This term, I was the tutor for the dreamy constitutional law professor. He’s one of those people where you don’t necessarily realize how dreamy he is at first, and then later, when he’s saying something ridiculous about INS v. Chadha
, you get a little weak kneed and nervous, even though you totally disagree. You know what I mean. Anyway, in our first meeting this year about the tutoring, he asked me about my classes. I told him I was taking a federal courts class (or “fed jur” to those in the know), and he asked me if we were reading the Heart & Wechslers, which he explained has tormented law students for eons. He said to skip this book and read Chemerinsky's Federal Jurisdiction instead. I went through them both, and while the Chemerinsky is definitely helpful, as always, I still appreciated having the actual cases available.
It’s true, there is a lot of torment in this book, but I have to say I basically like it, if only from association with this super-amazing class. It’s really the only class I’ve taken, where everyone I’ve ever talked to who has taken the class has said they like it. BECAUSE IT’S SO STUPENDOUS. Oh, except I'm seeing now, below, that Lightreads did not love it. :( Well, I totally loved this class. We had this spectacular professor, who is something of an expert about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and she explained everything in a way where I'm convinced she is pretty genius and I know she is a great teacher.
My random thoughts about the topic:
1. The Judiciary Act of 1789 basically sucks. Why write something in 500 words that you could write in 10? It’s ridiculous jargon. But, Chief Justice John Marshall is the man. I know he was kind of sneaky, but I’ll fight anyone who says he didn’t save the union for the years he was Chief Justice. He rules.
2. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is in an interesting place right now. The Ninth Circuit has ruled that any time the military fires someone under the policy, it has to show that the person’s actions were actually undermining the military. The First Circuit has said that it doesn’t
have to show that. This creates a real implementation problem for the military. When different circuits interpret laws differently, sometimes it works out okay for the executive branch. Like, with the EPA, different interpretations of forestry laws, for example, don’t create a big problem because forests stay in the same place. With DADT, it’s different because military personnel move around a lot. So, say someone is gay in the Ninth Circuit, and their gayness isn’t actually undermining the military, their partner could potentially receive benefits of a domestic partnership. But, what if that person travels between bases in the First and Ninth Circuit? The easy answer would seem to be to stop firing people in both circuits, but that is not the road the military has chosen so far.
3. Indian law. Man, tribes, I really think you guys should sign onto the Constitution. This is outrageous, and I don’t think the sacrifices you make are worth the benefits of not signing having the requirements of the Constitution.
4. International law. This is what my final paper was about. I think we’re coming to a place where the structure of international law and its application to local administration of justice is going to require a more organized and binding form of international government. I wonder if this will happen, and, if so, whether it will look like what we have now and just have more authority, or if it will require an entire restructuring of the UN.
That’s a brief summary of my thoughts on this book. The book itself is . . . not totally clear, but the class is amazing. Learning law is funny because the topics with interesting fact patterns tend to have boring legal questions, while the topics with boring fact patterns have fascinating legal questions. This topic is definitely the latter. They say it’s civ pro on crack. That’s pretty true. It’s like the crack baby of civ pro and con law. Total favorite for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year without constitution classes. Outlook is bleak.