Is it happening here?

Are we seeing the beginning of the collapse of American democratic institutions? David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, in his recent column Illiberal Arts, sounds the call for alarm: Donald Trump did not ignite but merely joined a miserable, destabilizing trend of illiberalism that has been under way for years in Russia, Turkey, China, India, Southeast Asia, and Western, Eastern, and Central Europe. . . . As President, Trump is the putative guardian of a set of political values, and, no matter how often those values have been undermined,…

A way to think about responses to school shootings

Another year has come, and another school shooting. 17 children and teachers gone, each one a precious son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, friend or neighbor.  Every parent, upon hearing the news of another shooting, feels a pain in their heart for another’s loss of their child, while, at the same time, guilt over the relief they feel that it didn’t happen to his or her own son or daughter. Unless it did. Or, heaven forbid, until it does.  There but for the grace of God go…

Changing my mind on capital punishment

The State of Arkansas is executing two convicted criminals tonight. One has been executed already. A second will be executed shortly, absent further judicial intervention. I know nothing of these men. I don’t have any opinion as to their guilt or innocence of the crimes for which they were convicted. Because they were convicted, I will assume they are guilty, though I know that assumption may not be warranted. The matter of capital punishment has been on my mind a great deal over the last week, principally because I started…

This message is for you, not that obnoxious, over-posting friend of yours.

You. Yes YOU. Open up your echo chamber. Shortly after I graduated from law school, I had the opportunity to serve as a clerk on the Utah Supreme Court. I loved my time there, and I learned many things. One thing struck me immediately — when our judge received a case on appeal, he would provide us with the briefs prepared by the attorneys on either side, in order for us to discuss the case with him and offer recommendations on how he should rule. I remember distinctly reading the…

The day the panic died

Well, folks, it’s officially a brave new world. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 8 years since I, along with a small band of other Utah Supreme Court clerks, clustered in the hallway at the back of the fifth floor of the Matheson Courthouse and watched Barack Obama be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I had mixed feelings. I believe I was the only person in our little group watching that day who hadn’t voted for Obama.  I wasn’t quite sure what to…

It’s easy to play games with other people’s land: Black Diamond v. Rural Utah

This post is a response to an Op-Ed written by Peter Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Black Diamond, Inc., that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on January 10, 2017 (and linked to below). Let me begin by saying… (1) I enjoy and love spending time on Utah’s public lands. (2) I don’t support a wholesale transfer of public land from the federal government to the state government. BUT… When it comes to analyzing the costs and benefits of designating national monuments and federal land preservation decisions, it is…

Election 2016: It shouldn’t be all about the Court

Trump v. Clinton.  Double ugh. Whoever really thought it would come to that?  OK, apparently there were a few people.  And kudos to them, because I never saw a Trump nomination coming.  Nope, not a bit…until it was too late. But now the Trump Train’s here, baby, and you’ve got to decide whether to get aboard. Same with the Clinton Bus Tour, Part 4.  Do you climb on or stay off? (It might come around in a few more years, when Chelsea’s 36). It’s a tough decision for a lot of…

You want to save the GOP? Just stop Trump.

My father has a saying that he types to test typewriters and word processing software: “Now is the time for every good man to come to the aid of the party.” (I know it’s not a pangram, but this post isn’t about typewriters) Well, Republican friends, it looks as though our second-to-worst nightmare may come true.  Donald Trump appears to be well on his way to being the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  The only thing that could possibly be worse (OK, slight hyperbole there…) is for…

Some thoughts on our sad, predictable reaction to Scalia’s death

The words “giant” or “legend” get thrown around far too much these days, but they fit Justice Antonin Scalia.  The single greatest influence on the Supreme Court since, perhaps, Oliver Wendell Holmes, he almost singlehandedly effected a sea change in American jurisprudence. Prior to Scalia originalism and textualism (or course, I’m using words loosely here, a tendency Scalia himself often criticized) were not taken seriously; they were the province of the fringe and the intellectually lazy.  Now, they form the guiding principles for much of the work done by lawyers all…