August 19, 2002
Until one day several years ago, I, like most people, harbored no ill feelings toward the state of Delaware. I suppose in some vague sense I thought of it as harmless and even endearing, the way you tend to regard other small things, such as Girl Scouts or squirrels. But all that changed the summer day I moved to Washington, when, making my way down I-95 in a rental truck with all of my worldly belongings, I screeched to a halt in front of what turned out to be a two-hour backup in Delaware.
February 25, 2002
Republicans generally think of themselves as apostles of tough love. Ask them about welfare mothers, juvenile delinquents, or failing schools, and they'll tell you that without high expectations and stern punishments, compassion usually does more harm than good. During his presidential campaign, George W. Bush vowed to usher in a "responsibility era." That ethos is particularly lacking, most Republicans believe, in government bureaucracies, which, sheltered from the discipline of the market, become insular, self-perpetuating bastions of mediocrity.
The Marble Cell
September 24, 2001
I. The Education of Laura Bridgman: The First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language by Ernest Freeberg (Harvard University Press, 264 pp., $27.95) The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the Original Deaf-Blind Girl by Elisabeth Gitter (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 341 pp., $26) Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann (Alfred A.
Jed Perl on Art: South by Southwest
September 24, 2001
Donald Judd had his share of staunch supporters. But you are likely to meet with skeptical responses if you announce that you are captivated by his magnum opus, a composition consisting of one hundred aluminum boxes that is the linchpin of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Chinati is where the sculptor made a permanent home for the frequently large-scale work that interested him and some of the contemporary artists whom he admired. It has an eccentric, off-the-beaten-track kind of grandeur that rubs some people the wrong way. The austere forms that Judd (who died in 1994) arranged in and
Power to Judge
January 29, 2001
The public outcry against John Ashcroft's nomination to be attorney general has been remarkable not only for its ideological intensity but for its intellectual confusion. Whether they're women's groups on abortion, civil rights groups on race, or religious minorities on church-state separation, Ashcroft's opponents have largely been protesting the wrong thing. The former Missouri senator, they say, can't be trusted to enforce laws with which he disagrees--on abortion and civil rights, for example.
The End of Deference
November 06, 2000
The Warren Court and American Politics by Lucas A. Powe, Jr. (Harvard University Press, 600 pp., $35) The presidential campaign this year, the discussions of the Supreme Court have followed a familiar script. The Republican candidate has promised to appoint "strict constructionist" judges who will interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench.
The Forgotten Formalist
December 05, 1994
Hugo Black: A Biography by Roger K. Newman (Pantheon, 741 pp., $30) On February 17, 1960, at New York University, Justice Hugo Black defended his judicial philosophy against the sneers of Felix Frankfurter and Learned Hand. "Some people regard the prohibitions of the Constitution ... as mere admonitions which Congress need not always observe," said Black in backhanded response to Hand's lectures at Harvard two years earlier. This approach, which "comes close to the English doctrine of legislative omnipotence," Black could not accept.
May 16, 1994
Last week's j.e.b. decision should have been the dramatic highlight of an otherwise dull Supreme Court term, especially for those who have been waiting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to find her voice. The outcome of the case, which forbids prosecutors from peremptorily excluding jurors on the basis of sex, was never really in doubt.
October 04, 1993
The trial of Cornelius Singleton, who was executed in Alabama last November for killing a nun in a cemetery by smothering her with rocks, was hardly a model of due process. After begging to be taken off the case, the court-appointed lawyer refused to meet with his client, failed to object when the prosecutor struck all blacks from the jury pool and neglected to tell the jury that Singleton was mentally retarded. He then forged Singleton's name on a petition for habeas corpus; he was later disbarred.
One Nation Under a Groove
July 15, 1991
I. My dream was to become Frank Sinatra. I loved his phrasing, especially when he was very young and pure….