An exciting time for the law

Cody Hoesly

For a long time now, conservatives have ruled the roost when it comes to the law.  Seven of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court were appointed by Republican presidents, as were around two-thirds of all federal appellate court judges.  With organizations such as the Federalist Society leading the charge, conservative lawyers have dominated legal thought and change.  Indeed, under the current President, Federalist Society membership was nearly a prerequisite for appointment to an administration job.  Anyone affiliated with the liberal counterpart to the Federalists -- the American Constitution Society (ACS) -- was barred outright based on that consideration alone.

Now, however, the pendulum is starting to swing back.  President-elect Obama has chosen several of his top legal appointees from the ranks of ACS -- that includes his picks for Attorney General, Solicitor General, White House Staff Secretary, domestic policy advisor, and Vice President-elect Biden's Chief-of-Staff.  This is good news, because these folks have been working hard in the last eight years to flesh out strategies for overturning many of Bush's extreme legal arguments.  Moreover, they will have the ethical backbone not to draw the strict ideological hiring lines that Bush eventually relied on.

Against this backdrop, the Oregon Lawyer Chapter of ACS hosted Oregon Attorney General John Kroger last week.  Not only did Kroger lay out his policy agenda for the 2009 legislature, but he also described how the progressive legal values ACS espouses can be made reality in Oregon as well as in the nation at large.  If you are a liberal/progressive lawyer, this is an exciting time for change, and I hope you will help us push Oregon law in the same positive direction that Obama is pushing federal law.

ACS Oregon also honored Jim Hennings, the founder and recently-retired Executive Director of Metropolitan Public Defender, the largest indigent criminal defense organization in Oregon.  Hennings described the era when he founded MPD -- the early 1970's -- as a heady time for the nation and its law.  I couldn't help but think that this man had begun his career at the close of the liberal Warren Court days, worked for decades in the shadow of the Federalist Society, and only now, as he retires, are liberals poised to reclaim American law for the progressive values that it was intended to espouse.  I hope our sun will shine at least as long as Hennings' days at the front of MPD.

Comments

  • billy (unverified)
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    Not only did Kroger lay out his policy agenda for the 2009 legislature, but he also described how the progressive legal values ACS espouses can be made reality in Oregon. . .

    Kroger’s agenda, item 2: Prosecute major drug traffickers by funding the Department of Justice's organized crime section that focuses on large scale meth and drug trafficking.

    Billy Does this mean Blueoregon now backs Nixon’s drug war?

    AG’s web site: The Defense of Criminal Convictions Program keeps convicted criminals behind bars by defending those convictions in Oregon's courts; the program is essential to Oregon public safety. rel010809 Billy I see Blueoregon also supports measure 11 and the like.

  • MiMi (unverified)
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    Billy Does this mean Blueoregon now backs Nixon’s drug war?

    They are officially against it. That gets check written. If you look at past posts, though, it shouldn't be any surprise that they just happen to agree with most of its provisions.

    WOD: bad, bad thing. Current drug laws: pretty much what we have to have. You see the problem with the WOD is the phrase. Bill Clinton arrested every non-violent marijuana user he could get his hands on. He doubled what 41 managed. Bet Barak beats him by a mile. Only Nixon could go to China and only Obama can up the ante in the WOD after its miserable track record. Change. Knowing that a Democrat ordered the jack-boot to your door will make the time pass much more enjoyably! The WOD has always been racist. Now that a black man will be doing it, it's OK; it can't be racist.

  • Justin (unverified)
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    Re: Comments about drug enforcement. While I certainly do not speak for Kroger, common sense seems to dictate that curbing the effects of Meth and its trafficking do not qualify as Draconian or rise to the level of Nixon's War on Drugs. Oregon has high property crime and child abuse rates, both of which are directly correlated to methamphetamine use. I think it is progressive of the AG to attempt to increase the quality of life for Oregon residents by lowering the incident rate of these and other crimes. Meth is a dangerous drug, which leads to other criminal activities. There is no brightside to Meth use and all of us will benefit from its eradication. I think Kroger is on the right track, unless you want more violence, child abuse, and property crime.

  • MiMi (unverified)
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    If you look at past posts, though, it shouldn't be any surprise that they just happen to agree with most of its provisions. ... I think Kroger is on the right track, unless you want more violence, child abuse, and property crime.

    Thank you for the quote. I should have added "and rhetoric".

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    Billy,

    BlueOregon doesn't back anything.

    Ask Josh Marquis what he thinks of the weight of various opinion on BlueOregon regarding M11. The program you cite is only tangentially related to M11. However it is very interesting and I wonder how far Mr. Kroger will take it -- is there any scope at all for re-examination in face of new evidence, or do we defend absolutely all convictions on a knee-jerk parody of principle?

    Whether Kroger's approach to meth is like Nixon's (or Reagan's or Clinton's) WOD remains to be seen. He ran on a strong emphasis on rehab & treatment which is rather different. Will he follow through? How will budget politics affect that -- will the leg. come through with $ for both enforcement & treatment, or cut the treatment $ in the face of budget constraints?

  • Jeff (unverified)
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    Another of Kroger's priorities is to crack down on online sexual predators.

    Now, I'm sure that no one likes the idea of children being solicited for sex online, but I'm the only one who looks at the politicized nature of this whole issue and smells one very stinky fish?

    Harvard University just released a report saying that the threat to children from online sexual predators was overblown and children face many more serious dangers. It reminds me of Orwell's 1984- whatever it takes to get the public to voluntarily give up their liberties. . .

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/131040.html

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