Panic Street Lawyer: I Am There

Sunday, 08 September 2013 06:00 AM Written by  Jay Hornack

20130908 thrival150Organizers want yesterday’s Thrival Innovation + Music Festival in East Liberty to one day become the Pittsburgh equivalent to Austin’s South by Southwest. Station to Station makes one of its nine U.S. art train stops downtown tonight. Sandwiched in between is the Steelers’ home opener on the North Shore. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Smoky City anymore …

This September, like Septembers past, is full of “coming attractions” previews. This week the Post-Gazette had special sections on new fall movies and the 2013 National Football League season, and I anticipate features on new fall recorded music, the 2013 National Hockey League season, and the 2013 Carnegie International in the very near future.

Why is there no fall preview for law? Yes, I know that there will be a host of stories on cases to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court when its new term begins on the first Monday in October (October 7 in 2013). But most U.S. law is made elsewhere. So here is my look at 6 subjects – familiar to those who have read PSL since 2010 -- where autumn law may be made at levels below the High Court:

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Health care: Although legal challenges to the federal Affordable Care Act ended with the Supreme Court’s 2012 landmark ruling, the docket for the federal district court for the Western District of Pennsylvania continues to fill up with lawsuits brought by UPMC and Highmark against each other.

Voting rights: Even though Pennsylvania passed a strict voter ID law in 2012, it will not go into effect until a state court judge rules on legal challenges to it.

Same-sex marriage: Following the Supreme Court’s 2013 landmark ruling, separate lawsuits concerning current Pennsylvania law on the subject were filed in both the federal district court in Harrisburg and in state court.

Fracking: Even though Pennsylvania passed major changes to its oil and gas drilling law in 2012, it will not go into effect until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules on legal challenges to it.

Gambling: The federal appeals court in Philadelphia is considering New Jersey’s legal challenge to a federal ban on sports betting that affects it and 45 other states.

Athletes’ health: Although the Philadelphia federal district court lawsuit brought against the NFL by concussed retired players has settled, a new lawsuit regarding concussions was just filed elsewhere against the NCAA by former college football players.

I do not believe that I will be present in any of the courtrooms when decisions in the above cases may be issued. However, I do have plans to be at the following 6 live music concerts in the Pittsburgh area this fall:

20130908 savages480Jehnny Beth, lead singer of English rock band Savages, performs at a music festival in Portugal in June. Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

Savages (Sept. 11): An all-female post-punk quartet based in London. Their debut album this year includes a song called “I Am Here”

Stars (Sept. 27): An indie pop band from Toronto. Here is their provocative video for what I opine is one of the best songs on Triple-A radio today: link

Billy Bragg (Oct. 1): An English singer-songwriter-guitarist (and political activist). An earlier PSL title was a line from this 1988 song of his: link

Pearl Jam (Oct. 11): An all-American rock band that is a lock to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. In 1991, they recorded this classic track: link

Johnny Marr (Nov. 12): A guitarist from Manchester that released his first solo album this year. But he has been making music since the 1980s, when he started co-writing songs for The Smiths: link

Steve Winwood (Dec. 6): A multi-talented English musician who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 as a member of Traffic. He was also in 1969 “supergroup” Blind Faith.

Finally, here are 6 “local” sporting events worth attending (if financially able):

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All American Prospects Game at Consol Energy Center, USA Hockey (Sept. 26)

Minnesota v. Steelers at London, NFL (Sept. 29)

New Jersey at Penguins, NHL (Oct. 3)

Penn State at Ohio State, CFB (Oct. 26)

Notre Dame at Pitt, CFB (Nov. 9)

?? at Pirates, MLB (Oct. ??)

There were times in the last 20 years when I thought I would not be writing -- or breathing -- long enough to have that sixth entry as a viewing option.

The Panic Street Lawyer is a personal opinion column by attorney Jay Hornack. Contact him right here at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow Jay on Twitter: @panicstlawyer

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