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[David Kopel, September 26, 2008 at 12:22pm] Trackbacks
Obama Supreme Court and the Second Amendment:
In a new article for
America's 1st Freedom (a NRA member magazine), I examine some of President
Obama's potential Supreme Court picks. (Based on a list of potential nominees in
an article by Stuart Taylor in the National Journal.) Justices Cass Sunstein,
Merrick Garland, Sonia Sotomayor, and Eric Holder would be terrible for Second
Amendment rights, I suggest. Attorney General Deval Patrick and Secretary of the
Interior Tom Daschle would be pretty bad in that regard, too, I argue. The
article also summarizes Obama's record on Second Amendment issues.
[David Kopel, September 23, 2008 at 4:32pm] Trackbacks
flubs Obama gun fact check: FactCheck.org is an excellent project of the
Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It a
non-partisan organization which provides factual evaluations of the claims of
and about political figures. I have cited it in my own writing, and will
continue to do so. However, that FactCheck has a well-deserved reputation for
accuracy and good judgment does not mean that its work is infallible, as the VC
has pointed out previously. The Encyclopedia Britannica also has a well-deserved
reputation for accuracy and impartiality, but the Britannica sometimes contains
errors or overstatements.
FactCheck’s September 22, 2008, report on the
National Rifle Association’s advertising critical claims that the NRA “distorts
Obama's position on gun control beyond recognition.” FactCheck itself, though,
has overstated its claims, and made several errors.
(on one page):
Doing My Patriotic Duty:
Obama Campaign Challenges NRA Ad:
FactCheck flubs Obama gun fact check:
September 9, 2008 at 7:20pm] Trackbacks
The Calvinist Roots of the American
Revolution and the Second Amendment:
That's the topic of a new article
I've written for Liberty magazine. First year law students may be interested in
observing the importance of contract law in the right of revolution against
Also, the latest version of my draft article,
Pacifist-Aggressives vs. the Second Amendment: An Analysis of Modern
Philosophies of Compulsory Non-violence is now on-line. (3 Charleston Law
Review, no. 1, forthcoming). VC readers first saw this article, as a working
paper, last fall. It's been significantly revised, in part thanks to helpful
comments from VC readers.
[David Kopel, September 6, 2008
at 2:45pm] Trackbacks
Media's treatment of Palin: The "media's
treatment of Palin and her family this week has been the quintessence of
hypocrisy, the vilest form of the politics of personal destruction." So I argue
in my Rocky Mountain News media column today.
Based on e-mail I've gotten
from some readers, it's clear that some people have so much emotional investment
in their hatred of Palin that they can't read very well. So to be clear, and to
amplify a point I explicitly made in the last paragraph of the column, it's
legitimate and necessary for the media to ask questions about her public policy
positions (including those on sex education), her record in public office, her
political philosophy, whether her experience makes her well-qualified to be VP
or President, and so on.
And BTW, astute readers will spot a typo:
"Ronald Reagan's daughter Nancy Davis" should be "Ronald Reagan's daughter with
UPDATE. An excerpt from a reader e-mail:
I do not
always agree with your stance on the issues of the day, but I am with you 150%
on this issue. I wonder if you saw the op-ed page political cartoon in the
Denver Post on Thurs. Sept. 9th? As the father of an adult special needs
individual, slightly older than Bristol Palin, but just as pregnant and just as
unwed at this time, I was incensed at the sleaze demonstrated by this portrayal
of a McCain/Palin "shotgun wedding" along with the caption underneath the
cartoon. What sent me completely over the edge however was the hand at the left
of the frame holding a sign announcing that Bristol Palin is five months
pregnant along with two elephant heads whispering and giggling. How low will the
media go and is there anything that ordinary people like myself can do to put a
stop to such behavior? I know firsthand the emotional toll that an unexpected
pregnancy is exerting on our family, (she and her boyfriend have our unyielding
support) but more importantly on our daughter. Here in the Palin family's case,
the entire world is hearing all the details. How sad to put a confused and
frightened seventeen year old through this additional stress. My disappointment
with the Denver paper is such that I plan to cancel my subscription next week.
