September 11, 2001, was the day before classes were to start at Harvard College during my first year as Harvard president. I first heard of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center as I left a routine breakfast at the Faculty Club. Neither I nor anyone around me had full confidence about how to respond to such an event, one without precedent in our life experience.
The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution By Barry Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 614 pp., $35) In 1952, as the Supreme Court contemplated the set of cases that would eventually become known as Brown v. Board of Education, a law clerk named William H.
I think Calvin Trillin--or at least his bar-room companion--is really on to something here: “The financial system nearly collapsed,” he said, “because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.” ... I reflected on my own college class, of roughly the same era. The top student had been appointed a federal appeals court judge — earning, by Wall Street standards, tip money. A lot of the people with similarly impressive academic records became professors.
Moments after President Bush announced the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, liberal interest groups were attacking Roberts as a conservative ideologue. "In reality John Roberts may be a hard-nosed extremist with a soft conservative facade," wrote the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
On September 7 Deval Patrick, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, filed a brief in a New Jersey case arguing that it is legal to fire a white teacher over a black teacher purely because of her race. And on August 19 a federal district judge in Austin, Texas, held that aspects of the affirmative action program at the University of Texas law school are unconstitutional. One or both of the cases may reach the Supreme Court before long. Each on its own could revive the debate about racial preferences and ventilate their more troubling assumptions.