Archives for November 2016
This day, Nov. 22, 1963, is considered as one of the watershed days in American History. While riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas with wife Jacqueline and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the fatal shots coming from the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository Building. Kennedy’s death put the shocked country into a state of mourning, and ended the brief, but celebrated term of the JFK administration.
Legally, it also put into place immediate succession plans, with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson being hastily sworn in as the nation’s 36th president aboard Air Force One, on the way back to Washington from Dallas. Johnson and wife Lady Bird were riding in a car behind Kennedy’s in the motorcade. Johnson was officially sworn-in by federal district judge Sarah Hughes. This marked the first time in history that a president was sworn-in by a woman and also the only time the oath of office has been administered aboard an airplane.
Contingencies for succession, in place since the days of the founding fathers, were followed, and the shaken American people had their new leader.
Among the long list of items that many opponents of President-elect Donald Trump are concerned about is the power he will have to help shape the Supreme Court. Before looking ahead, however, let’s take a look at the most recent past.
It’s atrocious that the Senate refused to even consider Merrick Garland. There was an obligation to hold hearings on the nomination. Instead, Senators chose not to do so. They do not have an obligation to approve the nominee, but they must consider him or her. By all accounts, Judge Garland is intelligent, has a strong legal mind and is relatively moderate in all of his prior opinions. I find it appalling that the Senate has chosen to play politics with the highest court in the land. The Court continues to function one Justice down and this aggravates me.
As for the upcoming change in administrations, I doubt very much will change with the strategies of previous Presidents and Congressional leaders who make every effort to appoint justices whose philosophies align strictly with their own. I don’t believe that there should be a litmus test (either way) for justices. Just as I do not believe in one issue politics, a one issue judge also presents a problem. The standards applied should concentrate more on a candidate’s overall intelligence and integrity. I realize it may be naive, but I believe that it’s inappropriate to question nominees about specific issues. Judges are supposed to be unbiased, being required to consider each matter on the facts specific to that individual case. All cases are different, so asking for specifics is unwarranted, since factors will change from case to case.
In addition, Supreme Court Justices are given a lifetime appointment which removes the political check and allows them to evolve, change and unveil, without fear of reprisal, their true beliefs. The lifetime term is another reason that it’s critically important that the best person for the job be appointed. It’s because of the permanency of the position that the two sides have dug in their heels deeper and deeper in the continuous attempt to make sure that those who don the robes parrot their philosophies.
Having said that, history has shown that no matter what the litmus test, surprises can and do occur. Republican Presidents appointed John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun, Sandra Day O’Connor, Earl Warren, William Brennan and David Souter (who was infamously referred to as a “home run” for Conservatives by John Sununu) and none of these justices carried the torch as Republicans had hoped. On the other side, Byron White and Felix Frankfurter surprised Liberals, including the Democratic presidents who appointed them, by turning much more conservative once on the bench.
In the end, Justices are human and therefore both unpredictable and capable of free, independent thought. The politics that have been
played with appointments to the Court ignore this fact and seek to paint all nominees and prospective nominees into a corner based on
what they may need to say in order to gain favor. Sadly, neither side is likely to abandon this strategy any time soon.
On this episode of the Proskin Podcast, Proskin Law Firm attorney Marc Greenwald discusses Family and Matrimonial Law, including everything you should know if you contemplating filing for divorce.
Our best Election Day advice: Keep your cell phone in your pocket when you head to the polls today. While it might be tempting to following the recent fad (popularized by this posting by singer Justin Timberlake, who voted early last month in Memphis) and take a selfie with your ballot while voting today the act could get you arrested, fined and possibly thrown in jail.
NY Federal District Court Judge Kevin Castel ruled late last week that the state’s voting in secrecy law, on the books for nearly 120 years, should not be overturned.
New York Board of Election Law § 17-130(10) makes it a misdemeanor for any voter in the state to show their ballot “after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents,” or for anyone to solicit a voter to show their ballot after it’s been prepared.
Judge Castel’s decision came in response to three New York City residents who filed a suit against the state’s Board of Election, looking to get the law overturned on free-speech grounds. Several states have recently lifted their bans on taking/sharing photos of voters with their ballots.
“This action was commenced 13 days before the presidential election, even though the statute has been on the books longer than anyone has been alive,” noted Castel. “Selfies and smartphone cameras have been prevalent since 2007. A last-minute, judicially-imposed change in the protocol at 5,300 polling places would be a recipe for delays and a disorderly election, as well-intentioned voters either took the perfectly posed selfie or struggled with their rarely-used smartphone camera. This would not be in the public interest, a hurdle that all preliminary injunctions must cross.”
A representative for the New York State Board of Elections has said that it’s possible that if the Board’s enforcement unit learns of someone sharing a photo of their filled-in ballot, it could be a violation of the law, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.
It is legal to take a photo of yourself with your ballot before it’s filled-out, or of you at your polling place, but a filled-in ballot cannot be in the picture.
Questions about your voting rights – or need legal help in any way – give us a call (518-436-0775) or use the contact page on the left.
The Proskin Law Firm: The Experience You Need – The Expertise You Deserve
The month of November is here – so buckle-up! (literally and figuratively). Studies have shown that November is traditionally one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Three reasons:
1) The beginning of inclement weather and poor driving conditions.
2) The end of Daylight Savings time which means more nighttime driving for most people.
3) The Holidays.
With the return of cold temperatures and the first snow/ice storms also comes the inability of many drivers to remember how to operate their vehicles in these challenging conditions. Often it takes skidding off the road or making contact with another vehicle to remind people that driving Nov.-Mar. is different than April-Sept.
And spending more time driving in the dark doesn’t help. Studies have shown that the majority of operators of all types of motor vehicles experience diminished skills when driving at night. Once the clocks are turned back, the chances you’ll be involved in a car crash are turned up. So be aware.
The most obvious, but also most surprising reason that November is one of the most dangerous driving months, are the holidays and the consumption of alcohol that goes with them. The night before Thanksgiving has come to be known as “Black Wednesday”, as it’s the busiest night of the year for bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, many patrons drink to excess and then attempt to drive home (or to another bar). Thanksgiving Day itself is also a big “party” day, since many people have the next day off from work. Also, many people spend that day shopping – racing from store to store, mall to mall, parking lot to parking lot desperately looking to snatch-up “Black Friday” bargains. It has been well documented that more car accidents happen in parking lots than any other location.
The Thanksgiving holiday is also the busiest travel period of the year, so, with more cars on the roads, the odds of car accidents goes up proportionally.
The November surprise involves Veterans Day. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that Nov. 11 is the 6th deadliest day for drivers. Amazingly it’s one spot ahead of New Year’s Eve, which is the 7th. Something to keep in mind next week, especially since Veteran’s Day fall on a Friday this year.
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident or vehicle-related arrest you need solid legal representation. We here at the Proskin Law Firm are ready to serve you. Give us a call, anytime – (518) 436-0775.
The Proskin Law Firm: The Experience You Need – The Expertise You Deserve