After I saw this lowdown smear at this innocent minor, I drove down to McCain
headquarters and offered my services to the campaign and made a donation to the
McCain 2008 campaign. As you can see, I have been touched both emotionally and
personally by what is passing for journalism in this election year.
[David Kopel, September 5, 2008 at 4:30pm] Trackbacks
Heterosexism, and Capitalism: Yesterday's Investors Business Daily
reports on the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, a group with trains and pays
stipends to community organizers and other youthful volunteers. According to
IBD, "Barack Obama was a founding member of the board of Public Allies in 1992,
resigning before his wife became executive director of the Chicago chapter of
Public Allies in 1993." IBD also describes the diversity training in Chicago; it
is not clear from the article whether this particular training took place while
either Obama was involved in the group. IBD states that in the Chicago training,
"heterosexism" is explained as "a negative byproduct of 'capitalism, white
supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege.'"
Here is my bleg: do
VC readers know of any serious research about a link between heterosexism and
capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege? My initial
impression is the cause and effect theory of heterosexism is quite wrong.
Communist dictatorships, for example, are often quite hostile to homosexuals;
yet Communist states are not capitalist, generally have legal equality of men
and women, and (outside Europe) are run by non-whites. Conversely, ancient
Greece was relatively tolerant of some forms of homosexuality, and yet was
patriarchal, dominated by whites, and had a primitive free market.
there a serious intellectual argument for the Public Allies theory of the causes
[David Kopel, August 28, 2008 at 12:20pm]
William Henry Harrison, Barack H. Obama, and Social Networking
"O, what has caused this great commotion, -motion, -motion, Our country
through? It is the ball that’s rolling on for Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Like
the William Henry Harrison campaign of 1840, the Barack Obama campaign has been
at the cutting edge of using social networking media. My column for today's
Rocky Mountain News, "Twitter and Text Your Way to Victory," looks at innovative
use of media in 2008, and in the past. It's mostly based on an interview with
Chris Hughes, the 24-year-old wunderkind who is Obama's Director of Online
Organizing. I suggest that Obama's brilliant use of social networking was a sine
qua non of his victory.
[David Kopel, August 27, 2008 at
Obama biographies: Lots of Obama biographical
pieces in the media this week, including the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time,
The New Republic, and National Review. My column in today's Rocky Mountain News
examines them all, pointing out the most thorough (WaPo) and the most sanitized
(Newsweek). I point out that the coverage neglects the radical socialist and
racialist views of Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
The column also examines the
faulty reasoning in Jacob Weisberg's claim in a Newsweek column that older Jews
who are hesitant about voting for Obama because of Israel are really closet
racists. And the column points to some of the best Colorado-related articles
from the Washington political insider publications.
Kopel, August 26, 2008 at 4:57pm] Trackbacks
Kopel on the DNC Recent
articles in the Rocky Mountain News: Al Jazeera makes a blatantly false claim
against Joe Biden, and gets other facts wrong, too. Plus: Rum, Romanism, and
Rebellion--the story from the 19th century shows that some things haven't
changed. (Both stories in same link).
Just posted: Democratic prayer
celebration with Sister Helen Prejean and the head of the Islamic Society of
North America should have spurred media queries.
Coming soon: The Obama
biographies recently published in the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Time.
Personal note: I was in the convention hall for Senator Kennedy's speech,
almost certainly his last to a Democratic National Convention. Back at the 1956
Democratic Convention, Adlai Stevenson threw open the Vice-Presidential
nomination, and let the delegates pick. Young Senator John F. Kennedy tried, but
was defeated by Estes Kefauver. For over half a century since then, the Kennedys
have been a major part of every Democratic National Convention. All three of the
brothers had successes and failures, good ideas and not-so-good ones. The mass
of delegates at the Denver Convention waving their white-on-blue "Kennedy" signs
were remembering the many positive parts of the Kennedy record. Senator Edward
Kennedy's final speech to a Convention was dignified, gracious, beautiful, and
exemplified the Kennedy family at its best.
