No on Proposition 123 … And More

April 11, 2016

Arizona faces a Constitutional amendment—Arizona Education Finance Amendment aka Proposition 123—which addresses school funding next month. And the entire nation finds itself in the midst of what might be called a democratic revolution, as “the people” have decided not to go along/get along, at least in the Republican Party. I have some thoughts.

In the early part of the last century, many states—especially those in the West—adopted direct democracy overlays, on top of the federal and state representative democracy models. In Arizona, our Constitution included initiative, referendum, and recall processes. The initiative process allowed the people to make laws by obtaining lots of petition signatures and placing a proposed law on the ballot. Referenda provide the people—again with petition

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Evenwel v. Abbott – The Decision

April 5, 2016

My primary piece on Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, One-Person/One Vote. Really?, ran on December 7, 2015. (It also discussed Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 14-232, which has not yet been decided.)

Yesterday, in an 8-0 decision, the Court affirmed the decision of a three-judge panel, holding that Texas need not have state legislative redistricting maps based on voters, as opposed to people. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the Court. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito concurred in the judgment.

The decision represents good news for Democrats and those who believe many voices should be heard. But it’s not especially bad news for the other side.

For decades, legislative districts have

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Open Primaries

March 22, 2016

For many years—decades, probably—the notion of open primaries has fascinated me. Why, I have wondered, should someone who chooses not to be affiliated with a particular party, or any party, get to choose that party’s candidate for any office?

The Grand Old Party aka the Republican Party raised this issue in Ravalli Republican Central Committee, etc. v. Linda McCullough, Secretary of State of Montana, etc., before the U.S. Supreme Court. And it’s about damn time it has happened. Here’s the Emergency Application for Injunction, and here is Lyle Denniston’s analysis, Montana GOP Challenges Cross-Over Voters, at

Frankly, I’m shocked, shocked by the fact that issue has never been addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Political parties are

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Judge Merrick Garland

March 16, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. On March 16, 32 days later, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace him. Judge Garland is the Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has been a judge on the DC Circuit since 1997.

Judge Garland is a highly distinguished jurist. He enjoys bipartisan support and affection, on his Court and in the United States Senate. In particular, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) like him very much. Here’s what Senator Hatch said on Friday, March 11: “[He] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.” He also said, once, that there was no question about Judge Garland being

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Make-a-Will Month and Estate Planning

February 29, 2016

Make-A-Will Month starts tomorrow. Yes, it’s a bit of a contrivance, advanced by the Planned Giving Roundtable (now called the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning) and championed by nonprofits, but the month provides an opportunity to think about estate planning and getting your affairs in order.

I’ve shared pieces about estate planning on several occasions. (Click on Probate and Estate Planning under Categories on the right side of your screen for links.) Today, I want to address some myths about estate planning, probate, and end of life issues. Some have been mentioned before but here are my Great Eight (in reverse order):

  • My Power of Attorney Has Me Covered. A power of attorney is cheap, and it has its
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Justice Antonin Scalia

February 18, 2016

At Monday’s Philosopher’s Guild meeting, RF posed the question: Can a person be good and still take pleasure in someone’s having passed? I said yes, at least with respect to a public person. I mourn the loss of life and feel sad for family and friends. Soon after, the public persona takes over. With an appropriate amount of respect, the person becomes fair game.

So, history will judge Antonin Scalia, and the verdict will likely be mixed, and will come after a long while. For me, though, three negative attributes stand out. They are: (1) The originalism conceit; (2) An abysmal lack of judicial demeanor; and (3) A lack of evident empathy. (For an insider’s take, read after I wrote

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Jefferson Wins … and We’re Effed!

February 12, 2016

Reverent references to the Founding Fathers drive me nutso. Yes, they established a more perfect union, but they rarely agreed about anything. Disagreements are what what we ought to expect from bright, ambitious, contentious men, so when modern day references turn the Founding Fathers into a monolith, it should not go unnoticed.

How bad is it? Almost half-term Governor and full-time nitwit Sarah Palin said her favorite Founding Father is “all of them.” Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski liked Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) best. And these references are just silly. Certain Supreme Court justices believe in originalism, a principle which claims for itself the obligation and ability to determine what the words in the Constitution meant

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The Carmack Amendment

February 8, 2016

You’ve probably noticed the lack of regularity here. Apologies, but there are only so many hours in the day and stress has a way of shrink-wrapping them, so that an hour feels like it provided about three minutes worth of time for getting important things done.

Tuesday—Law Day, mostly, here at MRW—is upon us. Since moving is on my mind, I’m focused on the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act (49 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.) The law—Section 14706 of the Act—addresses the rights, duties, and liability of common carriers who cross state lines, when a freight loss occurs.

The law is named after Senator Edward Carmack (D-Tenn.), who served in the U.S. Senate from

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Trump and the Bankruptcies

January 26, 2016

There’s been some talk—not enough, in my humble opinion—about the Trump bankruptcies. Here are some basic facts.

First, bankruptcy laws are federal, and they’re found in Title 11 of the United States Code. The title includes nine chapters: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15. One through five apply to all bankruptcy filings.

Chapter 7 is a traditional or straight bankruptcy. The debtor gives up non-exempt property, if there is any, in return for which debts go away. It’s for poor people and corporations with no future prospects.

Chapter 9 is for municipalities. They’re uncommon, albeit less uncommon than they used to be, and my good friend and former partner Lowell Rothschild handled one of the

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Senator Ted Cruz, Redux

January 22, 2016

On April 24, 2015, I wrote Senator Ted Cruz. I was working a series about Rs running for POTUS. I’m pretty sure what I wrote about “this puerile personification of pestilence”—my words—left me so unclean I walked away from the exercise.

Alas, I’m back with redux, but not ready to leave this miserable momzer alone. Where to start, where to start? Let’s begin with health insurance.

Senator Cruz popped up on Thursday announcing that he is one of those “millions of Americans  who’s lost their healthcare because of ObamaCare.” (Details in Bradford Richardson’s piece for The Hill, Cruz says he lost his health insurance because of ObamaCare.) Well, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo did a little

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