating to voter participation (including fraud and registration requirements), voter representation (including districting and the Voting Rights Act) and lessons from a comparative analysis of voting rights in other democracies (relating to campaign finance reform, alternative voting systems and redistricting commissions). Streaming video of each panel is now available in the ACS Multimedia Library. Other organizations co-sponsoring the conference included the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, the Stanford ACS Student Chapter, the Stanford Law and Policy Review, and the Stanford Chapter of the Federalist Society.

April 17, 2007

Pulitzer Prizes

The Washington Post reports: Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, won the commentary prize for her pieces on voting rights and black leaders. "I was very concerned that the Republicans seemed determined to shave off the votes of some minority voters," she said. "It's unconstitutional and un-American," she added, but "for middle-class folks, black and white, it seemed like a nonissue."

Among the arts awards, Gene Roberts, the veteran editor who now teaches journalism at the University of Maryland, won the history prize with Hank Klibanoff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for "The Race Beat," their book on press coverage of the civil rights era. (Story, Page C1.) ...

The investigative reporting prize went to Brett Blackledge of the Birmingham News for reports on cronyism and corruption in Alabama's two-year college system. The reports led to the chancellor's dismissal. -- Wall Street Journal Takes Two Pulitzer Prizes -

April 11, 2007

DOJ lawyers active in Republican National Lawyers Association

McClatchy Newspapers reports: In his day job, Christian Adams writes legal briefs for the voting rights section of the Justice Department, a job that requires a nonpartisan approach.

Off the clock, Adams belongs to the Republican National Lawyers Association, a group that trains hundreds of Republican lawyers to monitor elections and pushes for confirmation of conservative nominees for federal judgeships.

Vice President Dick Cheney credited the 3,000-member association in 2005 with helping the Republicans win the previous two presidential elections. Last year, President Bush's political adviser Karl Rove shared with the group his insights on winning elections in key battleground states. At a conference the association organized last month, speakers called the controversy over whether eight U.S. attorneys had been fired for partisan political reasons "farcical" and "ridiculous." ...

Congress changed the law in 1993 to allow most government employees to accept political leadership positions, work on political campaigns and raise money for political causes. Under President Clinton, many federal employees were members of liberal organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

But some former and current Justice Department officials said such overt involvement in partisan political organizations by lawyers in sensitive government jobs was a troubling sign that partisan politics might be inappropriately seeping into the government bureaucracy in the Bush administration. -- McClatchy Washington Bureau | 04/11/2007 | Government lawyers' membership in GOP group seen as inappropriate

March 13, 2007

Stanford Conference on Elections and Democracy

Registration is now open for the April 6-7 "Conference on Elections and Democracy," a conference jointly sponsored by ACS, the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, the Stanford Law and Policy Review, and the Stanford ACS and Federalist Society student chapters. The conference will be held at Stanford Law School and there is no cost to attend. For more information and to register, click here. The conference will focus on elections, voting rights, and democracy. In particular, the panels will examine issues pertaining to election participation (including fraud and corruption), voter ID requirements, the use of new voting equipment after the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), campaign finance reform, and voter representation (including redistricting and the renewal of the Voting Rights Act). The conference will also feature discussions that look at the US electoral system through an international lens, addressing approaches to voting, districting, and election financing in other democracies.

White House wanted prosecutors fired because of voter fraud cases

The New York Times reports: The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official. ...

In early 2005, Harriet E. Miers, then the White House legal counsel, asked a Justice Department official whether it would be feasible to replace all United States attorneys when their four-year terms expired, according to the Justice Department. The proposal came as the administration was considering which political appointees to replace in the second term, Ms. Perino said.

Ms. Miers sent her query to D. Kyle Sampson, a top aide to Mr. Gonzales, the Justice officials said. Mr. Sampson, who resigned Monday, replied that filling so many jobs at once would overtax the department. He suggested replacing a smaller group, according to e-mail messages and other memorandums compiled by the Justice Department.

Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, also had rejected the idea of replacing all the prosecutors, Ms. Perino said. But as Ms. Miers worked with Mr. Sampson on devising a list of attorneys to oust, Mr. Rove relayed to her complaints he had received that the Justice Department was not moving aggressively on voter fraud cases. ...

Justice Department officials said Monday that they had only learned recently about Mr. Sampson’s extensive e-mail and memos with Ms. Miers about the prosecutors. The communications were discovered Thursday when Mr. Sampson turned over the material to officials who were assembling documents in response to Congressional requests.

The documents did not provide a clear motive for the firings. Some suggested that department officials were dissatisfied with specific prosecutors, but none cited aggressive public corruption inquiries or failure to pursue voter fraud cases as an explicit reason to remove them. ...

John McKay, the ousted United States attorney in Seattle, said last week while in Washington to testify before Congress that White House lawyers interviewing him for a possible federal judgeship had asked him why he had “mishandled” an investigation into voter fraud allegations in his state following the 2004 elections. -- White House Said to Prompt Firing of Prosecutors - New York Times

February 27, 2007

OpenCongress -- a new aggregator

beSpacific reports: "OpenCongress brings together official government information with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind what's happening in Congress. Small groups of political insiders and lobbyists know what's really going on in Congress. Now, everyone can be an insider. OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement. OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation." -- Free, Open Source Site Covering Congressional Bills, News, Gossip and Elected Officials

February 22, 2007

200th Anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade

Scott Horton writes on Balkinization: Two Hundred Years Ago Today, the Global Campaign for Human Rights Achieved Its First Victory ... Today the cause of universal human rights celebrates an important anniversary. On this day two hundred years ago, the Parliament at Westminster voted an act for the abolition of the slave trade. A few decades later, Parliament also voted the manumission of slaves throughout the British Empire. By that time, in the 1830's, the trafficking in slaves was viewed as a jus cogens crime by legal scholars around the world and the global movement to abolish slavery altogether was well launched.

Charting the origins of the modern human rights movement is an exercise in an uncertain and problematic geography, but if we follow it back along its swiftest channels to its ultimate source, past the American Civil Rights movement, the cause of voting rights for women, the great American abolitionist movement of the first half of the nineteenth century, we inevitably come to William Wilberforce and his sisters and brethren who launched the effort to ban the slave trade. Of course there were the French and American Revolutions with their call for the rights of man; there was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of social contract and Immanuel Kant's conceptualization of a philosophy of right. These things have their vital role. -- Balkinization

Wilberforce is remembered on 30 July each year in the Episcopal Church. On that day, the prayer is "Let your continual mercy, O Lord, enkindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the children of the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever." Whether they are Christians or not, that is what civil rights lawyers do and should be doing: defending the children of the poor, and maintaining the cause of those who have no helper.

February 16, 2007

Public Citizen Litigation Group has created a "S.Ct. Watch" listserv

Public Citizen Litigation Group emails: Public Citizen Litigation Group has just created a new S.Ct. Watch listserv to send out more widely our updates on pending cert. petitions of public interest, including some cases we're working on (the current watch list is available here.). An example email about tomorrow's conference is below -- from now on, we'll be sending this out before each S.Ct. conference.

Would you like to join? If so, please click this link to sign up directly.

Continue reading "Public Citizen Litigation Group has created a "S.Ct. Watch" listserv" »

February 13, 2007

Alabama: Charles Langford, R.I.P.

AP reports: Former state Sen. Charles Langford was remembered as a quiet but determined fighter in key civil rights legal battles as a lawyer for Rosa Parks and the organization that launched the historic Montgomery bus boycott. ...

Along with his legal work in the civil rights movement, Langford had a long career in the Alabama Legislature. ...

Langford passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 1953 and opened a law practice in Montgomery. He soon became involved in legal battles that shaped Alabama, including representing Parks after she was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man.

Her arrest inspired the MIA, then led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to launch the boycott and pursue litigation that led to the U.S Supreme Court ending desegregation on public transportation.

Langford represented Arlam Carr Jr. in a 1964 suit that desegregated Montgomery's public schools, and he represented black legislators in a lawsuit that ended the flying of the Confederate battle flag on the state Capitol dome in 1993. -- AP Wire | 02/12/2007 | Former Alabama Sen. Langford remembered for civil rights work

February 6, 2007

Alabama: "It's a thick book"

Hill Carmichael from Greater Birmingham Ministries emails: Hello Constitutional Reform Advocates,

A new documentary by Homewood High School graduate Lewis Lehe offers a unique, funny, and powerful look at the 1901 Alabama Constitution.

Lehe’s 49-minute documentary, It’s a Thick Book, is comprised of candid interviews mixed with brilliant narration explaining the complex issues about the Alabama Constitution. The film eloquently captures the viewer’s attention and fairly argues for the reasons why constitutional reform is so badly needed in Alabama. Lehe interviews numerous individuals and community leaders who are working to reform the 1901 Constitution including historian Wayne Flynt, former Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) Foundation President Dr. Thomas Corts and current ACCR, Inc. Chair Lenora Pate.

The ACCR Foundation is currently working with Greater Birmingham Ministries' Constitutional Reform Education Campaign and other partner organizations to get Lehe's documentary screened at theaters in Birmingham, Montgomery and other communities throughout the state. These premieres will happen during the week of March 5th when Lehe will be home for spring break. The schedule for times and locations of these viewings will be posted on the ACCR Foundation web site— —the week of February 12th.

A promo of It’s a Thick Book can be viewed at And please, pass this along to others who might be interested.

Please continue to check the ACCR and GBM websites for all constitutional reform related activities and be sure to stay tuned for the premiere of It’s a Thick Book – coming to a theater near you!

January 29, 2007

Father Robert Drinan -- R.I.P.

I had the good fortune to meet Father Drinan a few times while I worked in Washington. He will be missed. The New York Times story begins:
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a Jesuit who served in Congress for 10 years until stepping down in response to a papal order, died Sunday. He was 86 and lived here in housing for the Georgetown University Jesuit community. -- Rev. Robert Drinan, Ex-Congressman, Dies at 86 - New York Times

And the Washington Post says: The Rev. Robert Drinan, 86, the Roman Catholic priest who played a unique and historic role in American public life as a lawyer, law school teacher, opponent of war and advocate of human rights and as a congressman who recommended the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon, died Jan. 28 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Father Drinan, who had taught at Georgetown University law school since ending his 10 years as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts, had been suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He lived at the Jesuit residence on the Georgetown campus.

Last year, Father Drinan was one of four former members of the House to be honored with the Congressional Distinguished Service Award. In 2004, the American Bar Association called him amazing and "the stuff of which legends are made" in awarding him the ABA Medal. ...

When Father Drinan took office, he said he would continue to wear clerical garb. "It's the only clothes I have," he said. -- Rev. Robert Drinan; Congressman, GU Law School Teacher

January 16, 2007

Got Slogan?

The Marine Corps Times reports: Got a catchy phrase that expresses your emotions about voting?

Enter it in the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s voting slogan contest. The deadline is April 9, after which a panel of independent judges will pick the most original entry that inspires citizens to vote.

The FVAP holds a slogan contest every two years as part of its efforts to promote interest in elections among citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The 2005 winning slogan, submitted by Navy civilian employee Roy Clark of Jacksonville, Fla., was “Responsibility Has No Borders. Vote!”

What’s in it for the contest winner and runners-up? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your slogan is being placed on the FVAP Web site, in the 2008-09 Voting Assistance Guide, on motivational posters, audiovisual materials and other FVAP publications and manuals worldwide. The winner also will receive a certificate of recognition. -- Feds take suggestions for ballot box battle cry - Marine News, Special Reports, Frontline Photos, This Week's Marine Corps Times - Marine Corps Times

November 6, 2006

Ten things you won't learn from the polls

FairVote (the Center for Voting and Democracy) has posted "Ten Stories About Election 2006: What You Won't Learn From The Polls."

Pundits predict a Democratic sweep on November 7, 2006. But that's only the the tip of the iceberg...

1. What Do Votes Have To Do With It? Why a Democratic vote majority might not mean a Congressional majority
2. Monopoly Politics. FairVote's seminal prediction model and how, on November 9, we'll predict nearly all House winners... for 2008
3. The Untouchables. The growing list of House members on total cruise control
4. The Gerrymander & Money Myths. The real roots of non-competition and GOP advantage
5. The Republican Turnout Machine Myth. If not real in 2004, why would it be now?
6. The 50-State Question. Measuring Dean's gamble in 2006... and 2016
7. Downballot GOP Blues. What a Democratic wave could mean for state legislatures
8. Of Spoilers & Minority Rule. Where split votes could swing seats - and already have
9. The Democrats' Paradox. Why a win could shake up House leaders and the presidential race
10. Slouching Toward Diversity. Who's to gain when a few more white men lose? -- FairVote - SPECIAL REPORT: 10 Stories About Election 2006

Blawg Review #82

Here we are a day before the election and you deserve a break from the campaigning. Ha, if you think this will be the lull before the storm, you don't know Votelaw. Nevertheless, let's see what our fellow blawgers have to say about law, life, and politics.

Some election-related stuff

Frank Pasquale at Concurring Opinions on Political Google-Bombing

Denise Howell at Lawgarithms suggests we Contribute to the Election Day Bloggers' Legal Guide

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit asks, WANT PRESS COVERAGE? Apparently, you have to run attack ads to get it... and offers this GOP Pre-mortem

Dan Aibel offers an hour-by-hour guide to election night 2006

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Chatty Jack posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Walter Olson, Ted Frank, Jim Copland, and more presents Election Roundtable! posted at PointOfLaw Forum.

Ian Ayres and Sandy Levinson take a look at some issues relating to the upcoming elections. Ayres describes a "Liberal Manifesto" while Levinson makes some observations about what might happen next Tuesday.

Stephen Albainy-Jenei gives us the Friday Editorial: What Do the Elections Mean to Pharma?

David Giacalone asks, Is Self-Help an Issue in Judicial Elections?

Ilya Somin at Volokh Conspiracy explains Why it's (often) rational to vote.

Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos on the Explosive Army, Air Force, and Navy Times editorial (with more than 430 comments, so far).

And for those of you who don't give a damn about elections:

Nate Oman invokes William of Ockham (of "Ockham's Razor" fame) to describe an approach to understanding the UCC.

Brett Trout presents Top Ten Ways to Make Money with Your Patent posted at Blawg IT-Internet Patent, Trademark and Copyright Issues with Attorney Brett Trout.

Stephanie West Allen on Managing the blessings and burdens of thinking like a lawyer: A couple of tips

David Maister presents How to Pay Professional Employees posted at Passion, People and Principles.

Hanno Kaiser presents Greg Werden on the Ancillary Restraints Doctrine after Dagher posted at Antitrust Review.

Kenneth A. Adams presents One Space or Two? posted at AdamsDrafting. [This is the second item I have seen on this meme this week. Having thousands of forms, sample pleadings, briefs, etc. -- all with two spaces after each period -- collected in my word processing system, I will have a hard time reforming my writing style.]

Ted Frank presents More on Philip Morris v. Williams posted at PointOfLaw Forum.

Walter Olson presents Update: Stifling archaeology, the tribal way posted at Overlawyered.

Walter Olson presents "Citing stress, cop sues man whose life he saved" posted at Overlawyered. [Another example of "no good deed goes unpunished."]

Quizlaw's Seth is appalled by a multi-million dollar award to the estates of two trespassers.

Will Baude picks the big brain of Professor Bainbridge concerning such topics as free speech by corporations, his disdain for the Socratic Method, and why Los Angeles has it all over the East Coast.

Chris Borgen notes a ruling that military commissions are illegal. Unfortunately for any of Blawg Review's readers who may be detained at Guantanamo, the ruling and commissions in question were on Battlestar Galatica.

The Google-YouTube deal made big news, but only now can entrepreneur Mark Cuban tell us what the "intimate details" of the deal are.

Roger Alford and Emily Campbell had magic on their minds this week. Alford noted a paper which discusses the rule of law in Harry Potter's universe; A viewing of The Prestige caused Campbell to wonder whether trade secret law could apply to illusions.

Audra Call didn't work during her years at law school and exhorts 1Ls and 2Ls to learn from her mistake.

Lyle Denniston provided some of the best early coverage of the Phillip Morris case this week and was a one-stop shop when it came to rounding-up the comments of other blawgosphere luminaries.

Russ Krajec offers some valuable insight into how to conduct an inventor's interview during the patent application development process.

Victor Fleischer considered whether tax strategies should be patentable.

Douglas Sorocco offered an example of one patent application gone horribly (but humorously) awry.

Geoff Corn described why, although unlikely, amendment of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include well-defined war crimes might be well-advised.

Ann Althouse noted the case of a health club patron who was tossed from the club for "grunting" during his workouts.

Justin Patten recommended and elaborated upon an article considering whether legal action could keep blogging "at bay".

Scott Henson noted the tenth exoneration in five years of a Dallas County (Texas)-prosecuted prisoner, this time based on DNA testing evidence produced by The Innocence Project.

The Mommy Blawger presents 'Speaking in Tongues' Result of Different Brain Function posted at Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.

simonne presents Bankruptcy Lawyer: When to Hire One posted at All Tips and Tricks.

Scott Johnson at the Power Line Blog on Mike Hatch's forgotten scandal.

David Lat at Above the Law writes on the Lawsuit of the Day: A Tale of Two YouTubes

Carolyn Elefant at Legal Blog Watch on Sidley Austin's Going to Trial

Dan Hull at What About Clients? on The 12 Rules of Client Service.

Eugene Volokh at Volokh Conspiracy on The Two Abortion Rights, and Therapeutic Abortions as Medical Self-Defense

Nathan Burke at on A Little Inspiration.

The Editor of Blawg Review writes regarding LexBlog Blawgs.


Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

November 4, 2006

Times Direct

Tom Mighell's indispensable Inter Alia carried this item yesterday: The New York Times introduced the Times Reader, a slick way to read the newspaper. It's basically a stand-alone version of the New York Times -- it's a free download, and you can configure it to check for new stories at pre-determined intervals. You can save and annotate stories, and print or e-mail them. It's a great idea, and very well done -- I just wish it included more sources than the Times. -- Inter Alia

I downloaded the application (it took 15 minutes or more for the software to download and install), but wow, it looks great. I can set it to download new stories at anytime I want, or every 15 minutes. The formatting of the stories automatically resize to fit whatever window size I have open.

Excuse me. I have to get back to reading the Times.

