“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”— O. Wilde

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

New Article(s)

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘East Wall and the Plantations: Ireland and Its New Migrants,’ The American Spectator (Dec. 6, 2022, 10:48 PM), <https://spectator.org/ireland-new-migrants-east-wall/>, <https://spectator.org/author/seth-barrett-tillman/>, <https://ssrn.com/abstract=4296073>;

Next up:

Andrew Hirsch and Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘More War or EU Expansion?,’ Copenhagen Post (forth. circa Dec. 8, 2022) (print), Copenhagen Post Online (forth. circa Dec. 10, 2022), <https://cphpost.dk/> (English-speaking newspaper in a Danish venue); 


Seth Barrett Tillman, What Court (if any) Decided Ex parte Merryman?—A Correction for Justice Sotomayor (and others), 13(1) Br. J. Am. Leg. Studies (forth. circa Mar. 2024) (peer review), <http://ssrn.com/abstract=4157572>; 


Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘New Article(s),’ New Reform Club (Dec. 7, 2022, 8:32 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/12/new-articles.html>;

Thursday, December 01, 2022

2022 Elections: State Legislatures, Governorships, and Changes in Control


State Legislatures and Governorships: before and after 2022 election

National Conference of State Legislatures, <https://tinyurl.com/yryjp4nz>; and, <https://tinyurl.com/mry5smz>. 


50 State Legislatures:         Senate Dems: -9 seats

                                            House Dems: +21 seats

                                            Net: +12 seats


50 State Legislatures:          Senate Repubs: +20 seats

                                             House Repubs: +35 seats

                                             Net: +55 seats


50 States Legislatures:         Senate Independents/Vacancies/Other: -10 seats

                                             House Independents/Vacancies/Other: -54 seats

                                             Net: -64 seats


*Nebraska is unicameral and (formally) non-partisan

**3 seats added across 50 state legislatures


Republican net pickup: 43 seats.


Dems pickup AZ governorship: AZ government shifts from Repub to Divided control.

Dems pickup MD governorship: MD government shifts from Divided control to Dem control. (But already under effective Dem control: so little potential for any U.S. House redistricting.)

Dems pickup MASS governorship: MASS government shifts from Divided control to Dem control. (But already under effective Dem control: so little potential for U.S. House redistricting.)

Dems pickup both MICH state legislative houses: MICH government shifts from Divided control to Dem control. (Potential for Dem-favored redistricting of U.S. House seats. Post-2022 election: U.S. House from Mich: 6 R / 7 D.)

Dems pickup MINN state house and control of legislature. MINN shifting from Divided control to Dem control. (Potential for Dem-favored redistricting of U.S. House seats. Post-2022 election: U.S. House from Minn: 4 R / 4 D.)

Repubs pickup Nevada governorship: Nevada government shifting from Dem control to Divided control. Only Repub pickup leading to change in control. But no potential for U.S. House redistricting. 

Penn: Dems pickup State House. Control remains Divided.

Control in many state legislative houses remains narrow. So all results remain tentative. Eg: A single state legislative seat--in the NH state house--resulted in a tie. In 3 state Houses, the majority is 1 or 2 seats. (And, the NH state House maybe 2 or 3 seats apart depending on how the single tied seat is finally determined.) In 5 state Senates, the majority is 1 or 2 seats. Redistricting in Michigan and Minnesota based on changes in control could be consequential given the Rs 9-seat majority in the U.S. House.


Seth Barrett Tillman, 2022 Elections: State Legislatures, Governorships, and Changes in Control, New Reform Club (Dec. 1, 2022, 12:03 PM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/12/2022-elections-state-legislatures.html>; 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Pascal says that God “instituted prayer in order to allow His creatures the dignity of causality”. There are some things that are within our direct power to do: we wash our hands, and (save for Lady Macbeth) our hands become clean. Most of the events that go on in the universe are, of course, out of our hands. But that is not to say they are out of our control, for we may still pray for them.