August 25, 2008 at 1:52pm] Trackbacks
Kopel coverage of the DNC: This
week I will be part of a team of 150 journalists covering the Democratic
National Convention for the Rocky Mountain News. The News' coverage will be
24/7, with very frequent web updates. You can find a link to my material from
the Opinion page for DNC commentary. Topics already in the pipeline are: Al
Jazeera's terrible coverage of Joe Biden; the connections between late 19th
century politics (including "rum, Romanism, and rebellion") and the present; Joe
Biden and the RAVE Act; and the press missing the story about some of the
controversial speakers at Sunday's interfaith prayer meeting.
[David Kopel, August 22, 2008 at 5:55pm] Trackbacks
Trade and Sovereignty
bleg: I am starting work on a paper on Taiwan/China trade issues. Do
readers have suggestions for good books or articles on ways in which trade
does/doesn't affect political sovereignty?
I'm not looking for stuff
about globalization in general (e.g., the issue raised by much of the French
Left that global trade shifts power away from the national government, and
towards various multinationals). Rather, I'm looking for material (historical,
or present) about bi-lateral trade--especially in the context of bi-lateral
situations where one trade partner is much larger, or otherwise more powerful,
than the other.
For example, Danish trade with rising, powerful Germany
in 1880-1939 does not appear to have harmed Denmark's sovereignty; then when the
Nazis did invade in 1940, Denmark's numerous business contacts with Germany
helped convince the Germans to allow a limited degree of Danish autonomy during
the first years after the conquest. On the other hand, threats to U.S. business
interests in Haiti led to a U.S. invasion in 1915 that, arguably, might not have
taken place if Haiti had fewer business ties to the U.S. in the first place.
Extra credit for Volokh Law School students who suggest factors, backed by
examples, which make extensive bi-lateral trade more/less likely to impair the
sovereignty of the smaller partner.
[David Kopel, August 22,
2008 at 2:41pm] Trackbacks
Computer purchase bleg: I am thinking of
buying a new desktop computer for my office, or a new portable computer. Both of
my current models are Dells, and I've been happy with them, except that they are
five years old, and getting slow. The portable (a subnotebook with an 11 inch
screen) is slow on booting, and on opening programs. The desktop gets slow
whenever it's required to do something CPU-intensive in the background--e.g., an
antivirus scan, playing an episode of bloggingheads.tv, etc.
happy with Dell, but the customer comments I see on CNET.com and on Amazon.com
about Dell's current quality control and customer service are horrific.
My plan is to buy a fairly powerful machine, so that I don't need to upgrade in
a couple years. My home computer is a one-year old Gateway, which has worked
great. Unfortunately, Gateway no longer sells directly, and only offers
pre-configured machines from selected vendors. Its most powerful desktops appear
to be available only from TigerDirect, with which some of my friends have had
customer service problems.
I certainly don't want to buy from HP. I
bought a multifunction printer from them a few years ago. When it broke (bad
circuit board), they refused to sell me a replacement circuit board; instead
they offered me a "discount" on a new printer; the "discounted" price was
actually higher than the regular price available from several retail vendors.
I don't want to buy from Apple. Too many compatibility issues with the
Windows-based systems in my office and home.
So...should I go back to
Dell? Or buy from somebody else? Who makes high-quality, reliable computers
these days? I don't need a system with superfast video for gaming, nor do I
expect that I need something with strong video editing powers. (But who knows
what will be important in 3-4 years?) I do want something with a fast CPU, and
lots of RAM. So what should I do?
[David Kopel, August 18,
2008 at 11:10pm] Trackbacks
McCain Campaign Attacks Key VC Demographic: From today's JohnMcCain.com blog: "It may be typical of the pro-Obama
Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from
the comfort of mom's basement..."
The McCain campaign is correct in
wanting to rebut an ugly smear from the Daily Kos. But why drag "the Dungeons
and Dragons crowd" into it?
