Wardell (Ward) Connerly: Arizona Legislature Should Reject HCR 2019; Affected, Nonmajority Citizenry Must Contribute to Debate and Assent to Any Decision.

Wardell (Ward) Connerly  is attempting one of his campaigns to prohibit “racial preferences” in Arizona (search Ward Connerly in the search box for my previous posts). Instead this time he is attempting to go through the legislature (Republican controlled House and Senate) (the legislation’s number is HCR 2019). At first glance, this move seems to address one of my criticisms of Connerly’s proposal. But I also think that any opening of taking away rights from another requires the full contribution and assent of the affected groups (the non-White population). Given the population of Arizona, only one race could be said to be preferred—White. Because of this, this bill is unnecessary.

Arizona (population: 5,130,632 (2000 Census) [NOTE: high number of “some other race”])

Race Percentage of population Number
White 75.5% 3,873,611
Black 3.1 158,873
Native American 5.0 255,879
Asian 1.8 92,236

Connerly makes his usual “deep south” speech with a twist: an appeal to the desire of self-sufficiency. Essentially, he states that self-sufficiency is a good, and then follows that with a statement that Affirmative Action is a threat against self-sufficiency. Thus, Affirmative Action is bad (and if the reader should agree, then that reader should also support his prohibit “racial preferences” initiative).

Here is the quote:

“We can look at people’s needs, their income, their social condition rather than presuming as we do now that my brown skin means that I can’t compete with you, that you somehow, in your benevolence, give me something not on the basis of my accomplishment but on the basis of your generosity.”

Connerly’s arguments willfully ignore reality and are not believable. Connerly’s argument in favor of self-sufficiency only supports the current hegemonic power structure. Self- sufficiency only applies to those who control the governance, the industry, and the money flow in the society. There is only one group that possesses that power—Whites (due to its supermajority presence in the country) (The election of President Obama does not affect, but rather supports, this argument (see the selection of his staff)).

Because of Connerly’s own funding, his self-sufficiency argument is disingenuous.  Connerly,  for example, receives millions through his contributors (www.bigmoneyconnerly.org, produced by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC)).

As Connerly demonstrates, the Horatio Alger story cannot exist because no one makes it in the world without the support of other people.  I wish the fantasy would go away into the rubbish bin.

The reader should read Connerly’s view of his racial status [New York Times article].

By society’s measure, he emerged black from the gene pool, a peculiar arithmetic that Ward Connerly insists he has never understood.

”One drop of blood does it,” he said, reviewing the computation: 25 percent black plus 37.5 percent Irish plus 25 percent French plus 12.5 percent Choctaw equals 100 percent black. ”I suppose I could claim to be Irish, but who wants to stand there and argue the point every time? So I’m black.”

Cocoa-brown skin is the product of his amalgamated ancestry. And however much a hindrance the color may have been in other endeavors, it now offers him a paradoxical advantage, for Mr. Connerly has become the nation’s most active opponent of racial preferences. His blackness, he agrees with some reluctance, grants many whites a kind of absolution, allowing them to protest affirmative action ”without having to feel like they appear racist.”

The linked article further erodes Connerly’s credibility on this subject.

H.R. 627: Credit Card Act, PL 111-24, Contains Provisions for Various Studies, Reports, and Legislative Amendments

The Congressional activity to pass the Credit CARD Act of 2009, P.L. 111-24, addresses issues related to personal credit card holders. In addition to this the Act contains a number of provisions that require reports (there are a few amendments to laws as well).

Many of the provisions were sponsored by Republicans.

I summarize the miscellaneous provisions below.

Credit CARD Act of 2009, P.L. 111-24.  Date of enactment: 5/22/09.

Title V—Miscellaneous Provisions

Title of provision Responsible agency Due date
Sec. 501  Report on Interchange Fees  [description] Government Accountability Office (GAO) 180 days after enactment [11/16/09]Published:  11/19/09 (http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-45)
Sec. 502  Review of Consumer Credit Plans and Regulations [description] Federal Reserve Board (FRB)(sec. 502(c)—federal banking agencies [sec 3 of the FDIA] and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Every two years [5/22/10]
Sec. 503 Stored Value [description], [description] Treasury, Homeland Security 270 days after enactment [2/17/10 (approximately)]
Sec. 504  Procedure for Timely Settlement of Estates of Decedent Obligors [amendment to Truth in Lending Act, sec. 140A (new)] [description] FRB
Sec. 505  Report to Congress on Reductions of Credit Card Limits Based on Certain Information as to Experience or Transactions of the Consumer [description] FRB (in consultation with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration Board (NCUA), and the FTC) Before the end of the one-year period beginning on the date of enactment [5/21/10]
Sec. 506  Board Review of Small Business Credit Plans and Recommendations [description] FRB For the review, not later than nine months after the date of enactment [2/22/10]For the report, not later than 12 months after the date of enactment [5/22/10]
Sec. 507  Small Business Information Security Task Force [description] Small Business Administration (SBA) and Homeland Security For meeting minutes, not later than 60 days after Administrator receives the minutes, the Administrator submits the minutes to the House and Senate, the Administrator submits the minutes to the House and SenateFor findings at the termination of the task force, not later than 90 days after Administrator receives the findings, the Administrator submits the findings to the House and Senate.The task force terminates at the end of fiscal year 2013 [9/30/13]
Sec. 508  Study and Report on Emergency PIN Technology FTC (with the Justice Department, and the Secret Service) Not later than nine months after the date of enactment [2/22/10]
Sec. 509  Study and Report on the Marketing of Products with Credit Offers [description] GAO Not later than 12/31/10
Sec. 510  Financial and Economic Literacy [description] Department of Education and the Treasury (Office of Financial Education (with the President’s Council on Financial Literacy)) For report, not later than nine months after the date of enactment [2/22/10]For strategic plan, not later than six months after the date the report is submitted to Congress
Sec. 511  FTC Rulemaking on Mortgage Lending (amendment) [description] FTC Amendment effective 3/12/09
Sec. 512  Protecting Americans from Violent Crime [description] (represents findings of Congress)
Sec. 513  GAO Study and Report on Fluency in the English Language and Financial Literacy [description] GAO Not later than one year after the date of enactment [5/22/10]