Of course, putting a wish in a prayer does not exactly put it within our power. Quite so. And thank God for that. For think of all the wickedness that men do with their hands – we have police and prisons and restraining orders and bulletproof glass and handcuffs and straitjackets to protect us from the violence and destruction that is wrought just by men's hands. The causality exercised by our own hands is guaranteed, and therefore ruthless. 
But the kind which we exercise by prayer is not like that; God has left Himself a discretionary power. Had He not done so, prayer would be an activity too dangerous for man. We would have the horrible state of things envisaged by Juvenal: “Enormous prayers which Heaven in anger grants." That is why God has retained a discretionary power of granting or refusing prayers; except on that condition, prayer would destroy us.
Now I hear another objection: "But prayers are not always granted." Ah, but here we come to God's rebuke to Job: "Who are you to call me to account? Can you hope to understand why or how I do anything? Were you there at the Creation? Can you comprehend the marvels of the stars, the animals, the infinite wonders of existence? You, a worm that lives a few moments, and dies?" When we judge, crudely, a prayer as "granted" or "not granted," we are judging without seeing the evidence. Prayers seem to us unfulfilled not because prayer is a weaker kind of causality, but because it is a stronger kind. When it “works” at all it works unlimited by space and time. Here are C.S. Lewis's words on that matter: 
Don’t bother about the idea that God “has known for millions of years exactly what you are about to pray”. That isn’t what it’s like. God is hearing you now, just as simply as a mother hears a child. The difference His timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. If you must think of His timelessness at all, don’t think of Him having looked forward to this moment for millions of years: think that to Him you are always praying this prayer. But there’s really no need to bring it in. You have gone into the Temple (“one day in Thy court is better than a thousand”) and found Him, as always, there. That is all you need to bother about.
Thanks is merely a backwards looking prayer. God hears thanks for the good of the past as merely a prayer from a different orientation.
And that is where, it seems to me, the power of thanksgiving enters in. When normally we pray, we are asking for something, presumably in the future, and something that might not come about quite the way we expect – something that, when it comes about at all, might be quite unrecognizable to us as the fulfillment of our prayer, if even we are blessed to cross paths with the realization at all. But thanksgiving is not like that. If a prayer feels like a coin thrown desperately into the fountain, thanksgiving is like the cash you find in the pocket of an old pair of jeans. As far as that particular blessing goes, you and God are not longer separated by the vast canyons of time and the mysterious workings of the universe, for the blessing has arrived! Now, in your own time! Here, in your own hands!
George Bailey felt quite powerless when he prayed his desperate sinner's prayer at the bridge, not knowing of any way out of the charges of embezzlement against him, and of the humiliation of his family, least of all that the way out lay in jumping into the snowy river; but he had gained rich blessings – the answer to his prayers and then some – by the time his daughter Zuzu pointed out to him the ringing bell, reminding George that he had thanksgiving prayers to send up.
A particular blessing has come into your hands. The blessing unites a prayer and its fulfillment in your own time, in your own life. That is a miracle, a small part of heaven, that God allows us to experience in this life. And the key to unlocking this miracle is through sending up a prayer, and telling God, simply and earnestly: Thank You.
(Borrowed heavily from C.S. Lewis, How to Pray.)

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Arrest of James Hodges (UPDATED)


The Hodges arrest video is making rounds on the internet, along with commentary. It strikes me that the commentary is not focused on the most central fact of the case.


The focus of most of the commentary is on the Terry stop (Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968) (Warren, C.J.)) and the lawfulness of the original detention. That detention was (it appears to me) illegal. Thus, it is no surprise (as has been reported) that the state’s attorney has declined to prosecute Hodges. Likewise, it is no surprise (as has been reported) that one or both of the police officers have been disciplined.


What is not being discussed sufficiently (if at all) is the last 10 to 15 seconds of the video. In that segment, Hodges asks the arresting officers for their names and identification numbers, and he indicates that he will seek some sanction against them for their wrongfully detaining him. Hodges appears to be “threatening” to sue them. But such a “threat” is not illegal; rather, it is lawful First-Amendment-protected speech. It is only at that juncture that the more senior police officer tells his junior to arrest Hodges for “resisting” arrest. It seems to me that any such arrest is fairly characterized as retaliation for Hodges’ exercising free speech. Any such retaliation is a consequential constitutional violation quite apart from the initial wrongful detention.


When one adds, that Hodges is (apparently) legally blind, and a veteran (as has been reported), and was on the street in the early morning specifically because he was returning home from a mandatory jury duty summons (or, so he claims), he will make a most sympathetic civil rights (42 U.S.C. § 1983) plaintiff before any jury.


Finally, it is all captured on video. So the facts will not be much in dispute. Lawyers should be lining up around the block to take this case. It might be worth a big pay day—whether it goes to trial or settles. And even if the defendants (i.e., the municipality and the individual officers) are only compelled to make a payment at the smaller end of the spectrum, Hodges’ case should be a very easy win, and it should be a win taking little time. Any trial court victory will place the lawyer in the news. It is free favorable advertising for his or her practice and/or for a future run for political office.

