18 JULY 2021
My friend Leonard is delighted that Juneteenth is now a national holiday, in remembrance and celebration of the 1865 emancipation of African American slaves in states in rebellion against the Union. Juneteenth is also his birthday. On a recent bicycle ride, Leonard let me catch up to him, probably because he had something to say. “I’m 80 fucking years old,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road. “How did I not know about the massacre in Tulsa?”
15 JULY 2021
I happened upon what is known as an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief in three lawsuits filed against Trump for inciting an insurrection against the United States on January 6. The brief, authored by four of the country’s foremost First Amendment scholars, dissects Trump’s First Amendment defense to the allegations, explains why the First Amendment offers Trump no meaningful defense to the allegations of political intimidation, and offers an expansive analysis, firmly grounded in Supreme Court precedent, that the court should use in evaluating the post-reconstruction and civil rights era measures. …
04 JULY 2021
Untitled, Watercolor, 12" x 15", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust (Watercolor Honor Society)**
The GOP’s post-policy, intellectual bankruptcy is on full display. Having abandoned its values, conservative and otherwise, the party is incapable of developing a morally robust, meaningful platform to govern, and to keep and attract members. They can’t win the popular vote in a national election. Solution? Cheat the vote.
Another weapon in their arsenal is to skew the curriculum by chilling content and viewpoints at public colleges and universities that, Republican leaders fear, threaten their ability to maintain power…
27 JUNE 2021
Untitled, Watercolor, 9.5" x 9.5", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trusts**
Once obtained, a license to practice law is a property right. One’s ability to retain a license to practice law is conditioned on several factors, including compliance with governing rules of professional conduct. The licensing authority can revoke, suspend, or otherwise limit one’s license based on sufficient proof of unprofessional conduct. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, however, a state licensing authority typically cannot impair — revoke, suspend, or condition — that property right absent due process of law. …
20 JUNE 2021
Morning Flight, Oil on Panel, 32" x 48", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
[This post is a pause from my commentary on politics, geopolitics and law.]
I wish to thank my friends for sharing their fathers when we were young. In addition to my own father of whom I have written extensively (I have the benefit of being surrounded by his artwork as reminder of his extraordinary qualities and talents), two of my friends’ dads had considerable influence in my life. Glen Jones and Al Gabrielsen helped guide me and many others…
13 JUNE 2021
Untitled, Watercolor, 20" x 35", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
Remember the debate over whether the Constitution allowed Trump to pardon himself? Assuming he granted himself a pardon, pocket or otherwise, the only definitive way to test whether the pardon power extended that far would be to charge him federally, see if he raised a self-pardon as a defense and, if so, do battle in court.
During the presidential campaign, then candidate Biden was asked whether he would commit “to not pulling a President Ford under the pretense of healing the nation.”…
06 JUNE 2021
Untitled, Pen and Ink on Paper, 11" x 10", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
“I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” Fiona Hill beseeched Republicans. You may recall her unflappable November 2019 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in hearings leading to the first of Trump’s impeachments. She dismantled Republican attempts to blame Ukraine, not Russia, for interfering in the 2016 United States election in favor of Democrats, not Trump. She characterized it as “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and…
30 MAY 2021
Untitled, Pen and Ink, 9" x 13", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
In McConnell’s calculous, a bipartisan, 9–11 style commission to investigate what happened and why, to protect the country against future such events, would make the GOP’s overtaking the House and Senate more difficult in the upcoming mid-terms. As personal favor to McConnell, this week’s GOP filibuster of the bill to establish a January 6 bipartisan commission is corrupt political theatre at its finest. It stands as metaphor for a shrinking minority’s continuing pull on all levers of power to maintain…
22 MAY 2021
Pen and Ink on Paper, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
The definition of antidemocratic is a person, place, or thing unfriendly or against the ideas and actions of democracy such as the power of the people to elect their leaders through majority rules and free elections.
I’ve been trying to understand the underpinnings of certain U.S. citizens’ increasing willingness to compromise, violate and take active measures to undermine democratic principles. (Only half-jokingly, I have suggested that the far right fears that free and fair elections will result in decisions being made…
07 MAY 2021
Renee, Oil on Canvas, 18" x 24", Richard J Van Wagoner, Circa 1962, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
As a tribute to my mother I have published a version of this post on or around Renee’s birthday since I began blogging (late January 2017).
Shortly after her nineteenth birthday Renee became the lifelong muse of a visual artist, her husband Richard. She passed on March 10, 2016, just shy of her 83rd birthday. She would be 88 on May 7. Our family often celebrated her birthday and Mother’s Day together, the latter of which was all…
Attorney engaged in criminal defense and First Amendment law. Board Member, local ACLU affiliate. Progressive.