October 30, 2006

Blawg Review #82 ... coming soon [Updated]

On Election Eve, 6 November, I will be hosting Blawg Review #82. As usual, the Blawg Review will include posts from law blogs and political blogs by lawyers and law profs and law students.

I would particularly like to hear from blawggers on the theme of "On Election Day, I will be ..." However, your usual champerty, maintenance, and blawggery will be welcome as well. Please see the Submission
and submit your posts to the address listed there.

October 29, 2006

Catch a Fire

I was telling my son about "Catch a Fire" -- a move that opened this weekend about Patrick Chamusso, an apolitical South African worker who became a guerrilla/freedom fighter/terrorist for the African National Congress in 1980 after being arrested and tortured by the South African secret police even though he was completely innocent. Martin is 19, and I was trying to think of something that would relate the time and place of the movie to him. I remembered seeing Nelson Mandela in the movie. I asked Martin if he remembered us watching TV all one day to catch sight of Mandela being released from prison. He remembered Mandela's name, but I am not sure if remembered that day when he was only 3. (I was misremembering the date of his release and thought it was a couple of years later, so that Martin would have been 5.)

On the day of his release, Mandela said:

Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.

It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured. We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid.

Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters' role in a united democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.

In conclusion I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are true today as they were then:

'I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.'

The idea that theirs was a struggle against apartheid, not against whites, is also made in the movie. When Chamusso goes to Mozambique to join the ANC military wing. One of the recruits says, "Give me a gun, commander, and I will go kill Boers." The commander responds by saying that is not what they are training to do. "South Africa belongs to all who live in it," he says.

I don't think anyone in "Catch a Fire" ever talks about voting, but to me that is what the movie is ultimately about.

It also has a lot to say about torture, the loss of civil rights, treating others as The Other. It calls all of us to live up to our ideals. Chamusso says to Nik Vos, his police interrogator, "My children will say, 'He stood up for what is right.' What will yours say about you?"

That's the question all of us have to answer.

October 28, 2006

"Election Day Bloggers' Legal Guide

The Center for Citizen Media is soliciting questions from bloggers: Lots of bloggers are planning to cover the 2006 general elections on November 7. But what are the legal issues that you need to understand?

Such as: Can you be in the voting area except to vote? (Not in Delaware) Can you ask people how they voted? (Not within 50 ft of polling place in Rhode Island). Can you take photos? (In CA it is illegal to photograph, videotape or otherwise record a voter entering or leaving a polling place). And so on.

Student Fellows at Stanford University Law School's Center for Internet and Society will be answering those kinds of questions and more in coming days. Do you have one? Ask it here. We'll compile and publish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and post it before the election.

Please note that some election laws vary from state to state. We ask you to tell us your state so we can answer the questions based on the laws of your state. We will also try to answer the question for other states as time permits. -- Election Day Bloggers' Legal Guide: Your Questions | Center for Citizen Media

Thanks to Media Law for the tip.

October 24, 2006

Google Earth adds congressional district markers reports: Google has added information on the forthcoming November 7th US congressional races to its Google Earth application.

The company said that it has included a feature in the Google Earth sidebar that will have 'place marks' for 435 races around the country. ...

The place marks will allow users to view candidate images and news from Google's web, image, and news search engines. Users can also find campaign finance information from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics. The program will also include voter registration information for every state. -- Google Earth offers US election info -

October 4, 2006

R.W. Apple, Jr.: R.I.P.

The New York Times reports: R. W. Apple Jr., who in more than 40 years as a correspondent and editor at The New York Times wrote about war and revolution, politics and government, food and drink, and the revenge of living well from more than 100 countries, died today in Washington. He was 71. ...

He covered 10 presidential elections and more than 20 national nominating conventions. He led The Times’s coverage of the Vietnam war for two and a half years in the 1960’s and of the Persian Gulf war a generation later, chronicling the Iranian revolution in between.

As a political correspondent, Mr. Apple, beginning in 1972, paid attention to the Iowa precinct caucuses when they were still largely ignored by the national press. Four years later, he helped turn the caucuses into an important test of a candidate’s strength by being one of the first reporters to spot the potential appeal of a little-known former governor of Georgia named Jimmy Carter. In later years he turned the same searching, child-like curiosity to writing about food, architecture and travel from around the nation and the globe. -- R.W. Apple, a Times Journalist in Full, Dies at 71 - New York Times

September 16, 2006

Alabama: Gees Bend ferry resumes; it was closed 44 years ago to prevent blacks from voting or demonstrating

AP reports: In 1962, as the civil rights movement was picking up speed, the ferry along this stretch of the Alabama River was shut down in what was widely seen as an attempt by whites to prevent blacks from the town of Gee's Bend from coming across the water to vote or take part in demonstrations.

The shutdown of the 15-minute ferry ride meant that the people of poor, mostly black Gee's Bend had to drive more than 40 miles over narrow rural roads to get to the county courthouse in Camden, then 40 miles back. And it has been that way ever since.

On Monday, though, ferry service will resume for the first time in 44 years.

After a frustratingly long effort, Gee's Bend residents will be closer to jobs, stores, medical care and county offices. -- AP Wire | 09/15/2006 | New ferry to open in isolated Ala. town

September 9, 2006

James deAnda, R.I.P.

James deAnda, 81, Lawyer in Case for Hispanic Jurors, Dies - New York Times
The New York Times reports:
James deAnda, a retired federal judge who as a lawyer in the early 1950’s had a leading role in a Supreme Court decision that prohibited courts from keeping Mexican-Americans off juries, died on Thursday at his summer home in Traverse City, Mich. Judge deAnda, who lived in Houston, was 81. ...

On May 3, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Hernandez v. Texas that Hispanic people deserved the same constitutional protections as other minorities.

For some proponents of civil rights for Hispanics, the case ranks with the ruling two weeks later in Brown v. Board of Education that barred segregation in public schools.

Mr. deAnda, then a lawyer in a small practice in Houston, wrote most of the briefs for the Hernandez case, in which a Mexican migrant worker appealed his murder conviction by an all-white jury in Jackson County, Tex. --

"Grey Lady" starts a politics blog

The New York Times has started a politics blog, The Caucus - U.S. - New York Times Blog. It has a double-column blogroll listing Votelaw, among many others.

I wonder if the Times will put the archives of the blog behind the Times Select pay-to-view firewall?

August 31, 2006

PBS will cover voting rights controversies on "Now"

Raw Story reports: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is set to air a segment posing the possibility that the voting rights of many Americans are under attack, RAW STORY has learned.

A nation-wide push for laws to target voter fraud is likely to disqualify many who are legally eligible to vote, the PBS program NOW will claim in a segment tomorrow night titled, "Your right to vote -- is it under assault?" ...

NOW is also preparing to use the Internet to support the story. Tomorrow morning, features on the program's website will include a state-by-state overview of election rights, an exploration of the voting rights act, and a list of "the 11 worst places in America to vote."

The segment will run tomorrow, September 1, at 8:30 p.m. -- The Raw Story | PBS set to ask if voting rights are 'under assault'

More: For more details, go to the NOW site.

August 22, 2006

Alabama: R.I.P. John Hulett

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: John Hulett, a civil rights pioneer who helped found the organization that became the Black Panther Party, died Monday after years of declining health. He was 78.

Hulett was at his home here, surrounded by his family. He and his wife of 46 years, Eddie Mae, had 11 children. ...

Unafraid of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups, Hulett helped blacks not only gain the right to vote but to win public office. Hulett himself was elected sheriff and probate judge, the first black to hold either of those positions in
Lowndes County.

Hulett gained a national reputation in 1966 when he and other black leaders, including Stokeley Carmichel, created the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. Hulett and Carmichael chose a black panther as the group's emblem because of its ferocious independence. -- :: Rights pioneer Hulett dies

August 16, 2006

Maryland: all-in-one website for voters and candidates

The Washington Post reports: Maryland voters will be able to research more than 600 statewide candidates this election year on a first-of-its-kind Web site that offers unprecedented access to candidate profiles, campaign reports and user-friendly data about polling places and voter registration.

The Maryland Voter Information Clearinghouse ( ) was launched yesterday through a partnership of the state and the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is one of the first of its kind in the country, said Linda Lamone, state administrator of elections, at an event on the campus.

The project's goal is to break down barriers to voting by allowing residents to verify that they are registered, learn voting districts, find polling places and seek information about the candidates they can vote for. Among other features, voters can get directions to polling stations.

"This is fabulous," said Lu Pierson, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, one of the groups on an advisory board for the project. "I think this is a way to engage particularly younger voters. They tend to go to the Internet for everything." -- New Web Site a Clearinghouse for Voter Information

August 4, 2006

Campaigns Wikia

Jimmy Wales describes the new Campaigns Wikia: For more than 50 years now, we have been living in the era of television politics. In the 1950s television first began to have a major impact on politics, and the results were overwhelming.

Broadcast media brought us broadcast politics. And let's be simple and bluntly honest about it, left or right, conservative or liberal, broadcast politics are dumb, dumb, dumb.

Campaigns have been more about getting the television messaging right, the image, the soundbite, than about engaging ordinary people in understanding and caring how political issues really affect their lives.

Blog and wiki authors are now inventing a new era of media, and it is my belief that this new media is going to invent a new era of politics. If broadcast media brought us broadcast politics, then participatory media will bring us participatory politics. ...

This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites. -- Let's ramp up the intelligence of politics

Comment: Looks like a good structure, but it needs content. Get hoppin', folks, and write something.

Hat tip: Inter Alia.

July 4, 2006

It was four years ago today ...

that I sat down at my computer and started the Votelaw blog. All those fireworks you hear are in celebration of that event. :-)

Seriously, I began this 4th as I have done many for a couple of decades -- listening to the reading of the Declaration of Independence by the folks at National Public Radio. One year I missed it because I was in England. That day, I had fun asking the Brits what they thought the American Revolution was about. One said, "It was something about tea, wasn't it?" Another said, "No taxation without representation."

What was the Revolution about for you?

June 28, 2006

Catching up

I have been off at a convention and short vacation for most of the past week. What a time to go on vacation -- Vermont and Texas both coming down. I'll be catching up over the next few days.

June 8, 2006

changes at

I have added about 150 pages of information on Employee Rights at my other site, This information should help employees answer the question, "Can they do that?" without having to call a lawyer.

Let me know if there are general questions you want answered, and I will see what I can do about working up an answer for the site.

May 21, 2006

Not about elections or law -- much more important

Ernie The Attorney
Ernie "the Attorney" Svenson rode out Katrina and meditated during the howling of the storm. After he evacuated from the city, he realized,

Something powerful had happened to me. Katrina and my meditations were a perfect wave that I somehow rode to a new kind of awareness. I realized that I had wasted so much time trying to change things that I had no control over and I hadn't focused on what I could control. The only thing that I could reliably control was my attitude ---that is, the way that I approached the world. I was aware that I was surrounded by an epic tragedy, but it didn't seem worth dwelling on.

I focused instead on the awesome sacrifices made by people helping others that they had never known before. Everywhere I looked I saw people being completely open with one another. I could see it and I could feel it. More importantly, I could influence it --in a ridiculously simple way: if I was upbeat and helpful then people, even those who were lost in some terrible concern, reacted positively.

Read Ernie's post and think about how you can change your attitude about the stuff around you.

May 15, 2006

I'm back

After a couple of weeks of sinus infections, finals grading, and back problems that sucked up my energy and time, a friend and I took a long weekend and went to the Georgia Mountain Fair Bluegrass Festival in Hiawassee, Georgia. Among the highlights for us were the Greencards, Darrell Scott, and the Seldom Scene.

Combine several hours of bluegrass with the beautiful scenery of Helen, Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls, and the historic district of Gainesville, mix well, and bake in the temperate weather. Serves as many as you please.

April 22, 2006

The Brennan Center is hiring

Deborah Goldberg emailed me that the Brennan Center is "looking to hire an experienced litigator. If you know of any talented attorneys who might be interested in a position at the Brennan Center, working on cases challenging vote suppression efforts, please direct them to

January 28, 2006

Honda ad

Not related to elections at all: If hope you got to see the Honda ad about a year ago including the Rube Goldberg contraption made of various parts of the car. If not, you can see it here. Honda has a new ad, just as creative, which is linked at the bottom of the page with the first ad.

Have some fun, today.

December 24, 2005

Meme of Four

Ellen and Jeralyn have passed it on:
#1 Four jobs you've had
#2 Four movies you could watch over and over
#3 Four places you've lived
#4 Four TV shows you love to watch
#5 Four places you've been on vacation
#6 Four websites you visit daily
#7 Four of your favorite foods
#8 Four places you'd rather be

Continue reading "Meme of Four" »

December 16, 2005

Job opportunity at New America Foundation

Steven Hill emails: I am excited to announce that the New America Foundation is establishing a Political Reform Program to be based in California. We look forward to being part of the effort to give California and the United States a democracy that is suitable for the challenges of the 21st century. Below and attached
is a job description for the position of Deputy Director, to be based in Los Angeles. Please post it and forward it to your own email lists. Thank you.

December 15, 2005

The FairVote blog

The Center for Voting and Democracy has launched The FairVote Blog.

(To my friends at CVD, please excuse my delay in announcing this.)

December 13, 2005

Alabama: a prediction of religious war if Roy Moore elected

The Birmingham News reports: A Christian talk show host from Mobile who sued to reinstate Roy Moore after he was ousted as Alabama's chief justice has decided not to support Moore's run for governor.

Kelly McGinley says that some of Moore's prominent supporters are "dominionists" who wish to bring about a government based on Old Testament law, which would administer the death penalty for offenses ranging from homosexuality to talking back to your parents.

McGinley said that although she loves Moore and his family and has spent a lot of time with them, she fears his election could set in motion cataclysmic events.

It would set up a showdown between the state and federal government, leading to an invasion by the feds and resistance by Alabamians, McGinley said. The conflict would serve as the pretext for a government imposition of a manmade version of Biblical law, McGinley believes.

She links Moore, the Republican Party, the Council for National Policy, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Masons in a conspiratorial web. -- Moore campaign loses support of talk show host

Okaaaay. McGinley also noted that Alabama's primary will be held on 6/6/06.

Wikipedia has an article on "dominionism."

UPDATE: Here is a website with McGinley's explanation.

December 7, 2005

Gone till Monday

I will be traveling for the next several days and won't be able to blog.

Louisiana: the Louisiana Law Wiki

Ernest Svenson a/k/a Ernie the Attorney has set up the Louisiana Law wiki. Ernie explains it this way:

A wiki is just an easy to update webpage, specifically a webpage that can be edited by anyone. I think it would be great to collect information about Louisiana courts and other legal issues that have arisen in the wake of Katrina and Rita. So here it is. Feel free to edit it and to let others know of its existence.

Way to go, Ernie.

November 24, 2005

More convenient ways to read Votelaw

I have added two ways to get information from Votelaw more or less automatically. (Now don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that you don't come by the site anymore.)

FeedBlitz enables you to gather blog and RSS content that you want quickly, direct to your in-box. No applications to install, no complex procedures, no annoying ads. Just your content, delivered daily, in an easy to read Email (text or HTML format - your choice). Not only do you a neat email every day, FeedBlitz subscriptions provide a great way to keep your colleagues up to date on industry news, or to get RSS updates delivered to your mobile phone, BlackBerry or PDA. If you don't want your email address shared with the feed publisher, you can always subscribe anonymously and preserve your privacy.

MultiRSS is a free service that allows you to click on the MultiRSS button and then be able to choose the RSS reader that you use from the current list of the 38 most used RSS readers.

I hope you find these convenient.

November 6, 2005

Flash: somebody had something nice to say about lawyers

I watched the second and final part of "Kidnapped" on PBS tonight. If you did, I hope you noticed that Davie Balfour, Alan Breck, and Catriona (of the Glens) are sitting on a rock in the middle of the Highlands, trying to figure out what to so next. They are on the run from the murderous bounty hunters. Catriona's father (James of the Glens) is being held by the English who intend to hang him soon. Alan asks how they can get out of the mess. Davie suggests a lawyer.

So Davie goes into town (after another shootout with the bounty hunters) to talk to Mr. Rankeillor, the lawyer. Mr. Rankeillor saves the day. Well, if you don't count the final shootout with the Redcoats by Catriona.

I don't remember if Stevenson wrote it that way, but it sure did look good tonight.

November 3, 2005

"The Broad View"

I was looking around The Broad View, a blog run by my friend and former client, Ellen Dana Nagler (she calls herself the "Broad-in-Chief") and followed a couple of links and found this
page. Ellen was nice enough to list Votelaw as an example in her program for the California Central Democratic Committee.

Thanks, Ellen. And the rest of you should head over and read The Broad View.

November 2, 2005

NYC: Election monitors training

ACSBlog reports: The Bronx Defenders and Impact will be training nonpartisan election monitors on November 4th, 6th, and 7th at the Bronx Defenders and Columbia Law School.

On Election Day, volunteers will be stationed at polling sites in the Bronx to distribute copies of the Voters' Bill of Rights, make sure that polls open and close on time, prevent voter intimidation, and assist voters in overcoming any obstacles they encounter. All interested volunteers must sign up in advance for a specific training session. Details regarding location and sign-up are available here.

Impact is a nonpartisan national network of law students from more than 150 law schools organized to ensure the integrity of the voting process. Impact is a member of Election Protection, a nonpartisan coalition headed by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and People For the American Way Foundation, including the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. -- ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society

November 1, 2005


Comments seem to be working now. Talk away.

October 24, 2005

R I P: Rosa Parks

CNN reports: Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience in 1955 inspired the modern civil rights movement, died Monday in Detroit, Michigan. She was 92.

Parks' moment in history began in December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a young Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (See video on an activist's life and times -- 2:52)

The boycott led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, but it wasn't until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated. -- - Civil rights icon Rosa Parks dies at 92 - Oct 24, 2005

Thanks to Kos for the link.

October 21, 2005


I have just upgraded to Movable Type 3.2 (from 2.661) in about 90 minutes, including some piddling around.

I may be adjusting some stuff in the next few weeks, so look for announcements.

Update: I have turned comments back on. But they aren't working yet.

Update Saturday morning: Apparently there will have to be a lot of updating to get all my code up to the new standard. I will be working on that as I get a chance.

Update Saturday evening: OK, I have comments working. Not pretty, but working. They will be working on all posts from now on. I will also turn them on for the last day or two of posts.