UPDATE: The Arrest of James Hodges: An Update, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-QDMUdGfEw>; 

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘The Arrest of James Hodges,’ New Reform Club (Nov. 13, 2022, 5:07 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/11/the-arrest-of-james-hodges.html>;

Twitter: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1591726873087729665>;


Friday, November 11, 2022

Re: The Red Tsunami

And I live in a welfare state that has more tax revenues than it can possibly find ways to squander. We live on a hill and I have a shotgun and you only see this

when you get off the freeway. Every freeway, but hey, you're on your way to somewhere else. Vanishes from your rear-view mirror before you even look back.

The Red Tsunami didn't happen because this is the New Normal: Biden bad; Orange Man worse. Life goes on.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

An Awards Speech

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, I was awarded the 2021 North Carolina Society of Historians’ Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contribution to the Preservation and Perpetuation of North Carolina History and Heritage. What follows is my awards dinner speech, parts of which were read in absentia

First, I would like to thank the North Carolina Society of Historians, its members, officers, and, especially its judges for choosing my two Jacob Henry-related papers[1] for the society’s Award of Excellence for a significant contribution to the preservation and perpetuation of the history and heritage of North Carolina. In an earlier, simpler time, we would not have to reflect on the need for such organizations. But now is not such a time—ours is a time when older certainties are not merely forgotten or questioned, but vilified. So the central task of a historical society, as with sister cultural institutions, is a critically important one: it is to remember and to preserve what can be preserved for a better future which all hope will emerge—even if we cannot clearly see it today.


Second, I should especially like to thank my home institution, Maynooth University, and my current head of department, Professor Michael Doherty, for providing me with the opportunity to take a sabbatical, which made writing these articles possible. Also, there were any number of archivists and librarians, anonymous reviewers, editors, and others who I owe thanks—especially Professor Sandeep Gopalan, my former head of department, and now Vice-Chancellor of Carolina University, Annie Miller, at the North Carolina Historical Review, and Professor Yvonne Pitts, Purdue University, at the American Journal of Legal History. As usual, my wife, Nora, reviewed any number of drafts—of both articles.


Third, I would like to express my apologies for being unable to attend your awards ceremony. My living across the Atlantic and your dinner’s timing preclude my attending and participating.


Fourth, I left the United States some eleven years ago and moved abroad, to Ireland, to find work—I teach in an Irish university. Still, one misses home. And also one’s publications, which focus on a foreign country—that is the United States, are of less interest to the Irish than they would be to other Americans. In such circumstances, one can only wonder if one’s research and writing is being well received. Although winning such an award is gratifying to any recipient, I think I can fairly state it means a bit more to an expatriate—such as myself—to know that one’s publications are appreciated in the home country. For that, I thank you.


And, finally, in my papers on Jacob Henry, I attempted to peel back a veneer of historical silence. A few have privately noted to me that in doing so, I undid (in a small way) what Henry and his contemporaries accomplished: elevating Henry to the status of folk hero in the hope of crafting a culture of American religious tolerance. That may be so. But the other view, is that in reducing Henry’s heroic status, I have elevated the accomplishment of all those other unknown North Carolinians who, in 1809, crafted our society’s culture of religious tolerance. And perhaps, it is those unknowns who are the heroes our society most needs today.


     Is mise le meas,[2]


          Seth Barrett Tillman


Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘An Awards Speech,’ New Reform Club (Nov. 5, 2022, 11:50 PM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/11/an-awards-speech.html>; 

[1] Seth Barrett Tillman, What Oath (if any) did Jacob Henry take in 1809?: Deconstructing the Historical Myths, 61 American Journal of Legal History 349 (Dec. 2021) (peer review), <https://tinyurl.com/3etu53m3>, <https://ssrn.com/abstract=3790115>; Seth Barrett Tillman, A Religious Test in America?: The 1809 Motion to Vacate Jacob Henry’s North Carolina State Legislative Seat—A Re-Evaluation of the Primary Sources, 98 North Carolina Historical Review 1 (Jan. 2021) (peer review), <https://ssrn.com/abstract=3498217>.

[2] Pronounced: Ish mish-a leh may-os. It is an Irish phrase meaning “It is I, with respect.” 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

“Educating” the Irish Football Athletes

We now all know that the Republic of Ireland’s women’s team players were filmed chanting (what is widely understood as) an IRA song. Before, during, and even after the Football Association of Ireland issued its apology on behalf of those players, the great and the good were heard saying the problem was “education.” In other words, these young adults were too young to remember what the IRA had done, and to whom, and Irish schools and wider society had failed to teach them. The great and the good were correct—but not in the way they meant.

