Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Odds and ends.

I've been neglecting the blog lately. Partly real life interfering; partly summer doldrums. There are several things I've been meaning to post about, but have back-burnered. I'm going to mention them briefly here, and maybe get back to them later in more detail.

QE2 to Dubai. I was surprised to read that RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (photo from Wikipedia Commons) was being withdrawn from service; even more surprised to be reminded that she's forty years old, and will be forty-one when she makes her final voyage in 2008. That means she's served longer than any other large passenger ship of the last century or so: longer than either of the first two Queens, the Aquitania, either Mauretania, the Ile de France or the Europa/Liberte, the America or the Vaterland/Leviathan.

I'm delighted that Dubai interests have purchased her for use as a floating hotel, thereby sparing her the breaker's torch. Having spent most of her career cruising the world, she'll be more at home in Dubai, which she may at some time have actually visited, than the first Queen Mary is in Long Beach, when she never got closer than 3,000 miles to California in her active days.

What I'm wishing is that someone will buy one of the few surviving relics of the transatlantic liner era - United States, which lies at a pier in Philadelphia (see here), seems the only realistic bet - and dock it somewhere near the old "ocean liner row" on the west side of New York City for use as a hotel or museum.

Blog shout-out: While we're on maritime matters, or if you're just interested in unusual New York City scenes, take a look at Tugster.

Guns: I've been meaning to do a post on the Second Amendment, in light of the Virginia Tech shootings and the controversy over Mayor Bloomberg's attempts to stem the flow of handguns into New York City. I'm not an anti-gun fanatic. I'm familiar with, and have fired, many types of firearms, both in my brief Army career and with friends who live outside the City. Nevertheless, I've held the view that the Second Amendment was never intended to protect an individual right to own arms; only to allow the formation of state militias, i.e. the National Guard. My position was that a system of "local option" was best, with rural areas able to be more "liberal" (in the classic sense of the word) about gun ownership, and cities having the choice to be more restrictive (the prospect of a large portion of the population of New York City packing heat does give me the willies). It came as a surprise to me that as "liberal" (in the contemporary sense of the word) a constitutional law scholar as Larry Tribe has come to the conclusion that the Amendment does protect an individual right. Also, I've just started reading Michael Barone's Our First Revolution, in which the author claims (I haven't yet got to the relevant part) that the origin of the individual's right to bear arms is in the British "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Stay tuned.

Update: (See comments below) Richard, who has taught a constitutional law seminar at my undergrad alma mater, South Florida, reminds me that Warren Burger, Nixon's choice for Chief Justice, was adamant about the Second Amendment's not protecting an individual right. Nevertheless, he says, he remembers Tribe's argument as convincing. I still need to read Tribe.

Meanwhile, Twiffer brings to mind a cartoon that Marty Redish had taped to his dorm room door during my first year of law school. It showed a guy in late eighteenth century garb haranguing a bunch of similarly dressed guys, saying something like, "Oh, come on, now. 'Freedom of speech' means freedom of speech. Everyone knows that." This isn't meant as a put-down, Twiff. There are lots of legal scholars who agree with you concerning the Second Amendment. My problem hasn't been so much with the word "militia" as with the words, "well ordered." Again, I'll have to read Tribe and Barone before giving a better response.


  1. Claude, until recently I never believed the Second Amendment meant anything for individuals. Throughout the 70s and 80s the most ardent opponent of the view that did, oddly enough, was Nixon's right-wing Chief Justice Warren Burger, who wrote articles everywhere about this "myth" of gun rights in mass media outlets like the white-bread Sunday newspaper supplement Parade.

    When I went to UF law school in the 90s my Con Law prof showed us a case from the 1930s that confirmed this.

    Yet I was teaching constitutional history and political & civil liberties in an undergraduate legal studies program in South Florida the year Tribe's new text came out. When my free copy came, the promo material emphasized his switch in thinking about the Second Amendment.

    I found it somewhat persuasive, although it's hard for me to recall the details now. But I do remember as I read it, I thought he was right.

  2. i'm neither a fan of guns, nor any sort of legal scholar. however, the second amendment seems pretty damn clear to me:

    "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

    perhaps one can argue about whether "the people" means individual persons, or some abstract group. personally, i believe "the people", throughout the constitution, means citizens both as a group and individuals. it doesn't work otherwise. by protecting the whole, the indivual is also protected.

    as for the mention of militia, that's explanatory. it gives the reasoning behind not infringing the right to bear arms. it does not say it is the only reason. reading between the lines, it's a way to avoid paying for a standing army, and for equipment for soldiers.

    perhaps you can muddy it for me, but it seems pretty damn straightforward.

  3. no worries claude. like i said, i'm not a legal scholar. as for "well ordered" militia, well...who wants a poorly ordered one? if anything, that implies to me that not only will we let people have guns, but they damn well better know how to use them.

  4. Persephone1:40 PM

    Ahhh, Larry Tribe. I believe his most recent take embraces the individual rights perpsective.

    Now I've got that song stuck in my head. And since I shouldn't have to suffer alone:

    From the Harvard Law School Parody 2005, "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent," at which the following song parody was performed to the tune of "I will survive":


    Written by Jamie Auslander, Jeremy Blachman, Taylor Dasher, Andi Friedman, Rebecca Ingber, and Justin Shanes.

    At first I was afraid
    I was petrified
    I had nothing new to write
    I thought my muse had died
    But then I opened up a book
    And copied down the words I saw
    My fatal flaw
    And who would know I broke the law?

    For nineteen years
    I wasn't caught
    I made a killing on my books
    Assigned in every class I taught
    It would have never been revealed
    The Weekly Standard wouldn't see
    I would still be at the top,
    If not for stupid Ogletree.

    He studied math, he studied law
    And he's the most prolific scholar
    That the whole world ever saw
    He's drafted foreign constitutions
    He's the president of Spain
    In the book they say he copied
    He thanked Clinton aide Ron Klain

    Because he's Tribe
    He's Larry Tribe
    He's not just Harvard's best professor
    He's the smartest man alive
    No matter what the rumors say
    He is the Marshall of today
    Because he's Tribe
    He's Larry Tribe! (hey hey)

    When the students choose their bundles they all beg for me
    For who else here mixes Con Law
    With pornography
    And oh I spent so many years
    Defending sodomy and choice
    Penumbral rights
    I took on all the liberal fights

    Bush versus Gore,
    That one I blew
    My dreams of Justice Tribe are gone
    Professor Tribe will have to do
    It's been my dream since I could sit
    To wear the robe that's black and long
    But those old ladies in Miami
    Got the whole election wrong

    He's ten feet tall
    He learned to fly
    And though he'll never be a justice
    He's never gonna die
    He is the Sultan of Sudan
    He is the closer for the Sox
    And the legal fees he charges
    Make him richer than Fort Knox

    He's Jesus Christ
    He's Larry Tribe
    Not just Harvard's best professor
    But the smartest man alive
    He's got forty-one degrees
    He speaks fluent Japanese
    He's Larry Tribe
    He's Larry Tribe
    Yeah, yeah.

  5. Claude, I concur with you regarding the origin and purpose of the 2nd Amendment. The phrase “well regulated militia” says it all for me. I look forward to you sharing its connection to the Glorious Revolution. I really can’t come up with a link between the two.