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  • May 01, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    “Ducking for cover,” roared the headline on page 3 of the May 1st Boston Herald. It would have been an appropriate headline for a story on the state of daily life in Baghdad, where a slew of recent bombings claimed the lives of more than 1,600 Iraqi civilians. Instead, the headline refers to the dozens of disgraced D.

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  • April 30, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    It’s not often that you get to write about celebrity gossip in a civil liberties blog, so I can’t quite pass up the opportunity to comment on the speech-phobias implicit in the outcry over actor Alec Baldwin’s angry voicemail message to his daughter. Put aside the obvious and predictable hypocrisy of people who profess concern about the girl's welfare but think nothing of her privacy as they broadcast his outburst worldwide.

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  • April 27, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    The Supreme Court heard yet another round of oral arguments April 25th on the ever-perplexing subject of so-called “campaign financing reform” – the efforts by Congress and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to establish rules to limit, in the pet phrase of supporters of these laws, “the corrupting influence of big money” on our electoral system.

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  • April 27, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Some people actually like receiving automated phone messages from political candidates (go figure; some people like watching reality tv;) but recent increases in robocalls have naturally prompted increases in complaints about them. The New York Times reports that more than 20 states are considering restricting their use.

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  • April 24, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Free speech advocates who railed against Imus’s dismissal, warning that it would embolden the censorious forces of political correctness, will soon be saying “I told you so.” This week, two New York City shock jocks were suspended indefinitely by CBS after an inflammatory prank call to a Chinese restaurant, following protests by the Organization of Chinese Americans.

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  • April 21, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Of course a shooting rampage by a deranged student encourages some talk about preventative detention. When the shooter is someone like Cho, who was obviously disturbed, had reportedly been disturbed since childhood, and had recently been held for a psych evaluation, people are naturally apt to imagine that the shooting could have been prevented.

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  • April 20, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Predictably, the massacre at Virginia Tech has unleashed an enormous volume of pseudo-psychiatric babble about developing pre-emptive steps to avoid such tragedies in the future. The harsh truth is that the science of the human mind – to the extent it can be called a science at all – is insufficiently developed to have much predictive value.

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  • April 20, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer

    At the risk of being considered impolite, I can’t help but add that every one of the five Justices who upheld the ban on a second trimester abortion procedure (in defiance of expert medical opinion) are Catholic. Four are conservative Catholics. I expect that some consider the mere mention of this obvious but salient fact an example of religious bigotry, but advocates of more religion in government who praise the influence of sectarian religious ideals on public policy should be prepared to hear it questioned.

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  • April 20, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Wendy Kaminer is quite right that one of the most prominent features of the Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding, for the first time, a ban on an abortion procedure that does not make an exception for the health of the woman, is the Court’s arrogant assumption that it need not credit the medical judgments of experts in the field.

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  • April 19, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    You’d think that a majority of Supreme Court Justices would be content with having climbed or kissed their way to the top of the judicial hierarchy, but, no -- they want to rule the medical profession too. Yesterday, in upholding a congressional ban on a particular abortion procedure, regardless of the ban’s effect on women’s health, five Justices substituted their judgments about medical necessities for the judgment of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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  • April 13, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    The justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently wrote one of their best, and bravest, decisions in years, but the Herald and Globe both missed it. I almost did too, if it weren’t for a piece in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. So allow me to, belatedly, extol the SJC’s opinion in Commonwealth v.

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  • April 12, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    It’s easy to sympathize with Hillary’s Clinton’s impulse to join in vilifying Imus, who has so crudely and gratuitously belittled her. But must she enlist the Rutger’s women's basketball team in her presidential campaign? They’re now pictured on her web site, with an exhortation from Clinton to “Join me in sending the young women of Rutgers a message of respect and support.

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  • April 11, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Imus hasn’t yet checked into rehab, but the uproar over his racist swipe at the Rutger’s women’s basketball team has otherwise followed the usual script. Apology, followed by abject apology, followed by a stream of commentary (we have all seized the moment,) a futile effort to appease the gleefully opportunistic Al Sharpton, expressions of opprobrium from Imus's bosses, instability among advertisers, a two week suspension, and a segment on The Daily Show.

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  • April 10, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    The would-be censors of “hate speech” are at it again. This time the target is irrepressible radio talkmeister Don Imus, who mouthed off (nothing new in that) on his nationally syndicated radio talk show, carried in Boston by WTKK 96.9 FM. Imus had the bad judgment to refer to the members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “rough girls” and “nappy-headed hos.

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  • April 07, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    When Congress passed the Equal Access Act in 1984, requiring public schools to respect the First Amendment rights of extra-curricular student groups, it was intent on protecting student religious groups from discrimination. The Act was, in part, a response to federal court decisions allowing schools to deny equal access to religious groups, in the belief that recognizing them would violate prohibitions on establishing religion.

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