The problem is not an absence of teaching. The problem is what their betters choose to teach.

Every year the European Parliament determines the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Who was Andrei Sakharov? Andrei Sakharov devoted the major part of his professional life towards developing advanced atomic weapons for the former Soviet Union. He did this work under Stalin and under his successors. Sakharov’s work made it more difficult for the United States and the world’s other democracies to press for human rights reforms in the Soviet Union and the countries within its orbit—just as his work made it easier for the Soviet Union to threaten its neighbours and the other countries of the world. The nuclear weapons in Russia today which threaten Ukraine and all of Europe—who do you think made those weapons? When Andrei Sakharov has a European Union prize named after him—then lessons will be learned.

Nearer to home, Ireland issued a Che Guevara stamp on the 50th anniversary of that terrorist’s death. Similarly, President Higgins eulogized Fidel Castro—a dictator so brutal that hundreds of thousands sought escape in rickety boats on the Atlantic. When Guevara and Castro are honoured and eulogized—then lessons will be learned.

The problem is not that the system failed to teach these young people; the problem is what they were taught—in school and out of it. The problem is not that they failed to learn what was taught, but that they learned it all too well. If a society’s senior elected officials and other elites teach that Sakharov, Guevara, and Castro deserve admiration, and those elites teach this lesson repeatedly, in public, and in planned events, then why object when young athletes, in a one-off, private, and impromptu event, do much the same? The athletes were just doing what they were taught to do—at every step of the way.

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘“Educating” the Irish Football Athletes,’ New Reform Club (Oct. 16, 2022, 9:25 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/10/educating-irish-football-athletes.html>; 

Twitter: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1581648620389965826>; 


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Sunday, October 09, 2022

A Simple Plan for Ending the War in Ukraine


Russians opposed to Putin have no place to go. Opposing Putin during a hot war makes members of the Russian opposition adverse to their troops in the field and, therefore, it exposes them to charges of disloyalty, if not worse.

Likewise, Putin has no place to go. If he loses the war and fails to take and hold Ukrainian territory, he will lose power. And those who take power out of his hands might not intend or want a peaceful transfer of power. In these circumstances, Putin has little to lose and everything to gain by extending the war, risking escalation, and, indeed, using tactical nuclear weapons. Such an escalation might cause his own death, as it may cause millions of other deaths. But Putin may not be like you and me. He may draw comfort from pulling down everyone else’s home if his own political future is in the process of being destroyed.

            What is to be done?

Give Putin, his Russian opposition, and Ukraine a desirable place to go. What place is that? It is a place everyone in Russia and Ukraine, from oligarch to worker on the factory floor, wishes to gain access. That place is: the European Union. Indeed, overtures by the EU and NATO suggesting membership for Ukraine (and only Ukraine) were some of the ill-advised decisions that led us to today’s terrible status quo. Those overtures might have been the wrong thing for the West to have done, but might not modifying those decisions be today’s path to peace? Let the European Union offer Russia AND Ukraine a deal—that is, total withdrawal of all troops to borders as they stood prior to Russia’s February 2022 invasion, and if done within 30 days, then both Russia and Ukraine would be granted immediate EU membership.

            If the offer is accepted and then put into effect, then the hot war is over. That is a good result. Putin will find it easier to end the war if he has something in-hand that his people will value. And I suggest the average Russian, as well as every Russian oligarch, would value EU citizenship, travel rights, and the right to work across the EU; indeed, they would value those intangible legal rights much more than they would value Russian troops’ holding Ukrainian territory and its sunflower oil supply.

            If the offer is rejected, then Putin and his political allies will hold even less popular support because the Russian voter will know that Putin’s incompetence (in war) and his intransigence (in making peace) cost them EU citizenship with all that it entails. Making Putin less popular, in this fashion, is also a good result.

            For Ukraine, there is no downside. If the plan succeeds: the war ends, and Ukraine gets EU membership. Ukraine would be mad to reject the offer, and they could continue to make overtures in international fora for the return of Crimea and their eastern territories. If Putin rejects the offer, but Ukraine accepts it, then Ukraine will lose nothing consequential, and it will enjoy much additional good will from the international community.

