Eight years ago, officials at Orlando International Airport first began testing the millimeter-wave body scanners that are currently at the center of a national uproar. The designers of the scanners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory offered U.S. officials a choice: naked machines or blob machines? The same researchers had developed both technologies, and both were equally effective at identifying contraband.
Please join Jeffrey Rosen for a live conversation about Al Franken and the Democratic Senate "after the shellacking," at 3p.m. EST, on Friday, November 19. In July 2009, after a cliff-hanger of an election and an ugly court battle over the results, Al Franken finally arrived in the United States Senate. Eager to lay the groundwork for legislative accomplishments, the author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot looked for common ground with his new GOP colleagues. In the case of Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, that common ground was music.
In the era of Facebook and YouTube, it’s often said that privacy is dead. The recent suicide of Tyler Clementi seemed only to reinforce this conclusion. Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers student, killed himself after his roommate secretly webcast his dorm-room intimacies and publicized the livestream on Twitter. (“I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude.
Far from turning into a “vapid and hollow charade,” to use Elena Kagan’s now-famous condemnation of other Supreme Court confirmation hearings, her own have been impressively substantive.
Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.
In a 1998 profile of Elena Kagan in the New Republic, Dana Milbank described Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of domestic policy as “wonderwonk,” an “all purpose brain” in the White House and a “nerd who could talk tough.” In addition to acting as a walking encyclopedia for Bill Clinton on constitutional and legal issues, Kagan convinced John McCain and other Senate Republicans to accept the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate tobacco—even though she herself was a former smoker who then indulged in the occasional cigar.
As soon as Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would leave the Supreme Court, President Obama and progressive groups said the next justice should be an economic populist.
I. Moments after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court, Republican senators warned President Barack Obama not to appoint a judicial activist to replace him. Senator Orrin Hatch promised Obama “a whale of a fight if he appoints an activist to the court” and Senator Mitch McConnell warned that “Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an evenhanded reading of the law." But Hatch and McConnell’s definition of “judicial activism” is topsy-turvy.
Barack Obama is gunning for a confrontation with the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Roberts has signaled that he welcomes the fight. Last week, the chief justice described the president’s State of the Union condemnation of the Citizens United decision as “very troubling” and complained that the speech had “degenerated to a political pep rally.” Roberts was making an argument about etiquette--dissent was fine, he said, but Obama had somehow transgressed the boundaries of civilized discourse by delivering his attack to a captive audience.