October 18, 2005

Progressive Law Blogs

You will notice that I have a new logo over on the right hand column -- Progressive Law Blogs. This is an aggregator blog -- one that gives you the headline and first few lines of the posts from the following blogs:

Armando (from DailyKos)
Is That Legal?
Nathan Newman
Sentencing Law and Policy

We expect our merry band to grow and we hope you will stop by frequently to check what's new on our end of the blawgosphere. We have practitioners and professors, and we cover issues like who is coming in (Supreme Court nominations), who is going out (PlameGate), election law, constitutional law, labor law, criminal law and sentencing, and the like.

We hope you find it useful.

October 13, 2005

R I P: Vivian Malone Jones

AP reports: Vivian Malone Jones, one of two black students whose effort to enroll at the University of Alabama led to George Wallace's infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door" in 1963, died today. She was 63.

Jones, who went on to become the first black to graduate from the school, died at Atlanta Medical Center, where she had been admitted Tuesday after suffering a stroke, said her sister, Sharon Malone.

"She was absolutely fine Monday," Sharon Malone said.

Jones, a retired federal worker who lived in Atlanta, grew up in Mobile, Ala. She had enrolled at historically black Alabama A&M University in Huntsville when she transferred to the University of Alabama in 1963. The move led to then-Gov. Wallace's infamous stand in defiance of orders to admit black students. Jones and James Hood, accompanied by then-Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, enrolled after Wallace finished his statement and left. -- - University of Alabama's first black grad dies

October 8, 2005

"Active Liberty" by Justice Stephen Breyer

In the left column you will see an ad for "Active Liberty" by Justice Stephen Breyer. I picked up a copy of the book a month ago at a conference and read some of it. Unfortunately, I have been so busy I have not gotten back to it, but I was impressed enough with the first chapter to use a bit of it in my Constitutional Law class two days after I returned from the conference.

Click on the ad and get more information from Random House about the book.

September 12, 2005

Katrina may affect politics in places other than Louisiana

AP reports: Population shifts caused by the exodus of hurricane victims from the Gulf Coast could have ripple effects for years to come in Louisiana political races and perhaps beyond.

How big depends on how many people stay away, which ones stay away and where they end up putting down roots.

The early thinking is the evacuees least likely to return to their homes in Louisiana may be the poorest - and thus, Democrats for the most part. That would hurt the party in a state where Republicans already were making inroads.

If the lion's share of those leaving settle in Texas, that could work to the advantage of Democrats in President Bush's home state. -- | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, Fla.

August 30, 2005

Katrina (part 3)

New Orleans is filling with water from a break in the levee. Ernie is trying to get out of town.

I used to go to New Orleans for conferences or oral arguments in the old Fifth Circuit, but the longest I spent in New Orleans was in September 2001. I was on a panel at the International Municipal Lawyers Association. The terrorists hit the World Trade Center towers about an hour before I was to speak. I was stuck in the city until Friday when I got one of the first Southwest flights back to DC (where I was living at the time). It was a strange 3 or 4 days as I rode the hotel shuttle to the French Quarter, ate lunch near Jackson Square, went to the bookstores and art galleries, rode back to the hotel and watch far too much TV about the attacks.

What do you do when the place that was your refuge is now a place people must flee?

I pray for all the people of New Orleans.

Katrina (part 3)

New Orleans is filling with water from a break in the levee. Ernie is trying to get out of town.

I used to go to New Orleans for conferences or oral arguments in the old Fifth Circuit, but the longest I spent in New Orleans was in September 2001. I was on a panel at the International Municipal Lawyers Association. The terrorists hit the World Trade Center towers about an hour before I was to speak. I was stuck in the city until Friday when I got one of the first Southwest flights back to DC (where I was living at the time). It was a strange 3 or 4 days as I rode the hotel shuttle to the French Quarter, ate lunch near Jackson Square, went to the bookstores and art galleries, rode back to the hotel and watch far too much TV about the attacks.

What do you do when the place that was your refuge is now a place people must flee?

I pray for all the people of New Orleans.

Katrina (part 2)

Shortly after I sent my good wishes to Ernie (who seems to be OK), Hurricane Katrina (or maybe she was a Tropical Storm by then) took the electricity from my house.

Blogging may be light the rest of the week. I have to teach tonight and I am heading off the the American Political Science Association meeting for the rest of the week. I hope to hear Rick Hasen's presentation, among many others.

August 29, 2005


Ernie the Attorney wrote last night at 7:05: So I tried to leave New Orleans today at 12:30 pm but after 4 hours of driving I had only made it 15 miles. I was alone and tired so I decided the safe play was to return. It's kind of sad when the 'safe play' is to go back and wait to be pounded by the gnashing fury of a Category 5 hurricane. -- Ernie The Attorney: Massive change is coming to New Orleans

Pray for him and all the other folks of N'Awlins. We're waiting for word you safe, Ernie.

July 28, 2005

Bumper stickers, etc.

A friend of mine has been running Don't Blame Me I Voted for Kerry for several months. I took a look at it again tonight and laughed at all the new stuff he has. My favorites are the Make It Blue posters, with some of the best looking art work I have seen on a political poster in a while, and the hate mail page.

Go on over and take a look, buy something, and put a comment in the Ordering Instructions box that "Ed Still sent me."

July 23, 2005

If you are a blogger ...

Take the MIT Blogger Survey. I did and now

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

July 21, 2005

DSL problems

Update: The new DSL modem has arrived and it is working well. I hope to get back to blogging soon.

I have been having DSL problems at home. The repair will not take place till Friday Monday Thursday at the earliest, so there may be a continued hiatus in posts here. In the meanwhile, read some of the folks over in the right margin.

July 10, 2005


It's 6 p.m. in Birmingham and predicts "squalls" and 30-40 mph winds for the next 12 hours. Just to make sure, I looked up squall using Google. Here are some definitions:

Atmospheric phenomenon characterized by an abrupt and large increase of wind speed by at least 18 mph and rising to 25 mph with a duration of the order of minutes, which diminishes rather suddenly. It is often accompanied by showers or thunderstorms.

In U.S. observational practice, a squall is reported only if a wind speed of 16 knots or higher is sustained for at least two minutes (thereby distinguishing it from a gust).

Here's my favorite, from Wikipedia:

A squall or squall line is a line of thunderstorms with a common leading convection line, or mesocyclone, which tends to create a powerful gust front. It is classified as a multi-cell thunderstorm, since, unlike conventional thunderstorm lightning bolts, the line comprises multiple fronts much thicker than the standard 20 cells or nanometers. Squalls are sometimes associated with hurricanes or other cyclones, but they can also occur independently. Most commonly, independent squalls occur along front lines, and may contain heavy precipitation, hail, frequent lightning, dangerous straight line winds, and possibly tornadoes and waterspouts.

Hmm, that sounds like fun.

See you on the other side of this storm.

July 7, 2005

A chill

I have been out of town taking depositions. I awoke this morning about 4:20 EDT in the hotel and could not get back to sleep. It was not until 6 when I turned on the radio that I heard about the bombings in London. On the the first reports said the bus bombing was in front of the Tavistock Hotel. The name immediately rang a bell -- and sent a chill down my spine -- because that was the first hotel in which I stayed in London 20 something years ago. The Guardian has a story on Where the bombers struck.

May the peace of the Lord be with those who have died and with their families.

July 4, 2005

Independence Day

One of my favorite things to do on the 4th of July is listen to Morning Edition's reading of the Declaration of Independence. The readers' lineup changed a bit this year: the late Red Barber is still there, but Bob Edwards has been replaced.

If you want a visual to go along with the reading, listen and watch as Morgan Freeman introduces a group of Hollywood stars read the Declaration. (Click on "Declaration Reading.") Watch for Graham Greene reading the accusation that King George had caused the Indian tribes to attack the colonists.

And today is the third anniversary of my first entry in this blog.

Have a happy and safe Fourth.

July 2, 2005

Initial thoughts on the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

More later when I have thought about it some more.

June 28, 2005

I'm back

I'm back and will start gathering information soon.

June 20, 2005

Light blogging this week

Blog posts may be few and far between for the next week or so because of travel to a convention.

June 14, 2005

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day. I'm flying the Gadsden Flag. Are you flying your American Flag?


For more information on the Gadsden Flag, go to which provided the image.

June 13, 2005

"Legal Guide for Bloggers"

EFF announces: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to release a document that informs bloggers of their legal rights. EFF's "Legal Guide for Bloggers" is a collection of frequently asked questions (FAQs) designed to educate bloggers about their legal rights in a number of areas, including libel law, copyright law, and political advocacy.

There is still a lot of confusion about the legal status of bloggers. Are they journalists, due the protections of the reporters' privilege and heightened First Amendment analysis? Are they online service providers, who are generally exempt from liability for the postings of others? EFF's guide explores all of these roles and explains how the law may be interpreted in particular instances. -- EFF: Breaking News

Thanks to BeSpacific for the link.

May 19, 2005

Law Blog Ad Network

Blogads has initiated The Law Blog Ad Network. It allows advertisers looking for legal blogs to find them easily and with one click, place their ads on multiple blogs. For advertisers, it eliminates the guesswork in finding their target audience.

We're starting small, with eight law blogs (to see the list, click on the Network link above). We're trying to attract advertisers of law products, so we're keeping it to lawyers who principally write about legal matters. In other words, if you're a lawyer who blogs mostly about food, you should join the Food Ad Network, not the Law Blog Network.

We will be adding more blogs to the network. Ideally, we'd like to have at least 25. Joining is by invitation, and you will have to carry a link to the network on your site (see mine in the left column of the main page). You also should have some decent traffic numbers on your site and a reliable counter.

Henry Copeland, the founder of Blogads, believes as the number of blogs continues to grow, ad networks will be the wave of the future.

If you're interested in joining the Law Blog Ad Network, send an e-mail with any questions to TalkLeft.

Thanks to Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft for spearheading the effort (and for providing most of the foregoing message).

May 15, 2005

Mandolins, banjos, etc.

I'm back from a few days out of town without a computer, without a care, and without any business purpose. We were in Helen, Georgia, and stayed at the Country Inn and Suites . I recommend them both.

Helen is a funny place. It's sort of a real town theme park or theme park real town. It's a real town that tacked on an Alpine village facade in 1968 to attact tourists. It seems to have worked. This weekend there was a "bike festival" for bicyclists who were holding various events. There also seemed to be lots of motorcyclists (both "hogs" and Yamaha racing bikes) in town and more coming into town as we traveled out toward Hiawassi. I'm not sure if the bikers had their own thing, were part of the "bike festival," or were just tourists like me.

Don't be put off by the oom-pah music on the Helen webiste. I did not hear any German music while I was there.

We attended the Bluegrass Festival at the Georgia Mountain Fair in Hiawassee, Georgia. The Fair has a great music facility, the Anderson Music Hall, with padded pews in most of the hall and some folding chairs down front for the really committed (and perhaps those who have already lost their hearing through exposure to too many decibels at music concerts).

My favorite groups at the festival were King Wilkie, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

May 8, 2005

"Politics1 is not dead yet"

About a week ago, Ron Gunzburger emailed me with that subject line. His message said, "Saw your kind words about Politics1 and wanted to let you know the site is still going forward during this semi-hiatus period."

Indeed it is. Ron has posted an update nearly every day for the past two weeks. I recommend it highly.

April 20, 2005

Book Meme

Blonde Justice

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be saved from the firemen who are buring all the books? Huckleberry Finn. While the F451 firemen were burning all books, Huck Finn is one of those that gets banned by libraries and schools pretty frequently. This is a book I re-read frequently. Hmm, that reminds, it's been several years. Time to get it out. "Well then, I'll just go to Hell."

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Can't remember I had a crush on her, but I wanted to meet Nancy Drew.

3. The last book you purchased? See the next answer. I'm leaving out the stuff I buy for the office.

4. What are you currently reading? Murder in Tombstone: The Forgotten Trial of Wyatt Earp by Steven Lubet. God's Politics by Jim Wallis. The Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis.

5. Five books you would take to a deserted island?

  • The New English Bible with Apocrypha, Oxford Study Edition.

  • The Complete Works of Shakespeare.

  • Huckleberry Finn.

  • The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. (Annotations by Martin Gardner.)

  • The Federalist. (I just got a good annotated version by J.R. Pole.)
  • Now, the idea of a Meme is that you spread the idea around. Put it on your blog. Type up your list and email it to friends or post it on your door.

    This also came from Blonde Justice. And I looked at Blond Justice because it is on the list of 60 Sites in 60 Minutes from the ABA Techshow.

    Just a little fun

    Which Incredibles Character Are You?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    Well, that's funny because I don't feel very Edna-ish. (I ran across this on Blonde Justice.

    March 26, 2005

    "Election Protection and Democracy Expansion"


    Presented by
    Washington College of Law’s Program on Law and Government and the
    American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy, & the Law

    Thursday, March 31, 2005
    1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Room 603

    Do We Need a Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing the Right to Vote?

    John Bonifaz – Founder and General Counsel, National Voting Rights Institute

    Kim Gandy – President, National Organization for Women

    Alex Keyssar – Matthew W. Stirling, Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

    Spencer Overton – Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School

    Jamin Raskin – Professor of Law, Washington College of Law

    Frank Watkins – Press Secretary, Director of Communication, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

    Graduating from Electoral College: Red-White-and Blue Proposals to Nationalize Our Presidential Elections

    George C. Edwards – Professor of Political Science, Texas A & M University

    John Koza – Electoral College Activist

    Amy Morris – Political Analysis Coordinator,

    Jamin Raskin – Professor of Law, Washington College of Law

    Peter Shane – Professor of Law, Ohio State University

    Diversifying Democracy: Enhancing Women and Minorities’ Chances for Political Participation and Electoral Success

    Roger Clegg – Vice President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity

    Anita Earls – Director of Advocacy, University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights

    David Moon – Program Director, Full Representation Program, Center for Voting and Democracy

    Mary Clark – Professor of Law, Washington College of Law (moderator)

    Register online at

    and click on Event Registration

    For more information, contact the Office of

    Special Events and Continuing Legal Education

    at (202) 274-4386 or

    March 20, 2005

    You are one of the "influentials"

    The results of the BlogAds survey of you and your fellow blog readers have been posted: Now you can tell your pajama-bashing friends that the data from last week's blog reader survey indicates that 70% of blog readers are influentials, those articulate, networked 10% of Americans who set the agenda for the other 90%. (RoperASW, the folks who wrote the book on Influentials, have more information on the definition on influentials here.)

    I guess the CBS guy just forgot to mention that those pajamas are silk, not rayon.

    When I mentioned 70% data last Friday at the panel on influentials at the George Washington University conference on Online Politics, Carol Darr, the institute's director, said this ratio correlated with the data that her group had observed last year in a study of influentials online.

    To put the blogosphere's influentials density in context, consider that the likes to brag that 34% of its readers are influentials. -- Blogads weblog

    Follow this link to see the detailed survey. Thanks to those of you who responded. The survey helps BlogAds sell ads to keep blogs going and it helps all of us understand blog readers better.

    March 12, 2005

    New blog about politics and technology

    From the first post of Politology: First, an apology is in order to language purists. "Politology" is actually a word simply meaning the study of policy - other countries use the word to mean the same thing that we mean by "political science".

    But this weblog is specifically about both politics and technology, including (but not limited to) the intersection between the two subjects. Politics is where some of the most exciting web development is happening, and we only scratched the surface with the Dean campaign. This site will very much be about politics and technology in the United States. The word fits. -- Politology

    Mostly he has been talking about the bankruptcy bill this week.

    Thanks to beSpacifc for the link.

    March 3, 2005

    A survey

    Henry Copeland at BlogAds is doing a survey of blog readers. Just click here to get to the survey. Please list Votelaw as the answer to question #16. The survey should take about four minutes to complete. The results will help us -- all of the blog community -- communicate with advertisers, the press and the public about the huge and unique audience that blogs serve.


    January 26, 2005

    Legislator's financial disclosures now online

    From The Center for Public Integrity website: Ever wonder what outside financial interests a legislator in your state might have? Now you can find out with a couple of clicks of your mouse. Putting the country's government ethics laws to work, the Center for Public Integrity today made thousands of state legislators' outside interest disclosure filings available to online users.

    Researchers at the Center collected nearly 7,000 personal financial statements state lawmakers submitted in 2004 to oversight agencies in the 47 states requiring disclosure. Three states-Idaho, Michigan and Vermont-do not require disclosure at all. -- Outside Interest - The Center for Public Integrity

    Thanks to Be Spacific for the link.

    Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties

    David Schultz emailed: John Vile of Middle Tennessee State University and I are shamelessly pleased to announce the publication of our three volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CIVIL LIBERTIES by ME Sharpe, Inc.

    The three volume set is composed of nearly 800 essays by over 250 political scientists, law professors, lawyers, and others. There are many election law topics covered in the three volumes and many subscribers to this listserv contributed. John and I wish to thank all who contributed for their hard work and we encourage all of you to visit the ME Sharpe Website for more information. Until the end of January there is a great deal on price to purchase the set.

    I was one of those many contributors.

    January 15, 2005

    New blog about international law

    From the first post on a new blog: Welcome to Opinio Juris, a weblog dedicated to reports, commentary, and debate on current developments and scholarship in the fields of international law and politics.

    Our modest goal is to share with our readers a variety of perspectives on the role of international law in the U.S. and around the globe and to stimulate discussion within the community of international law scholars and practitioners. We will include useful links to other important on-line sources of information on international law. -- Opinio Juris

    From the first week, it looks like this might be an interesting blog -- if we can just get them to talk about elections. Disclaimer: I know one of the professors doing the blog, so I am clearly biased.

    January 11, 2005

    Politics1 will "go on hiatus" (that's my spin)

    Ron Gunzburger writes on Politics1: For a while now, I could tell it was time for me to move on to other projects. I finally made the decision to do so on New Year's Day ... and then decided to wait a week or so to be really certain this was what I wanted to do.

    I loved my experience in creating and running Politics1. I launched this one-person, public service educational project in late 1997 and it grew rapidly, gaining a loyal and sizable following. It also successfully operated "in the black" for the entire run. I'm rather satisfied with the accomplishments of Politics1 over the past 6 years. Still, all good things must come to an end. -- Politics1 - American Politics, Elections, Candidates & Campaigns

    We'll miss you, Ron.

