Monthly Archives: September 2022


Last week, the California Supreme Court decided to let stand a lower appellate court decision holding that bumble bees are “fish” under the state Endangered Species Act. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, anticipated (quite correctly!) that her ruling would puzzle the public. She wrote:

…[O]ur decision not to order review will be misconstrued by some as an affirmative determination by this court that under the law, bumble bees are fish. A better-informed observer might ask: How can the court pass up this opportunity to review the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the Fish and Game Code, which seems so contrary to common knowledge that bumble bees are not a type of fish? Doesn’t this clear disconnect necessarily amount to “an important question of law” … warranting this court’s intervention, because the Legislature could not possibly have intended such a result?

Were things always that simple.

Well, as a matter of fact, some things are always that simple. It is, and always has been, a simple fact that bumble bees are not fish. Pretending that the law provides otherwise – even while acknowledging that “the Legislature could not possibly have intended such a result” – is worse than judicial error. It is a self-inflicted wound on the credibility of that beleaguered branch of government. Polls show that in recent years the public has already been losing confidence in our judicial system. Little wonder.

How did this happen?

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Filed under Law


For many ordinary Americans, politics has become an unpalatable pastime, too distasteful to digest or follow. It seems incredible that in a country of 330 million, the foremost political leaders are Joe Biden and Donald Trump, two men of low character and of lower, if any, principles.

That may explain why Troy Senik’s biography of Grover Cleveland, A Man of Iron, arrives as such an unalloyed joy. Turning from cable news to Senik’s work is like emerging from a fetid swamp to find oneself alongside a pristine brook.

Many see in Cleveland our first  and perhaps only outright libertarian president. He was a firm exponent of laissez faire economics, federalism, the gold standard, and anti-imperialism. Granted, to describe him as a libertarian runs the risk of over-simplification. His politics were more nuanced than that. For example, years before Teddy Roosevelt made conservation popular, Cleveland was setting aside forest land in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons, Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Still, the libertarian label is more accurate than not.

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Filed under Politics