Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New issue of The Christendom Review now on-line

A new issue of a relatively new journal called The Christendom Review is now on-line. Bill Luse and I both have articles in it about Terri Schiavo, and those of my readers who are interested in legal issues will, I hope, be especially interested in my examination of the legal issues surrounding Terri's murder. I haven't had a chance myself to read many of the other pieces, but I already knew about the visual art of Timothy Jones and am pleased to see some of it highlighted in this issue. I especially like Bleu Cheese and Beer. (One thing I don't quite understand is where the section of Timothy Jones's page went that used to show his whole gallery, including paintings already sold. Some of them were very lovely, and it was great to be able to see them all.)

Anyway, check out the new Christendom Review, and hearty and insufficient thanks to Todd McKimmey for all the work he does and the space he provides to make each issue possible.

Update: Ah, here it is: Timothy Jones Fine Art (I was forgetting to try .net as well as .com) He should have this link front and center on all his other pages. I especially like Strawberries & Cream.


William Luse said...

That article of yours is probably a groundbreaker. Just don't expect to see it covered in the MSM.

Bleu cheese and beer is also Rick Barnett's favorite. I'm especially partial to the beer.

As to Jones' gallery page, email him and demand that he return it.

William Luse said...

Yes, how could I forget his fine art page? Probably because he told me it's now basically defunct and he's focusing on the other two sites. But people should follow that link you give.

Lydia McGrew said...

One reason he shdn't let his fine art page be defunct is that, if I'm understanding this right, he offers prints on the fine art page of any of his old works, including the sold ones, but you can't tell this from the ETSY page. Maybe he's changing that, but in any event, people certainly should be able to see the full range of his work.

Madeleine said...

I have marked the Terri Schiavo articles as must read - I had a quick skim of yours Lydia and I noted your comment in endnote 1 "I do not actually admit that higher-court precedents should be regarded as laws; I am inclined to think that calling them so and treating them so confuses the issue of judicial overreach."

I assume you are speaking of the equivalent concept in the commonwealth system of Common Law?

I am intrigued by your objection to this. The legal system I and almost qualified in is very common law heavy and it has never occured to me to make that kind of distinction. If anything, I tend to have more regard for common law than legislated law as it can be continually refined by way of precedent and precedent ensures a more even application accross courts and different judges.

If you could elaborate your thoughts further I would be most interested.

Lydia McGrew said...

Hi, Madeleine,

As you know, I did go ahead and use the term 'law' to refer to the court precedent in the Browning case for purposes of the article, because that was how it would have been conceived by the lower-court judges.

To answer your question as best I can, part of the question at issue (that I mention briefly in that endnote) is _whether_ state and federal Constitutions should be treated as merely part of Common Law and hence as revisable or amendable by court "interpretations." Here I go along with Antonin Scalia in his essay in the book _A Matter of Interpretation_ where he argues that the federal Constitution of the U.S. (and the same should apply _mutatis mutandis_ to state constitutions) is _not_ part of Common Law but rather is a document of statutory law. Hence its meaning does _not_ change, and judges who interpret it should be merely interpreting it, not giving their own opinions of what it _should_ say and then saying that these opinions are now "what the Constitution says."

This has become a minority opinion in American jurisprudence, but my insistence on referring to a precedent like Roe v. Wade (for example) simply as a precedent and not as "the law" is one of the ways in which I mark my adherence to this position.

One of my concerns here is with simple honesty. You see, the authority of the supreme courts (the federal and state) to declare that abortion must be legal through the 9th month (as in Roe) or that it must be possible to dehydrate incompetent people to death (as in Browning) _supposedly_ derives from a written document. The claim in Roe is that "the Constitution says" that there is such a right, and in Browning, too, they ostensibly derived their opinion from the notion of "liberty" in the state constitution. So, to put it bluntly, these opinions are a lie. The documents in question don't say or imply these things at all, and the judges lack actual legal authority to impose these policies, because they have such authority only insofar as that authority derives from documents--the law or constitutions they claim to be interpreting.

However, now the position taught in law school is, literally, "The Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means" (and mutatis mutandis for the state supreme courts).

There certainly are areas of American law that are matters of Common Law. I do not even claim to know what all of these are. In fact, I've been informed rather unpleasantly by an erstwhile friend that I'm too ignorant to have an opinion on that matter. (It's a long story.) But while he was still instructing me, he informed me that family law and contract law are very much matters of Common Law, though it is my understanding that even there the states have adopted uniform codes as statutory law.

But I continue to hold, with Scalia, that interpretation of Constitutional meaning is not the ever-evolving process of making Common Law but is rather a matter of interpreting the meaning of a piece of statutory law, in which case it makes sense to designate court opinions/precedents simply as court opinions/precedents and not as "laws," because they might _vastly_ diverge from the actual meaning of the piece of law (the state or federal Constitution) they purport to be merely interpreting.