    Server change

    Because of the Denial of Service attack on my hosting company and the subsequent crash of the particular server hosting my website, the hosting company moved my site (and many others) to a different server. This caused some disruption in my ability to post yesterday and may have affected your ability to see the website. I hope things are back to normal now.

    January 8, 2005

    Server outage

    For a good portion of today, the server at Hosting Matters (where the blog is hosted) has not been working properly. If you tried to log on during that time, I hope you did not think I had just folded up the shop.

    We're back now. But it appears that several things I posted earlier today have disappeared. I will work on getting them posted again.

    December 29, 2004

    Give for tsunami relief

    Here's where you can donate to the relief for victims of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

    IRC Donations (the International Committee of the Red Cross)
    India Relief (Prime Minister's National Relief Fund
    Episcopal Relief & Development
    Network for Good lists many more organizations

    December 22, 2004

    Congratulations to Martin Still, a new Eagle Scout

    About a week ago, my younger son Martin Still passed the board of review to become an Eagle Scout. Only 4% of all the boys who start in the Boy Scouts ever reach this rank. (I did not, for instance.) Here's what the official Boy Scout website says about the Eagle rank:

    The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting but also as he enters higher education, business or industry, and community service. The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank; only about 4 percent of all Boy Scouts do so. This represents more than 1 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1911. Nevertheless, the goals of Scouting—citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness—remain important for all Scouts, whether or not they attain the Eagle Scout rank.


    To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Although many options are available to demonstrate proficiency in these areas, a number of specific skills are required to advance through the ranks—Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. To advance, a Boy Scout must pass specific tests that are organized by requirements and merit badges.

    Merit Badges

    Merit badges signify the mastery of certain Scoutcraft skills, as well as helping boys increase their skill in an area of personal interest. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout. Of this group, 12 badges are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving and a choice among Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming.

    Service and Responsibility

    Beginning with the Star rank, and continuing through Life and Eagle, a Scout must demonstrate participation in increasingly more responsible service projects. At these levels, he also must demonstrate leadership skills by holding one or more specific youth positions of responsibility in his patrol and/or troop.

    December 6, 2004


    Comments are now only available for items on the main page. If there are comments on some older items, you may view them by clicking on the "Comments" link.

    I'm back

    ... but I'm still pretty tired from the plane ride back, so it may be another day or so before I get started.

    December 1, 2004

    No blogging till Monday at the earliest

    I'm outa here and not taking the computer with me for a few days.

    November 29, 2004


    The News You Just Can't Use: Unconfirmed Sources report new plans are in the works for nationwide redistricting. Troubled by stubbornly Democratic states one Republican congressional leader stated "Direct action is required to insure GOP hegemony." On the heels of the stunning Republican success in Texas the GOP plans to continue it's illegal redistricting campaigns on the "largest scale possible."

    "The 2000 election proved that the current districting is dangerously balanced." Complained Karl Rove. Concerned that future elections may not have the same result as 2000 campaign, the GOP strategy is to break up Democratic strongholds like California.

    Governor Schwartznager and Tom Delay have been working on the plan for several months. "Why would the governor preside over the destruction on his own state?" The word on the street is that he might become a regional governor with control over three or four of the new states.

    The plans for California involve annexing most of its territory to neighboring states with mostly Republican populations. ...

    The Democrats are taking a wait and see approach on the whole matter. -- Unconfirmed Sources

    November 20, 2004

    The Onion: GOP wants to privatize elections

    The Onion reports (?): Citing the "extreme inefficiency" of this month's U.S. presidential election, key Republicans called for future elections to be conducted by the private sector.

    "When the average citizen hears the phrase 'presidential election,' he thinks of long lines at polling places and agonizing waits as election results are tallied," U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told reporters Monday. "Putting the election of our public officials into the hands of private industry would motivate election officials to be more efficient."

    "There's too much talk about the accuracy and fairness of our national elections, and not enough about their proficiency and profitability," Santorum added. "Who bears the brunt of bureaucratic waste? Taxpayers."

    U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) called for an end to "big government overseeing the election of big government." -- The Onion | Republicans Call For Privatization Of Next Election

    November 11, 2004

    Brennan Center -- new publication on Civil War Amendments

    The Brennan Center is delighted to announce its latest publication: A New Birth of Freedom: The Forgotten History of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. This paper offers a critical analysis of recent Supreme Court "federalism" jurisprudence, which purports to justify rollbacks of civil rights by appeal to the original intent of the Constitution. The authors demonstrate that the Court's "states' rights" agenda is inconsistent with the extensive federal power exercised in the pre-Civil-War era and would be unrecognizable to the Framers of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, who sought to harness that power to effectuate Lincoln's promise of a "new birth of freedom." Hard copies of the paper may be obtained by e-mailing with your address and the number of copies you would like.

    November 5, 2004

    Advice from Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798, after the passage of the Sedition Act: A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to it's true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war & long oppressions of enormous public debt. ... If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, & then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake. Better luck, therefore, to us all; and health, happiness, & friendly salutations to yourself. -- T. Jefferson to John Taylor, 4 June 1798

    OK, patience was good enough for Jefferson, but we've got to get back out there on the field and practice our principles. We've got to win the next one for truth, justice, and the American way.

    Update: I found the source of the quotation and put the ampersands back in, the way TJ wrote it.

    Welcome to the ElectionGeek

    Not content to provide some of the best election-related content through, Doug Chapin has joined the bloggers with ElectionGeek. He says, "I wanted to establish a separate forum wherein I could express personal views on election administration reform issues du jour outside the boundaries of my 'day job.'"

    As the first of the election law bloggers, I welcome Doug to the fraternity (no sisters yet blogging on election law yet).

    November 3, 2004


    According to the statistics on my hosting company, Hosting Matters, I had 5333 unique visitors during the first two days of this month and used 2.31 gigabytes of bandwidth. To put that in perspective, during all of October, I had 14,661 unique visitors and bandwidth use was 6.93 gigabytes.

    Thanks for coming by.

    Exit polls

    In case you would like to see the state by state exit polls, here is a link to the Washington Post. The link below will get you to the Alabama exit poll (where I found that Kerry got only 19% of the white vote). Just cut and paste this link into your browser's address bar. To get a different state, simply change "alabama" to the other state (spell two-word state names as one word).


    November 2, 2004


    What a day to be tied up and not able to blog. Lots of developments. I hope you read the blogs listed in the yellow box in the right column of this blog to get all the nitty gritty.

    I was working on Election Protection. More about that latter. In the meanwhile, I will start reading the newswires.

    November 1, 2004

    "How Appealing" to reposition blog to challenge Votelaw, Election Law Blog, Election Law @ Moritz, and others

    Howard Bashman announces on How Appealing: I'm Howard J. Bashman, and I approve this message: I've made it back home to the northwestern suburbs of Philadelphia from Lancaster, South Carolina, and beginning tomorrow "How Appealing" will provide comprehensive law-related election coverage from the casting of the first vote until the U.S. Supreme Court declares a winner. -- How Appealing

    Political site of the day has named Votelaw its "Political Site of the Day." Thanks.


    October 30, 2004

    What did you do in the election?

    A friend who lives in DC just wrote me that he is "in an undisclosed location in PA working on the Kerry campaign in the voting protection unit." On election day, I will working with the Election Protection Coalition in ... Birmingham, Alabama. No long commute for me.

    What are you going to be doing on election day? I would like to have "day in the life" stories from those working in the campaign legal groups -- for any campaign or non-partisan group. So take notes, delete the confidential material, and send them in starting Tuesday evening. Email them to

    I don't promise to run all of them, and I may run them a few at a time.

    If you have friends who are not regular readers of Votelaw Blog, please let them know of this request.

    October 26, 2004

    Demos offers new election resources

    Demos writes in an email announcement: In the interest of giving you comprehensive and up-to-the-minute information about issues that will affect the November election, Demos has launched three new features which are now available at

    Demos Election Newswire showcases the latest election-related articles and commentaries from around the country and the globe. This feature is updated hourly and will be available through Election Day and beyond.

    Democracy Dispatches Daily Roundup summarizes the day's top stories and provides insight into the issues we think will be paramount as Election Day approaches. A new roundup is posted everyday, between 4:00pm and 5:00pm, and provides you with a brief overview of some of the day's news if you do not have time to scroll through The Newswire.

    " Democracy at Risk: Challenges to Election Integrity," an election briefing book, has also been posted on our website. This briefing book covers five areas that Demos has studied in depth: provisional balloting, felon disenfranchisement, voter registration, voter purging and election fraud. Visit this feature for a comprehensive analysis of the issue that will certainly be a part of the Election Day buzz.

    I have added the first two of these to my list of recommended reading in the right margin of this blog.

    Beth Chapman is a spammer

    Beth Chapman is the Auditor of Alabama and a spammer. She got my email address from somewhere or other and started sending me things to promote her political career. After I received two emails in July promoting her book, ... well, I will let my letter to her explain the problem.

    Dear Ms. Chapman:
    You have sent me two emails in the last week. I wish to be removed from your email list. I tried to respond to the emails, but bounced the reply with the message, “550 Invalid recipient:” I then went to your website ( and typed a message to you there, but got this message after I pressed the Submit button:

    Warning: Page has Expired The page you requested was created using information you submitted in a form. This page is no longer available. As a security precaution, Internet Explorer does not automatically resubmit your information for you.

    To resubmit your information and view this Web page, click the Refresh button.

    Since your purpose in sending the emails seems to be the promotion of your book, you ought to take a look at the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 which requires that you allow recipients a method of removal from the email lists you use to send them commercial email.


    Edward Still

    I did not receive anything from her for a while, but something arrived in mid-September, and another arrived today (promoting the candidacy of Patti Smith for the Alabama Supreme Court). None of Chapman's emails has an opt-out address or notice, and none has a physical address for her. And, as you can see, she uses a false return address for her emails. Doesn't that fit the definition of a spammer?

    October 25, 2004

    Desperately seeking ... assistant editors

    Votelaw is seeking assistant editors. Hours flexible; pay none; satisfaction priceless.

    Necessary qualifications: interest in and knowledge of election law; ability to use Google; rudimentary knowledge of HTML; good editorial skills.

    Apply by sending an email to the address in the upper right corner of the main page.

    October 23, 2004

    Symposium on the Law Governing our Democratic Process

    The George Washington Law Review invites you to attend:

    Law and Democracy: A Symposium on the Law Governing our Democratic Process

    Date: Monday, November 15, 2004

    Location: The Library of Congress, First Street and Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C.

    Just two weeks after the 2004 elections, the country’s leading election law and political science scholars will gather for a frank and insightful discussion on the state of the law governing our democratic process and the impact of that law on this year's elections. The George Washington Law Review invites you to join us for what promises to be an exciting and memorable day.

    For more information, or to register for the symposium, please contact James Cobb, the Senior Projects Editor of The George Washington Law Review, at

    Schedule of Events (subject to change):

    8:15 a.m. Welcoming Address
    Roger Trangsrud, Interim Dean, The George Washington University Law School
    Spencer Overton, The George Washington University Law School
    Location: Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress

    8:30 a.m. Panel I: Partisan Redistricting and Veith v. Jubelirer
    Michael Kang, Emory University School of Law
    Ellen Katz, University of Michigan Law School
    Justin Driver, Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow, Harvard Law School
    Adam Cox, The University of Chicago Law School
    Location: Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress

    10:30 a.m. Panel II: Campaign Finance
    Dennis Thompson, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
    Richard Briffault, Columbia Law School
    Guy Uriel Charles, University of Minnesota Law School
    Gregg Polsky, University of Minnesota Law School
    Larry Noble, Executive Director, The Center for Responsive Politics, and former General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission
    Lillian BeVier, University of Virginia School of Law
    Location: Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress

    12:30 p.m. Luncheon and Roundtable Discussion: How the Rules Shaped the 2004 Election
    Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio
    Bill Marshall, The University of North Carolina School of Law
    Rick Hasen, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
    Samuel Issacharoff, Columbia Law School
    Edward Foley, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University
    Rick Pildes, New York University Law School
    Location: Madison Building, The Library of Congress

    3:00 p.m. Panel III: Voting Rights and Barriers to Voting
    Heather Gerken, Harvard Law School
    Daniel Tokaji, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University
    Daniel Ortiz, University of Virginia School of Law
    Grant Hayden, Hofstra University School of Law
    Terry Smith, Fordham University School of Law
    Location: Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress


    I have three ads running now. Please take a moment to look at this ads. Remember that they help pay the freight around here.

    October 22, 2004

    Keep those cards and letters emails coming

    You will notice that the five posts just below this one are all based on tips, links, or documents sent to me. I invite you to send similar items to me at the address listed on the first page of my blog, in the upper right corner. (That address in encrypted to prevent spammers from using bots to harvest the address were I to list it in plain text here.)

    October 17, 2004

    Is this pro- or anti-Bush?

    I received this email:

    RatherGate proved that bloggers are the best fact checkers. That is why we are writing to a few bloggers asking for help. Yes Bush Can has collected several documents that are clearly suspect. But we need your help to prove they are fake: Let's spring to action before these documents needlessly tarnish the reputation of our Commander and Chief. You know the drill: analyze the handwriting, search for factual errors, and post your discoveries. And keep us posted by sending email to Thanks in advance for your help. YesBushCan

    So I went to the site and looked at the list of suspect documents. You can find it here.

    Several of the documents are easily checkable. For instance, the document about the arrest of Barbara and Jenna Bush is on the Austin Police Department website.

    One hint that this is not a pro-Bush website is found on its Patriot Pledge Page. One optional pledge is, "I support tax cuts favoring the elite, and I volunteer to pay more than my share of taxes to allow the elite to invest their money in our country’s economy. [Please skip this item if your annual income exceeds $400,000.]"

    October 16, 2004

    Campaign & Elections publishes list of political blogs

    Campaigns and Elections magazine has started a list of blogs about politics and campaigns. Pretty good list, although it omits Votelaw -- for the moment, we hope.

    October 7, 2004

    Another short break

    I am taking another trip out of town without the computer. Back on Monday.

    September 30, 2004

    Blogging recess

    I heading out of town WITHOUT my computer for 3 days. See ya when I get back.

    September 22, 2004

    Secret addendum to the debate agreement

    Madeleine Kane says: As most people know by now, President Bush and Senator Kerry have signed on to a 32 page debate agreement. But few are aware that they also signed a secret addendum to that agreement. Fortunately, has an exclusive copy of that secret addendum, provided by a DC insider whom I will identify only as "Debate Throat."

    TOP SECRET ADDENDUM TO ELECTION 2004 DEBATE AGREEMENT, entered into on September 20, 2004 by President George W. Bush (hereinafter referred to as "Bush") and Senator John F. Kerry (hereinafter referred to as "Kerry")

    WHEREAS, The interesting thing about being the President is you don't have to explain things;

    WHEREAS, If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier; and

    WHEREAS, Bush and Kerry have entered into a Debate Agreement and wish to modify it and memorialize certain secret debate terms. -- Madeleine Begun Kane, Humor Columnist, Notables Weblog , Political Commentary with Sardonic Twist, July through September 2004, including Bush Birthday Haiku

    September 21, 2004

    Instant access to more political news

    121 Communications says: Vote121 is an innovative new browser toolbar that brings all the latest campaign news and opinion straight to your browser. Without interrupting your normal browsing routine, you can learn more about the presidential candidates, get an active countdown to the election and an up-to-the-minute display of the projected election results – and it’s all free! -- Vote121 Toolbar

    Thanks to TalkLeft for the link. (TalkLeft is one of the RSS feeds carried on Vote121.)

    September 15, 2004

    Ivan may disrupt service

    Hurricane Ivan continues its course toward LA (Lower Alabama) with Birmingham a likely destination early Friday morning. Thursday afternoon we might get 50 mph winds, according to

    So, I am expecting power and/or DSL outages.

    September 8, 2004

    Unconfirmed sources claim NAACP plot to suppress white vote

    Unconfirmed Sources reports (with tongue firmly in cheek): Unconfirmed sources report that Republican lawmakers are planning a lawsuit against the NAACP. In a news conference today in Washington D.C. Michigan State Rep. John Pappageorge and Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, detailed their complaints against the civil rights group. The two lawmakers allege that the NAACP has engaged in a systematic campaign to suppress the white vote. ...

    The report describes several plots used by the NAACP and its operative to suppress the white vote. The following are two of the most egregious examples:

    The Valet Ballot Service Scam: Workers pretending to represent a new Valet Voting Service cruised wealthy subdivisions in Troy Michigan in the days preceding the 2000 election. For a small fee the valet service would take your ballet to your designated polling station and return with a receipt after the election. After the election voters were shocked to find out the ballets were phony and their votes has never been cast.

    The Golf with Tiger Flim-Flam: Voters in wealthy white neighborhoods of Fort Worth Texas were told they had won free tickets to an upcoming pro am golf tournament and would be paired with Tiger Woods. The phony Election Day golf tournament was to be held in Austin, which is several hours from Fort Worth. By the time the Tiger fans found out the tournament was phony polling places back in Fort Worth were closing and their opportunity to vote was lost. -- Democratic Dirty Tricks: NAACP Tries to Suppress White Vote! (

    August 30, 2004

    A week off

    I'm taking a week off from blogging. See you after Labor Day.

    August 24, 2004


    Several readers have made new comments in just the last two days. Since I have to spend so much time deleting comments that are really advertisements for sex, drugs, and ... home mortgages, it is a pleasure to get real comments.

    On the right side of this blog, I have a listing of "Recent Entries with Comments." Just as the title suggests, this is a listing of the entry titles that have comments. If you are interested in seeing others' comments, scroll down there are take a look. If you want to add something to a comment already made, just go to the bottom of the comment page and type yours in. If you want to add a comment after reading one of my posts, just click on the Comment link right after "This entry was posted by Edward at ...."

    July 25, 2004

    Make plans now to be in Hayneville, Alabama, on 14 August

    Update: Jonathan Myrick Daniels was an Episcopal Seminarian who was shot and killed in Hayneville, Alabama, while working for voter registration in 1965. He saved the life of a young girl, Ruby Sales, while taking the shotgun blast himself. The Episcopal Dioceses of Alabama and of the Central Gulf Coast will celebrate his life and those of other martyrs of Alabama, on Saturday, 14 August 2004, beginning at 11:00 a.m in the Courthouse Square in Hayneville. The procession to the old jail and the site of Daniels' shooting will be followed by a Eucharist and lunch (available for $6.00).

