• November 17, 2011
    Unpopular Privacy
    What Must We Hide?
    Anita L. Allen

    By Anita L. Allen, a law and philosophy professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    An expanding library of books addresses the fate of privacy in the Era of Revelation. The central theme of my contribution to the genre sets it apart. My book’s focus is “unpopular” privacy, rather than the “popular” privacy people in the United States, Canada and Europe tend to want and expect government to secure. I define as “unpopular” privacy that is unwanted, disliked, not preferred, and resented by the people it is suppose to benefit or constrain.

    Testing the plausibility ofprivacy paternalism for liberal societies, I engage readers in a wide-ranging discussion of physical privacies of seclusion, isolation, and bodily exposure; and then informational privacies of confidentiality and data protection. Specifically, under the rubric of unwanted physical privacies, I discuss nude dancing, Muslim attire, public health quarantine and super max prison cells; under informational privacies, I take up whether “race” counts as sensitive data, the confidentiality obligations of lawyers, health care providers and other workers, electronic social networking, and online commerce and self-exposure.

    Should youthful Internet users be blocked from websites that collect sensitive personal information, for their own good? Should the law oblige us to forego since the giant consumer goods seller keeps track of our purchases and makes recommendations, or gmail because it pitches ads to us based on words that appear in our private messages to family and friends? Should adults with intimate secrets be banned from publishing them? Is there a possible justification for laws that ban Apps that monitor and store health information in the “cloud”?  

    Unpopular Privacy explores the normative underpinnings of laws that promote, require, and enforce physical and informational privacies. My book struggles to understand the values that prompt real and imagined unpopular privacy mandates.  Persuading libertarians and feminists with whom I identify to endorse regimes of imposed privacy is a significant intellectual challenge; both groups famously caution against the subordinating potential of compulsory privacies.

  • November 10, 2011
    The Detachment
    Barry Eisler

    By Barry Eisler, an award-winning author of bestselling thrillers. Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations and has worked as a technology lawyer. Eisler also blogs on torture, civil liberties and the rule of law.

    Writing The Detachment was a joy. How could it not be? I got to parachute my half-Japanese, half-American assassin John Rain into the corrupt universe I established in Fault Line and continued in Inside Out; partner him with characters from all my books; and pit him against a formidable and unfamiliar enemy plotting a coup in the United States. The result is some of the most intricate plotting, complex character behavior, and hard-core action I’ve ever done, all set against the biggest canvas I’ve ever painted: rolling terror attacks across America; presidential speeches and Oval Office brinksmanship; a game whose stakes will be measured not just in tens of thousands of lives at risk, but in the consequences to my characters’ psyches and souls.

    As much as the story depends for its thrills on character, action, and plot, though, it depends also on realism. Realism of setting (as always, I traveled to every location that appears in the book, including Tokyo, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Vienna, and Washington, D.C.); realism of operator tools and tactics (everything I depict is in accordance with my CIA training and experience); and realism of action (I have a black belt in judo and consult with experts to make sure I’m nailing the nuances of the combat sequences). But the realism that interests me most in any thriller, especially my own, is that of the story’s circumstances.

  • November 3, 2011
    Elbert Parr Tuttle
    Chief Jurist of the Civil Rights Revolution
    Anne Emanuel

    By Anne Emanuel, a law professor at Georgia State University College of Law.

    Elbert Parr Tuttle. In his time his name was synonymous with integrity. That unassailable reputation -- hard earned as an Atlanta lawyer in the first half of the twentieth century and as the commander of an artillery battalion in the Pacific Theater in World War II -- served him well when he took over as Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit in December of 1960. The next month, sitting alone, he lifted a stay only hours after it had issued. Because of his swift, decisive action, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter registered at the University of Georgia that very day.

    The importance of that historic order can hardly be exaggerated. Six long years had passed since the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and nothing had happened. In five southern states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina – public elementary and high schools remained totally segregated. In others there had been token integration; in North Carolina, for instance, 60 black students attended school with white students, leaving the remaining 319,000 in segregated schools. Even less had happened on the voting rights front; black voters remained almost completely disenfranchised across the south.

    As Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit -- then covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas – Tuttle led the way in enforcing the constitutional rights of black Americans, in dismantling the American apartheid known as Jim Crow. The task was dangerous and difficult. Tuttle dealt not only with the massive resistance of  demagogues in high and low office, but also with the obstructionism of federal judges committed to protecting the southern way of life, to prohibiting “race mixing,” in the parlance of those troubled times.

  • October 27, 2011
    The Constrained Court
    Law, Politics, and the Decisions Justices Make
    Michael A. Bailey and Forrest Maltzman

    By Michael A. Bailey, a government professor at Georgetown University  and Forrest Maltzman, a political science professor at George Washington University.

    When asked to comment on Scalia’s jurisprudence, Richard Posner recently said “I don’ think he or anyone can derive results in difficult, emotionally charged cases from the constitutional text.” 

    When former future President Rick Perry turned his attention to the court, he wrote that it “adheres to the Constitution in appearance only and as a matter of necessity, finding in it or in previous case law the single nugget around which the court can marginally justify its policy choice to keep up the pretense of actually caring one iota about the Constitution in the first place.”

    Add these to the pile of support for Segal and Spaeth’s attitudinal model which posits justices simply vote their unconstrained policy preferences.

    But has skepticism about law on the Court gone too far? Are justices really unconstrained?

  • October 20, 2011
    Dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act
    Joe Roman

    By Joe Roman, a conservation biologist and author.

    Last month, Alaska solicited proposals to quantify the costs of protecting polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The bear had been listed as threatened in 2008, the first species to be federally protected because of global warming.  Some Alaskans objected, afraid that listing would restrict drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, where the bears have critical habitat. At first, the state bankrolled a public relations effort to overturn the listing, but when that effort failed, they looked to alternatives. Could they show that listing the polar bear came at too high a price?

    In my book, Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act, I discuss the tradeoffs involved in protecting rare and threatened species. Alaska’s solicitation is part of an unfortunate tradition that focuses solely on the costs of protecting species, rather than including the many benefits that can come from conservation. In the polar bear’s case, this may include ecotourism, of value to the state; the dependence of the Inuit on the bear for spiritual and physical sustenance; and the preservation of sea-ice habitat, which can benefit us all.

    Beyond these services is the value of conservation itself, whether it’s stewardship, the many people who are employed, or volunteer, to protect the bears, or the value of bequesting the bear to our grand children. And finally there’s the value we put on the very existence of the polar bear -- how much would we pay to keep the bear on earth, whether we or our offspring ever had a chance to see it or not?