            The downside (such as it is) of the EU’s making this offer is that it will be accepted, and then the EU Parliament (and other EU institutions) will have to accommodate Russian and Ukrainian nationalists. That will be tricky, especially as it will undoubtedly come with money laundering, fraud, and subversive intelligence activities. But we, in the West, are not without defences against such wrongdoing. And such wrongdoing, which is surely regrettable, is much more manageable, then a hot war risking escalation, along with the outflow of millions more migrants’ escaping conflict and military conscription.

            It may be the EU and its member states have the means to end this war. Let us encourage them all to risk making peace.

Seth Barrett Tillman, Associate Professor
Maynooth University School of Law and Criminology
Scoil an Dlí agus na Coireolaíochta Ollscoil Mhá Nuad
(academic title & affiliation for identification purposes only)

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘A Simple Plan for Ending the War in Ukraine,’ New Reform Club (Oct. 9, 2022, 10:03 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/10/a-simple-plan-for-ending-war-in-ukraine.html>; 

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘To End Putin’s War, Offer Both Ukraine and Russia EU Membership,’ Newsweek (Oct. 25, 2022, 4:32 PM EDT), <https://www.newsweek.com/end-putins-war-offer-both-ukraine-russia-eu-membership-opinion-1754644>, <https://ssrn.com/abstract=4258072>;

Twitter: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1579110594648891399>;

Friday, October 07, 2022

A Letter to The Irish Times on Nuclear Power for Ireland



Seth Barrett Tillman, Associate Professor

Maynooth University School of Law and Criminology

Scoil an Dlí agus na Coireolaíochta Ollscoil Mhá Nuad

(academic title & affiliation for identification purposes only)


7 October 2022


The Irish Times

Letters to the Editor



RE: William Reville, ‘We need to take the nuclear option’ The Irish Times (Dublin, 6 October 2022) 8, <https://www.irishtimes.com/science/2022/10/06/ireland-needs-to-bite-the-bullet-on-nuclear-energy/>


I do not doubt that today’s small modular nuclear reactors are safer than their historical large-scale predecessors. But “safer” here means with regard to accident and acts of God. The unspoken risks posed by nuclear power do not relate to accident; rather, the substantial risks posed by nuclear power relate to intentional wrongdoing in connection with crime, blackmail, terrorism, and war. Adopting nuclear power is just a way of saying you wish to lose the next war—just look at the threat posed to Europe by Russian occupation of Chernobyl and other Ukrainian nuclear facilities.


Today, Ireland is at peace: Ireland has no enemies which presently or in the near future threaten an invasion of its landmass. If you believe that this will last forever and that history is at an end, then just maybe nuclear power is a reasonable option. But if history is not over, then nuclear power puts both safety and hard-won national independence at risk.


Is mise, le meas,


Seth Barrett Tillman

Seth Barrett Tillman, Letter to the Editor, ‘Nuclear power and war: National independence at risk,’ The Irish Times (Oct. 10, 2022, 2:45 AM), <https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/2022/10/10/nuclear-power-and-war/>; 

Seth Barrett Tillman, A Letter to The Irish Times on Nuclear Power for Ireland,New Reform Club (Oct. 7, 2022, 6:44 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/10/a-letter-to-irish-times-on-nuclear.html>; 

Twitter: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1578342109764980736>; 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Abortion Debate, Litigation, and Strategy: The Case of Stanford Law Review

Here is a citation to an article, recently published, in Stanford Law Review Online:

David S. Cohen et al., Rethinking Strategy After Dobbs, 75 Stan. L. Rev. Online 1 (Aug. 2022), <https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/rethinking-strategy-after-dobbs/>.

This article was not titled: Rethinking Pro-Choice Strategy After Dobbs, nor Rethinking Pro-Abortion Strategy After Dobbs, nor Rethinking Pro-Roe v. Wade Strategy After Dobbs. Is it because only one side has a or thinks about strategy?

I suppose the student editors know who their audience is.

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘Abortion Debate, Litigation, and Strategy: The Case of Stanford Law Review,’ New Reform Club (Sept. 13, 2022, 3:37 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/09/abortion-debate-litigation-and-strategy.html>; 

Twitter: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1569591966043602944>;

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Was that Tweet Defamatory?: Before and After (UPDATED)



Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘Was that Tweet Defamatory?: Before and After (UPDATED),’ New Reform Club (Aug. 28, 2022, 5:54 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/08/social-media-used-as-tool-to-target.html>; 

Tweet: <https://twitter.com/SethBTillman/status/1563071702988337152>;