    Directions: from I-65, take exit 151 (about 12 miles south of Montgomery) and go west on Highway 97 to Hayneville (about 8 miles).


    Update: The Diocese of Alabama has announced that the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a Native American and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School (formerly the Episcopal Theological Seminary), will be the homilist at the service in Hayneville. Also, Horace Boyer, the compiler of the "Lift Every Voice and Sing" hymnal used in many Episcopal churces, will direct the music. Boyer will also offer a music workshop on Friday, 13 August, for those who will form the choir the next day.

    For more details, call the Diocese of Alabama at 205-715-2060.


    Make plans now to join me in Hayneville, Alabama, for the Annual Pilgrimage in honor of Jonathan Daniels who was murdered there in 1965. Daniels was a student at Episcopal Theological Seminary, Cambridge, Mass., who answered the call of Dr. Martin Luther King to come to Alabama to help on the civil rights struggle. For more on Jonathan, see this page.

    Please note that this is a religious ceremony. As this article from the Episcopal News Service reports,

    The pilgrimage [in 2004] will be held on August 14, the day that Daniels is remembered in Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Already, bishops from Louisiana, West Tennessee, and North Carolina have promised to attend and bring pilgrims with them.

    For those unfamiliar with Episcopal practice, the book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts includes commemoration of many saints and more modern folks the Episcopal Church has decided to honor. We put "Blessed" in front of their names.

    For the last 5 or 6 years, this Pilgrimage has been a joint project of the Episcopal Dioceses of Alabama and the Central Gulf Coast (which includes the lower quarter of Alabama).

    I will have more details later, but plan on getting to Hayneville about 10 or 11 a.m. Hayneville is 24 miles SW of Montgomery and 156 miles from Mobile, so you can easily drive from Birmingham, Montgomery, or Mobile that morning.

    Y'all come.

    Michael Steele, R.I.P

    A high school friend died earlier this month. Mike Steele and I had known each other all this time and had kept in touch, even though we had gone to different colleges and law schools, had practiced law in different states, and had practiced in different fields. Yet Mike's sense of humor made it easy to want to stay in touch.

    I had the good fortune to see Mike after his brain cancer was diagnosed. I drove over to Kosciusko, Mississippi, to see him. We visited for about 4 hours. He was funny even then. He told me he had instructed the doctors, before his therapy began, to leave him with at least an 85 IQ ... so he could continue to practice law successfully.

    Mike's main practice was workers' comp, although in a small town a lawyer does lots of things. (In fact, one his hilarious stories on our last visit was about a client calling in the middle of the night about wanting to get his gun back from the police.) Another practictioner in the field, John Jones of Jackson, Mississippi, wrote this euology. It says so much about what Mike meant to people.

    On behalf of Commissioner Lydia Quarles, the Administrative Judges from the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Commission who are here, and Mike’s colleagues in the compensation bar, I wanted to say something so that his wife and family, and mainly his children, will know how respected Mike was in his profession, because he truly was. For those of us who knew him mainly through his work, the loss of Mike Steele takes away the one person among us all who made our little world of lawyers and law practice unique, serious, challenging and fun, always fun. We want Nell, Gunter and the rest of the family to know that among his colleagues in the Bar, Mike Steele can never be replaced or even closely imitated, and that our hearts are broken, too.

    There was simply nobody like Mike. At our worker’s compensation seminars, Mike was always the best, wittiest and most-sought-after speaker because he always combined dogged advocacy for the side of the little guy for whom he was the constant champion with a singular vision of the absurd and ironic. Who can forget Mike’s overhead-projector presentations where he’d display ancient drawings from Milton’s Paradise Lost or Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels to portray the plight of the lowly worker claiming benefits, and then pencil in a drawing of Andy Taggart or Kirk Fordice sitting beside the Mayor of Lilliput or Satan himself whipping the worker? I once asked him to submit an article on doctor shopping to the section newsletter, and what I got was a poem in perfect iambic pentameter based on John Donne’s A Valediction Forbidding Mourning. For those who took the time to read and understand what Mike was really saying, it was perfect. Like always, when Mike said something in that way he had of expressing himself, there really wasn’t anything else worth saying about the issue.

    What Mike was, really, was a poet, an artist, and a highly refined intellectual, living among the people up here in Attala County. We became fast friends years and years ago because he started quoting poetry over the phone to me and I said, “So, what’s Dover Beach got to do with whether my guy is permanently and totally disabled?” And Mike said, “If you really know about Matthew Arnold … everything.” I learned later that he and my wife shared the same mentor, the late professor Bill Durratt from Belhaven College, and because I was also an English major, we understood each other in a way that comes so rarely in law practice that you never take it for granted. Because Mike was never motivated by money or competition for the sake of competition, and because Mike always looked for something ennobling in all of us, he could tell me with a sly and knowing look, “With the poor people of this world, I cast my lot,” and I would know in an instant he meant it and was giving me a way to look at what I chose to do for a living that would always inspire me to do my best. I think Mike had that effect on everyone, and we wanted his family and mainly his children to know—although I’m sure they know better than the rest of us—how honestly rare and inspiring were the gifts he gave so freely to everyone he met.

    For those of us who knew him through his work as a lawyer, his family should know that our profession cannot follow John Donne’s advice about forbidding mourning when it comes to Mike Steele. We are much diminished by his loss, to the extent that I wonder whether the practice of compensation law will ever be as fun and as rewarding as it has been when we had Mike Steele among us. He was that rarest of lawyers: one who did what he did with absolute integrity and total commitment to doing the right thing or not doing it at all. And because Mike knew and appreciated the concept of the claim, I personally feel sure that when God reclaimed Mike's soul on Saturday, Mike rested his case with all the grace and dignity he brought to evertything, plus a bit of irony that the claimant appreciated. As John Donne himself said scorning death:

    One short sleep past, we wake eternally
    And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die.

    None of us who knew him as a lawyer and friend have ever met anyone remotely like Mike Steele, and none of us will ever forget what a blessing he was to our profession and our lives.

    July 16, 2004

    Short hiatus

    I will taking a few days off from this weblog. My father Wilson Edward Still Sr. , of Tuscaloosa, AL, died in his sleep this morning. As you know, my mother died in March. May they both rest in peace.

    July 14, 2004

    Black radio and the civil rights movement

    The University of Florida says in a press release: Like Radio Free Europe was to those behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, black radio stations and disc jockeys often were as important as ministers and politicians in mobilizing support for the civil rights movement of the 1960s, says a University of Florida researcher.

    Not only did black DJs encourage a sense of common identity, pride and purpose, they also passed along strategies on how to combat racial discrimination, defeat police roadblocks and counter disinformation from segregationist authorities, said Brian Ward, a UF history professor who explores the themes for the first time in his book "Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South," published this month, 40 years to the month after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. ...

    In the book, published by University Press of Florida, Ward talks about how black-oriented radio stations offered valuable tactical guidance in the nation’s great civil rights battles. During the1963 Birmingham protests, for example, DJs at several black radio stations moved black residents around the city by sending coded messages in their broadcasts revealing times and locations where marches would occur while also alerting participants of any obstacles they may encounter, he said.

    “One station, WENN, hired one of the first traffic helicopters and broadcast traffic reports to the African-American community, which had little to do with the volume of traffic and a lot to do with where police roadblocks were,” said Ward, who used newspapers, trade journals and magazines; dozens of interviews with DJs, station executives and civil rights activists; and thousands of archival documents from the Federal Communications Commission, the FBI, local and state law enforcement agencies, and local and national civil rights organizations and leaders.

    Blacks gathered in dozens of Birmingham churches with radios turned up, waiting to hear a particular gospel song, which was their signal to leave the congregation halls and begin marching downtown, Ward said. -- Black Radio Played Strong Role In Shaping Civil Rights (Newswise)

    July 6, 2004

    Second anniversary

    I let the 4th of July slip by without acknowledging it as my second anniversary of blogging. Oh, well.

    July 4, 2004

    Independence Day

    One of my favorite things to do on the 4th of July is listen to Morning Edition's reading of the Declaration of Independence. They read it this year on Friday. Bob Edwards is still there, but reading the end rather than the beginning.

    If you want a visual to go along with the reading, listen and watch as Morgan Freeman introduces a group of Hollywood stars read the Declaration. (Click on "Declaration Reading.") Watch for Graham Greene reading the accusation that King George had caused the Indian tribes to attack the colonists.

    July 1, 2004

    A day off

    By the way, I probably won't be posting anything on Friday. I'm going to watch my younger son compete in Scottish games. I think he will be putting the stone, tossing the sheaf, and tossing the caber (that's throwing big rocks, bags of hay, and telephone poles for distance or height).

    June 27, 2004

    RIP: James Edward Gildersleeve

    There is more to the James Edward Gildersleeve story than Selma, the 1960's and the Civil Rights Movement.

    Gildersleeve, who died on June 17 at the age of 86. lived the life of an American hero before he became President of the Dallas County Voter's League (DCVL) and a member of the Courageous Eight.

    A father of two and the grandfather of four, Gildersleeve served his country as an MP in Japan during World War II. In addition, he served 41 years as a teacher and principal in both public and private schools. However, it is the resolve that Gildersleeve showed in the early '60's that will keep his name in the history books. ...

    The Courageous Eight began as the three-member Trustee Board of the Dallas Count Voter's League. The board expanded to eight members and later became called the Courageous Eight for their work.

    The group banded together to fight segregation in Selma. They defied the white powers that sought to keep blacks oppressed. They fought for the right to earn a fair wage, equality in education, the right to elect leaders, and other basic freedoms. -- A Courageous Man: James Gildersleeve: 1918-2004 (Selma Times-Journal)

    June 12, 2004

    Search the audio and video files for campaign statements

    More than 75 percent of Americans rely on broadcast news sources for information about the presidential campaign. Voters have had few ways to search these audio/video outlets for news and topics that are critical to them — until now. has gathered campaign-related video and audio files from a number of Web sites: George Bush's and John Kerry's campaign Web sites, C-SPAN, PBS, NPR and more. uses complex spoken-language-analysis software created by StreamSage to automatically identify the sections of audio/video news and speeches that are relevant to a voter's interests.

    Similar to Google's ability to search web pages, StreamSage's system allows voters to search audio/video content for specific keywords. The StreamSage software automatically segments content into contextually relevant clips where those keywords are being discussed, other key topics discussed in these sections, and the relative degree of importance of each topic. --

    Thanks to Inter Alia for the link.

    May 31, 2004

    Congratulations, Henry

    Henry Flores, a political scientist at St. Mary's University [in San Antonio, Texas] for more than 20 years, has been named dean of the graduate school.

    Flores, whose term begins Tuesday, has been an expert witness in more than 50 voting rights cases and has a special focus on redistricting and reapportionment.

    He is the author of scholarly articles on urban politics, elections, Hispanic politics and voting rights. Flores was director of the graduate programs in political science and public administration at St. Mary's. --

    May 29, 2004

    A collaborative encyclopedia of political issues

    Daily Kos, one of the most read weblogs, announced Friday.

    Ahh, this is a cool day in dKos history -- a team of Kosmopolitans has put together the dKosopedia -- a Daily Kos wiki.

    I can almost hear you all thinking, "what the heck is a wiki?" It's a collaborative website that will allow this community to build a political encyclopedia (from a liberal standpoint, of course). In short, anyone will be able to contribute encyclopedia entries on a variety of political subjects. ...

    We hope the dKosopedia will become the progressive-political version of the Wikipedia, a political FAQ so to speak -- a repository of answers to questions such as "how do I calculate a Margin of Error", and "How are superdelegates selected?" and "What is a 527?". It's currently just a skeletal shell, but we hope it'll grow into a main resource for community members and the general public at large. That's where you guys come into play.

    Looks pretty interesting. Of course, everybody who reads this weblog knows something interesting in the political realm. So, if you are progressive, add something to the DKosopedia.

    May 28, 2004

    Long essays on new blog

    I received a nice fan letter this evening from the proprietor of an interesting blog, SLEEPER 2004. The name is an acronym for Socially Liberal Electorate Economics and Politics Encountering Resistance: Preparing for the 2004 election. The blog has longish essays abot once a week, so you won't be overwhelmed by the trivia you get here. Stop by SLEEPER 2004.

    May 13, 2004

    Our sponsors

    The ads in the left column of this weblog help defray some of the expenses I have in bringing you all this information. I hope you will visit the sponsors and buy something from them. The History of Political Parties poster is a beautiful piece that will look good in any political junkie's den, office, or hovel. Take a look at their website and see the whole poster. I'm ordering one.

    If you know of other advertisers who might fit in well here at Votelaw, let me know.

    May 12, 2004

    Show your colors


    On my drive to work this morning, a guy pulled up beside me and motioned for me to roll down my window. I cut off my Steve Earl CD and put the window down. "Where did you get that wonderful bumper sticker?" he asked. "I've got to have one."

    Well, you can get one too (plus lots of other goodies) at

    May 9, 2004


    So that you can see what posts have drawn comments recently, I have added an index on the right side showing "Entries with Recent Comments." Just click on the title and you will see the entry and the comments.

    May 6, 2004

    Comments: love'm and leave'm

    Several thoughtful comments have been left on recent posts in the past few days. I appreciate my readers taking the time to do so.

    This weblog can be a source of conversation, not simply a one-sided presentation by me. I hope you will take the time to leave comments and to read those of others. In the next few days, I will add a notice to one of the side bars of recent comments to aid you in finding new comments.

    May 4, 2004

    Voting Rights for kids

    No, I'm not talking about lowering the voting age. Brenda Wright has sent me the March issue of Cobblestone magazine -- a theme issue on Voting Rights. Brenda was consulting editor on this issue. Cobblestone is for grades 4-8.

    You can order this issue from Cobblestone Publishing.

    April 29, 2004

    Adjuncts teaching election law

    While the full-time law professors provide a wonderful resource for all of us in the election law field, many law schools utilize adjuncts to teach the election law course. Practitioners bring a fresh "in the trenches" perspective that many students need to hear. I would like to compile a list of those teaching election law as adjuncts.

    First on the list if Jeff Wice who will be teaching at Touro Law School.

    If you are one or know of others, please leave their names in the comments.

    April 27, 2004

    Fred Gray to speak at Pepperdine

    Alabama civil rights lawyer and activist Fred D. Gray will deliver the keynote address Saturday at the commencement ceremony for Pepperdine's Seaver College, the school announced yesterday.

    Gray, a senior partner with Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray & Nathanson, based in Tuskegee and Montgomery, is the immediate past president of the Alabama Bar Association and was honored for his civil rights work in 1996 by the American Bar Association. He represented Rosa Parks in 1955 in litigation challenging segregated seating on public buses in Montgomery.

    He was the first black president of the Alabama Bar Association. In honoring him in the inaugural year of its Spirit of Excellence Awards, the American Bar Association noted he brought cases to open the door for redistricting and reapportionment legislation, to protect the right of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to do business in Alabama, to reinstate students expelled from Alabama State College, to require the State of Alabama to protect marchers walking from Selma to Montgomery in pursuit of the right to vote, and to remedy systemic exclusion of blacks from civil juries in Alabama. -- Civil Rights Attorney to Speak At Pepperdine Graduation (Metropolitan News-Enterprise)

    April 15, 2004

    "Retired Generals See Difficult Situation in Iraq"

    The U.S. faces a very difficult military and political outlook as it prepares to meet a June 30 deadline for transferring power in Iraq, former U.S. Army say. NPR's Bob Edwards discusses the situation with Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom.

    McCaffrey says the United States entered Iraq with a "grossly anemic" military force and probably will need a United Nations-led military presence for a transfer to succeed. He says it probably will take a year or two for Iraqi institutions to be built and security and stability to come to that country. Odom says the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein has had the unintended consequence of making Iraq safe for terrorists and other anti-U.S. movements "and they're breeding them rapidly." -- Retired Generals See Difficult Situation in Iraq (NPR)

    This is off the normal topics that I cover, but I found this interview so scary because these guys seem to have the credentials to know what's needed in Iraq. Listen and worry.

    April 2, 2004

    Do you dabble in Daubert or Dilbert?

    Daubert on the Web and Blog 702 are looking for state "correspondents" who will scan the appellate courts decisions of his/her state on Evidence Rule 702 and send them on to the proprietor of those useful sites, Peter Nordberg.

    If you are interested, go here to sign up. Forty-five states are still available.

    A friend is in law school and was studying the Daubert decision. I immediately recommended the Daubert on the web site. That's how good it is.

    On the other hand, those who perfer Dilbert, should go here.

    April 1, 2004

    DeLay resigns; goes to Iraq

    Votelaw has learned that Rep. Tom "The Hammer" DeLay will resign not only from his leadership position but from Congress in order to avoid arrest following his expected indictment by a Travis County, Texas, grand jury.

    President Bush has appointed DeLay as chief democracy builder in Iraq, to replace retiring Amb. Paul Bremer. DeLay said, "I hope to be able to teach the Iraqis a few of things I have learned about running campaigns and dealing with dissent."

    DeLay is expected to leave for Iraq before the new grand jury is impaneled in Travis County.

    Oh, April Fool.

    March 29, 2004

    Thank you

    Thank you, to the many folks who sent an email to me consoling me on the loss of my mother. Your prayers, your thoughts, your concerns have been a comfort.

    March 26, 2004

    Short Hiatus

    I am going to take a few days off from this weblog because of the death of my mother, Ollie Williams Still of Tuscaloosa. She died early this morning in her sleep after five years of Alzheimer's robbing her of memories, speech, and finally comprehension. May she rest in peace.

    March 18, 2004

    Slow blogging

    I worked last evening to install my website on a new hosting company and have not finished. I have meetings over the next few days that will prevent me from completing the transition. In the meanwhile, blogging may be slow.

    Slow blogging

    I worked last evening to install my website on a new hosting company and have not finished. I have meetings over the next few days that will prevent me from completing the transition. In the meanwhile, blogging may be slow.

    March 14, 2004

    Problems with the site

    I am rapidly running out of server room, and this is causing (apparently) some problems: the Search feature returns no results and the Monthly Archives have disappeared. I am making arrangement to move to another hosting company ASAP. I hope to have things running well in a few days.

    Problems with the site

    I am rapidly running out of server room, and this is causing (apparently) some problems: the Search feature returns no results and the Monthly Archives have disappeared. I am making arrangement to move to another hosting company ASAP. I hope to have things running well in a few days.

