The Law of Hard Times: Essays

JFK and Burdick

In Plain English: What Are Our Politicians Doing to Help Family Farmers?

A few days ago, while researching early Nonpartisan League history, I fortuitously came across a speech by Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy delivered in Fargo, North Dakota on June 19, 1960 at North Dakota Senator Quentin Burdick’s birthday…
Ghost town

Ghost Farms and the Haunting of Main Street

Like many North Dakotans my age, I have vivid memories of the thriving rural North Dakota downtowns of my childhood. Bustling stores with picture window displays lined Main Street. There were usually two law firms in each town so as to be able…

Comments to the Members of the North Dakota Ethics Commission

Here are some close-to-final draft comments I will be sending to the North Dakota Ethics Commission on proposed rules. I think these rules are very poorly written and ill advised.  I’m sharing these draft comments on my “blog” because…
Sarah and Willie Nelson smiling outside tour bus

In Praise of Willie Nelson

In 1982, I met Mark Ritchie and he introduced me to Jim Massey, a legal services lawyer from Minnesota. At the time, I was representing family farmers in their appeals against the Farmers Home Administration, and I was getting frustrated by…
Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby

On Jay Gatsby, the Most Famous North Dakotan

Read Sarah's new Lit Hub essay: "On Jay Gatsby, the Most Famous North Dakotan" Sarah Vogel Traces the Humble Midwest Origins of an Iconic Character
photo of farmer Dwight Coleman smiling next to cattle

Meet Dwight Coleman, One of the North Dakota Nine

In the spring and summer of 1982, the national media began to hear of the farm crisis. Reporters and producers on the coasts went on a hunt for stories that illustrated the farmers’ plight. I was getting calls almost daily from the Washington…