Bad Words

     Have you ever been enormously excited by the opening part of a sentence only to be severely disappointed by the end of the sentence?
     Prepare to be briefly excited by this half sentence from a ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit called NAAMJP v. Lynch:
     “In response to these points, NAAMJP spews a slew of bad words to describe Rule 701, including….”
     This has got to be good, right?
     Here’s the payoff:
     “… including discriminatory, monopolistic, balkanizing, and unconstitutional.”
     Really?
     Those are your idea of bad words?
     If I were those words, I’d sue for defamation. (Hey, if corporations can sue, why not words?)
     The teasing sentence, by the way, isn’t the only odd thing about this ruling. It seems, according to the court, that the federal district court in Maryland “encourages other jurisdictions to adopt liberal licensing standards” by making it hard to get licensed in Maryland.
     It seems that the Maryland federal court won’t license lawyers from states that won’t license Maryland. Take that, non-liberal admission states!
     Some of you may be wondering why other state federal courts would care about whom the Maryland federal court allowed to practice.
     Continue to wonder.
     Now wonder about this: the Maryland court also won’t license out-of-state lawyers who have offices in Maryland. This “ensures effective local supervision of the conduct of attorneys.”
     Do you get the feeling these rules were written on Opposite Day? How can you possibly supervise someone if they insist on being around?
     I’m pretty sure if I were a lawyer in Virginia with an office in Maryland, I’d be using some real bad words.
     The ruling of the appeals court, in case you’re wondering about that too, upheld the principle that courts can do whatever the heck they want.
     So if you want to practice federal law in Maryland, either move your main office there or get the heck out.
     Love it or leave it (and thus be able to work there either way).

     Bait and switch. Is there a message when there isn’t a message?
     I know that’s one of the great philosophical questions, but I have a concrete example for you. Consider this image from a bus ad:

     Seem innocuous?
     Maybe it is, but it’s an ad for one of those clinics that seems to be reaching out to pregnant women thinking about abortions and then does everything it can to prevent abortions.
     This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view, but it’s kind of hard to deny its sneakiness. It’s the morality police deciding that honesty isn’t part of their morality.
     Be that as it may, does it really matter whether the ad is for a pro-abortion or anti-abortion clinic. Either way, it stands for something political or moral even if the position is a surprise.
     Or does it?
     I bring this up because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last week ruled in a case called Women’s Health Link v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation that this particular ad can’t be refused by a bus company for taking a political or moral stand since it doesn’t say that it does.
     “We know that Health Link is pro-life,” the court said, but since the ad didn’t say it, it was “innocuous” and banning it was discriminatory.
     Deception is constitutionally protected.

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