The most-watched case of the Supreme Court's last term, which ended in June, invited the justices to hold unconstitutional a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The law required certain jurisdictions--largely in the Old South--to "pre-clear" any changes in their electoral systems with the Department of Justice. It was intended to prevent states with poor civil rights histories from changing their voting systems in ways that would keep blacks from voting.
Earlier this spring, Nawaz Sharif threatened to topple Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government. Since taking power in September, Zardari had been promising to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, whom Pervez Musharraf had sacked on March 9, 2007. But Zardari, who feared that Chaudhry would try to either curb executive power or dredge up corruption cases, balked repeatedly. This annoyed Sharif--and many of his fellow countrymen--to no end.
Chief Justice Roberts fumbled the oath of office, apparently rattled by the fact that President Obama jumped in to repeat his name before Roberts had completed the first clause. This reminds us of the importance of pre-inaugural consultation between the Chief Justice and President-elect. In February 1933, days before Franklin D.
In 2006, at the end of his first term on the Supreme Court, John Roberts told me and other journalists that his goal as chief justice would be to promote unanimity and collegiality by encouraging his fellow justices to converge around narrow decisions with few dissents. During his first term, Roberts succeeded impressively: More than half of the Court's opinions were unanimous, and only 13 percent were decided by a 5-4 vote. The polarized Supreme Court term that ended last June, however, looked very different.
Abdul Rashid Ghazi comes across a little like Jerry Garcia. He wears oval-shaped, wire-rimmed glasses, has a grey, fist-length beard, and sports curly hair that flips wildly around his ears and neckline. He even has the former Grateful Dead frontman's easy smile and chill demeanor. University educated, he talks in idiomatic English, and, during one recent conversation, we even swapped stories about hanging out on the beaches in Thailand. This is a bit surprising, considering that Ghazi and his brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, are leading an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.
Richard A. Posner is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for theSeventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of ChicagoLaw School. The Judge in a Democracy By Aharon Barak (Princeton University Press, 332 pp., $29.95) Aharon Barak, a long-serving justice (eventually the chief justice)of the Supreme Court of Israel, who recently reached mandatoryretirement age, is a prolific writer, and this is his most recentbook.