Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Billy made a comment yesterday about the St. Patrick’s day parade in South Boston. For background, he is co-author of a book about the legal fight to allow the parade sponsors to decide upon the message of their parade titled: From Trial Court To The United States Supreme Court. He also participated as a lawyer in the defense of the parade organizers.
His book tells how the case proceeded through the courts in Massachusetts to the Supreme Court and shows that despite the law being obvious that the parade organizers had a right to control the parade’s message, the judges in Massachusetts twisted the law to rule that outside groups could decide the message of this private organization.
It is really a simple issue. It’s like forcing Cardinal O’Malley in his Easter sermon to include a statement by a group who believes Christianity is a hoax, or requiring AA groups to have at each meeting a person telling of the benefits of alcohol; or if I wrote a post critical of the FBI I’d have to include a statement by the agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office.
The St. Patrick’s parade case eventually reached the US Supreme Court where that court in a 9 – 0 decision overturned the Massachusetts judges stating they were clearly wrong. If you wonder why Billy sometimes has a jaundiced view of judges, he has felt it on his skin. He knows what it is like to have the law clearly on one’s side, for the issue to be clear, yet to lose time after time where willful judges ignore the law and impose their will.
You’d not know about the case in the way I framed it. The media reported it as the South Boston people wanting to keep a group of marchers expressing their pride in being gay out of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. That, of course, made the issue one of discrimination against gays which rubbed most people wrong. It also allowed the Massachusetts judges to justify their thwarting of a group’s rights because they thought that group’s message was biased.
Of course, this was all done to the plaudits of the media. I’ve thought had the group being excluded from the parade been Black and Tan veterans, or American Nazis, or even back in those days Republicans, the Massachusetts judges would have had no trouble correctly interpreting the law.
A state’s highest court being overturned in 9 -0 decision is quite a slap down. It does show how the law can be used against views that judges dislike. As a young lawyer I worked for this pretty smart lawyer, Frank DiMento. I couldn’t figure out how two different courts came down with opposite conclusions on identical fact situations. He told me to remember that “the law is what the judges say it is.” It was a disquieting nine words after having spent so many years studying the law to find out that the law really depend upon the vagaries of the judges.
Tip of the cap to Patty: Bob Oakes of WBUR interviewed an expert on judicial ethics who teaches law at Hofstra University in New York (aren’t there any law schools around here?) who opines there’s a good chance Whitey will be acquitted using the immunity defense, that Judge Stearns never should have ruled on that issue, and that Judge Stearns disgraced himself.
The little I can find out about Judge Casper all seems to be positive. I wonder now if J.W. Carney’s client is happy with his statement that any other judge than Stearns will be acceptable to the defendant. You have to wonder how Whitey will feel having as a judge a person who worked in the office with Fred Wyshak and Brian Kelly during the time of his indictment and many of the proceedings surrounding his case and also during the time of the highly publicized trial of Whitey’s handler, FBI Agent John Connolly.
What if Whitey did not know of her background? What will J.W. or Hank Brennan do if Whitey insists they file a motion asking her to recuse herself from his trial? If they refuse, can Whitey asked that they be removed?
When ADAs from Norfolk County were appointed a superior court judge they usually avoided sitting in Norfolk. If one did and an ADA she worked with was before her on a case to be tried, she would notify the defendant of her prior association with the ADA to see if the defendant had a problem with her sitting on the case. I wonder if Judge Casper will do the same thing for Whitey.
In less than 90 days the trial will begin according to its schedule. Whitey, as we know, wants to die in the Plymouth jail so he will be intent on seeking another delay. There is a huge wave of opposition to any more continuances of the trial date.
I suppose it is appropriate that March Madness begin today with the selection of teams to participate in the tournament. At one time we all thought March Madness referred to St. Patrick’s Day because in the Boston Irish tradition many would abstain from alcohol during Lent except for St. Pat’s day. Then they would make up in spades for the time they’d been on the wagon.
I think it was around this time of year I first heard someone had the DTs which I heard as the DPs. Back in those days DP was a derogatory term much used by the Irish (“the DPs are ruining the country”) to describe others who were similarly situated as they were two or three generations earlier. It’s a cycle that repeats itself.
I usually have a taste of Irish Whiskey today. Each year I have to figure out whether to have a Bushmill or Jameson. One is supposedly owned by the Brits so I’m supposed not to drink it. I don’t know why its such a big issue because Guinness is made by the Brits and I’ve never known an Irish lad or lass to turn one down, unless, of course, she wore a Pioneer pin.
Have a good day!