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On Blackstone 6: Perjury, the FBI, & Obstruction of Justice

In Volume 4 of his Commentaries on the Laws of England Blackstone offers an instructive definition of perjury. He defines it narrowly as a false statement of material fact, made in court in front of a judge. He doesn’t count lying in a sworn affidavit, outside the presence of a judge and court, to be criminal perjury. For Blackstone, the

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What’s Up with WhatsApp: Thoughts on the NSO CFAA Complaint

I’ve been getting a lot of calls asking me what I think about the civil Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) lawsuit WhatsApp just filed in the Northern District of California against NSO. Below this post are links to my comments in the press. Here’s the complaint: I’m going to elaborate a little more on the complaint because it’s a

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Room 3420 and the Birth of the Internet

The internet turns 50 today. At 10:30pm PT on October 29, 1969 in room 3420 at UCLA the first networked digital data transmission was sent to a computer, 350 miles away, at Stanford University. The computer operator at Stanford replied, and the computer operator in Room 3420 gained access to the computer at Stanford. Prior to this communication between computers

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Constitutional Basics: Congressional Supremacy

The current presidential administration asserts so much intellectual garbage as valid constitutional theory I feel obligated to speak up. Reasonable people can, and do, disagree about constitutional interpretation. But there are limits to what can rationally be disagreed about, outside of which you’re just in a realm of cynical absurdity. Cynical because those arguing want you to believe that because

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On Blackstone 5: London Calling

I’m just back from client meetings in London. While there I spoke with a Queens Counsel (only 10% of Barristers are “QC”) who shared my mutual love of legal history. I was asking him if there was a bookstore in town where I could get decent copies of the great 17th century English jurist Sir Edward Coke’s (pronounced “cook”) influential

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Impeachment and Judicial Review

Recently the President suggested that the courts would intervene in his favor if Congress impeached him. Lawyers, scholars, and commentators mocked him for this because the Constitution explicitly places the power to impeach with Congress. But some of the President’s supporters, namely Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz, argue that judicial review – the power of courts to rule acts of

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On Blackstone 3

If you want a rough picture of my legal philosophy, to the extent I can be said to have one, it’s a mix of admiration for Blackstone while simultaneously agreeing with Jeremy Bentham’s scorching critique of Blackstone as everything that’s wrong with the “Man.” That’s because I’m a believer in perspectivism – the art of switching paradigms and viewpoints in

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On Blackstone 2

I’ve taken a quick detour into a concise new biography by Richard Brookhiser of Chief Justice John Marshall, of Marbury v. Madison, judicial review fame. It’s a gossipy page turner. For instance, John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson, second cousins, hated each other, and you have to view Marbury from one perspective with that in mind. Because Marbury is a brilliant

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On Blackstone 1

I’m reading William Blackstone’s seminal Commentaries on the Laws of England for the first time. It’s something I wish I’d done earlier, although I don’t know if I’d have had the experience to appreciate it if I had. This is the first of what probably will be random, sporadic posts on Blackstone as I slowly make my way through his

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