Mmm: Cake only a lawyer could like

I wrote recently about the pain that Watergate left on a nation—and on my birthday, forever marked as the anniversary of one President pardoning a former President.

However, this week, some gifts—both thoughtful and odd—went a long way toward erasing 1974’s pain.

So I decided to post on the blog of a Saturday—a rare event when time is at a premium. I guarantee it’ll be pretty light lifting.

First, a reminder of the historic event.

It was September 8, 1974, when President Gerald Ford spared a nation (his words) the pain of a drawn-out impeachment process. On that day, he read his proclamation to the world.

President Gerald Ford, Sept. 8, 1974

The text of the proclamation itself can be read here. The order granted Nixon an unconditional pardon “for all offenses from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president.”

One of the pleasures of history is to come across artifacts that convey something true from the contemporary time. And that’s why I love this image below. It is one of the many letters sent to President Ford after his pardon. It was gathered by the National Archives.

You can see more from the Archives here.

So on my birthday Thursday, as we read the morning Arizona Republic, my wife noted that day’s historic blurb and photo on page A2: Ford pardons Nixon. But it only took until that evening to put the specter aside.

That’s because family and friends shared an odd assortment of gifts and tschotckes. Every one made me smile and chuckle. For a non-law-related blog post on AZ Attorney, this is hard to beat.

Thanks to Kathy, Willa and Thea (my family) and to Randy, Sarah, Olivia, Elena, Jack and Amelia, a whole other family of friends who swooped in with a goofy and heartfelt surprise.

If you’re feeling particularly non-legal today, click here to see the gifts.

See you back here Monday.

Dear Bizzy Business Entity,

You don't look a day over 100!

First of all, a thousand times sorry sorry sorry. I don’t know how I missed your birthday yesterday. You have done so much for me and everyone else in this country. I can’t believe that I let your wonderful event pass by.

It still amazes me that you’ve turned 125. So much history between us, but you’re still as vibrant and rabble-rousing as ever. In fact, recently you seem to have opened an even more dynamic chapter in your life history. Congratulations!

Sure, I know people who say that you are “merely” a “Corporation.” But I know different. And, more important, the United States Supreme Court agrees with me. You, ol’ pal o’ mine, are a “Person,” through and through.

Astounding! It was way back in 1886 that the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Oh, you wag! You managed to transform a routine, forgettable tax case into something far greater. Its landmark lesson has changed this nation in so many ways. It almost brings a tear to my eye—and to your Personal “eye” too, I’m sure.

You wise old soul. YOU always understood that equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, was not just intended to benefit former slaves. It must extend to you, the Corporation. It was as clear as the “nose” on your “face.” But the nascent nation had to wait until the Supreme Court recognized this universal truth. Finally, FINALLY, in Santa Clara County (118 U.S. 394, 1886), the Court conferred personhood on you.

(And even that case showed your Personal chutzpah and creativity. The case itself does not address the question of Corporate Personhood. But the official Reporter added the conclusion to the headnote. Only later did anyone mention the fact that the Reporter was Bancroft Davis, former President of the Newburgh and New York Railway Company, whose business would benefit by the change. You CRAZY man, you! Would anyone dare argue that a mere business shell could come up with a strategy like that? You are not only a Person, you’re the MAN! Some stones, buddy.)

And what a bouncing baby corporate entity you were. Your bronzed baby shoes wasted no time before you were stomping around the house, toppling achievements others had wrought, taking more than your fair share, requiring others to work hard to serve your vision.

“Mine” was the cry you uttered over and over, your cherubic “face” blushing with the effort of clambering to the top of the furniture. Such a bruiser, you were, pushing aside the weaker—understandably!—to ascend higher. The jealous and uneducated throngs saw only “a spoiled brat,” but we know different. The Supreme Court and I recognized that you were merely “committed to your goals.” O happy day!

Sure, there were setbacks in your adolescent years. A few Justices have offered weak little arguments against the Truth that you are a Person (“Boo!” Justice Black. “In your face!” Justice Douglas. “Where’s your head at?” Justice Rehnquist.) Fortunately for our darling Corporate toddler, those arguments were framed as dissents. And your string of Personal successes, like Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, show that our little boy is all grown up.

I thought hard on what gift to get you. As I look over your recent “life,” it’s obvious that you’re hard to shop for—you’ve pretty much got everything you ever wanted!

But ultimately I decided that a little hard cash was always appreciated. Or, as the Supreme Court and I like to call it: “Speech”! LMAO. Don’t spend your “speech” all in one place! Maybe put it toward wages, benefits and R&D.

Omigod, I almost broke a rib laughing at that last one! I know you and your ways, you Corporate Person. I’m sure you’ll pass this speech on to the CEO, or maybe a Senator. Paying it forward—what a guy!

You know I would “hug” “you” if I could, or “tousle” your “hair.” But enjoy your birthday party, which I understand will be held offshore again this year. Here’s looking forward to more great life chapters.


The American “People”

"We're 1!" I typed.

Later, I will post a story about an annual awards ceremony at which three Arizona lawyers were honored. But before we get to that, I have to tell why that event is significant to me and this blog.

It was one year ago, on March 17, 2010, that I launched my daily posting on this blog, AZ Attorney (and yes, I generally mean weekdays only – cut a guy some slack). And the story that historic day was a post about the same awards banquet, in the 2010 version.

Yes, I had blogged more occasionally before over the preceding six months. And I had started it originally to write my novel-in-a-month, called The Supremes. (The entire thing is still online. Go here to read the Prologue and Chapter 1. And if you want to keep reading about Dedrick, Duckworth, Castro & Paine—“Dead Duck”—have at it.)

I’m not much for birthdays, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment. Writing is a wonderful outlet, and I am pleased that it has become an essential part of my daily routine. It’s as second nature as drinking too much coffee and failing in my battle to not roll my eyes at nonsensical directives.

When I tell others that I write, I often feel that I should add an asterisk. After all, I live and work in Arizona, where the circus never leaves town, and where everyone from the governor on down happily shovels piles of steaming ideas on my writer’s doorstep every day. The primary challenge: selecting among the piles for just the right material for that day’s entries.

And now, I’ll turn to writing about the awards ceremony: the American Jewish Committee’s 2011 Learned Hand Awards Luncheon Honorees.

In the meantime, feel free to send some drinks to my table, or tell the waiter it’s my blog’s birthday—we’ll take the free cake.