Will present and former D&D players--of whom
there are probably millions--consider voting Libertarian? A LP Convention
probably has the highest percentage of past/present D&D players of any gathering
in the world, other than a science fiction convention. And within the LP, the
word "dungeonmaster" is never used as an epithet.
Kopel, July 23, 2008 at 5:18pm] Trackbacks
The Natural Right of Self-Defense:
Heller's Lesson to the World The Syracuse Law Review is putting together
a symposium issue on the Heller decision. My article for the symposium examines
the implications of Heller's constitutionalization of the natural law right of
The article has benefitted from the VC discussion of
self-defense in Heller by Orin Kerr, Eugene Volokh, and Jim Lindgren. Due to the
symposium's desire for short articles, I was not able to explore all the
interesting issues raised by the discussion.
Jim had suggested that the
topic would make a good subject for student Notes, and I certainly agree. My
Article doesn't come close to exhausting the topic. For example, in the course
of research, I found the 1874 treatise "Select American Cases on the Law of
Self-Defence." (Available on Google Books.) There is a vast amount of material
therein that is worth exploring. Moreover, my string cite (note 15) on American
cases describing self-defense as a "natural right" does not even include cases
using the term "inherent right" instead.
BTW, I did not steal the title
from Jim's suggestion. I already had it in my draft, as a sequel to my BYU J.
Pub. L. article "The Human Right of Self-Defense."
In footnote 15, you
will find a 1832 Kentucky case which I did find thanks to Jim. As you'll see, I
still haven't solved the mystery of how the Kentucky court attributed to Matthew
Hale a quote which actually appears to come from Michael Foster. I'll send a
free copy of the forthcoming book Supreme Court Gun Cases, vol. 2, to the first
person who can provide a definitive solution.
All Related Posts (on one page)
| Some Related Posts:
The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson to
Three Difficulties With Using State Constitutional Rights to Infer
Federal Constitutional Rights:
The Natural Right of Self Defense.--...
State Constitutional Rights of Self-Defense and Defense of Property:
Constitutional Right to Self-Defense?
Heller and Self-Defense:
[David Kopel, July 23, 2008 at 12:00pm] Trackbacks
D.C. City Council's
False "Findings" of Facts on Firearms: D.C. City Councilman Harry Thomas
has introduced a resolution titled "Sense of the Council of Future Handgun
Resolution of 2008." The resolution makes the following findings:
Accidental deaths by firearms rank in the top 10 of accidental deaths in our
(2) Approximately 1,500 deaths per year result from the
accidental use of a fire-arm. Of the 1500, 75% are young males between the age
of 14 and 25, who unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else.
finding are clearly false. According to the 2005 data (National Vital Statistics
Reports, Volume 56, Number 10, April 24, 2008, Table 18), the total number of
accidental firearms deaths, for all ages combined, was 789--about half the
figure that Thomas claims. Firearms are not in the top 10 causes of accidental
death, but are outranked by the following specified categories: Drowning, Fall,
Fire/flame, Motor vehicle traffic, Pedestrian (not including from motor
vehicles), Other land transport, Other transport, Natural/environmental,
Poisoning, Struck by or against, Suffocation.
According to the
"findings," there are about 1,125 accidental firearms deaths annually, involving
males aged 14 to 25. Using the excellent on-line query tool from the National
Center for Injury Prevention and Control, you can find the 2005 total number of
fatal gun accidents for males aged 14-25 was 219.
The Thomas "finding"
claimed that males aged 14-25 were the victims OR the perpetrators of 3/4 of
total fatal gun accidents. I have no idea where Thomas gets this figure from.
For the figure to be correct, that males 14-25, who are the victims of about
one-quarter of all fatal gun accidents, would also have to be the non-victim
perpetrators of about nearly 2/3 of accidents involving all other groups. (2/3 x
3/4 [fraction of accident victims who are not males 14-25] = 1/2. We add the 1/2
to the 1/4 of accidents in which males 14-25 are the victim, to get males aged
14-25 as perpetrators or victims in 3/4 of total accidents.) This seems
implausible, although not formally impossible.
