"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

That black guy Pushkin

Yesterday, on June 6, 2016, it was a 217th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest - or THE greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

This is his portray as a young man.  And yes - the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin is of African descent.

Alexander Pushkin's great-grandfather was black.  His name was Abram Gannibal, an Afro-Russian noble, military engineer and general under the famous Russian czar Peter the Great.

Abram Gannibal was brought as a child slave from what is now Cameroon and gifted to the Russian czar Peter the Great - who came to love the child, raised him as a son and godson, gave him a title of nobility, and got him married into a family of Russian nobility to give him a future in a patriarchal country.

I did not see much of public celebration of his heritage in the U.S., or of his contribution to the world literature.

It may be attributed to the fact that Pushkin wrote in rhymed verse - in Russian, of course - and, as any translator knows, to translate verse, the translator him/herself needs to be a gifted poet, writing also in rhymed verse.

It has been noted by observers, most recently, yesterday, by BBC (the article is in Russian, I will strive to find the English version), that poor translations of Pushkin resulted in misunderstanding of his works by readers in other languages, that, while the West "expects" from Russian literature to be philosophizing and discussing existential issues, Pushkin's verse is intimate and delicate - and, I must add, that is true even though Pushkin touched upon in his verse and prose deep philosophical issues, and described historical events.

Pushkin, I must say, was also a rebel against religious dogma and zealotry.  His "Gabrieliad", written when he was 22 (he was fatally injured at a duel at 37) is openly mocking the concept of immaculate conception.  Even though Pushkin denied authorship of "Gabrieliad" during his lifetime, scholars analyzing his works - as well as any reader who knows Pushkin's style - will find it difficult to believe that anybody else wrote that poem.

In Russia, every child remembers as bedtime reading - for 2 centuries so far - Pushkin's fairy tales.

Pushkin's romantic verses are famous, as well as his "Little tragedies" cycle and his historical prose:

"The Captain's daughter" - a novel about the uprising of Emelyan Pougachiov against the just-enthroned empress Catherine The Great and

"Peter The Great's Negro" ("Арап Петра Великого") - before accusing me, please, note that the book was written in the 18th century, and that I cannot change its title.

His two poems in verses were turned into operas - "Eugene Onegin", music by Piotr Chaikovsky, and "Ruslan and Ludmila", music by Mikhail Glinka.

Pushkin is part of the world literature, the founder of the Russian literature, and surely a Goliath of the African heritage literature, and it is a shame his anniversary was not noted, nor his literary heritage celebrated in this country on his birthday yesterday.

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