An A+ For Rep. Jutila On Police Transparency

Kudos to Representative Ed Jutila (D-East Lyme) and eight other members of the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) committee for voting to send Raised Bill 6750 to the floor of the House for consideration.  (Read CT News Junkie’s story about the vote.)

I’ve written about the importance of Raised Bill 6750 in a previous post; it would overrule a bad Connecticut Supreme Court decision that substantially curtailed public access to arrest-related records.  The proposed bill would restore the Freedom of Information Commission’s longstanding interpretation of state law, which allowed greater access to such records, subject to important exemptions, including protecting the identity of witnesses and avoiding disclosures that would prejudice a prospective law enforcement action.  The bill strikes the proper balance between the public’s right to know and law enforcement’s need to avoid premature disclosure of certain information in order to protect the integrity of investigations and potential prosecutions..


Connecticut Is Not Indiana

Last week Indiana enacted a controversial law that many believe is intended to allow individuals, particularly for-profit business owners, to discriminate against persons who identify as LGBT, on the ground that providing services to such persons may burden the provider’s religious convictions.  Today, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that he will sign an executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana.  The governor stated, “When new laws turn back the clock on progress, we can’t sit idly by. We are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated.”

In response to the governor’s announcement, some are arguing that Connecticut is being hypocritical because it has its own law, enacted in 1993, that is (allegedly) no different from, or is even worse than, the new Indiana law.  (Click here and here for examples of such arguments.)

Are those arguments correct?  I think not.  Nothing in the text or history of the Connecticut law suggests that the General Assembly intended to allow individuals or business owners to discriminate against members of the LGBT community based on religious beliefs.

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What Happens When A Jewish Man Won’t Give His Wife A Get?

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Under Jewish law, a “Get” is a document that a husband must give his wife to effect a divorce.  Without a Get, a woman who has obtained a civil divorce is still considered married under Jewish law and may not remarry.

The biblical requirement (Deuteronomy 24:1) that the husband give his wife a Get in order to formally end their marriage under Jewish law means that a recalcitrant husband can use the Get as leverage in a civil divorce.  Or he can simply be cruel and refuse to give the Get out of spite.  And in Israel, where there is no distinction between civil and religious marriage, and in very orthodox communities outside of Israel, a husband who won’t give his wife a Get effectively enslaves her to him.

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When Felons Run For Public Office

News about former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim’s interest in running for public office once again prompted me to take a look at the law in Connecticut concerning the rights of felons to vote and run for public office.  Those rights are set forth in Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. 

A person convicted of a felony forfeits his right to become an elector, i.e. his right to vote, AND “may not be a candidate for or hold public office.”  See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46.  However, the law allows for the restoration of electoral privileges, including the right to run for and hold public office, “upon the payment of all fines in conjunction with the conviction and once such person has been discharged from confinement, and, if applicable, parole.”  Id., § 9-46a.

Mr. Ganim was released from prison in 2010.  Does anyone know whether he has satisfied the requirements for restoration of his electoral privileges and, if so, have his electoral privileges been formally restored?


Extremity As A Strategy In Appellate Arguments

My fixation on King v. Burwell continues unabated. Recall that the issue in this statutory construction case is whether the text of the Affordable Care Act only permits the federal government to subsidize qualified individuals (by income) who purchase insurance on state-operated exchanges, or whether subsidies are also available to all qualified individuals, regardless of whether they purchase insurance through a state-operated exchange or the federal exchange, www.healthcare.gov.

The question on my mind today concerns the efficacy of a strategy that the defenders, the Solicitor General in particular, appear to have adopted in their appellate briefs: leading with a relatively weaker argument followed by a relatively stronger backup argument.  

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Obamacare: Written With Crystal Clarity. . . To Fail?

So much ink has been spilled in anticipation of, and in the 48 hours since, the oral argument in King v. Burwell that I have not felt I had anything meaningful to contribute.  For readers who are not very familiar with King v. Burwell, it is the U.S. Supreme Court case about whether the Affordable Care Act only authorizes subsidies for individuals who purchase insurance on state-operated insurance exchanges, or whether subsidies are also available to citizens of states that did not create their own exchange and, therefore, who purchase insurance through the federal exchange.  The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argue the text of the ACA clearly and unambiguously supports the former position, while the ACA’s defenders, including the Obama administration, argue that the text of the act clearly and unambiguously supports the latter position. 

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He Lived Long And Prospered

Not chess Mr. Spock, poker.”

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015


Father Of The Champ!

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It is time once again for me to divert from my usual subject matter to give a shout out to my son, Ari, a senior at Hall High in West Hartford and winner of the 1600m race in yesterday’s state indoor track championships!  He opened the throttle in the last 50m to win the race in 4:19.84, nudging out Darien’s incredibly impressive Alex Ostberg by a tenth of a second.  It was an amazing race! (Fast forward to 1:25 on the video to watch the great finish.)


Yale Law School To Hold Freedom Of Information Boot Camp

Dear Readers,

As some of you may know, I have the great fortune to serve as a supervising attorney for the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic.  The clinic will hold an FOI boot camp next Monday, February 23, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the law school.  Speakers will include David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Lisa Siegel, staff attorney for the Freedom of Information Commission.  The program is free!  For anyone interested in learning more about federal and state freedom of information laws, this will be a great program.

 


Let The Sun Shine: Pass Raised Bill 6750

The General Assembly held a public hearing last week on Raised Bill 6750, An Act Expanding The Requirement For Disclosure Of Arrest Records During A Pending Prosecution Under The Freedom Of Information Act. The bill seeks to overturn a Connecticut Supreme Court decision last year, Comm’r of Public Safety v. FOIC, which set aside the Freedom of Information Commission’s longstanding (20 years!) interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act concerning the release of arrest records. The Supreme Court decision was bad for government transparency, the proposed bill is good and the arguments against the bill are weak. The legislature should pass the bill and the governor should sign it.

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