Judge Risks Divine Retribution

I hate it when a judge’s opinion tantalizes you with a possibly fascinating discussion and then you get nothing but a conclusion. You’d think God would deserve more than that. Case in point: a ruling from a federal judge in the District of Columbia last week in Mark K. Bowser v. Donald J. Trump, in which the plaintiff claimed to be God and that his identity had been stolen. Considering who the defendant was, this seemed quite possible.

Then came the phrase I was hoping for: “Having reviewed the plaintiff’s complaint carefully …”

Yes? Yes? Is this going to be good?

No. The rest of the sentence is “the Court concludes not only that its factual allegations are irrational, but also that it fails to articulate a viable legal claim.”

No explanation for this conclusion follows. I know this is cynical of me, but I have to wonder if there really was a careful examination of this complaint. If there was, why don’t we have more in this ruling?

If nothing else, there’s a serious freedom of religion issue here. You can’t just go locking up God. Doesn’t he have a Constitutional right to be free?

I know some of you are thinking this plaintiff isn’t God, but is it up to a secular judge to decide who is God and who isn’t? There are lots of other religious claims that judges take seriously — or at least refrain from deciding — so you’d think a decision about whether someone is God would be about as serious a religious question as you can get.

After all, faith is what religion is all about. If this particular plaintiff has faith that he is God, that sounds pretty religious. Just because there are people — many, many people — who don’t have that same faith, doesn’t mean this guy’s faith should suffer discrimination.

Let’s hope the DC judge is right about this case. If not, there may be hell to pay.

Bar mystery. Speaking of existential mysteries, it was reported last week that the bar passage rate in California for last July’s exam was the lowest in 67 years. And apparently lower pass rates have been reported around the country.

Like stock market gyrations, this phenomenon has brought about an abundance of explanations after the fact — everything from a lack of studying to dumber students being allowed into law schools. A bunch of law and research groups have decided to study the problem.

Oddly, everyone seems to be missing the key question here: Why do we care?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t, in the abstract, care about whether law students succeed. But if they don’t, isn’t it a good thing for the rest of us that they’re not being admitted to the bar? The whole point of a bar exam is to make certain that lawyers have at least a basic knowledge of what they’re talking about. If they don’t, they fail, and we’re protected from completely clueless people practicing law.

So what’s the problem? Is there a pressing social need for more lawyers?

What those groups should be studying is, why didn’t all those failures take up a different subject? Shouldn’t someone have told them they weren’t doing well before they got to the bar exam?

As it is now, we may need government programs to support and retrain bar rejects before they become a burden on society.

Here’s an alternate solution (if this really is a problem): Give the bar exam before law school. It doesn’t have to be about laws — just a test of capability and potential. If you pass, you’re automatically a lawyer if you get decent grades in school and graduate.

That way the hopeless don’t spend all their money on tuition (or all the money they don’t have). If you pass, you’re not in danger of a nervous breakdown just after graduation and you can get right to work

This will do wonders for a lot of people’s mental health.

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