The incorrect "findings"
about accidents are then followed by two more findings, which are really policy
statements apparently based on the findings:
(3)There must be strict
standards to regulate the sale of handguns in the District of Columbia,
including stringent waiting periods for the purchase of hand guns, as well as
the implementation of comprehensive training and education programs on the
dangers of handguns through the DC Department of Parks and Recreation partnering
with other agencies.
(4) There must be rigorous restrictions where gun
stores can be located, a possible ban on private sales of handguns, and require
gun shop operators to enter into voluntary agreements with community residents
through their Advisory Neighborhood Commissions before such establishments can
be issued a Certificate of Occupancy.
The finds are then followed the
Sec. 3. It is the sense of the Council that strict and rigorous
handgun regulations must be in place to ensure the health, safety, and welfare
of District of Columbia residents.
Back in 1976, when the District's City
Council enacted the handgun ban, it made the finding that "Most murders are
committed by previously law-abiding citizens." This too is indisputably false,
as detailed in the Heller amicus brief I wrote with Chuck Michel. (Pages 24-29.)
The current City Council would have a better chance of passing gun laws which do
not violate the Constitution if the Council were rigorous in its own factual
investigations of the purported needs for extremely restrictive laws.
[David Kopel, July 22, 2008 at 3:29pm] Trackbacks
blog debate over at Cato Unbound: Bob Levy (mastermind of Heller),
Dennis Henigan (Brady Campaign), and I are blog-debating Heller and its
ramifications over at Cato Unbound. Erwin Chemerinsky should join us later in
[David Kopel, July 21, 2008 at 7:11pm] Trackbacks
The United Nations vs. the Second Amendment:
Over at Opinio Juris,
Kenneth Anderson has an interesting post about last week's gun control
conference at the United Nations, and a New York Times puff piece thereon,
written by C.J. Chivers.
After noting U.S. concerns about the U.N.
becoming a venue attacks on American gun ownership, the Times explains:
United Nations and advocates of gun control have said that such fears are
unfounded, and that there is no effort to impose standards on nations with
traditions of civilian ownership, or to restrict hunting. The programs, they
said, apply largely to areas suffering from insurgencies or war.
remain free to have their own national legislation,” said Daniel Prins, chief of
the Conventional Arms Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament
Affairs. “This document does not try to regulate gun ownership in the whole
world. This is an instrument that allows states to focus on regions in conflict
and the weapons that illicitly get there.”
But Anderson was present at the
beginning of the U.N.'s campaign against gun ownership:
I recall sitting in
meetings of landmines advocates talking about where things should go next; I was
director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, with a mandate to address the
transfer of weapons into conflicts where they would be used in the violation of
the laws of war, and small arms were the main concern. I was astonished at how
quickly the entire question morphed from concern about the flood of weapons into
African civil wars into how to use international law to do an end run around
supposedly permissive gun ownership regimes in the US.
I dropped any
personal support for the movement when it became clear, a long time ago, that it
is about controlling domestic weapons equally in the US (or, today, even more
so) as in Somalia or Congo.
Despite protestations to the contrary, the U.N.
remains quite interested in constricting lawful gun ownership. Consider, for
example, the United Nations Disarmament Programme's publication, How to Guide:
Small Arms and Light Weapons Legislation. The publication touts the importance
of international "harmonisation" of gun laws. According to the United Nations:
Citizens should only be allowed to own guns if they are given a government
permit, and the permit should only be issued if there is a "good reason" for
possession or "genuine need." In particular, permits to own guns for self
defense should not be issued unless the applicant proves that he is in immediate
The law require "safe storage", which means that firearms should
be disassembled and the ammunition ammo stored separately.
Archive of Kopel's Corner
2006, Oct. 3- Dec. 31.
2006, Jan. 1- Oct. 2.
The rest of Kopel's website
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