    More on the power of weblogs

    Far from being a refuge for nose-picking narcissists, blogs have speedily matured into the most vivifying, talent-swapping, socializing breakthrough in popular journalism since the burst of coffeehouse periodicals and political pamphleteering in the 18th century, when The Spectator, The Tatler, and sundry other sheets liberated writing from literary patronage. If Adison and Steele, the editors of The Spectator and The Tatler, were alive and holding court at Starbucks, they'd be WiFi-ing into a joint blog. -- James Wolcott in Vanity Fair (emphasis added) via First Draft by Tim Porter.

    Porter has some interesting comments wrapped around that quote, so follow the link.

    More on the power of weblogs

    Far from being a refuge for nose-picking narcissists, blogs have speedily matured into the most vivifying, talent-swapping, socializing breakthrough in popular journalism since the burst of coffeehouse periodicals and political pamphleteering in the 18th century, when The Spectator, The Tatler, and sundry other sheets liberated writing from literary patronage. If Adison and Steele, the editors of The Spectator and The Tatler, were alive and holding court at Starbucks, they'd be WiFi-ing into a joint blog. -- James Wolcott in Vanity Fair (emphasis added) via First Draft by Tim Porter.

    Porter has some interesting comments wrapped around that quote, so follow the link.

    March 11, 2004

    Disappearing entries

    Something weird is happening with this weblog. The entries are disappearing from the main page, but they are still there. If you see nothing below this entry, please go to the right margin and click on indivdual titles under Recent Entries to see the most recent posts.

    I am working to get the problem resolved. Thanks.

    March 4, 2004

    New Massachusetts-focused voting site

    MassVOTE sent me an email today. They describe themselves thusly:

    MassVOTE is a non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing voter participation in urban communities. We are part of statewide efforts to promote voting rights and electoral reform. Our goal: a more participatory democracy -- with equal opportunity for all voters and candidates.

    MassVOTE was one of the plaintiffs in the recent redistricting suit in Massachusetts.

    March 3, 2004

    The Web version is not necessarily the Print version

    The New York Times Online is not the same as the New York Times. The same holds true for the web sites of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. To be sure, many of the stories are the same and the newspaper's banner may appear atop the Web page. But according to online editors at all the news organizations, online users are reading a different publication than the ink-and-paper product. -- CJR Campaign Desk

    This long story has a lot of interesting details about the way in which online and print editions of the major papers are put together.

    February 28, 2004


    You have probably noticed some changes around the old weblog during the last week. We have three columns now and a new banner (I would have called it the masthead or name plate in my newspaper days).

    The left column is going to hold ads, the book store (I promise to add some more titles -- and I welcome your suggestions), and a news feed from Jurist of recent law-related stories.

    The banner is something I did myself, using Adobe Photoshop Elements and an old drawing by the granddaddy of policial cartoonists, Thomas Nast.

    I hope you like the new look.

    Census of Votelaw readers

    And in the fourth year of the reign of George II, a census of all the readers of Votelaw was taken.

    I would like to know a little about who reads this site. Please click on the "Comment" link at the end of this post and leave me a message about who you are, how often you read, etc. I'm not looking for praise or criticism, just some idea about who you are. If you don't want to leave your name and email address, it is not necessary.


    February 18, 2004

    Yet another source for news junkies

    I chanced upon WhiteHouse '04 (a guide to Web sites) this evening. It won't dazzle you with fancy graphics, but you will spend hours clicking on all the links. It covers finances, logistics, candidates (even a link to a site with their horoscopes), latest news, and history.

    February 15, 2004

    New Jersey's first emancipation

    Today commemorates the passage of the state's first law emancipating slaves - a little remembered emancipation event overshadowed by the national one declared by President Lincoln during the Civil War in 1862.

    Rutgers University professor and author Clement Price calls the act on Feb. 15, 1804, significant even though it did not free all of the state's slaves. ...

    New Jersey was the last of the Northern states to pass a major emancipation law.

    When the act was adopted with little comment from public officials, records show there were about 12,000 slaves living in New Jersey - approximately 75 percent of the state's total black population of 16,824. The remainder were already free blacks.

    New York was the only Northern state with more blacks. ...

    However, he described the law as "flawed" because it did not abolish slavery for children and young adults. He said that encouraged the continued sale of slaves.

    The professor said the law did not free male slaves until they were 25 and women until they were 21. It also gave them voting rights when they were freed.

    He said many of those younger slaves were sold to Southern states, especially Louisiana, often splitting up families. -- Cherry Hill (NJ) Courier-Post

    February 11, 2004

    Fred Gray's office destroyed

    AP reports that the Tuskegee, Alabama, law offices of Fred Gray, a newspaper, and a community action agency have been destroyed by fire -- apparently from a space heater left on by someone in one of the offices.

    Gray represented Rosa Parks in her landmark Montgomery bus desegregation case and later the victims of the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study. He and his wife watched as the building and historical documents from the civil rights era were consumed.

    ``We talked just last week about moving those documents to another location so that the records of the civil rights movement would be preserved forever,'' Gray told The Auburn Bulletin. ``Now, they're all gone.''

    Gray also was an attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King while he lived in Montgomery, where Gray was practicing at the time. He later represented the plaintiffs in the Tuskegee gerrymander case.

    February 10, 2004


    I apparently have fallen behind. I need a Really Long Law Firm Website Legal Disclaimer.

    January 30, 2004

    Howard Bashman

    Howard Bashman announced this morning on How Appealing that he is opening his own firm on Monday. Good luck, Howard.

    Take a civil rights tour -- come to Alabama

    Phillip Rawls, an AP writer I have known for years, has an article on civil rights tourist destinations in Alabama. The Tri-City Herald in Washington State has just published the article, which begins:

    In Montgomery, Jefferson Davis Avenue crosses Rosa Parks Avenue, creating an appropriate intersection for a place that used to rely on Civil War tourism but that now draws visitors to a growing number of civil rights attractions.

    Events that made Alabama a civil rights battleground in the 1950s and '60s -- Ku Klux Klan bombings, beatings of Freedom Riders and the jailing of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- are now being remembered in state-of-the-art museums and historic preservation projects.

    "Alabama stands at the epicenter of America's second revolution," says Jim Carrier, author of "A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement."

    "No other state has the quality or quantity of destinations of what was a battlefield in the '60s," Sentell said.

    I am happy to see Phil's article was published so far away. I hope it is picked up by more papers.

    And to the people of the Mid-Columbia region of Washington, and everybody else, "Y'all come."

    Two new blogs to read

    There are a couple of new blogs that you might want to read.

    Legal Fiction is by Publius, and is subtitled "An
    unconventional look at law, politics, and culture from a southern, non-Federalist Society law clerk." It looks like he does one good and substantive post a day.

    More Soft Money Hard Law is by Bob Bauer, one of the best campaign finance attorneys around. This weblog presents updates to the second edition of Bob's book on the BCRA, and seems mostly to cover the FEC.

    I am adding each to my daily reading list.

    January 24, 2004

    Technical problems solved

    My technical problem has been solved by "girlie," a guru of Movable Type. Many thanks.

    If you have a problem with your Movable Type weblog, put your question on the Movable Type Support Forum.

    January 22, 2004

    Trouble uploading etc

    I have just upgraded the software for this weblog and am now having some technical problems. I may be a bit slow in getting things posted till I get the problem worked out.

    January 21, 2004


    I asked a few days ago when mainstream media like the Washington Post would stop putting "blogs" in quotation marks. Well, my rhetorical question may have been heard in High Places. Today's White House Briefing column by Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post mentions bloggers without quotation marks:

    I'll round up the coverage of what was in last night's State of the Union in just a minute. But first, a look at what the various news stories, analyses, pundits and bloggers are saying was notably missing.

    January 13, 2004

    Permanent NY Times links

    Howard Bashman clued me into a technique to make New York Times links permanent. Links to the Times had been leading nowhere after about two weeks. I started using the technique this weekend. Thanks, Howard.

    December 8, 2003

    Two for one sale

    Campaign Advantage is having a 2-for-1 sale on its book, "Winning Campaigns Online."

    From now until December 25th, if you order a copy online at , we will send a free second copy to the same address that you can give as a gift this holiday season. We also offer generous educational, political, and non-profit group discounts. Call 301-263-9302 for more information.

    I found the book quite useful and think you will too.

    December 1, 2003

    Where's Ed?

    Q: Why hasn't Ed been writing much recently?

    A: I have been in Arizona for the trial of a redistricting case. We have had 10 days of trial, and the defendants expect they will not finish their case until late next week. I have been working night and day on the tria, and adding to this blog has been pushed to the back.

    November 27, 2003

    Selma's nuns

    AP reports:

    Filming has begun on a one-hour television documentary about the Roman Catholic nuns in the Selma-Dallas County area who participated in the voting rights movement in the 1960s.

    The production staff recently visited Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma and Wilcox County for the project called "Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change."

    Alabama Public Television is helping with the project that's expected to air on PBS in March 2005, the 40th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

    In 1965, nuns participated in the protests in the streets of Selma when many church leaders were reluctant to address the treatment of blacks in the South, according to the filmmakers.

    Amen to that.

    November 18, 2003

    Blogging light to non-existent for a while

    I have not dropped off the end of the earth, but nearly so. I am in trial and probably will not be able to blog much till after Thanksgiving.

    October 24, 2003

    Blogging will be light for a few days

    ... because I am moving my office this weekend.

    Thanks to those who have sent me news stories and documents lately. I will get those up as soon as I can.

    October 17, 2003

    Jerome "Buddy" Cooper, RIP

    Buddy Cooper, a Birmingham lawyer, died Tuesday at the age of 90. He was a labor lawyer, but he earns a mention in this journal because he was one of the attorneys in Reynolds v. Sims. I met him a few times over the years; he was invariably helpful to me and happy with being a lawyer. He will be missed. Here is the Birmimgham News story on his life and death.

    October 12, 2003

    Center for American Progress

    The New York Times Magazine has a long article today on the formation of the Center for American Progress. Here's a bit of the article:

    Podesta laid out his plan for what he likes to call a ''think tank on steroids.'' Emulating those conservative institutions, he said, a message-oriented war room will send out a daily briefing to refute the positions and arguments of the right. An aggressive media department will book liberal thinkers on cable TV. There will be an ''edgy'' Web site and a policy shop to formulate strong positions on foreign and domestic issues. In addition, Podesta explained how he would recruit hundreds of fellows and scholars -- some in residence and others spread around the country -- to research and promote new progressive policy ideas. American Progress is slated to operate with a $10 million budget next year, raised from big donors like the financier George Soros.

    ''The question I'm asked most often is, When are we getting our eight words?'' Podesta said. Conservatives, he went on, ''have their eight words in a bumper sticker: 'Less government. Lower taxes. Less welfare. And so on.' Where's our eight-word bumper sticker? Well, it's harder for us, because we believe in a lot more things.'' The Center for American Progress, Podesta said, was concerned with articulating these principles carefully, over time, rather than rushing out an agenda to help win an election in 2004. ''We're trying to build an idea base for the longer term,'' he said, to bring about ''an enduring progressive majority.''

    Podesta also says that the Center will have an "edgy" website. Right now the Center has one page up, with a promise of more on 20 October. I hope the "more" includes some "edginess."

    (Unless George Soros is putting $10 million into two liberal think tanks, this is what was formerly to be called the American Majority Institute.)

    September 25, 2003

    Erik Heels on using weblogs

    Eric Heels' September 2003 "" column in Law Practice Management magazine is entitled, Fire Your Website, Hire A Weblog. Heels discussed the benefits of using weblogging software to create your website:

    Don't start a weblog. Replace your website with a weblog. In November 2002, I started experimenting with weblog software. Three months into the experiment, I had converted my existing website into a weblog powered by Radio Userland Software. After only two months, I switched to the much more capable Movable Type software. In this article, I discuss what I did, how I did it, and why some law firms are catching weblog fever.

    Heels mentions several blogs, and among them is Votelaw. Thanks, Eric.

    September 5, 2003

    Flood the Zone Friday

    Today's topic is Civil Liberties, particularly the PATRIOT Act! This may be old news but there are a bevy of new, bipartisan amendments floating around Congress that could substantially weaken the objectionable parts of the act. So lets get to it.
    Go to Not Geniuses: Flood the Zone Friday: America the Free? for talking points on what you can do to Flood the Zone.

    August 30, 2003


    I have been at the American Political Science Association annual meeting since Wednesday. This is, I am told, the largest academic conference in the country. At any one time, there are probably 40-50 panels going on.

    As usual, this has been a great time for me -- hearing papers on campaign finance, voting, redistricting, courts, etc. It has been particularly nice this year because a number of folks have come up to me to express their appreciation for my work on this blog. To them, I say again, "you're welcome."

    And to all of you, I say, send me tips, documents, and links. Thanks to all those who have.

    August 24, 2003

    Jonathan Myrick Daniels

    Yesterday, I was on a pilgramage to honor, celebrate, and remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels. There were over a hundred people, perhaps two hundred, in attendance at a service organized by the Episcopal Dioceses of Alabama and the Central Gulf Coast. We used a modification of the order of worship we use for Eucharist services on Sundays with the readings appointed for the commemoration -- for, you see, Jonathan is celebrated on the Episcopal calendar as a martyr. We did parts of the service on the Square in front of the Courthouse, at the Jail, at the site of the Cash Store (where Jonathan was killed), and in the courtroom of the Courthouse. Mixed in with our Bible readings were appropriate passages dealing with Jonathan's incarcertation and death from Outside Agitator, a book I have linked in the right column of the main page of this blog.

    The following is from the website of the Episcopal Divinity School (formerly the Episcopal Theological School):

    JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS was a 26-year-old volunteer civil rights worker and student at EDS (then ETS) in the summer of 1965 when he was shot and killed by a deputy sheriff in Hayneville, Alabama. Jon’s last act was to thrust Ruby Sales, a young Black woman (and currently a student at EDS), out of the path of the gunfire that took his life and seriously wounded another civil rights worker.

    Jon was gripped by the power for commitment and witness he experi­enced in a moment he later described as “decisive, luminous, and spirit-filled.” His response to this epiphany led him to join in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous march in Selma, Alabama. Initially reluctant, he decided to go to Alabama because he manifestly believed that it was what God want­ed him to do. Eventually, that conviction led him to Hayneville, prompting him to risk, and ultimately lose, his life. In the summer of 1994, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church officially rec­ognized Jonathan as a martyr, and gave huh his own liturgical day in the Church Calendar. And last summer, 32 years after Jon’s murder, it was possible at last to install a commemorative plaque in the town square of Hayneville, close to the site of the shootings.

    Six years ago this week, I went to Hayneville, Alabama, for the dedication of the monument referred to above. The monument refers to Jonathan's work in Alabama: integration of churches and universal voter registration. As we stood around the monument at the corner of the Square, I looked over it to the center of the Square where the memorial to the Confederate dead from Lowndes County stood, and I thought this:

    The past is like a big stone each of us has. Some carry their stone around and are burdened by it. Others use it as a platform upon which to proclaim their vision. Some chip away pieces and hurl them at others. And others use the stone as the cornerstone and build something new. How do you use your History?

    All of us who practice voting rights law should remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a martyr for our cause.

    August 22, 2003

    Want to make your opinion known?

    Not Geniuses has come up with "Flood the Zone" Friday. The idea is to use the tools provided by to provide our own views of the bad points of the Bush Administration. Head on over to, look at the talking points, compose your letter, and then click their link to the Bush site to get an idea of where to send your letter.

    August 14, 2003

    Politics in Margaritaville

    I read this headline, Buffett Joins Schwarzenegger Campaign as Adviser, in the Washington Post and thought it was referring to Jimmy Buffett. I could support the Jimmy Buffett ticket: Cheese Burgers, Krispy Kremes, warm sand, and good music -- even if some denegrate it as "Geezer Rock."

    I would have been surprised if Jimmy had jumped from Bob Graham to Arnold.

    August 6, 2003

    Light blogging till Sunday

    I will be attending a legal conference for the next few days and may not be able to blog much -- or maybe I will if the conference gets boring, and I find a free wi-fi hotspot.

    August 4, 2003

    Charles Rhyne, RIP

    Let us now praise famous men.

    Charles Rhyne died last week at the age of 91. While many of his accomplishments are detailed in the obituraries in the
    Washington Post and the New York Times, the most important by my lights is Baker v. Carr. It is hard to imagine the way America (or certain parts of it) would look if Rhyne had not convince the Supreme Court that citizens had a right to sue for equality in apportionment of their legislatures.

    In the early 80's Rhyne was hired by the City of Pensacola and Escambia County, Florida, to fight a lawsuit brought by Jim Blacksher, Larry Menefee, and me. One of Rhyne's associates or younger partners tried the case, but Rhyne argued the case in the Supreme Court. It was not his best argument.

    He was also a long-time member of the board of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, for which I also give him great credit.

    July 10, 2003

    What I blog

    For some time, I have tried to avoid duplicating stories that Rick Hasen and Electionline are covering, unless I can "add value" by finding similar stories or by giving my own take on the matter. I have taken another step in that direction today by adding the top-of-the-page (see the right column) link to each of these great news sources. There's enough election-related stuff out there that all three of us will stay busy in getting it to you just once.

    July 9, 2003

    Blogging slow today

    I did not have much time to blog yesterday and probably won't over the next 2 days. In the meanwhile, Rick Hasen's Election Law blog has the latest breaking information on the briefs in McConnell v FEC.

    July 4, 2003


    Today is the anniversary of this blog. I only blogged a bit in July 2002 and then skipped the next several months, but it was the beginning.

    Go listen to the Declaration of Independence on NPR and then read David Broder's column on the meaning of the Declaration.

    June 28, 2003

    Public Service Announcement

    AP reports, Do-Not-Call List Logs 735K Phone Numbers.

    Sign up today online. If you sign up online, they are supposed to send a confirming email, but mine still has not come after about 18 hours.

    June 23, 2003

    Sen. Reid and his sons

    In the second part of the "hire a congress member's relatives as a lobbyist" series, the Los Angeles Times today dissects the relationships of the Reids of Nevada to practically everyone else in the state. See In Nevada, the Name to Know is Reid.

    June 21, 2003

    Hiring the Family (of the Rep. or Sen.)

