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ESA Wants Money From Illinois

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the cough-it-up-windy-city dept.

151

ESA President Doug Lowenstein is pushing the state of Illinois to pay for the ESA's substantial legal bills, the result of their fight to defeat the Illinois game ban. From the Next Generation article: "From the day Governor Blagojevich announced that he would seek anti-video game legislation, it was clear to everyone that the proposal would be found unconstitutional and would waste taxpayers dollars in a protracted legal fight that would leave parents no better off ... That is precisely what happened. As we said from the outset, we would have preferred to spend our resources on cooperative programs to help parents ensure their kids play appropriate games, rather than divert money to respond to politically motivated attacks on video games. But the State has left little choice, and this petition is consistent with the rules of the federal courts regarding award of attorney's fees to prevailing parties."

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151 comments

In case you're wondering (5, Informative)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934079)

ESA = Entertainment Software Association. Their Website: http://www.theesa.com/ [theesa.com]

Re:In case you're wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934148)

Whew! I was wondering what the European Space Agency was doing in Illinois.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934192)

I was thinking the same thing ;) I'm sitting here wearing an "ESA" badge holder from the European Space Agency, so of course that's what came to mind.

Re:In case you're wondering (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934198)

Illinois = Illinois. Their Website : http://www.illinois.gov/ [illinois.gov]

Done, and done. (5, Insightful)

biggyfred (754376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934104)

Absolutely. You want to pass obviously unconstitutional legislation? Your consitutents can pay the bills. After enough money down the tube, perhaps they'll think twice before electing you again.

Re:Done, and done. (2, Funny)

keyne9 (567528) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934500)

We didn't want to elect him the first time. He was actually the lesser of two evils. Illinois' problem is that we never get politicians running for office that aren't horribly incompetent, morally bankrupt, or otherwise just plain awful.

Re:Done, and done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934702)

Edgar wasn't bad.

It's just sucked hard since then.

Re:Done, and done. (0, Flamebait)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935061)

That's the problem with the US in general.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935555)

We didn't want to elect him the first time. He was actually the lesser of two evils.

The real problem is that our election system doesn't really make elections with more than 2 real candidates feasible. You end up with the Nader dilemma anytime a serious third candidate enters the race. Until we move to a sensible election system, we will continue to have this problem. The problem is that the two parties will fight tooth-and-nail, lie, cheat, and steal to keep the current system. At least with that system they can claim that there is democracy and multiple viewpoints represented. The problem is that there will never be real change as long as we only have two parties. We'll keep switching from one crappy candidate to the next. Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!

Re:Done, and done. (2, Insightful)

fufubag (935599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936349)

The problem isn't that the two parties won't allow it, it is that the public is way too lazy to and ignorant to check into the viability of any other candidates. Until the extra parties can find a leader capable of pulling together a bunch of brain dead sheep, we will be stuck with two losers every few years.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936403)

it is that the public is way too lazy to and ignorant to check into the viability of any other candidates. Until the extra parties can find a leader capable of pulling together a bunch of brain dead sheep, we will be stuck with two losers every few years.

People don't vote for third parties. The republicans will say "look what happened with Perot! You'll throw away your vote and the Democrats will win!". The Democrats will say "look what happened with Nader! You'll throw away your vote and the Republicans will win!". And so, that is why we need a sensible election system that let's people vote their conscience, and ranks the candidates so that nobody's vote is thrown away. Until we have that, there will always, and rightly so, be the fear of splitting the vote between the two most-favored candidates and thus causing the least-favored candidate to win. What a moronic system.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936423)

we never get politicians running for office that aren't horribly incompetent, morally bankrupt, or otherwise just plain awful.


There are other kinds?

Re:Done, and done. (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936493)

Oh, yeah, plenty of other kinds. I wouldn't say that Blago's awfulness is due to incompetence or immorality. He is probably the epitome of a "divider, not a uniter" politician, because he is power-hungry, hates everything that he can't control and presents himself as a populist crusader and anyone that holds power that he wants as an "enemy"/"corporate whore"/whatever.

That said, he probably was the best candidate in all the elections he won.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

onetwentyone (882404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934573)

It's not just an Illinois thing. Living in Houston, I get to witness the trainwreck that is local politics as Tom DeLay looks likes he's going to be reelected. People don't really learn.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935078)

I get to witness the trainwreck that is local politics as Tom DeLay looks likes he's going to be reelected.

So, get your geek friends together and start a campaign....

Re:Done, and done. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935306)

Absolutely. You want to pass obviously unconstitutional legislation? Your consitutents can pay the bills. After enough money down the tube, perhaps they'll think twice before electing you again.
There should be penalties for passing anticonstitutional laws.

Something like barred from office for life for proposing the law, and being kicked-out of office at once for voting for someone else's law.

Re:Done, and done. (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936088)

Anticonstitutional

I like that, sounds much more devious than unconstitutional :)

Illinois (5, Insightful)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934113)

I live in Illinois, and we're a damn poor state. The politicians can't have a press conference without saying something about how far in debt we are. That said, I'm not sure what side of this I'm on. Our governor was a total idiot for introducing the bill in the first place, and the ESA is right that most of the time when someone loses a lawsuit they have to pay the legal fees associated with the case... but we've already wasted taxpayer dollars on the bill itself and the court costs. Now they're asking for more money. I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid.

Re:Illinois (2, Interesting)

MjrTom (68324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934317)

I'm in Illinois too. The state may be hurting for cash, but the politicos shure aren't. I think that maybe a bill forcing politicians who pass unconstitutional laws to pay the legal bills associated with striking those laws down.

Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.

Re:Illinois (4, Interesting)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934788)

Actually, I'd like to see a federal law where if you propose an unconstitutional law, or vote for enough of them, you are banned completely from politics.

Re:Illinois (2, Funny)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935663)

I propose the Damocles Amendment [wikipedia.org] to the Constitution. Any politician who willfully supports or votes for obviously unconstitutional legislating gets chopped in half with a sword.

Re:Illinois (2, Insightful)

MjrTom (68324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935704)

It would be found to be in conflict with the first amendment to the US Consitution.

Re:Illinois (3, Interesting)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936060)

Just make it an impeachable offense (it is abuse of the public trust), then the Constitution itself covers the banning.

Re:Illinois (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934824)

Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.

How would such a law be unconstitutional?

Re:Illinois (1)

jcorno (889560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934948)

I think that maybe a bill forcing politicians who pass unconstitutional laws to pay the legal bills associated with striking those laws down. Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.

So make it a constitutional ammendment.

Re:Illinois (5, Funny)

el_diavalo (582943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934387)

I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid. Hi. I live in New Orleans. My state wins.

Re:Illinois (1)

LLuthor (909583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934610)

Being in debt is the best way to learn how to manage money properly.

When the politicians involved have to deal with smaller bugdets and large debts they will be better at managing money in the future and likely spend less on frivolous laws. That is, unless the population of the state agress with the law in question, in which case this kind of thing will continue indefinitely.

Re:Illinois (1)

dual_boot_brain (854259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934813)

Except, the politicians are not in debt, they are not spending or managing their money. They externalize the costs of their decisions to the taxpayers. This is Similar to the 'public commons' problem except it is the tax payers money instead of communal land that effected. Maybe government budgets need to be reorganized such that the budget is analyzed on a bi-weekly basis and if there is money left over, then and only then do the politicians get paid. Bi-weekly budget shortfall? Sorry kids its Tuna Helper all week long ... sans Tuna.

Re:Illinois (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934925)

Stupidity is it's own punishment. Sometimes it is necessary to make it glaringly obvious.

Re:Illinois (2, Insightful)

smokes2345 (959661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935196)

Exactly, you state needs to learn to stop trying to pass stupid legislation that they know will only waste time and money. It doesn't matter how poor your state may be, your government decided to waste the money. The ESA should be compensated, if you don't like it make better decisions at your elections.

Re:Illinois (2, Interesting)

Castar (67188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935405)

Well, that's the point the ESA is trying to make. They don't need the money, they want people to realize that trying to pass unconstitutional anti-game legislation is a *bad idea*: it only costs the state money. They're doing this to raise awareness of that fact among voters, in the hopes that the next person to propose something like this gets shouted down by his constituents.

Re:Illinois (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935615)

Now they're asking for more money. I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid.

Maybe try protesting against gubernatorial candidates that like to grandstand with moronic legislation like this. Hold them accountable for the money they are costing your state!

Re:Illinois (1)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936187)

It's not like Blago wasn't already wildly unpopular. Of course, so was his predecessor. And so are all the Republicans tripping over themselves to try and replace him. Illinois politics: Bipartisan Crony Corruption.

No way... (1)

DorkusMasterus (931246) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934162)

While I agree that the law was idiotic (and I'm in Illinois), this is a just kicking the other guy while he's down. You won. You should have won, and you did. Be done with it.

If it was such an obvious no-brainer that the law was unconstitutional, then you really didn't need to spend so much money on the legal battle, right?

I just think this is a little unneccesary and just throws more gasoline on the fire (that doesn't need to be there) between the legislative types and the game industry.

Re:No way... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934293)

I (as an Illinois citizen) think Illinois should have to pay "costs" for the prevailing party (== all of us, sans the Illinois government) and the ESA should have to pay its own damn attorneys' fees. See, if the case was such a slam dunk, the attorneys' fees shouldn't be that much of an imposition, right (this corporate cartel group can certainly afford it)? On the other hand, maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with the legal system and the way it (seems to) serves only to make attorneys richer and everyone else poorer. Perhaps, ESA, if you want you want your attorneys' fees to be paid by someone else, you should work to fix that.

No, consider it a bit more carefully. (5, Insightful)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934448)

Consider the hypothetical case where YOU were the personal victim of an unconsitutional law, and spent lots of your $$ defeating it in court. Now you're out lots of YOUR money because the state did something illegal. What's to prevent them from doing it again and again 'till you're destitute and can no longer afford to fight and win, or until you give up and accept the unconstitutional law to remain solvent? Either way, the state accomplishes by attrition what they cannot do under law.

As for the obviousness argument, it's irrelevant just how obviously bad the law is -- you either have to sue and spend what it takes to finish the litigation, or shut up and accept the bad law; there's no third option.

The award of attorney's fees paid by the loser makes it untenable to pursue such a win-by-losing strategy -- or at least, it's intended to do that. Think of it as a check on frivolous litigation (and lawmaking, if the principle is, IMHO reasonably, applied to situations like this).

It IS a shame that the state's taxpayers have to pay for their government's folly, but then, they DID elect those folks in the first place. That seems a lesser ill than the above scenario where the victim pays for it. (And no, it DOESN'T matter that the victim is a trade organization and not an individual; the fundamentals don't change.) Out wit da bums...

Re:No, consider it a bit more carefully. (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934673)

Exactly. If you feel that its not right your money is being spent now paying off the stupidity of your lawmakers, then maybe YOU should do something about it and not elect idiots in the first place.

Look it how much people disliked Bush after the first election, once the dust settled... He ran on this platform of things are getting better even when common sense told everyone no they wheren't and what happened? He won and things are worse.

I would bet you 100 bucks if he where to run tomorrow enough people would STILL elect him President despite that fact. There is a very good reason the US doesnt have a true democracy, and its because give a mob the choice to pick someone and they will always go with thier heart over their common sense.

The sad thing is even with your state having to pay out for its stupidity, they will spin this as the evils of the company and get more of you poor suckers to vote them in next election.

Re:No, consider it a bit more carefully. (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936379)

People see politics like sports these days. It's not about who's the right one for the job, or who's honest or not. It's all about rooting for your team and bashing the other team. That's all there is to it anymore.

Re:No way... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934849)

You won. You should have won, and you did. Be done with it.

Why shouldn't they get their money back? The state shouldn't have passed such a law to begin with, but it did, and the ESA had to spend a lot of money to fight it.

If it was such an obvious no-brainer that the law was unconstitutional, then you really didn't need to spend so much money on the legal battle, right?

Lawyers are always expensive. Even in no-brainer trials, you have to try your absolute best, because if youi don't, the other guy will find some flawed logic to support his theory. If you don't shoot it down, you'll lose.

Re:No way... (1)

fufubag (935599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936402)

Learn the rules! Illinois WILL pay the court costs. Period.

ha (-1, Flamebait)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934168)

" I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid."

I am also a resident of Illinois, and we need to learn how to kick Chicago out so we are no longer the big blue pimple in the red midwest.

We've had a streak of bad governers, and Blowsavich is no different.

Re:ha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934205)

So you're one of the idiots who voted for 4 more years of Bush.
Good going there pal.

Re:ha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934266)

I'm so happy to think that your vote will always be nullified and made irrelevant by us in Chicago.

Loser.

Re:ha (1, Offtopic)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934321)

You're just upset because having a Democrat governor in power means that Daley can run the whole state :)

Re:ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934780)

Yeah, because Illinois would be a real economic power without Chicago.

Re:ha (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934917)

I am also a resident of Illinois, and we need to learn how to kick Chicago out so we are no longer the big blue pimple in the red midwest.

So, what you're implying is that Republicans never favor censoring materials that they find objectionable.

Let me point you to the the Alabama bill to ban libraries, schools, even universities from purchasing "textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle". The bill's sponor, Gerald Allen, tells us helpfully: "I don't look at it as censorship, I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."

Same idea, same ostensible motive. The only difference is probably the result of the usual gender gap politics.

Re:ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14935647)

I also live in IL. Since he first announced his candidacy I started calling him Blah, as no matter what he says I just hear Blah Blah Blah.

Anyway, we are talking about a governor that lives in Chicago. He flies back and forth to Springfield many times. I don't know where he was when the tornado went through town this past sunday, but he was here for the press conferences on monday.

This is the governor that does not live in the Governor's Mansion, but is having them put in a heated driveway at a huge cost to taxpayers over the next several years. He has us foot his bill for his commute to work from Chicago (as I already listed). He introduces legislation that is guaranteed to be struck down, and wastes taxpayer money to do it.

And truthfully we don't have anyone running in the primaries in any party that are much better than him. He represents Chicago and will most likely win as Chicago tends to steal most elections in IL. I have believed for years that Chicago should break off and leave the rest of IL alone. The rest of the state would at least be able to see our tax dollars used closer to home instead of up in the Chicago area. (Note: I did not state all tax dollars go to Chicago, but a large chunk of them end up there)

Re:ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936266)

(Note: I did not state all tax dollars go to Chicago, but a large chunk of them end up there)

I would imagine that the lion's share of tax revenue comes from Chicago as well.

that's cute (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935853)

Us Chicagoans make it possible for you to even have schools and stuff. You want facts? You came to the wrong place. Da Bears!

Re:ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14935882)

Someone made the observation that all cities generate federal revenue and all rural areas suck it up. I don't feel like finding the data to back that up, so feel free to ignore me.

Good (0, Troll)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934185)

They deserve it.

Great Strategy for Blago (4, Insightful)

MdntToker (560684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934260)

Spend all of the ILL Govt's money defending no-win lawsuits, so they can't afford any further investigations of corruption into his office. Brilliant!!

Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (4, Interesting)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934298)

I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature.

That's bad for democracy.

Of course, I REALLY would like my legal fees to be paid for overturning the laws that I know to be bad. That would be fair, right, just and valid! But I do not want people I disagree with to get the same sort of fees for overturning laws that I know are good.

Democracy is messy. ESA may deserve to win, but does not deserve to win without paying the price.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934351)

I do not want people I disagree with to get the same sort of fees for overturning laws that I know are good.

If they are good laws, then how will they get overturned?

ESA may deserve to win, but does not deserve to win without paying the price.

So basically, you have to put up with bad laws unless you have lots of money for a lawsuit? That doesn't sound very democratic.

Sorry, you're doing more to argue for reimbursement than against.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934505)

>So basically, you have to put up with bad laws unless you have lots of money for a lawsuit? That doesn't sound very democratic.

I don't mean to be offensive, but you seem to be defining "Democracy" as "only good laws survive; bad laws are destroyed". That would be a rather naiive definition, don't you think?

The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy. If it's really a bad law, the people hurt by it will just have to fight it, either in the legislature or in the courts. Government funding for the fight against bad laws, either in the legislature or in the courts, corrupts the system. You may like the outcome in this particular case, but are you really sure that you like it in the long run?

Let's say that a legislature passes a law supporting freedom of speed on the internet, and China gets it overturned as an infringement on the WTO. Do you REALLY want the government of China to collect its legal expenses for that?

>Sorry, you're doing more to argue for reimbursement than against.

No, you don't get to simply assert that you win without proof. Make an argument, then assert victory.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934737)

I don't mean to be offensive, but you seem to be defining "Democracy" as "only good laws survive; bad laws are destroyed". That would be a rather naiive definition, don't you think?

No, he's defining "a good law" as "a law that is not overturned". There's a very important difference there.

You may like the outcome in this particular case, but are you really sure that you like it in the long run?

So now you seem to be using a naive definition - it looks like you're defining "good laws" as "laws I like".

If we accept the definition of a good law as a law that is constitutional (whether you like its effects or not), and if we accept the proposition that the courts do a good job of interpreting the constitution and determining which laws are compatible with it, then it follows quite clearly that any law which is overturned by the courts is a bad law by definition, and therefore those that fought to have it overturned should be compensated, because they have given up their time and money to defend the constitution from a bad law. And I will stand by that statement whether or not the decision is one I "like".

For example, I personally am opposed to gay marriages, but if any law that restricts gay marriages in some way is struck down as unconstitutional, then I will not complain, even if the judge awards costs to the pro-gay movements that have fought the law - because upholding the constitution, which is the central support that protects our freedom and democracy, is more important than my personal likes and dislikes.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934823)

>t looks like you're defining "good laws" as "laws I like"

There's a reason why usually I screen out postings by Anonymous Coward. You've written a complete non sequitur

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14935844)

It's a bit hypocritical of you to say that, considering you just got done putting words in my mouth. When you said:

you seem to be defining "Democracy" as "only good laws survive; bad laws are destroyed".

...when I was saying something completely different. Now you cry foul because somebody else did the same? Hell, they didn't even do the same, as far as I can tell, you made a completely illogical leap whereas his interpretation of what you said makes sense.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

John Miles (108215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934778)

The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy

Correct; that's democracy. We don't live in a democracy, though. We live in a Constitutional republic. That means that the legislature most certainly does NOT have the right to pass laws of this nature.

Unfortunately, there are no consequences for legislators who make illegal laws. That's something we desperately need to fix at both the state and Federal levels.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934862)

>That means that the legislature most certainly does NOT have the right to pass laws of this nature.

The legislature has the right to pass laws, period. The legislature can and does have the right to pass contradictory, non-sensical, idiotic and even unconstitutional laws. That's well established and no number of postings even on Slashdot can change that.

Courts have the right to overturn unconstitutional laws. The system works. For the courts to penalize the legislature is a massive change in our constitutional structure, which ought to be seriously discussed before implementation.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (3, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935226)

The legislature has the right to pass laws, period. The legislature can and does have the right to pass contradictory, non-sensical, idiotic and even unconstitutional laws. That's well established and no number of postings even on Slashdot can change that.

What part of "Congress shall make no law" are you having trouble with?

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

fufubag (935599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936517)

the legislature can and does have the right to pass contradictory, non-sensical, idiotic and even unconstitutional laws.

You are completely wrong. The legislature may pass unconstitutional laws, but that is what the courts are for. Unconstitutional laws will NOT survive under our constitution.

Except... (2, Interesting)

chaboud (231590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934779)

It appears that you're the one asserting victory without proof.

He largely doesn't have to say anything because your point is completely, on its face, absurd.

It's not a matter of whether a law is good or bad. It's a matter of a law being unconstitutional, thus violating the protections that we put in place for the rights of entities in this nation. If those protections are provided only to those capable of funding a fight against the legislature, protection is only provided for the wealthy.

If the legislature is forced to pay for attempts at violating the rights of others, that legislature *should* be less likely to make such attempts.

Re:Except... (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934921)

> If the legislature is forced to pay for attempts at violating the rights of others, that legislature *should* be less likely to make such attempts.

Do you *really* think that a legislature will modify its behavior because it has to shell out, what, a million buck or so? That's not even pocket change in the state budget of Illinois.

And the Constitutional principle .. . despite your ad hominem attacks ... stands unchallenged. The legislature has the right to pass any legislation it wants; the courts have the right to strike down the legislation. The court does not have the right to impose penalties on the legislature for bad legislation, under the "cases and controversies" limitation of our Constitution (...the courts cannot consider laws that have not been passed yet, because they have no jurisdiction until there is an actual "case" before it ... and it follows that the legislature cannot be penalized by the court for not submitting its legislation to the court for approval before passing it.)

Re:Except... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935666)

The legislature has the right to pass any legislation it wants; the courts have the right to strike down the legislation.

Legislators are supposed to uphold the Constitution. If they don't know or understand the Constitution, and they're writing laws that ignore the Constitution and even legal precedent, then they deserve to pay for the costs of those that have to fight to overturn the bad law in court.

Re:Except... (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935884)

So... you're arguing then that I have the right to break any and all laws at my own whim, and the courts have the right to try and convict me for these laws? You have a peculiar way of looking at things.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934901)

The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy.

No, they have to right to pass laws which are constitutional. Unconstitutional laws should be destroyed. FWIW, we aren't living an a democracy either, its a republic.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935776)

FWIW, we aren't living an a democracy either, its a republic.

Only if your knowledge of politics is based on Sid Miers' Civilization. The US is a federal democratic republic with a president elected through inderect democracy as the head of a nation made up of a number of states many of which provide at least some form of direct democracy, and most of which are representative democracies.

Democracy and republic are not mutually exclusive.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936340)

I don't mean to be offensive, but you seem to be defining "Democracy" as "only good laws survive; bad laws are destroyed". That would be a rather naiive definition, don't you think?

No, I'm defining democracy as a mechanism that doesn't give rich people a huge advantage over poor people. That's plutocracy, not democracy.

If it's really a bad law, the people hurt by it will just have to fight it, either in the legislature or in the courts.

And without reimbursement, only people with money to throw away are able to do so. That means that if some rich people pass bad laws, it's difficult for poor people to challenge them. Did you completely miss my point or are you intentionally avoiding it?

Let's say that a legislature passes a law supporting freedom of speed on the internet, and China gets it overturned as an infringement on the WTO. Do you REALLY want the government of China to collect its legal expenses for that?

We're talking about unconstitutional law entirely within the USA. That is an entirely different thing to international law and its applicability to the Internet. Come up with a representative example and it might be worth rebutting, but I'm not going to waste my time on ignorant fantasies ("free speech infringement on the WTO"? Do you have any clue what you are talking about at all or are you just stringing together legal-sounding big words in an attempt to sound smart?).

No, you don't get to simply assert that you win without proof.

Work on your reading comprehension. I didn't assert that I had "won" the argument, I asserted that the points you make work against the argument you are trying to make.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

keyne9 (567528) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934557)

I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature. That's bad for democracy.


No. Purposefully passing unconstitutional legislation is bad for democracy. We shouldn't have to strike that sort of bullcrap down.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (2, Insightful)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934592)

>Purposefully passing unconstitutional legislation is bad for democracy.

Many laws are subject to some constitutional challenge. Where would you draw the line?

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934650)

The line is drawn in court obviously.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934748)

>The line is drawn in court obviously.

But if your intent is to prevent the passage of bad ("obviously unconstitutional") legislation, post-facto determinations in court don't work well. The legislature won't know until AFTERWARDS that it passed a bad law.

To modify its behavior, the legislature needs a way BEFOREHAND to tell that it's passing a bad law. Where would you draw the line?

AND PLEASE NOTE that ESA is asking for something is DIFFERENT from awarding fees for filing a lawsuit without merit. under Rule 11 or something similar. When you file a lawsuit, you have to follow court rules that require a minimum of inquiry into the merits; that's the pre-rogative of the courts and when you file a lawsuit, you agree to take your chances with the court's rules.

Legislation, OTOH, is entirely different. It is the pre-rogative of the legislature and not subject to court rules. For the court to require fees in this case is a serious change in our constitutional structure.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934940)

But if your intent is to prevent the passage of bad ("obviously unconstitutional") legislation, post-facto determinations in court don't work well. The legislature won't know until AFTERWARDS that it passed a bad law.

If they were more familar with the constitution, they shouldn't have any problems. There IS a reason that the current system only lets laws be struct down after the fact.

Obvisouly the legilsature needed to debate this law a bit longer, to work out any possiblity of it being unconstitutional. Yes, this would slow down the passing of laws. Thats exactly how its supposed to be though!

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935010)

>Yes, this would slow down the passing of laws. Thats exactly how its supposed to be though!

You are proposing a massive change in our constitutional scheme, for the purpose of a small improvement in the education of legislatures.

ESA's fees are very small potatos in the budget of Illinois (although if ESA has sued a small town or a county, there would no doubt be some impact.) The constitutional separation of powers between the legislature and the courts is extremely important. Trading one for the other is not a good bargain, but at any rate, should require a constitutional amendment.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936136)

The problem is that as it stands, the constitution is the highest law in the land, the most powerful rule of all, and yet it has no teeth. The first amendment reads "Congress shall make no law..." yet, there is absolutely nothing to stop Congress from making that law. If a majority of Representatives and Senators voted for it and the President signed it, then Constitution be damned, it IS a law, and nothing can be done to them for breaking the Constitution until the next ballot.

Worse, this rabbit hole goes deeper: Nothing is heard by the SCOTUS until after it's been heard by an appeals court. Nothing is heard by the appeals court until after it's been heard by a lower federal court. Nothing is heard in federal court until someone's been arrested for it, or someone begs the government for the right to sue over it. When a law is passed, it only goes through two branches of the government: the legislative and the executive. It is not until after harm is done that the judicial branch even has a say.

Now, think of the cost. Whether you're defending yourself or suing over the law, it costs a LOT of money just to reach the SCOTUS. It's just not going to happen if all you've got is some public defender who sleeps through your case. You've got at least three cases to argue, assuming nobody throws your case back down a level on a technicality. Furthermore, if you win at any point along the way, the government can simply walk away and refuse to appeal, which might get you out of jail, but in the grand scheme of things, you've lost.

So, is it that much of a disaster to give the judicial branch the same power of veto we give the executive branch, and to specify immediate impeachment for those who would run roughshod over our Constitution? Or maybe, rather than charging the unfortunate citizens of the state of Illinois, just an amendment to the shield that legislators now enjoy, so that the money can come out of the pockets of those who voted for this act?

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936509)

Huh? What change am I proposing? The legislature can debate laws, they do all the time. If they debate, decide that a law will violate the consitution and then vote to not pass it, what is wrong with that? Should they just pass ever law that's proposed and let the courts sort it out?

It is the responsibility of all three branches to protect the constution, not just the courts.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935440)

Two problems: First, it is entirely possible for reasonable people to disagree as to the proper interpretation of the constitution. Legislators should not be punished for not accurately reading the minds of some judges as they are years down the road.

Second, courts have been known to be wrong, admitted their mistake, and corrected it in subsequent rulings. No one is perfect, and this includes the legislature. Besides, giving power to the courts over the composition of the legislative bodies threatens the balance of power within government.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935967)

I believe it depends on exactly how bad the law was. The court should be able to determine whether legal fees should be paid by the loser or not based on whether the law runs afoul of established legal precedent or not.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

CharlesDonHall (214468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935817)

To modify its behavior, the legislature needs a way BEFOREHAND to tell that it's passing a bad law. Where would you draw the line?

The same place we draw it when the government isn't involved. Filing a lawsuit and losing is one thing, but filing a frivolous lawsuit is another. If the court rules that your case had no merit, then you can be required to pay the other side's court costs.

Likewise, there's a difference between a law of questionable constitutionality and a law that's clearly unconstitutional.

It's not like this is anything new. There was a big court case in Dover, PA a few months ago. The school board tried to force Creationism on the students, and some of the parents sued. The board was in obvious violation of well-established constitutional precedent, and they wound up having to pay the parents' legal bills.

(Source: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/local/ci_3535139 [yorkdispatch.com] )

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934635)

I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature. That's bad for democracy.

Maybe, but it would be worse if legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation get reelected. The best way to prevent this is if their constituents feel the consequences of their legislators' actions. The most direct way to let the constituents feel it is with their wallets.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934671)

>it would be worse if legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation get reelected. .... The most direct way to let the constituents feel it is with their wallets.

I sincerely hope that the voters of Illinois clean house, but don't you think it would be bad for the court to use its power to affect how people vote?

Democracy is messy by design!

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936035)

but don't you think it would be bad for the court to use its power to affect how people vote?

If it encourages people to elect legislators who will pay attention to legal precedent and the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold, then no.

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934701)

"Democracy is messy. ESA may deserve to win, but does not deserve to win without paying the price."

Yes because we all know what impact a "loser-pays" judicial system would do to all the greedy, scum-sucking, waste of oxygen, ambulance-chasing trial lawyers and their class action law suits & venue shopping.

Oh wait.... you're a lawyer.... that would explain it......

Re:Bad Idea to Award Fees for Fighting Democracy (1)

sedmonds (94908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935100)

The state shouldn't be paying the bill for repealing unconstitutional legislation, the dumbfucks that pass blatantly unconstitutional bills should. Elected officials swore oaths to uphold the law, they violated their oath, they ought to be held accountable.

Political Intrigue. (3, Interesting)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936300)

Apparently it's relatively standard practice in situations like this. Supposedly, they even had an agreement on the ammount. What the ESA seems to squawking about is that the government wanted to put an NDA on the payment so that taxpayers wouldn't know what they were paying for this fiasco.

The government is going to be in a tight spot with this lawsuit. If they've already agreed on the $600K ammount, their only defence is going to be that they were willing to pay the ESA extra money to hide how much this cost. I'm sure that they'll be happy to admit that.

Illinois politics is a mess (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934334)

When the parent post says "maybe the citizens should think twice about electing him", it shows a complete lack of knowledge about Illinois politics.

Seriously, the only competent politician in this state (and I live in Ill) is Obama.

Our last governor is on trial for corruption, Blagojevich is a clueless idiot, and the republican challengers this year are a joke.....

It's not like we have a lot of options here people!

Re:Illinois politics is a mess (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934567)

Obama competant? For wanting to grant troops police powers in times of disaster? For taking money from Abramoff ? Or is it the coke sniffing (read his book) that makes him competant?

Illinois is so rife with crooks sucking our cash from us it's disgusting. I live ten miles from indiana, and buy all my groceries and gas there to avoid the stupidly excessive taxes we pay on everything.

So why don't YOU run for office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14935083)

Put up or shut up!

-nosebreaker.com

Re:So why don't YOU run for office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936325)

Put up or shut up!

Because unless you're a practicing christian (you have to at least go to church, and either be a true believer or lie well enough to convince people you really believe) you are basically unelectable. Additionally, you have to kiss corporate and special interest ass to earn campaign money if you want anyone to actually know you're running. And you somehow have to round up enough supporters to get petition signatures to get yourself on the ballot. I definitely wouldn't meet the first criteria, and meeting the second would defeat the purpose of running for office, so the third, which would be the easiest, wouldn't even matter. People are generally more willing to elect crooks and frauds than agnostics. Go figure.

Re:Illinois politics is a mess (1)

XMilkProject (935232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935474)

Then why don't you run?

Thats what democracy is all about. If you can do a better job, go do it.

If all your peers really agree that the options are so bad, then they should be happy to vote for you.

Re:Illinois politics is a mess (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935546)

What does democracy have to do with Illinois politics?

Re:Illinois politics is a mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936299)

very fucking little.

-Illinois native who now lives in FLA

Re:Illinois politics is a mess (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936532)

What is it a "competent politician" does that you are willing to give up your first amendment right of freedom of speech to support?

Ok... (2, Funny)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934390)

I live in this state. What the reigning hell is going on? I didn't vote for you or this.

Re:Ok... (2, Funny)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934987)

Sure you did! At least according to the records in 13 of the 14 voting districts where you cast your ballots in the last election.

Wrong headline (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934660)

"ESA wants to demonstrate that unconstitutional legislation costs the taxpayer money."

double pay? (1)

Down8 (223459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935702)

So, in order to bring to light the fact that this crazy piece of legislature was a waste of taxpayer money, ESA wants the tax payers to pay them for fighting the wasted tax payer money?

Did I get that right? WTF?

-bZj

ESA v ESRB? (1)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935905)

I'm happy the ESA is taking a stand against badly written laws that seek to ban or limit video games in various states. Their efforts have been instrumental in overturning several other similar laws.

Even so, I find myself wondering what will happen if action is taken regarding the Family Entertainment Protection Act, a Senate bill sponsored by Senators Clinton and Lieberman. That bill legislates a cash penalty (or community service) to back up enforcement of the ESRB standards. The ESA created the ESRB in 1994, didn't it?

An amusing provision of that bill calls for the Federal Trade Commission to create a watchdog group that oversees the ESRB to ensure that their ratings standard doesn't "slip" (potentially giving that oversight group a way to influence actual ESRB ratings in the future).

The ESA has been good about standing up to state legislatures. Will they stand up to Congress and the ratings board they spawned if that bill makes it out of committee?

Wah Wah Wah (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936200)

Almost all of the statutes on the books are unconstitutional in some way. Almost all of Illinois,'s criminal code isn't enforceable in the form in the books, for example. Passing unconstitutional laws is pretty par for the course, and that's fine. Per se unconstutional laws are rarely passed, and people can use the ruling to craft doctrines around the unconstitutionality. Give me a break.
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