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SCOTUS empowers another ex post facto law

rippedThe Supreme Court ruled on May 17th, 2010, that federal officials can indefinitely hold inmates after their prison terms are complete. The high court in a 7-2 judgment reversed a lower court decision that said Congress overstepped its authority.

Ex post facto laws are explicitly forbidden to the federal government and the states by two separate and quite specific clauses in the constitution, the government’s authorizing document:

The federal government: “Section 9 – Limits on Congress – No … ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

The states: “Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States – No State shall … pass any … ex post facto Law”

You may be asking, “What is an ex post facto law?” The legal definition is given by Calder v Bull (3 US 386 [1798]), in the opinion of Justice Chase, which defines four ways laws must fail as ex being post facto:
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Orwell was an Optimist

Here is a quote from 1984:

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Now let me point out a few interesting facts.

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A gift of time

Here’s something I created that those of you into genealogy or just nostalgia will very likely find enjoyable. It’s 100% free, and definitely good for the whole family. It is a web site where you enter your (or someone else’s) birthdate; it will then generate a custom timeline in the form of “When you were age so-and-so, the following event(s) happened.” You can add several custom events to the timeline too, if you like.

Although that does describe it in a nutshell, the description alone really doesn’t do it justice; take a moment to check it out. No pop-ups, no information collecting or data-mining, no flash, no cookies or technological trickery of any kind. Just an enjoyable way to look at historical events.

All you have to do is go to the web site and click on the second button down in the left hand column. From there, you’ll be taken to the current timeline generation page (it moves around, so only bookmark the home page), you enter the date or dates (it’ll take an end date too, very useful for your ancestors), and bingo, you have a timeline.

If you go there armed with the birthdates of a decent subset of your forebears, I can just about guarantee you’ll have a great time. The idea is to provide a useful and educational perspective on ourselves and those who came before us — I think you’ll find that it works very well. If you’re doing genealogical research on your family, I bet you’ll be adding a new tool to your bookmark list.

Timeline fragment

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