Board of Education

Dear Supreme Court Justices, Last week, you agreed to hear two landmark cases about gay marriage. In the broader of the two cases, which comes out of California, you could establish same-sex marriage nationwide as a matter of constitutional right. This is a ruling that most gay Americans would celebrate as a historic victory for civil rights. But I want to suggest that you make history, and advance the cause of gay equality, in a different way: by butting out. I bow to no one in my support for marriage equality.

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President Obama caused quite a stir last week with a pair of comments he made about the Supreme Court. Some critics said he was citing constitutional law incorrectly. Others said he was trying to intimidate the justices. Some said he was doing both things. The intimidation charge was just silly. Obama told reporters he was “confident” the Supreme Court would uphold the Affordable Care Act. That’s the sort of thing politicians say all the time.

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Living OriginalismBy Jack M. Balkin(Belknap Press, 474 pp., $35) On the morning of July 14, 1967, Thurgood Marshall began his second day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings by preparing to confront questions posed by Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr. of North Carolina. This prospect seems unlikely to have been a pleasant one. After thirteen years in Washington, Ervin’s foremost achievement remained his role in drafting the document that had formally been styled a Declaration of Constitutional Principles, but that almost instantly became known as the Southern Manifesto.

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Supreme Anxiety

In late 2010, before the midterm elections, a few thousand people across the United States went online to learn some surprising news. The Supreme Court, they were informed, had recently issued a decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to gay marriage.

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In April 2000, a Vermont musician named Diana Levine went to the hospital with a migraine. There, a nurse incorrectly injected Phenergan, an anti-nausea drug, into her vein rather than her muscle. This led to gangrene and, eventually, the amputation of much of her right arm. Levine sued and won more than $6 million from a Vermont jury, which concluded that Wyeth, the drug company, had failed to warn her properly about the risks of the drug.

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While observing recess outside the Kallahti Comprehensive School on the eastern edge of Helsinki on a chilly day in April 2009, I asked Principal Timo Heikkinen if students go out when it’s very cold. Heikkinen said they do. I then asked Heikkinen if they go out when it’s very, very cold.

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When members of the House read aloud the Constitution at the start of the legislative session last week, the event was widely regarded as a political stunt. Commentators mocked the House GOP for squabbling over the procedure for reading the text and for skipping passages that had been superseded by amendment—although it’s not clear what’s wrong with skipping provisions that are no longer in effect.

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Rick Perry should be riding high. Chasing his third full term as governor of Texas, Perry is a blood-red conservative running in a blood-red state in a blood-red cycle. In April of last year, he cheered a bill in the statehouse aimed at reasserting Texas’s sovereign rights against an “oppressive” federal government. A few days later, he began publicly musing about how, in its struggle against tyranny, Texas might find it necessary to secede.

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Washington—It should become the philosophical shot heard 'round the country.

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“Very well-written … but dead screaming wrong,” my critic wrote in an email that a friend forwarded to me. “Judis has managed to write about the Tea Party movement without referring to its profound racism.” This sums up the chief complaint that I received about the article I wrote on the Tea Party movement. It is also a common interpretation of the Tea Parties, especially on the political left.

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