House Report 111-92

S. Amdt. 1130

Supreme Court: Justices Breyer and Thomas Testify for the Supreme Court’s Appropriation Funding

Annually, the Supreme Court, along with other federal agencies that receive appropriations, testifies for its funding before Congress.

The hearing has served as a way to discuss administrative issues of concern between the two branches of government, with a caveat that the Congress, while exercising the power of the purse, is the stronger of the two.

It is good for this to happen.  While the judicial branch is independent, the judicial branch must always be institutionally reminded that the branch’s independence does not imply royalty.  Rather, the judiciary serves the citizens through the fair application of laws in the country.

Supreme Court Law Clerks

The hearing before the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (Rep. Jose Serrano is the chairman of the subcommittee) included a discussion of the people selected to be law clerks for individual Supreme Court Justices.

The demographic composition of employees who are law clerks is a long-standing issue for Chairman Serrano.  The topic is particularly poignant as the Court renders decisions using idealized racial comity as a rationale for its decisions on affirmative action cases.  Meanwhile, the Court has difficulty answering a question about the composition of their law clerks.  Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas, who testified for the Supreme Court at the hearing, stated that they are aware of the issue (an answer similar to that made in previous years).

Since law clerks are ultimately paid with taxpayer dollars, it is worth considering whether a group with largely homogeneous backgrounds and with predominately “elite” (that is, Harvard, Yale, Stanford) law school educations can truly be fair to all who come before the Court.  Remember that all citizens must live under the Court’s decisions and most citizens did not attend “elite” institutions.

Also, it seems that people that do not have these characteristics are essentially disqualified from being truly considered for a law clerk position.  There are approximately 1,162,124 (2008 number) attorneys and most of them do not attend the “elite” institutions.  Justice Antonin Scalia said as much at a recent speech at American University’s Washington College of Law.

Questions about the people who are filling these public positions should not be avoided because the topic is uncomfortable for some.  I commend Representative Serrano for asking this simple, yet extremely important, question that provides profound information to the public.

Cameras in the Courtroom

I may hold a minority view, but I think that C-SPAN camera access to the oral arguments is long overdue.  The Court’s objections to broadcasting of oral arguments through video camera only serve to thwart legitimate expectations of transparency and openness.  Citizens that do not live within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will have to expend tremendous amounts of money to get to the Supreme Court for a chance to view an oral argument (the Court’s courtroom is small, and public seating is limited).  In addition, with the expansion of the Internet, there is an increased need for information.

It is encouraging that the Court has decided to provide oral argument transcripts.  The publication of the oral argument transcripts is a step in the right direction.

Supreme Court: For Law Clerk Positions, Only “Elite” Law School Grads (In General) Need Apply

It seems that only graduates of “elite” legal education institutions (Harvard, Yale, Stanford) can apply to be law clerks for Justice Antonin Scalia.  Justice  Scalia spoke at American University’s Washington College of Law in May 2009.

A student at the event asked what a student that does not go to an “elite” law school needs to do to be successful as a future practicing lawyer. Justice Scalia responded, “Just work hard and be very good.” Fair enough, I suppose.

But this advice is not at all sufficient for a non-“elite” law school graduate to be a candidate for a Supreme Court law clerk position in his chambers. Nothing trumps an “elite” law school diploma.

‘By and large’, he said, ‘I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?’

I figure he can pick who works with him as he pleases. However, the taxpayer (most of whom do not attend these “elite” institutions), through the Congress, controls the salaries paid to Justice Scalia and the other Justices because the Supreme Court is a federal government institution.

There is rampant elitism already present in the selection of the law clerks. This is one reason why I cannot  support a 50% salary increase for federal judges (search judiciary pay for my previous posts on this subject).

Over the last six years, the justices have hired about 220 law clerks. Almost half went to Harvard or Yale. Chicago, Stanford, Virginia and Columbia collectively accounted for 50 others. No one from Washington College of Law made the cut.

Open questions, what are lawyers who are not in this select group supposed to do to earn money? Why have so many law schools if only  a select few can succeed?

Post Script

Supreme Court Law Clerks

Coverage of Supreme Court Law Clerks (click here)

Law Clerk Addict [added 9/2/11]

Clerkship Notification Blog

Oath of Supreme Court Justices

The following is the oath that Supreme Court Justices take upon entering their office:

I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.