More On The State Constitutional Spending Cap

Kudos to the MetroHartford Alliance for organizing a terrific panel discussion last Tuesday on issues concerning the state’s constitutional spending cap, a subject about which I’ve blogged in the past.  UConn law school hosted the event.  Panelists included: Attorney General George Jepsen; Richard Balducci (Former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives); attorney Wes Horton (an expert on the state constitution); Keith Phaneuf (budget report for The Connecticut Mirror); and Spencer Cain (President, Cain Associates, LLC and a former top dog in the Office of Fiscal Analysis).

I thought the event was remarkable for the candor of all the panelists, but particularly Richard Balducci, who explained the politics behind the adoption of the spending cap.  Click here to watch CT-N’s video of the program.  And click here for a collection of links to documents and other resources that MetroHartford Alliance has assembled on the issue.


Is Bernie Sanders Deluding His Supporters?

Last night Bernie Sanders won big in New Hampshire.  His message of the need for a “political revolution” clearly resonates with “yuge” (thanks Donald Trump) numbers of voters.  (For the record, I share Sanders’ view that growing wealth and income inequality is one of the great problems facing our country.)

But is the democratic socialist agenda he advocates remotely feasible given the realities of the constitutional system in which he would operate if elected president?  In other words, given the likely composition of the House and Senate, and given the rules that govern the operation of each (e.g, like the filibuster in the Senate), is there a realistic chance that he could implement his agenda?

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Does Senator Bye Have A Conflict Of Interest?

In his “Government Watch” column in The Hartford Courant last week, Jon Lender writes about a proposal by state House and Senate Republicans to “enact legislation stating that no member of the state Appropriations Committee can work for an entity that receives grant money or budget line items from the state.”  Although it does not mention her by name, the proposal is plainly aimed at Sen. Beth Bye, the West Hartford Democratic who co-chairs Appropriations.

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Ebola Quarantine Lawsuit Filed Against Gov. Malloy

On Monday the Yale Legal Services organization filed a lawsuit in federal court charging Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut’s former public health commissioner with violating the civil rights of several individuals who were subjected to quarantine during the recent Ebola virus scare. I’ve only had an opportunity to scan the complaint, but it alleges several specific claims: Read the rest of this entry »


The Ted Cruz Debate, Ctd.

Renowned constitutional law professors Laurence Tribe (Harvard) and Jack Balkin (Yale) held a cordial and informative debate at Harvard Law School last week on the question of whether Ted Cruz is “natural born citizen” and thus constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States.  (See my previous post on the subject.)  Bottom line: For fan’s of originalism, the legal question is not “settled” and there is a reasonable argument that he is not qualified.  (As I am not an originalist, I don’t share that position.  But since Ted Cruz likes to say that he believes in interpreting the constitution according to its original meaning, it is fair to ask whether he is qualified to be president if the constitution is interpreted the way he thinks it should be interpreted.  Or, as Professor Tribe suggests, is Cruz just a “fair weather originalist?”)


2015 Is Record Year For False Convictions

The New York Times reports today on a study that found that in 2015, 149 individuals were determined to have been falsely convicted of a crime.  Nearly four in ten exonerations were for murder. According to the study, “[t]he annual tally of false convictions has more than doubled since 2011, the registry said. All told, its researchers have recorded 1,733 exonerations since 1989.”

No system of justice is perfect.  But we can do so much better to reduce the number of false convictions.  (For example, don’t rely on eyewitness identifications without corroborating evidence.)

 


When Felons Rule, Ctd

In an editorial today, The Hartford Courant argues against giving corrupt politicians a second chance at holding public office:

For elected leaders who betray the people’s trust by using their office in a criminal manner to put personal gain above the public good, the right to run again should be revoked.

I expressed the same view in a post on this blog last November, so I agree with the Courant 100%.

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UConn Is Not Above The Law

UConn has become one of the great public universities in the country.  Deservedly so.  But it is not above the law, including the state’s Freedom of Information Act.  Unfortunately, UConn seems to think otherwise.

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President Obama: “We Must Rethink Solitary Confinement”

[S]olitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.

I’ll let his moving piece in today’s Washington Post speak for itself. (For the record, I agree with him.)


Why Do I Blog About The Law?

Because of reader responses like this one: “i love getting these blog posts in my inbox. reading them makes me smarter; thanks for writing them.”

Dear Reader: I love writing the posts as much as you enjoy reading them.  And I’m glad you find them worthy of your time. Thank you for your very kind words!


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