Thursday, January 21, 2010
Severely weakened after a long battle with corporate greed, the United States was finally dealt its death blow by the Supreme Court today in their decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The case overturns a longstanding precedent decision, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which had allowed states to ban corporations from using money from their company coffers to support or oppose candidates through independent expenditures. The Court ruled, in effect, that money does not enable speech, it is speech in and of itself, and as such, to deny corporations the right to spend money as they see fit abridges on their First Amendment rights.
That the decision today grants individual rights to entities that are not individual natural persons is both asinine and profoundly sickening. When wealthy corporations are given the right to spend as much money as they wish in order to influence elections, this necessarily comes at the expense of ordinary citizens' rights, since you and I do not, presumably, have several billion dollars in liquid assets to throw around. If the Supreme Court of the United States is willing to so severely abridge the rights of American citizens, and moreover, if it makes no effort to hide this fact, then the American Experiment is over.
The United States is survived by thousands of wealthy corporations which will assume its duties of governance now that the major barrier to their outright purchasing of legislators is gone. A Mass of Christian Burial (since, y'know, this was a Christian country) will be offered at 11:00 Sunday on the steps of the former U.S. Capitol building, which will be renamed the "Coca-Cola Capidrome" in a short ceremony to follow.
The National Lawyers' Guild, founded in 1937 in the depths of the Great Depression, stated in its founding document that its mission shall be "to function as an effective political and social force in the service of the People, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests." Being as this decision will almost certainly limit the Guild's ability "to function as an effective political and social force" on account of its (comparatively) limited resources, I suggest amending the statement with a few words from Malcom X:
"[Our mission] shall be to function as an effective political and social force in the service of the People, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY."
Monday, November 2, 2009
The general contact info for the blog (and the Guild) is firstname.lastname@example.org (not email@example.com). A city chapter member tried contacting the campus chapter, to no avail. Can someone who knows how to change it change it?
Thanks, and hope to see y'all at the Scorpio Ball (10:30 p.m. Saturday Nov.7th 700 Main St.).
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Ithaca HOURS, as they're called, are worth $10 per HOUR, which is roughly the living wage in Tompkins County. The system is premised on the assumption that anybody's time is just as valuable as anybody else's, but there's nothing to prevent professionals from charging several HOURS per hour of work. (In fact, several Ithacan lawyers accept HOURS for their services!)
Paul Glover, the system's founder, explained that the idea for the currency came about because "we watched Federal dollars come to town, shake a few hands, then leave to buy rainforest lumber and fight wars." (Quoted from here.)
Today, over 1200 individuals and businesses in the city accept HOURS. I've personally paid for movie tickets and groceries with them when I was an undergraduate at Ithaca College, and there are a multitude of other things they're good for as well. The HOURS system has significantly benefited local businesses and has really promoted a sense of community in the city.
This is a great example of what can happen when people decide to really work together for the benefit of their community, and there's absolutely no reason why a similar system couldn't work in Buffalo! Maybe we could call our local currency "Bills".
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, PA took place between September 24 and 25, 2009. President Barack Obama chaired the event, hosting leaders from 18 various countries throughout the world as well as the European Union. They discussed topics concerning the current global economic crisis, along with the newly discovered fact that Iran has secretly been building a nuclear facility. The nations concluded that Iran’s facility needs to be inspected immediately in order to maintain the nuclear peace plan that has been in effect between the nations.
While this conference was taking place, there were masses of protesters who spoke out against injustices currently going on throughout the world and the changes that they believe need to take place. The protesters discussed a variety of issues including environmental injustice, killings taking place in China, the unfair medical situation for the poor, and the abuse of Corporate America on the rest of the American citizens. There was a large military and police presence throughout the city of Pittsburgh to control the protesters and make sure that they were not doing anything illegal. In controlling the crowds, however, some of the actions taken by the police and military personnel can be considered unsanctioned. That is why the Legal Observers are present at these protests. The Legal Observer’s job is to uphold the protesters’ First Amendment Right to freedom of speech, and to make sure that the police and military do not infringe upon this right to free speech. By seeing the Legal Observers taking detailed notes at all of the events involving the police, as well as taking multiple pictures of them, the police are deterred from using force and violence to silence the protesters.
A group of Legal Observers from the Buffalo Lawyer’s Guild Chapter went to Pittsburgh, PA on September 25, 2009 and marched with the protesters in one of the largest protests since the Vietnam War. There were about three thousand protesters in the march, with an additional one thousand police and military personnel present throughout the city. Many of the police officers had been called in from various states, including Chicago and Arizona. About half of the police and military personnel purposefully hid their badge and identification numbers under their uniforms. This was likely so that they couldn’t be as easily identified if they were to infringe upon some of the protester’s rights by arresting them for stating their views. The police tried to appear intimidating by getting in the prepared position to fire their guns and lifting their tear gas canisters in preparation to fire on the crowd. Several of the policemen, who had police dogs for the purpose of crowd control, had their dogs un-muzzled. This is normally not done until the police are ready to release the dogs upon the crowd for being violent. On several of the streets there was already crime scene tape up as if the police were expecting a violent showdown to occur between them and the protesters in these locations. Besides minor incidents of the police shoving some of the protesters off of the sidewalk to keep them in the street, however, there were no arrests or police reactions to the crowd by firing tear gas or rubber bullets while we were marching with the group. They did have large busses ready to make mass arrests at some of the intersections, but none of them were used while we were present at the protest. It was definitely an interesting and rewarding experience, and many of the protesters came up to the Legal Observers and thanked us for protecting their rights.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
In other news, the Guild's online home will most likely be getting an upgrade at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year. Exactly what features it has will depend on whether we can get off-campus hosting, but I don't anticipate that being a problem. Among the cooler planned features will be a discussion board, on which both law students and members of the Buffalo (and indeed, the world) community can discuss the law, society, culture, and whatever else suits your fancy. Look for a link here when it's up and running!
All that being said, if you're still reading this, get off the computer and go outside! You'll have plenty of time to sit and read our blog when you're snowed in during the winter!
Peace and Justice,
Paul "PFG" Fusco-Gessick '11
WHEREAS the students of the University at Buffalo Law School desire active participation in decisions made about the future location of the law school, as well as other student amenities such as housing, transportation, and safety.
WHEREAS creating a modern and well-sited campus will attract a wider range of students and new faculty to the University at Buffalo Law School, thereby raising the profile of the school and impacting how the school is ranked among other law schools.
WHEREAS affordable housing, safety, and access to goods and services play a prominent role in the quality of life for law students.
WHEREAS connection with the larger community enhances the educational experience for students through clinical opportunities, internships, externships, community services, as well as other networking opportunities.
WHEREAS the university and the community in which it is situated have a reciprocal relationship, each benefiting from and drawing upon the resources of the other.
WHEREAS the University at Buffalo has committed to achieving "climate neutrality." The law school recognizes that a large proportion of carbon emissions are the result of students commuting to the North Campus and supports endeavors for greener transportation as well as denser land uses requiring less travel.
WHEREAS the UB 2020 "one university, three campuses" plan necessitates connecting the North, South, and Downtown campus with an adequate transportation network. A negotiated agreement with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to make transportation easy and affordable will maintain and facilitate interdisciplinary work and dual degree programs.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE STUDENT BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO LAW SCHOOL to support student involvement in determining the future location of the law school.