Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

One single quill hangs on the wall of my home office. It’s the badge you collect from counsel table at the Supreme Court of the United States. A bright, white feather intended to evoke the magnanimity of the high court. A trinket to inspire the awe and respect due the institution. A few cells plucked from the head of a great, dying bird, now hobbling into the woods, pretending it isn’t wounded, trying to keep up appearances and fend off scavengers all at once. The quill is sharpened to a point, but it’s too fragile to convey the written word…


Brad King before he was killed by part-time sheriff’s deputies

Now that it’s been two months since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, I can confidently say she is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Sure, she was nominated by the vilest figure in the last century of American politics. Sure, McConnell rammed her nomination through the Senate while millions of Americans were dying, getting evicted, and trying to figure out where their next meal was coming from. And sure, Barrett is an ideologue who will undoubtedly be toxic to women, unions, the LGBT community, immigrants, and any other vulnerable population you can think of. Those curiosities render her…


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I asked the people of Facebook to give me examples of outlandish medical bills they’ve received. Beware: this is not the kind of question you should ask if you’ve got high blood pressure, or you’ll end up in the hospital yourself. Among the worst charges were:

  • An angiogram: $157,000.00.
  • A single blood transfusion for MS, of which several per year are required: $98,000.00.
  • A three-day hospital stay: $80,000.00.
  • A helicopter ride to a hospital for a child having a seizure: $50,000.00.
  • Giving birth to a child (1.5 day stay, no NICU): $25,000.00.
  • Giving birth to a child (via C-section with…


Photo by the author. You can use it if you want.

My friend Damon (not his real name) has been a prosecutor in a major metropolitan area in the Midwest for more than six years. He’s earnest and conscientious, just like you’d hope a prosecutor would be. He went to a middle-tier law school, comes from a middle-class background, and is the only lawyer in his family. He’s also drowning in student loan debt. In fact, he owes about $60,000 more now than when he started his career.

Damon’s story is one of thousands like it. The common refrains are: “No matter how much I pay, my balance never changes.” “I…


A white supremacist mob lays waste to Wilmington, NC (image from North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

No one told me about Tulsa until I was in my 30s. I suspect I’m not the only one. Most Gen-Xers and older millennials, even those of us who went to college, didn’t have the story of how “Black Wall Street” was razed to the ground by white supremacists in our curricula. I had an advanced degree and a civil rights law practice before I heard about it for the first time.

Now, on its 100th anniversary, the Tulsa Massacre is finally part of our popular national narrative — for now, anyway. That is to say: White folks who happen…


Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

In an all-but-forgotten story from 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — widely considered the most liberal federal court in America— let cops off the hook for stealing $225,000.00 from two business owners. This wasn’t a criminal case, of course. The idea that cops would face prosecution for stealing cash is practically unheard of. Rather, the court absolved them of all civil liability, meaning they didn’t have to pay the money back. The case was dismissed, never to be heard by a jury, and the officers never faced any meaningful consequences.

Qualified immunity, a judge-made hobgoblin long despised by…


Photo by Janine Joles on Unsplash

I don’t know shit about the Israel-Palestine conflict. I’m just a hilljack who didn’t even finish high school. Like most hilljacks, I don’t have a degree in Middle Eastern studies. and despite being a fairly well-traveled hilljack, I’ve never visited that part of the world. Best I can tell, it’s really, really bad over there. Just like nearly every other conflict in the history of humanity, there are lots of innocent people who are getting fucked over to satiate the egos of a few not-so-innocent-but-powerful people.

But look, I know it’s more complicated than that. A few years ago, I…


Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Editor’s note: Attorney General Garland announced this week that the Department of Justice is investigating the Louisville Metro Police Department. For anyone who’s been paying attention these last few decades, this announcement should come as no surprise. I have written elsewhere about the festering, enduring problem of corruption at LMPD: the blatant race discrimination, the sexual abuse of children, the unnecessary SWAT raids, the non-investigation of credible rape allegations, and of course, the murders perpetrated by cops who know they can get away with it. This situation has a few different enablers. The courts have told police for years that…


Panel from JUGGERNAUT #1 (2020) by Fabian Nicieza, art by Ron Milla & Ron Garney

I’ve read comic books for as long as I can remember. I like the ready ability to escape into a world where the good guys usually win, or at least where costumed characters are smashing stuff.

But my interest is rooted in more than just escapism; volumes of honest-to-god scholarship have been written about comics (or “graphic novels” if you want to sound all hoity-toity). Comic book storylines reflect changes in culture over time, and you can learn a lot about the character traits a society prizes by who its preferred superheroes are. It’s like the original Nite Owl says


EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview with law professor and labor expert Ariana Levinson originally appeared on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO website. It is reprinted here with the permission of the site and Professor Levinson.

‘The Hand That Will Rule the World’ by Ralph Chaplin, Solidarity, June 30, 1917

How can a union co-op benefit union workers?

Worker co-ops increase job security, longevity of employment, and job satisfaction and provide an opportunity to accumulate wealth, in addition to income. Unionized owners will benefit in all these ways.

A union worker co-op can be a way to save a company that is closing because owners are retiring or to avoid a buy-out by an out-of-town private equity…

Dan Canon

Civil rights lawyer, law professor, and high school dropout. Writes about the Midwest, class struggle, and the untold horrors of the justice system.

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