Tuesday News Roundup

February 8, 2005

Justice Scalia is doing little to dismiss rumors of a promotion to Chief Justice in the event that Rehnquist retires, law.com reports.
Senate debate began yesterday on The Class Action Fairness Act, a centerpiece of the administration's tort reform push that would force many class action claims into the federal system, which has historically been less sympathetic to such cases. Public Citizen makes their case against the bill here.
Speaking of potential class actions, a new asbestos case charges that W.R. Grace and Company knew that a mine it owned was releasing the deadly chemical for decades, and hid information on its dangers from workers, nearby residents and consumers. According to the Washington Post, "the company allegedly buried a paper trail dating back to 1976 that traced how asbestos dust from its mine had permeated the lungs of workers, their family members and even residents who jogged on the high school running track in Libby, Mont."
The Will County Jail, just outside Chicago, is considering charging inmates up to $56 per night for cell space and services. While the fee would probably be based on ability to pay (sliding as low as $6 per night), county officials argue that the propsed plan is a good deal even for those paying the full rate. "This is better than a three-star hotel," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Pat Barry. "I don't want to be locked up. But the amenities you get, my goodness."
Civil libertarians expressed concern a few weeks ago when a new California law made it illegal for registered sex offender to access information on the state's Megan's Law website. The first prosecution under the law involves a registrant contacting other sex offenders through the website in order to find dates and doesn't "paint a sympathetic picture for a test case."
Reason and Liberty has posted video of Michael Newdow (the plaintiff in last year's Supreme Court case challenging the use of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance) speaking at the University of Michigan, including both "funny, passionate, and persuasive" argument and (on the guitar)"rare live performances of "Pledge of Allegiance Blues" and Newdow's, um, "tribute" to Alabama Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore."