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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 13, 2004

lani guinier could clear this up

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:57 pm

Earlier today, Eugene Volokh echoed David Kravitz‘s complaint that the “mainstream press”

has apparently falsely accused Harvard Law Prof. Lani Guinier of failing to pay Social Security

taxes for a domestic worker in her employ.  They decry the irresponsible, sloppy journalism and

suggest it means the mainstream press can’t be trusted on other issues.   Both cover their butts

by asking to be corrected, if they are wrong about the facts from 1993.


journalist A few things bother me about this:

  • Eugene and David make strong accusations without knowing the facts with certainty —

    they base them on their personal recollection from 11 years ago of what would have been

    a secondary issue for Guinier.   Based on memory, Kravitz decries Total Incompetence.

  • they are willing to tar the entire mainstream press, when — as with webloggers — some

    journalists are far more careful than others; and

  • they could have held their (ideologically or politically loosened?) tongues until they got

    more definitive information: from Prof. Guinier herself or the assailled reporters.

1993 being the Dark Ages as far as online newspaper resources, I have not been able to confirm

the facts here, either.  I did find, however, the following excerpt in Prof. Guinier’s book Lift Every Voice :

 Turning a Civil Rights Setback Into a New Vision of Social Justice (1998).  At page 36, she is describing

the very first press conference after her nomination was announced, and she says (emphasis added):

” the weight of my description of how prior administrations had tolerated actual examples

of intentional discrimination was more than the reporters wanted to hear that day.   Afterwards,

my fellow nominees thanked me for what they took as a filibuster. From their perspective, I had 

successfully distracted the press, whose interest in nonpayment of Social Security taxes could

not regain momentum”

So, the issue was out there, although I do not know the context and Guinier does not broach the topic

again in the book.  Prof. Volokh tells me that no articles that he has found from 1993 mention the tax issue.

It would be great if Prof. Guinier (who is still very good at getting press coverage) could help us all with the facts — if the mainstream press doesn’t dig out some quotes by their morning editions to silence the gleeful naysayers.


update (Dec. 14, 2004): Prof. Volokh points to a Correction in today’s Washington Post that states:

“A Dec. 12 article incorrectly said that Lani Guinier’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s

civil rights division under President Bill Clinton was withdrawn because of a “nanny problem.”

There was no such problem, and the Clinton White House withdrew the nomination because of controversy over Guinier’s legal writings.”


(Dec. 15, 2004, 3 PM): Newsday issued the following Correction this afternoon:


By The Associated Press

December 15, 2004, 1:42 PM EST


In a Dec. 10 brief and story about Bernard Kerik’s withdrawal as homeland security secretary-designate, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Lani Guinier, who was President Clinton’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division in 1993, had not paid taxes for a domestic worker. A spokesman for her at Harvard Law School said there was no such problem, and the White House never indicated that there was. Clinton said he withdrew her nomination because of her legal writings on racial issues. The same incorrect reference to Guinier and unpaid taxes on a domestic worker was in a 1995 AP item about Clinton choices who had problems in the confirmation process.

  • update (Dec. 16, 2004): The Philadephia Inquirer issued this erratum on Guinier today: “In some editions of Sunday’s Inquirer, the Associated Press erroneously included Lani Guinier on a list of high-level White House nominees who had run into problems involving hired help. Guinier’s problems stemmed from her writings on racial issues.”  See here for the text of numerous Corrections and Letters by Prof. Guinier.


                                                                                                                                                                          journalist f             

    New Year’s Day
    nothing to report…
    trashy house

    honest and true
    rustling in the wind…
    river shrine boats

     ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue        


    noiseless wind (would be nice)

    Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:57 am

      silent dawn

    the bird’s nest

      full of snow




        noiseless wind

           icicles pend

    from the bell clappers




    (Katsura/Red Moon Press, 1996).


    birthday phone call –

    your triple bypass

    trumps my bad knee


                                                [Dec. 13, 2004]

    one-breath pundit

    •  The Arrogant Nanny Set:  I’m never surprised, but always appalled, to see that so many
      people in the legal profession (and law enforcement, like Bernard Kerik) are so willing to

      violate immigration and tax laws to get cheap child care services — even at risk of foiling

      future high office.  For lawyers, I think it’s behavior that deserves disbarment. The poor

      working stiff and honest taxpayer get to subsidize these arrogant ninnies.

    • Mitch Albom and Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press each had good columns

      yesterday about children and parents and telephonic privacy.  (see our blurb

      yesterday)  Let’s hope the Washington high court’s triumph of children’s privacy

      rights over parental obligations and rights leads to better, truly “family friendly” laws.

    • I like the TaxProf’s idea for reducing the number of lawyers — let the males use laptops

      for exams (to reduce fertility).  I’m also pleased to see that the best and the brightest of

      our young folk may be moving away from law as a profession to areas where they will

      be more productive and, hopefully, happier with their career choices. 

    • Mike at Crime & Federalism asks visitors to share law school exam horror storiesambulance

      I left a Comment that might bring a couple guys with straight-jackets to my door.

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