    The Los Angeles Times has a story in its Sunday edition that begins,

    Two years ago, when regional phone companies wanted Congress to make it easier for them to compete in the high-speed Internet market, they did what special interests usually do with billions of dollars at stake: They amassed an army of experienced lobbyists.

    But one of the so-called Baby Bells didn't stop there. BellSouth also hired a pair of lobbyists distinguished by their family trees -- John Breaux Jr. and Chester T. "Chet" Lott Jr.

    Hiring the members of the family of the Senator or Representative is an indirect way to get on the Senator's good side or to get "access."

    A negative influence on a decision maker is found when a litigant hires a firm because of its ties to the judge and thereby force the recusal of the judge. The Eleventh Circuit just upheld Judge Lynwood Smith's decision to bar BellSouth from hiring a firm with a partner who is the nephew of the judge to whom the case was assigned. The case is In re BellSouth Corp.

    (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link. And congratulations to Howard on having 1.5 million page views.)

    June 15, 2003

    The Book Store

    I have removed "The Book Store" from the right margin till I can figure out why the links to the books were not showing up. Back soon. I hope.

    June 14, 2003

    Flag Day

    Today is Flag Day. I'm flying the Gadsden Flag. Are you flying your American Flag?


    For more information on the Gadsden Flag, go to which provided the image.

    June 4, 2003

    Canadian website on Charter

    The "Bill of Rights" for Canada is called the Charter. The website has a summary of many decisions of the Canadian Supreme Court under the Charter (I am not sure how close to complete it is). The website has a search feature, so you can search for particular keywords or provisions. (Thanks to J. Paul Johnston for the link.)

    A local blog listing

    I was just looking for something on the website (the one that carries 3 major papers in Alabama), and noticed that they have a page about weblogs. Lo and behold, under "Other Local Weblogs" is a listing for this blog. Anyhow, check out their list if you are interested in other Alabama voices.

    A new blog on election law

    Robbin Stewart, an election lawyer in Indiana, has just started a blog, soapbox. It's a bit rough at the moment, but I expect it will improve.

    Dems to form American Majority Institute

    The Hill reports today:

    The Democrats are ramping up efforts to launch a liberal think tank in September that they say will give their party the unified message it lacked in 2002 and counter the well-funded network of conservative policy shops.

    If it run correctly, the AMI will be completely outside the campaign finance rules.

    June 2, 2003

    Gorver Norquist explains himself

    A week ago, Grover Norquist was quoted in the Denver Post:

    "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform. "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape," Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said, citing an axiom of House conservatives.

    Today the Washington Post has this:

    Veteran GOP operative Grover Norquist called Friday to clarify some comments in the Denver Post and in this column last week. He said he was not inveighing against the merits of bipartisanship per se, only noting that partisan fights at the state level seem to stop tax increases but bipartisanship or nonpartisanship in some states -- such as Utah and Nebraska -- seems to lead to tax hikes. And that line "bipartisanship is like date rape" is not his, he said, but was coined by former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) when the GOP was in the minority and being bipartisan meant getting the short end.

    Yea, that's so much better.

    June 1, 2003

    New feature: The Book Store

    Look over in the right margin, below "Recent Entries" and above "Some Blogs I Read" and you will see the "Book Store." Here I will place books I have read or mean to read "real soon now." Most of them will be about the same things I cover in this blog, but others may be other stuff just to show you that I have some other interests.

    The Right to Vote by Alexander Keyssar is an absolute must-read if you are interested in how the U.S. got a relatively open suffrage (with exceptions for felons, most ex-felons, and a few others). In addition to a a very readable text, the book contains page after page in appendix tables covering the changes in suffrage in the states over the last 227+ years.

    I wish I could write as engagingly as Steven Hill does in Fixing Elections. Steven has a way of writing that makes those who did not know the problem understand that there is something wrong with the winner-take-all election system (and those who thought they knew understand even better). Even better, he has not written just a "ain't it awful" book, but one that makes practical suggestions to solve the problems.

    You can order any or all the books in the Book Store by clicking on the title. You will be taken to the site. Why and not If you compare the prices (and makes it easy to do so), you will see that you save money with Books-A-Million -- especially if you get the Millionaire's Club card for a 10% discount. And, Books-A-Million is an Alabama company, and I have to look after the home folks.

    May 29, 2003

    Why I left Blogger for Movable Type

    I started my blog on 4 July of last year and Blogger served me well as a set of "training wheels." Over the past few months I have had more and more problems with it and finally decided to make the move to another system. There would be times when my blog was slow to open, when I could not get into the Blogger tool to add a new post (strangely, I found that the w.bloggar program could post to Blogspot when Blogger would not open), and Blogger repeatedly lost my archives. I think all of this was rooted in the use of shared server space to host my blog and everyone else's. For instance, as I write this, I have just been trying to look at several other * blogs. Two were completely unavailable, and two were extremely slow in loading.

    In contrast, when I use Movable Type, I can put my blog on any server I want. I used the same company that hosts my main website, Earthlink. I have plenty of space on the Earthlink server left over from my website, so I probably have some time before I have to think about upgrading my level of service with them. I have been pleased with the service at Earthlink.

    In addition, MT has several features that I could not easily get on Blogger -- I would have to use an add-on program: comments, pinging, trackback, and categories. MT does require some work from the user. To change the template requires some level of coding ability, but I understand that the MT folks are working on a new program called TypePad.

    May 26, 2003

    Don't Mess with Texas

    The biggest story out of Texas today (if judged by the number of outlets carrying the story) is the controversy between the WD-40 Co. and the WD-40's (white Democrats over 40) in the Killer D's group. A lawyer for the WD-40 Co. wrote and nicely asked the afore-mentioned rural white Dems to stop using the trademarked name. Well, the alleged WD-40's got themselves a lawyer -- one Martinez Fischer, described in his letter as "Special Counsel to Rural White Boys" -- who wrote back. The El Paso Times reports some of the letter:

    "We are appalled and offended that you and your client, the WD-40 Co., would recklessly inject the issue of race in your letter," they wrote to Pasulka. "We were not aware that your client harbored reservations about doing business with Anglo white males over 40."

    How could the small band of Texas bubbas possibly dilute the good name of WD-40, they asked? How could consumers be confused "as these Anglo males, although extremely popular, are not offering themselves for sale?"

    The Texas lawmakers also reminded the California lawyer that Texas law holds the state immune from suit -- and permission from the Texas Legislature is required before a lawsuit can be filed.

    Martinez Fischer, described as "Special Counsel to Rural White Boys," noted that Texas is struggling with a $10 billion budget shortfall. The letter referred to WD-40s' "extensive product offerings" and mentioned the possibility of "an interim study on hazardous effects of WD-40 aerosol hydrocarbons around livestock."

    They also raised the possibility of the massive state employees and teachers retirement funds selling all their WD-40 stock.

    The letter closed with two postscripts: "Mean letter to follow" and "Interested in an endorsement deal?"

    May 23, 2003

    Welcome to the new blog

    I have switched from Blogger to Movable Type (which is running on my main website). Bear with me while I get the bugs out. I plan on keeping the Blogger site going for a while just for the one or two people who might actually want to check one of the old messages through a permanent link. I should have all the old messages on this site within a few days.

    May 14, 2003

    The Forum I received the

    The Forum

    I received the following notice tonight:

    The Berkeley Electronic Press, together with editor Nelson W. Polsby of UC Berkeley and managing editor Raymond J. La Raja of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is pleased to announce a new issue of The Forum, a journal of applied research in contemporary politics.

    In the third issue of The Forum, we give an early preview of the 2004 Elections with a focus on the Democratic presidential nominations, including discussions of front-loading, campaign money, the divided electorate, and the strategic advantages of each major party. Most articles address what Democrats must do to be competitive against George W. Bush. Additional articles about the elections are forthcoming. Among the published articles (see conclusion of message for full citations and abstracts, or click links to view full text):

    The purpose of The Forum ( ) is to provide an outlet for professionally informed commentary on issues in contemporary American politics: issues engaging parties, elections, the news media, Congress, the Presidency, and trends in public policy relating to the functioning of these major American political institutions such as electoral reform, campaign finance, Presidential popularity and Congressional productivity. To submit your next paper to The Forum, visit and click the "Submit Article" link in the upper right corner.


    Nelson W. Polsby (2003) "How to Spin the 2002 Election", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 1.

    Professor Polsby explains that the 2002 elections ended in nearly a draw, even though the conventional wisdom is that the Republicans won a clear victory.

    Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde (2003) "Will Changing the Rules Change the Game?: Front-loading and the 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 2.

    Professors Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde discuss the major reform introduced by the Democratic Party for its 2004 presidential nomination contest-rules that will lead to a large number of delegates being chosen early in the delegate selection window. They show that the 2004 contest will be more "front-loaded" than any contest since the Democrats introduced a delegate selection "window" in 1980. They argue that these rules, along with the large field of Democratic contenders, make it more likely that no clear winner will emerge before the Democratic Party nomination convention.

    Gerald Pomper (2003) "The Presidential Election of 2004", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 3.

    Professor Pomper speculates on the likely outcome and meaning of the 2004 presidential elections. Given the power of the White House to influence events and media coverage, as well as the emerging electoral advantages of the Republican Party, Pomper believes George W. Bush will be returned to office. He points to three trends in particular that favor the GOP: recent shifts in electoral votes, financial wealth and voter turnout. A presidential victory for the Republicans raises prospects for party dominance in Congress and the courts, with long-term consequences
    favoring conservative policies. Democrats must hope that fears of terrorism will recede, and that voters will place renewed emphasis on egalitarianism, especially with the expansion of the Hispanic and African-American electorate.

    John K. White and John Zogby (2003) "The Fifty-Something President", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 4.

    Looking back in recent presidential history, the authors show that Bush appears to defy prior trends with his high approval ratings in the third year. They explain, however, that he is vulnerable in 2004, particularly because he has not created a governing majority for his domestic agenda. The sharpening partisan divide among the electorate, especially on lifestyle issues, shows that Bush lacks the broad support his father enjoyed immediately after the first Gulf War. To win in 2004, Democrats must find a way to neutralize Bush's advantages on security, run on issues that emphasize job security, and prevent the president from winning over Hispanic voters.

    L. Sandy Maisel (2003) "Pick a Name. Any Name.", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 6.

    Professor Maisel identifies the Democratic presidential candidates with the best prospects and explains what each must do to win the nomination. He evaluates the candidates based on four aspects of the campaign: fundraising, geographic constituency, name recognition and ideological constituency. The unusually heavy frontloaded nomination process gives candidates with the strongest finances and organization better odds than ever to be the Democratic nominee.

    April 29, 2003

    Blogs, Esq. Robert Ambrogi was

    Blogs, Esq.

    Robert Ambrogi was kind enough to mention this blog in his article, Blogs, Esq. in Corporate Counsel.

    April 28, 2003

    Sen. Lieberman Wants FBI probe

    Sen. Lieberman Wants FBI probe of GOP contributions

    Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), a leading Democratic candidate for president, has asked the Justice Department and FBI to investigate whether an accused spy [Katrina Leung] may have illegally funneled Chinese government money into Republican coffers in the 1990s, according to a letter he sent Friday.

    By calling for a campaign finance investigation of Leung, Lieberman hopes to renew the government's inquiry into alleged attempts by China to influence the 1996 elections, this time with the focus on a prominent Republican fundraiser.

    See the whole story in the Washington Post, here.

    April 15, 2003

    Theft from Rep. Boehner's campaign

    AP reports:

    A treasurer for Ohio Rep. John Boehner allegedly stole $418,559 from the congressman's campaign committee to support his gambling habit, according to amended campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

    Boehner, a big GOP fund-raiser, revealed the alleged fraud in amended files sent to the Federal Election Commission and in a letter sent to thousands of supporters.

    April 2, 2003

    The Way We Vote

    Rob Richie has a good letter in the NY Times today. See The Way We Vote. Here's the whole letter:

    To the Editor:

    Janet Malcolm's attack on third-party candidacies (letter, March 26) is based on the fact that George W. Bush was elected even though a majority of voters in Florida and the country voted for either Al Gore or Ralph Nader. She should attack our antiquated plurality voting system rather than third-party candidates who seek to bring diverse viewpoints into elections.

    Most countries choose presidents in runoff elections, which ensure that the popular will is respected. They also ensure that voters are not punished for exploring options other than the major candidates, who, in their efforts to capture at least half the votes, too often avoid the most pressing issues.

    Better still is Australia's instant runoff voting, which accomplishes the goals of runoffs but in a single election.
    Executive Director
    Center for Voting and Democracy
    Takoma Park, Md., March 26, 2003

    March 21, 2003

    GOP raises more than Dems

    In "GOP Outpaces Democrats in Fundraising With New Restrictions," Tom Edsall reports that the major GOP committees raised 4 times as much as the Democratic committees during the first two months of the year.

    February 20, 2003

    Thanks to Robert Ambrogi

    Robert Ambrogi has an article in the February issue of Law Technology News including "a round-up of blogs that offer practical information for lawyers." On the list is Votelaw. Even without that mention, I would recommend that you read the article. I found several blogs I want to check out.

    February 19, 2003

    another election law blog

    Welcome to the blogospher, Rick Hasen. Rick has started a new blog on Election Law. I wonder if anyone will be interested in election law?

    February 4, 2003

    "Soft money" apparently was for soft drinks

    The era of McCain-Feingold campaign-finance regulation has dawned, banishing from the Republican Party's three-day annual winter meeting the receptions and dinners — provided by corporate sponsors — that used to enliven the annual event. Top Stories
    Republican leaders noticed the difference last week when they met at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington to strategize and pump themselves up for the coming elections.
    "It was brutal. I mean, we had a rules committee meeting this morning and they didn't even have Diet Cokes in there," Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett said with a smile.

    Campaign-finance reform shows effects at GOP meeting -- The Washington Times

    January 27, 2003

    Panel on BCRA

    At the recent American Association of Political Consultants meeting, there was a panel with Bob Bauer and Joe Sander, two Democratic Party lawyers, and David Mason, a member of the FEC. The topic of discussion was the BCRA. The video is 83 minutes and well worth your time.

    January 24, 2003

    Poll results

    Question: Do you ever find elections campaigns silly or ridiculous?
    • 7% Often
    • 51 Sometimes
    • 37 Never
    • 5 Other/Don’t know
    Source: Survey conducted by the Center of International Studies, Princeton University with 970 adults nationwide in March 1960. Data provided by The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut.

    Washington Post

    January 23, 2003

    Lightbulb joke

    Ted Barlow has a string of lightbulb jokes on his blog. This one is about campaigning.

    Laugh, if you can.

    January 22, 2003

    Governor of Hawaii also pushes anti-pay for play

    Gov. Lingle's State of the State address has a proposal about the "pay for play" issue in Hawai'i:

    The public also is rightly concerned about the large amounts of money contributed to political campaigns by businesses that then get millions of dollars in non-bid contracts. Accordingly, I ask that you enact a law prohibiting political contributions by anyone benefiting from non-bid contracts.
    This effectively will prevent many businesses from financially supporting the candidates of their choice, and that's unfortunate. But the people have made clear their desire for this kind of campaign finance reform.

    New Jersey campaign finance reform

    My post of about a week ago reported that the Gov. McGreevy insisting on a bill banning "pay for play" (barring campaign contributors from receiving state contracts). The bipartisan group supporting the bill now faces the prospect of a veto because the Governor says the bill does not go far enough. See the NYT story

    January 21, 2003

    Allison R. Hayward's article in

    Allison R. Hayward's article in National Review Online uses the papers of Justices Marshall and Powell to understand some of the issues in the Buckley v. Valeo case. She concludes,

    The Buckley Court, faced with numerous complex issues, nevertheless thought through express advocacy and the potential for "issue ads." The justices knew that the express-advocacy standard would permit individuals and groups to discuss issues relevant to campaigns without regulation, but remained committed to providing a clear and narrow standard to address constitutional concerns. It was not, as critics seem to suggest, a hasty, naive, or ignorant Court that set forth this standard, but one aware of reality, concerned about liberty, and protective of speech in campaigns.

    January 16, 2003



    January 14, 2003

    Leadership Forum

    Christian Science Monitor has an editorial, Red-Faced Money Politics, on the story I reported here regarding the Leadership Forum's returning $1 million to the Republican National Committee.

    January 13, 2003

    Leadership Forum

    Roll Call reports (via the Campaign and Media Legal Center) that the Leadership Forum has returned $1 million to the Republican National Committee. The RNC had given the money to the Forum in late October when the Forum was established as a 527 organization. Both major parties set up such committees in the days before the BCRA became effective because of a loophole created by the FEC regulations. The FEC allowed organizations with a former connection to a national party to sever those ties if it maintained its independence after the BCRA's effective date.

    The Campaign and Media Legal Center claims that

    The reversal likely was prompted by a complaint lodged with the FEC by the Campaign and Media Legal Center , Common Cause, Democracy 21 and the Center for Responsive Politics urging the Commission to scrutinize the Forum and a number of similar organizations. In their complaint, the groups alleged that these so-called "shadow committees" were established, financed, maintained or controlled by Democratic or Republican party committees and that their schemes to spend soft money in this election cycle were accordingly illegal.

    January 11, 2003

    Virginia House -- proposed ethics rules

    Republicans in Virginia's House of Delegates, who forced their party's leader to resign this summer during a sexual harassment scandal, are now debating whether to create a code of conduct to publicly address complaints against House members.

    Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) has proposed that the House require an ethics investigation whenever a legislator is accused of "conduct that does not reflect creditably on the House of Delegates."

    Va. Scandal Could Spark House Code Of Conduct (

    January 9, 2003

    Dick Morris pt 3

    MyDD has an insightful analysis of the Dick Morris column.

    January 8, 2003

    Dick Morris (pt 2)

    Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for the link to Morris' column.

    Emailing in a campaign

    Dick Morris is blowing his own horn in his column on over helping Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) win reelection in Arkansas. Morris' firm sent emails to 545,000 people in Arkansas -- a state with 2 million residents. ere is Morris' conclusion:

    E-mailing is the new front of political campaigning. It is also the ultimate answer to campaign finance reform. By lowering the cost of campaigning, massive e-mailing can — and will — reduce the price of running for office as the law of diminishing returns undermines the future of television advertising.

    How does one use the Internet? How to stop voters from just deleting the messages? What information works best online? These are all the questions political consultants and candidates will ponder in the future. But the stage was set in 2002 by Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

    Al Sharpton

    The Scrum repports that Sharpton says that he has not accepted any campaign contributions -- so that would mean that he has not violated the FECA. Remember that he only has to file when he has raised $5000.

