January 15, 2001
My introduction to the media's view of the academy came as something of a shock. Almost five years ago, James Wood, reporting for The New Republic on a Harvard graduate student conference I participated in, cited a particularly unfortunate remark of mine, regarding "the iconography of the Tampax," as evidence of all that had gone wrong with literary studies. His article, of course, was but one of many attacks on the academy as it struggled through the final twitches of postmodernism.
June 14, 1999
Apart from Austin Powers, there can be few British institutions as groovy right now as The Economist. Der Spiegel has hailed its "legendary influence." Vanity Fair has written that "the positions The Economist takes change the minds that matter." In Britain, the Sunday Telegraph has declared that "it is widely regarded as the smartest, most influential weekly magazine in the world." In America, it is regularly fawned on as a font of journalistic reason.
November 30, 1998
"It is either impeachment or nothing," Gary McDowell, the conservative legal scholar, told the House Judiciary Committee on November 9. "Thus, the current suggestion that Congress might censure the president is to assume a power not given by our Constitution." Many of the scholars who testified during the opening hearing of the House impeachment inquiry agreed with McDowell, but they were overstating the case against censure.
In Defense of Gender-Blindness
June 29, 1998
In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings edited by Catharine A. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin (Harvard, 496 pp., $24.95) Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism by Daphne Patai (Rowman & Littlefield, 288 pp., $22.95) I. In February, Yale Law School sponsored a conference to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Catharine MacKinnon's Sexual Harassment of Working Women.
May 18, 1998
In this 1998 piece, Dana Milbank profiles Kagan the intellectual.
My Wives Club
May 05, 1997
I’m pledging a sorority at Harvard this term. This would be unremarkable except that I am not a student and I am not a woman. My sorority is the Partners’ Club, a group of students’ spouses at Harvard Business School, where my wife is in her first year. “Partners” is actually a euphemism; the group was called the Wives Club for years, and it remains 98 percent female today, a measure of the school’s woeful recruitment of female students.
May 05, 1997
A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia (Princeton University Press, 159 pp., $19.95) Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution by Jack N. Rakove (Knopf, 420 pp., $35) We are all originalists now. That is to say, most judges and legal scholars who want to remain within the boundaries of respectable constitutional discourse agree that the original meaning of the Constitution and its amendments has some degree of pertinence to the question of what the Constitution means today.
December 09, 1996
After Richard Nixon's re-election in 1972, Democrats accused Arthur Burns, whom Nixon had appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1970, of rigging the election by overstimulating the economy. Burns, they charged, had produced a temporary reprieve from recession, but had also built up inflationary pressures that would burst forth later and produce an even sharper recession. In coming years, Republicans may make similar charges against Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's secretary of the Treasury.
The Bloods and the Crits
December 09, 1996
During the past decade, an academic movement called critical race theory has gained increasing currency in the legal academy. Rejecting the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1960s as epiphenomenal, critical race scholars argue that the dismantling of the apparatus of formal segregation failed to purge American society of its endemic racism, or to improve the social status of African Americans in discernible or lasting ways. The claim that these scholars make is not only political; it is also epistemological.
The Day the Quotas Died
April 26, 1996
Great Supreme Court decisions, for all their theatricality, are notoriously weak engines of social change. The commands of Brown v. Board of Education weren't implemented until decades later; Roe v. Wade confirmed a trend toward the liberalization of abortion laws that had been percolating in the states. But, a year after it was handed down, Adarand v. Pena is proving to be a startling exception. Like a boulder thrown into a placid pond, Adarand has been sending ripples through the lower courts in ways that are already transforming affirmative action as we know it.