Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
This past Tuesday’s election stirred mediocre interest here in the Bayou State. This was the fifth election in Louisiana in 2018. And get ready for six election dates in 2019. There was a 45% turnout last week, even though voters witnessed a great deal of election hype from throughout the nation. Louisianans just were not all that enthused.
The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead last week was, for good reason, called “the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.” It was a ghastly crime of appalling proportions. Robert Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of hate crimes. If he is convicted, as he most assuredly will be, then the death penalty would, and should, be fully justified.
Fourteen years ago this week, Derrick Todd Lee received the death penalty in Louisiana. He was the state’s most notorious and prolific serial killer. I was there in the courtroom when the verdict was handed down.
It was a cool Tuesday evening, and I was leaving a reception for former congressman Billy Tauzin at the Old State capital in downtown Baton Rouge. Billy and I had fought many battles together when we both served in the Louisiana legislature back in the 1970s. He had fought and won a separate confrontation with cancer, and a number of Billy’s friends all turned out to celebrate a full life he had led.
Special statewide elections in Louisiana are only a few weeks away. At the top of the ballot on November 6th will be an office second in line to the governorship. A number of the candidates are harping on the same theme. Each wants to be the business development voice of the state. Will the Governor let that happen? Fat chance.
The Secretary of State does have, under current law, some business duties. But the office serves primarily in that capacity as the filer and record keeper of corporations and partnerships. How can we gently say this....a glorified clerk of court. It would take a benevolent governor to turn over business development responsibility to another statewide official.
So just what should these candidates be talking about? Yes, there are some real problems to address. Here’s the list.
Voting Machines. All over the country, concerns are being raised over new electronic voting machines. Many critics say these machines are riddled with security leaks and are ripe for computer hackers to change numbers without elections officials knowing anything about it. And what abo
Brees’ story must include the man who drafted him
Here we go again with meddling federal judges. The 5th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals came down hard on Louisiana charter schools last week. Charter schools, that by definition are independent with major input from parents, now will have to bargain with teachers’ unions. The 5th Circuit is well known for questionable opinions that are often overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Hopefully, this dubious decision will receive the same treatment.
Whatever the final result over the confirmation battle of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, one thing is becoming more urgent. The court itself has a crisis of legitimacy. And one way to restore its genuineness is to require term limits for all future judges.
The Supreme Court of old was more majestic with few periods of confrontation. Just a decade ago, 2/3rds of Americans had great confidence in the Court. No more. There’s trouble brewing in those marble temple walls. Confidence in the workings of the court and the Justices themselves have dropped to a mere 50% approval rating.
It’s been ten years since the financial crisis on Wall Street filtered down through the insurance industry. Many national insurance companies were under siege, and even though Louisiana is a small state in population, policyholders were affected proportionally at a much greater degree than in most other parts of the country.
I have a confession to make. And President Trump is not going to like it. I’m a southern country lawyer. Darn proud of it. In the President’s words, I may be a “dumb southern country lawyer.” I just hope the President does not have a sneering contempt for all of us Louisiana lawyers who cut our teeth practicing law in the rural areas of the Bayou State.
We all know that there is a crisis in the Catholic Church right now. Allegations of sexually abusive clergy are pouring in worldwide. Unfortunately, the roots of this terrible tragedy engulfing the Catholic Church have strong ties to the Bayou Sate. Here's how National Public Radio in Minnesota titled their investigative story on sexual abuse by priests: “It All Began in Lafayette, Louisiana.” And it did, back in 1984.