Friday, March 24, 2006

The Friday Fantastic Four #8.

My apologies for not having any "Fantastic Four" posts for the past two weeks. Sometimes real life just gets hectic, you know? So, without further adieu, here is the return of the Friday Fantastic Four, this the Eighth installment:

1. Featured Law-Oriented Blog.

This week's featured Law-Oriented Blog is I respectfully dissent, providing "random thoughts, ramblings and rants about things legal, illegal, tortious, outrageous and otherwise." The author, Bryan Gates, is a North Carolina lawyer focused primarily in family and domestic law, state and federal criminal defense, civil trial, traffic and DWI, and bankruptcy law. In addition to the blog, Gates also maintains another site, "Ask The Law Guy", where he answers some of the more interesting legal questions received via email.

A persual of some of Gates' recent blog entries will lead you to some interesting thoughts and discussions, including:

A discussion of the "red herring" in SCOTUS' recent decision in Georgia v. Randolph, where Justice Souter responded to Chief Justice Roberts' dissent expressing concern about the danger domestic violence victims face when abusive spouses object to searches of their homes. Gates suggests that the danger is actually quite small for a number of reasons, including the myriad of apparent loopholes to the "new" doctrine espoused in the majority's opinion and the general minimal physical evidence collected in domestic violence cases. Gates points the reader to several prior examples of "the first 'red herring'" of the SCOTUS season from past years, as well.

A discussion of how much time is reasonable to spend (or, more appropriately, to bill) on a given case. Gates discusses differences in practice between state and federal courts, as well as some of the practical difficulties encountered by lawyers in deciding how much time to spend trying to research potential witnesses and evidence.

A lighthearted discussion of Gates' "inner WalMart". Despite all the aversions to WalMart, Gates concludes that "sooner or later you have to admit that being able to buy a set of margarita glasses for $5.77 is pretty irresistible."

2. Featured Law Commentary.

This week's featured Law Commentary comes courtesy of Jurist, where guest columnist Peter Shane of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law argues that the Bush Administration's proposed "Line-Item Veto Act" has two significant problems, including that it is not really proposing a line-item veto at all.

Shane sums up the Act as a proposal that "would allow the President to recomment to Congress that it take back or 'rescind' any item of budget authority it had previously approved" and that "envisions an expedited process for considering the President's proposals" and "allows the President to withhold the funds he proposes to rescind for up to 180 days while Congress considers his proposal. According to Shane, the President pretty much already has this exact same power, and this power is not really a line-item veto at all.

First, Shane notes that every President has an absolute right to "recommend" to Congress that it enact specific legislation to rescind previously granted budget authority, based on section 3 of Article 2 of the Constitution. Additionally, the U.S. Code includes a provision expressly authorizing the President to rescind budgetary authority when "all or part of [such authority] will not be required to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which it is provided" or where the President believes the authority needs to be rescinded for fiscal policy or other reasons. The U.S. Code provision even provides an expedite process. According to Shane, the new Act would make the process "even more expedited" and would allow the President to hold onto the money for a longer period of time before spending it elsewhere, but it otherwise does not really provide new powers. And, perhaps even more importantly, if this power is something the President really feels he needs "even more" of than he currently has, why doesn't he use the existing power more?

Second, the Act does not really create a line-item veto power. As Shane notes, a true line-item veto really allows the executive "to strip out of an appropriations measure an item of spending that could not be justified by the public interest, but exists entirely because of bargaining within the legislature. What the current Act would do is simply allow the President to ask Congress to go back and undo its bargain on particular pieces of arrangements already made.

Shane's discussion of this topic is interesting, and puts everything into pretty simple terms. Go check it out in its entirety.

3. Featured Non-Law-Oriented Blog.

This week's featured Non-Law-Oriented Blog is AHISTORICALITY, "because history is not destiny . . . yet." You can get a good sense of Ahistoricality's author by checking out the "Who Am I?" link. Apparently, the author has characteristics of Remus Lupin, Einstein, sloth, and Chewbacca, among other interesting tidbits.

This blog features commentary on a vast range of topics, including politics, writer's block, religion and, of course, history.

Take some time to dig through the archives. There's a wealth of good reading there.

4. Featured Just-For-Fun Site.

Finally, this week's featured Just-For-Fun Site is Google Sightseeing, a site devoted to collecting fascinating locations on "Google local" (f/k/a Google Maps). You can find locations of historical import and lots of anomolies in the google satellite captures, ranging from "UFO's" to passing aircraft to "black holes." Don't check this site out unless you are prepared to waste a big chunk of time, but it's pretty addictive to see what all is there, and pretty tempting to go look for more on your own using the google local service.

Previous Friday Fantastic Four Posts:
March 3, 2006 (FFF #7)
February 24, 2006 (FFF #6)
February 10, 2006 (FFF #5)
January 27, 2006 (FFF #4)
January 20, 2006 (FFF #3)
January 6, 2006 (FFF #2)
December 30, 2005 (FFF #1)


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