I've been thinking a lot about the very upsetting Supreme Court ruling last week which essentially made it ok for the police to smash open your door without warning. (Provided they have a warrant. Not that warrants are mattering much in this country anymore, either). But perhaps I'll leave it to Pat
because he's got a law degree and could explain the decision and the implications better than I could. (Would you please?) Suffice to say, this should be keeping you up nights, too.
There is a reason why I am not, perhaps, the best person to comment on matters legal, judicial and/or Constitutional:
I had a college work/study job as a tour guide for the Admissions office. That's how I met Zim, who transferred during my junior year. We became good friends. During the summer between junior and senior year, when we weren't out doing the Hustle or nearly capsizing a tiny boat in Lake Washington, he suggested that I take a Constitutional Law class with him. He was pre-law, I was an English major. There was no good reason for me to take a class in Constitutional Law except that I needed 5 more social studies units and he said it would be like "The Paper Chase". Much as I had a fancy for law, theoretically anyway, I had doubts. "Ah, it's just a lot of reading," Zim said. "You're an English major. You can read".
Within 2 weeks of the start of term Zim dropped the class and a month or so later was kicked out of school for hosting a toga party on campus, with alcohol. (I went to a Christian college so conservative that we couldn't even hold dances on campus). And there I was, surrounded by brilliant pre-law students, reading an average of 3-4 cases a day. And it was
like "The Paper Chase" and Prof. McK...who was vaunted among my peers as the progressive member of the poly sci faculty...was John Housman. He employed the Socratic method and we were to come to class prepared to discuss the case, the decision and all opinions, for and dissenting.
I was quickly swamped. Reading both English and philosophy that year, plus writing papers had me plenty busy. There was neither time nor inclination for all that law stuff. I fell behind, so far behind that Prof. McK. quickly lost interest in my public humiliation. My blushing and stuttering did nothing to advance the academic cause of his real
Two friends, Matt and Bill, took pity and let me into their study group. This owed to their kind nature and the fact that I lived off campus and stocked beer, not for any intellectual contribution I might make. The one thing I will always remember from these sessions is Matt's hatred of then Justice Rehnquist and how, whenever we had to read one of his opinions Matt would say "Rehnquist, pfft" and pretend to spit to ward off evil. Halcyon days.
I struggled through that class, retaining only some salient points relative to Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education. That's it. I read, in the end, maybe 1/4 of the cases assigned but was too stubborn to drop the class. Idiot.
Comes the final exam. I resignedly take my seat, accepting with a nod the well-intentioned looks of pity tossed my way by Matt and Bill. For the 1000th time I curse Zim, open my blue book and look at the 3 essay questions written on the board. We have 2 hours. Happily, the first question has to do with Marbury v. Madison. Triumph! The other two questions refer to cases only vaguely familiar. I wrote for about 45 minutes on the first question and spent 15 more mining whatever I could relative to the other 2. There was still another hour. The other students were scribbling away like mad. But I couldn't bravo sierra my way through 60 more minutes. I got up, collected my things, and tossed the blue book on Prof. McK's desk. He looked at me, then at the clock and back to me. He said nothing. I shrugged my shoulders, shot him a classic "who cares" look and left the class forever.
I took my Con. Law text book, purchased new for the astronomical amount of $50, and kicked it down the stairs. It hit the landing with a satisfying thump so I kicked it again, all the way down 3 flights of stairs. I kicked it past the Commons and down the sidewalk. Great, swinging kicks. Furious kicks. Gangland style "where's my protection money, punk" kicks. It started to rain and I kept kicking. I kicked the book a full 8 city blocks from campus to my house. I kicked it until the binding started to come loose and pages began to tear and be daubed with mud from my shoe.
My house was up a narrow flight of cement steps so now I began to throw the book, heaving it up over my head and smashing it into the cement. The binding was hanging by a thread. I was home but my wrath was not spent. If anything it was only more intense. I hated Zim, hated the Socratic method, despised Con. Law and loathed myself for making such a poor showing.
I grabbed a lid from the trash can, tossed the tattered book upon it and lit fire to the pages. The book burned for 12 hours. In the morning it was a smoldering heap of ash which was then tossed into the garbage where it rightly belonged. The grass beneath the trash lid was burned in a perfect circle which stayed dead all year, a perfect round totem to my hatred of that class.
Constitutional Law. Pfft.