It’s a 196 in the shade today, so what better time than to catch up with stuff that has festered all summer. To wit:
The 24/7 coverage of DeflateGate has dramatically illustrated a really, really scary point about today’s society that has nothing to do with cheating and football: the abysmal state of legal knowledge – rudimentary legal knowledge – in this country.
Radio/TV commentators, social media, newsprint, call-ins to sports radio and, to be fair, NPR and anyone that went near this thing (everyone?) consistently getting things wrong in ways my high schooler would be embarrassed to mess up.
From the simple – no, Brady was not charged or innocent or guilty because he was never near a criminal court;
to so stupid as to be almost inane – the ESPN host who stated ‘only guilty people hire lawyers;’ the many hosts and callers who agreed that ‘you gotta give your phone up when your employer asks for it, it’s the law;’ the WEEI host who proclaimed loudly and often that the federal judge could ‘bring anyone he wants to the courtroom, ’cause that’s what he can do, order anyone he wants to talk, have them dragged in if needed . . . what? No, that’s not right, he doesn’t need a reason, he’s a judge;’
to the downright terrifying in the ‘this-kind-of-stupid-means-the-end-of-the-Republic’ way: “what do we care about due process as long as we get the guilty guy?” “Due process is for cheaters;” “just a technicality the NFL wasn’t fair;” “why should his[Brady’s] employer have to play fair?”
This kind of utter lack of awareness doesn’t really bode well for the rule of law. Or fairness. Or anything, because once you go down that particular road there’s no coming back.
As far as the case went, I manged to get this secret tape of Brady’s lawyer from the first day of hearings:
By the way, contributing mightily to all of the above was the performance of the media legal experts. A bunch of guys who made hedging an art form. “Sure, Dan, the judge ripped the NFL and asked devastating questions . . . looks bad for them . . . but, it may all just be a big fake, a sleight of hand …”
Okay, even after the judge eviscerated the NFL in the hearings, no one wants to go on record about what a slam dunk a case is and then be wrong. But come on – have some balls (every legal expert I heard artfully dodging on this was a guy), this was never close.
This hedging just throws the fog of war over the judicial system and, well, see above.
I am alive today because I paid attention during Constitutional Law. There’s no debating it. My law school had amazing Con Law teachers – from the guy who wrote the textbook to the head of the ACLU – and they really made it mean something. I’m dead – literally and/or metaphorically – without those classes.
Which is why I find it particularly upsetting to see lawyers like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz weigh in on the Kim Davis clusterfuck.
They know – you can’t graduate law school without passing Con Law I & II – that the First Amendment does not apply here. In any way.
Just as they also have to know that as an elected official, Davis’ not allowing the assistant clerks to issues licenses DOES violate the First Amendment.
As someone said during the Indiana religious freedom act debacle a while back: “this law doesn’t discriminate against anyone … it just protects those of us who do.”
Rubio and Cruz know this, for some reason they’ve decided that being associated with Kathy Bates’ Misery body double and Mike Huckabee is the image they’re trying to project to uncommitted voters.
Oh … and apparently somewhere down the line they’ve also decided that violating a Federal Court order is a perfectly alright as long as you don’t agree with the court. Hope they remember that next time a criminal reform bill passes their way. If they’re not disbarred in the meantime.