    January 5, 2003

    NARAL's new plan

    The New York Times reports today that the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League is changing its name to Naral Pro Choice America and "planning a multimillion-dollar campaign to try to make abortion a critical issue in the 2004 presidential election." Today's class assignment is write a memo to Naral about how the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act will affect its plan.

    Al Sharpton redux

    I just realized that I was editing my Al Sharpton post when my computer froze. A sentence was left out of the last paragraph. I have corrected the post.

    January 4, 2003

    Al Sharpton

    Politics1 ("The Most Comprehensive Online Guide to American Politics") has a story that Al Sharpton has been running a website promoting his presidential candidacy for several months but has not registered the committee with the FEC or the IRS. A candidate must file a statement of candidacy with the FEC within 15 days of raising $5,000.

    Politics1 states that it checked the IRS website for a filing by Sharpton. The implication that Sharpton would have to file with the IRS is incorrect. A committee required to file with the FEC (such as Sharpton's) does not have to file a notice of formation with the IRS. IRS filing requirements are found here.

    Alabama's Ten Commandments Monument

    Usually this blog covers election law and campaign finance issues, but a minor theme is "politicians in trouble with the law." I think the time has come for me to consider Chief Justice Roy Moore such a poltician in trouble. Here's the story to date for those who missed it. Moore got elected to the Supreme Court on the basis of his fame as the judge who put the Ten Commandments in his courtroom (he was a circuit judge at the time). After he was installed, he and a religious group designed, financed, created, and copyrighted a granite monument (usually described by the Birmingham public radio station as "washing machine-sized") depicting the Ten Commandment on an open book and the four sides of the monument contain quotes from Founding Fathers and other political leaders regarding the influence of God on America. Here is a picture of the monument at a website devoted to defending Moore.

    Three lawyers brought suit against the monument. Private groups provided the attorneys who defended Moore, although the Attorney General of Alabama obligingly appointed them as "special assistant attorneys general." The Federal Court in Montgomery issued an injunction against the monument. The injunction has been stayed while an appeal to the 11th Circuit is pending. The plaintiffs' attorneys have now filed a request for payment of their fees, totalling over $700,000. Guess who will pay that fee when it is awarded? The people of Alabama and not Justice Moore or his erstwhile defenders.

    Now this prospect has caused lots of editorial opinion and letters to the editor denouncing the idea that Moore is costing the State court system money (In addition to the $7 million deficit the court are facing this year). On the other hand, there are lots of letter writers explaning that the First Amendment does not apply to the states, does not prohibit an ackowledgement of God, etc. Here is one editorial from the Montgomery Independent, a weekly in Montgomery.

    Will the good people of Alabama turn against Moore if he loses his appeal and costs the State even more money? Don't count on it.

    January 2, 2003

    David Cromwell Johnson

    I just heard that David Cromwell Johnson died in his sleep last night. David and I worked together on just one case, the 1986 election contest between Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick (for the Democratic nomination for governor). David was the head of the whole Baxley team, putting together a massive operation to check the signatures of Democratic runoff voters on the sign-in lists against those of Republican voters 3 weeks earlier. (There was a Democratic Party rule making those who had voted in the Republican Primary ineligible to vote in the Democratic runoff.) I was in charge of the brief writing and arguing of motions, appeals, etc.

    Even then, David had a large reputation as a criminal attorney. Since then, his reputation has only grown. One of David's tactics was to attack the prosecution. I was still practicing in Washington DC when Gov. Don Siegelman hired David to represent him in the investigation the Republican US attorney had mounted against him. I told a lawyer with whom I was working about David's tactics and then was pleased to see he did it again in Siegelman's case. I told him that story when I talked to him recently. He laughed and said, "I had to do it, Ed. The US Attorney's office was leaking all sorts of damaging information. And you saw that it stopped after I filed my motion."

    David was a great lawyer. He will be missed. Rest in peace, David.

    UPDATE: the Birmingham News carried this story on David's life and death.

    Political State Report

    A new blog, Political State Report: straight from the trenches, has just debuted. It seeks to have at least two correspondents (one R and one D) from each state to give a view from each state of the politics of that state.

    January 1, 2003

    Susan McDougal on the Clinton investigation

    Atrios' blog, Eschaton - Middle 'C' on the Mighty Casio, has an interesting piece today about Susan McDougal's book on the Whitewater investigation and her 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The blog is apparently a complete copy of a column in an unnamed paper by Gene Lyons, so I point you to Escaton rather than the source.

    The Democratic Race for President

    In 1964 I was a senior in high school and very interested in politics. I remember that Barry Goldwater announced on New Year's Day that he was running for president. In contrast, we are a year earlier in the political cycle, and two Democrats have already announced the formation of their exploratory committees and four others are in various stages of the dance leading to announcement. Goldwater could make his announcement that "late" because there were few primaries and most of the delegate selections were made in late spring or early summer. In contrast, the 2004 primaries will be even more "front-loaded" than last time. I have not been able to find a specific list of primary dates, but here is a discussion of the "window" during which Democratic primaries and caucuses are to be held.

    What's the effect of all this? As Tom Edsall points out in the Washington Post, "The ability to raise large amounts of money has been a crucial factor in determining winners in presidential primary contests, and the accelerated schedule of primaries and caucuses in early 2004 has heightened the importance of the 2003 competition for dollars. With many states moving their primaries into the first quarter of 2004, the winner is likely to be determined by mid-March."

    As the song from Cabaret says, "Money makes the world go around."

    Southern anti-Americanism

    Kos over at Daily Kos stirred up a hornet's nest by asking the difference between wearing a Confederate Flag t-shirt and one with Osama bin Laden. As I write this a day and a half after Kos's post, he has 129 comments. My friend Sam Heldman has had two good thoughts to add to the controversy, here and here.

    Here's my effort at cognitive dissonance to break through in a way that Sam might or might not approve of:

    The Civil War was about slavery. The South seceded because of slavery. Oh, no, you say, it was "states' rights." States' rights to do what? Well, let's look at the record. South Carolina seceded complaining about the refusal of northern states to return runaway slaves. If slavery wasn't the cause of SC's secession, what was?

    Alabama seceded and invited other "slaveholding states" to meet for a convention to create a new government. If slavery wasn't the point of secession, why did Alabama invite just the slaveholding states?

    Also see Sam's citation of a speech of Vice President Alexander Stephens.

    Here ends the lesson, as we say in church.

    December 28, 2002

    Demographic change and electoral politics

    If the Republican ticket were to take the same percentages of the Hispanic, black and white vote in 2004 as it did in 2000, said Matthew Dowd, the White House's pollster, it would lose the popular vote by three million ballots and the Electoral College. In 2000, Mr. Bush received 544,000 fewer votes than Al Gore but won the Electoral College.

    "This is not only something the president cares a lot about, but also something that's a political necessity for Republicans," Mr. Dowd said.

    New York Times, via P.L.A. - A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism

    December 27, 2002

    Campaigns as a hidden tax on business?

    Former Gov. George Ariyoshi of Hawai'i has a column in the latest Hawaii Business Magazine outlining some changes needed in the business-government relationship. He says that campaigns are a hidden tax on business because businesses pay so much of the campaign costs.

    Frist and the Marion Barry comment

    "[Jim Sasser is] sending Tennessee money to Washington, to Marion Barry ... While I've been transplanting lungs and hearts to heal Tennesseans, Jim Sasser has been transplanting Tennesseans' wallets to Washington, home of Marion Barry."

    ... Bill Frist, 1994 campaign stump speech.

    I first saw this reported at Talking Points Memo about 2 weeks ago. Today, Sam Heldman weighs in on the controversy with a perceptive comment on the period around 1994 when he had personal experience with white folks believing that the black mayor of Birmingham had to have done something wrong because blacks were incapable of governing themselves. See Sam's comments here.

    I have noticed the same phenomenon over the years. I attributed it partly to the history text books we grew up using in school. These invariably pointed to Reconstruction as a corrupt period in Southern history and a period of "black rule." I often thought of doing some paper on the subject -- which would mean tracking down and reading the history text books used in the South (and maybe elsewhere) for several decades. My scholarly dedication would evaporate like the dew in the sun as I contemplated the task.

    By the way, both points are exaggerated. There was little "black rule" in the South. No black was ever elected governor; I think one served briefly when the governor died or resigned in Louisiana or Mississippi. I think only South Carolina had even one house with a black majority.

    December 25, 2002

    How the Web Will Change Campaigns

    Matthew Hindman has an op-ed piece, How the Web Will Change Campaigns, in the New York Times today. I think he underplays the effect the BCRA will have on Internet campaigning. He is correct about the use of campaign websites for raising money, but he does not mention that the FEC decided that most Internet campaigning will not be regulated.

    December 24, 2002

    Rep. Matsui to head the DCCC

    The Sacramento reports today that House Democratic Leader has chosen Rep. Robert Matsui of California to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the principal fund-raising body for Democratic House candidates.

    Smart Mobs and GOTV

    This item is not exactly my usual beat, but its Christmas Eve and the news is sorta slow. Oliver Willis ("Like Kryptonite To Stupid") has an item about the use of wireless and email commuications by young voters in South Korea to get out the vote for No Mu-hyon in the recent presidential election. Willis concludes: "Considering how the "get out the vote" movement was crucial to the midterms for the GOP, there is much to be learned." True.

    December 20, 2002

    "N.C. Rep. Admits Making Stupid Comment "

    That was the headline AP and/or the Washington Post assigned to this article. This is one of those headlines that ought to be set in type (if newspapers still did such things -- I suppose they could just create a macro now) and kept around for ready use.

    December 15, 2002


    Today's New York Times Magazine has 97 small articles on the Year in Ideas. Take a look at the
    Preconcession essay. It concerns an issue discussed by me (here): the tendency of politicians to pull out of elections they are going to lose. The Times, with a far larger research staff and archive than I have, has a few more examples.

    December 7, 2002

    Ernie the Attorney

    Ernie the Attorney is a good blog that I read regularly. The fact that he mentioned me in his blog recently has nothing to do with this post. Pure coincidence.

    December 3, 2002

    New and interesting blog

    Robert Ambrogi, a lawyer and author, has started the LawSites blog to discuss "new and intriguing Web sites for the legal profession." In his post for 26 November, he mentioned this site . Rampant backscratching aside, this looks like a good site and I have bookmarked it.

    November 24, 2002

    The Boston Globe Online carried

    The Boston Globe Online carried an AP story on Friday with the headline "Watchdog groups say major parties sidestep new campaign finance law." The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor dutifully denounced the perfidious actions of the political parties for setting up these organizations. Well, duh. What do the goo-goos think the parties were going to do after the FEC explicitly allowed them to set up such groups before the effective date of the BCRA? As I noted earlier, the parties' henchmen could set up such groups after BCRA became effective and they would run exactly the same as they would if set up before BCRA. The important thing under the law is that the party cannot "directly establish, finance, maintain, or control" the other group. The complaint and related statements are here.

    November 15, 2002

    What city are you?

    Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
    What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

    November 7, 2002

    I would have liked Jefferson much better ...

    October 27, 2002

    Voices of the Electorate

    Voices of the Electorate is a coalition of a large number of civil rights and "good government" organizations. They have come together to talk about "election reform and other issues impacting civic participation." Their first project is the creation of a "Voter's Bill of Rights" for a number of states. They have 2 posted now -- Florida and North Carolina. (I gave a little advice on the Alabama version, so I hope it is posted soon.) When I was on the legal committee of the Mark Warner for Governor (of Virginia), we produced such a statement for Virginia voters. I will testify that it is hard to boil the state law down into understandable chunks that non-lawyers find useful.

    October 25, 2002

    Trademarks and campaigns

    Here a couple of stories about the use of trademarks in campaign ads: The Washington Post reports that the AARP is complaining that Gov. Jeb Bush and others are using its logo to imply some sort of endorsement by the organization. And the Arizona Republic reports that the Energizer folks have complained that the Proposition 201 (a gambling -- excuse me, "gaming" -- initiative on the Arizona ballot this November) campaign has used a likeness of the bunny who just keeps going and going.

    October 23, 2002

    Young voters

    If you are interested in the issue of young voters, take a look at the website of the Campaign for Young Voters.

    October 21, 2002

    More blogs I follow

    I have added a couple of blogs on the left margin -- TalkLeft -- the politics of crime and Bag and Baggage. TalkLeft has a prodigious output. I do not know how she can carry on her law practice, private life, and write as much as she does. Maybe she is like Isaac Asimov, described to me by John Ciardi as being able to type on two typewriters at the same time.

    Campaign funds for Congress

    Roll Call reports in a long article, "Republican candidates in the closest House contests in the country are outdistancing their Democratic opponents in the race for campaign cash, according to financial reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission."

    October 19, 2002


    The archives are back. And I won't try to enter the brain of John Malkovich anymore.

    Congressional power to restrict medical marijuana initiative in DC

    Congress has the consitutional power to forbide the District of Columbia from adopting a law by the initiative process. The Medical Marijuan Project claimed that the law (the Barr Amendment) was a restriction on the right of free speech. The court distinguished the power to debate from the power to enact. Marijuana Policy Project v DC Board of Elections, DC Circuit, 4 October 2002.

    Voting in 2 places

    On 11 October the 2nd Circuit decided Wit v Berman, holding that the plaintiffs (who lived in New York City and the Hamptons at different times of the year) should not be allowed to vote in both localities' elections. Noted election law scholar Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School was counsel for the plaintiffs.

    Ten Commandments law suit

    The Southern Poverty Law Center website has the complaint and stipulated facts in the case now pending in federal court in Montgomery.

    October 18, 2002

    Warning, Will Robinson

    The archives shown on the left are not mine. Don't go there looking for my stuff.

    Ten Commandments monument

    Sam Heldman has had a few interesting posts about the trial now going on in Montgomery about the placement of a "washing machine sized monument to the Ten Commandments" (as the local public radio station says) by the Chief Justice. Read what Sam has to say.

    How Intenet Search Engines work

    Thanks to Inter Alia for pointing me to the Scientific American article on this topic

    (A lot of) Quid Pro (A lot of) Quo in Florida

    The Miami Daily Business Review carries a story today about Gov. Jeb Bush giving a lot of personal attention (including lobbying federal officials) to the Bicardi Rum makers in their trademark dispute with the Bicardi rum company in Cuba. While Bicardi-Martini (the Florida firm) gave lots of money before and after their meetings with Bush and his staff, I see nothing in all the emails that offers a quid pro quo. There is one email from the director of the governor's office in Washington to the governor that reminds him "Last year, Bacardi contributed over $15K to the Florida House" which is a non-profit facility in Washington, right behind the Supreme Court building.

    October 17, 2002

    Local TV not covering politics

    ABC News and the AP have a story about the shameful lack of local TV news shows' coverage of local politics. I can't find the actual study yet, just the press release about it.

    October 15, 2002

    Predicting the midterm election

    A bunch of political scientists have now posted their predictions about the outcome of the midterm election. I won't spoil their fun. Just take a look at their papers at

    October 14, 2002

    Website use in campaigns

    Unlike the official Senate websites, the campaign website can be updated several times a day. And should be. But most are not. CQ has a good article on this with lots of good website addresses (which you have to cut and paste). The best link on how websites are being used is by the University of Washington. Also, note the Libertarian candidate in North Carolina whose website is a blog. She updates the blog about every other day.

    October 12, 2002

    The Sopranos is not exactly

    The Sopranos is not exactly political, but this is too good to ignore. The Smoking Gun website has a copy of the suit filed by the organizers of the Columbus Day parade in New York City to prohibit Mayor Bloomberg from inviting two actors from The Sopranos to march in the parade.

    Dropping out. Today's Washington Post

    Dropping out. Today's Washington Post On Politics has an article covering the phenomenon I mentioned yesterday -- candidates dropping out and efforts to replace them. and CNN has a column on its website considering who might drop out this week.

    October 11, 2002

    Another dropout. What is going

    Another dropout. What is going on with this year's elections? So far, Andrew Cuomo has dropped out of the Democratic Primary for governor of New York shortly before the primary; Bob Torricelli has withdrawn from the New Jersey Senate race 36 days before the election; and now Mike Taylor (R) has pulled out of the race to unseat Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Read the articles from the New York Times and the Helena Independent Record. Taylor claimed that Democratic Party ads made him look like he was a homosexual hairdresser. I don't suppose the allegation in the ads that he ran a hairdressing school using a student loan scam had anything to do with his falling poll numbers. Nor did the fact that his campaign has run out of cash. Taylor's name will remain on the ballot, the Independent Record reports.

    The late Rep. Patsy Mink remains on the ballot in Hawai'i, despite a Democratic Party effort to put another candidate in her place, reports the Honolulu Advertiser.

    July 23, 2002

    Yesterday's Roll Call: Heard

    Yesterday's Roll Call: Heard on the Hill column contains a couple of quick items that we are interested in. First, is a disagreement between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Feingold re the effect the new BCRA may have on politicians. The second item is about Rep. James Moran of Virginia. Moran has recently been in the news because of a story by the Washington Post that Moran took out a mortgage on his home (to pay off large debts accumulated during the illness of his daughter). Here's the problem: the money was loaned by MBNA, the amount loaned was more than the value of the home, and Moran suddenly because a vocal proponent of bankruptcy provisions favored by MBNA. On last Friday, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine said that Moran had shown poor judgment in the matter and called for an investigation by the House ethics committee.

    July 10, 2002

    A group called Investigative Reporters

    A group called Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., has a website specifically on campaign finance . It's a great resource for seeing what it being written about campaign finance around the country -- not the high-level, "what's going to happen after McCain-Feingold" sort of stuff, but the "follow the money" articles that investigative reporters are really good at. The best feature may be the Tracker newsletter with stories by reporters about the campaign finance stories they wrote for their newspapers or magazines.

    July 5, 2002

    Transparency: Today's The New York

    Transparency: Today's The New York Times: Politics section has an interesting story on the use of lobbying coalitions to hide the identities of the folks who are paying for the lobbying. Let's see ... if I want to get together with a bunch of my friends to chip in money to give a political candidate, our committee has to disclose who gave and how much. But if we wait until the candidate is elected, we can lobby him/her through an anonymous group. Hmm, I suppose only a cynic would point out the difference, or lack thereof.