Monday, September 10, 2007

Piling on

Thanks to Gump for taking up the slack while Spotty is out rolling in dead fish on the banks of a far-off river. I've a busy week myself, so his help is particularly appreciated.

I am compelled to add a wee bit to his take on Katie this morning. Today, we are introduced to one of those few lawyers Katherine Kersten seems to like, and little wonder when he's praised by Mr. Powerline himself. Meet Peter Swanson, one of the driving forces doggedly opposing mandatory "Elimination of Bias" continuing legal education for Minnesota lawyers:

Attorneys must complete two hours of training every three years to learn to "identify and eliminate" bias in the legal profession based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and other factors.

The mandate's mistaken premise, Swanson said, is that attorneys are biased against women and select minority groups. Its goal is to ensure that rank-and-file attorneys -- instructed by an enlightened few -- embrace politically correct attitudes on issues such as affirmative action.

"It's ironic that white liberals want to educate me about discrimination," quips Swanson, who is black.

While many classes are offered, Swanson points out, all reflect the same narrow ideology. "The Supreme Court has found all lawyers guilty of the crime of bias," he says. "We have to serve our sentence in these classes two hours at a time."

For more than a decade, Swanson has waged a full-fledged campaign against the "elimination of bias" requirement. In 2004, however, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the mandate's constitutionality.

Hmmm... It's almost as ironic as him presuming as a man to educate me about gender-based bias in the legal profession, but that's for another day. Rather, let's talk about that campaign of Mr. Swanson's, specifically what the Minnesota Supreme Court actually said regarding the arguments Mr. Swanson and others have made about mandatory elimination of bias continuing legal education.

An examination of the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court, In re Petition of Rothenberg, 676 N.W.2d 283 (Minn. 2004), that upheld the elimination of bias requirement reveals the core of the dispute when people like Mr. Swanson protest that the requirement has an "ideological" component.
"In the context of Rothenberg's [and, by implication, Swanson's - ed.] argument, 'ideological' appears to be shorthand for something with which he disagrees. Merely asserting that the elimination of bias requirement has ideological origins or is applied ideologically does not create a cognizable claim."

676 N.W.2d at 291. Wow! Surely the United States Supreme Court would come to the rescue of Mr. Swanson and his friends after they'd been so misunderstood at the state Supreme Court level.

Well, no. The petition for certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on the very first day of its 2004-2005 term, leaving the requirement intact.

But I'm sure Gump would agree that Mr. Swanson might be on to something when he noted:
No surprise, said Swanson. "The court was ruling on its own action."

Where might we have heard that before?

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