In a recent TNR article about the Citizens United decision, “Roberts versus Roberts,” I argued that the chief justice has so far failed to achieve his goal of promoting narrow, unanimous decisions rather than ideologically polarizing ones. After the piece came out, Ed Whelan claimed that Roberts had never promised to try to lead the Court in such a fashion.
Last month, the Supreme Court handed down its most polarizing decision since Bush v. Gore. The 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission called into question decades of federal campaign finance law and Supreme Court precedents by finding that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend as much money as they want on election campaigns, as long as they don’t consult the candidates.
Last summer, I watched a fellow passenger at Washington’s Reagan National Airport as he was selected to go through a newly installed full-body scanner. These machines--there are now 40 of them spread across 19 U.S. airports--permit officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to peer through a passenger’s clothing in search of explosives and weapons. On the instructions of a security officer, the passenger stepped into the machine and held his arms out in a position of surrender, as invisible millimeter waves surrounded his body.
One of the most dramatic moments in President Obama's State of the Union was his attack on the Supreme Court with the justices arrayed in front of him. "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections," Obama declared.
Is it worth sacrificing health care reform for ideological purity on abortion? That’s the question Democrats are facing after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to avoid derailing health care legislation, reluctantly accepted an amendment offered by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak that prohibits people who receive any federal health care subsidies from buying insurance plans that cover abortion.
Lawrence Lessig argues convincingly that there are dangers in systematically favoring transparency over privacy: A thoughtful democracy should strike a balance between both values, which sometimes compete and sometimes reinforce each other. I found less cause for optimism, however, in Lessig’s proposals for combating the dangers he associates with naked transparency. Lessig suggests that the solution to the problem of wrongly assuming that all politicians are corrupted by campaign contributions is to pass a generous public funding bill.
Network neutrality--that’s now the official policy of the Obama administration, announced last month by the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Julius Genachowski. It’s a development that could be more significant to the future of free speech than any milestone since the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. The essence of net neutrality seems simple: Internet service providers should be required to treat all data equally and avoid blocking or delaying any sites or applications.
After calling an extraordinary special session, the Roberts Court is now debating whether to reverse decades of cases that allow the government to restrict the campaign spending of corporations. Defending the regulation of corporate speech, Elena Kagan, in her first argument on behalf of the Obama administration, made a strategic concession.
A tip from an informant led Detective Amando Rodriguez and Sergeant Diane Contreras to the stash house--actually a New York City apartment--which they had good reason to think contained a substantial haul of drugs. The suspicion was confirmed when they busted a man leaving the building with a kilo of cocaine in a black bag. The officers entered the building to stake out the apartment. That's when the carryout delivery woman arrived with an order for the stash house. Worried that she might inadvertently draw attention to their presence, the cops made a hasty decision to enlist her help.
I respect the work Randy Moss did at the Clinton Office of Legal Council and my piece did not compare Moss to John Yoo. Instead, I compared him to Robert Jackson, the revered FDR legal advisor whose opinion justifying the destroyers-for-bases deal stretched the limits of existing law. There is nothing untoward about this comparison.