By Cass Sunstein According to conventional wisdom, the Supreme Court is equally divided between a conservative wing and a liberal one, with Justice Anthony Kennedy acting as the swing voter. But there is something extremely strange about this view of the current situation. By the standards of the recent past, the liberal wing isn't liberal at all. According to conventional wisdom, the Court has long been evenly balanced between left and right, and it has finally shifted a bit to the right under Chief Justice John Roberts. But there is something strange about this view as well.
by Sanford Levinson A number of readers of my previous contribution to Open University have chastised me, some quite severely, for using the words "constitutional crisis" to describe the commutation by George W. Bush of I. Lewis ("Scotter") Libby. Part of me is tempted simply to plead guilty to engaging in a case of blogger's hyperbole and let it go at that.
In the aftermath of the thwarted attack on Glasgow airport, one man has emerged as the hero of the hour. Step forward baggage handler John Smeaton who, while enjoying a sly cigarete break, witnessed the attack and rallied to help the police take down the terrorists. You may well have seen him on CNN or Fox. A tribute website--www.johnsmeaton.com--has become a phenomenon, attracting more than 500,000 page views. More than 1,000 people have each pledged money to buy a pint for Mr. Smeaton at the Glasgow Airport Holiday Inn.
Sam Tanenhaus looks back at Whittaker Chambers, one of the founders of contemporary conservatism, who might not be so proud of George W. Bush; Benjamin Wittes says Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion in the Supreme Court's public school diversity plan case is one of the worst pieces of legal writing he has ever seen; Dennis Ross advises Tony Blair on what it will take to succeed as Middle East envoy; Suzanne Nossel argues that European foreign policy has become anti-Bush; and the Editors are excited by the prospect that the District of Columbia may finally get a vote in Congress.
Michael Kinsley recalls the time Ronald Reagan invited him to lunch (or did he?); Cass R. Sunstein says the Supreme Court's rulings this week belie a fundamental disagreement between the conservative justices; Eve Fairbanks listens to House Energy Committee Chairman John Dingell rant and rave about environmentalists; and James Kirchick braves protestors and a would-be pipe bomber at Jerusalem's gay rights parade. --Alexander M. Belenky
by Cass Sunstein In the midst of all the discussion of race-based pupil assignments and affirmative action, I've now received an Op-Ed from someone at the same institution as the person who sent me an Op-Ed on climate change. (Or was that a parody?) I print this one because it seems to me to capture some widespread views in the popular press and perhaps even to overlap, at least a little bit, with the Court's analysis yesterday. (Or is this a parody? What do you think?) "Reverse Discrimination" "They" call it affirmative action.
Just a while back, I commented in this space on an exhibition of Israeli photographs at the Jewish Museum in New York. I found its chosen subject matter so self-consciously focused on the Palestinians that it gave hardly a look at the Israel which lives an ordinary life beyond and aside from the conflict. Yes, Israelis are aware of the Palestinian predicament, and they are often rattled by Palestinian terror. Some Israelis also believe that great injustices have been done by their country to the Palestinians.
Apropos this story--about the Israeli government's decision to let a BBC employee who moonlights for Hamas to enter the Gaza strip and help negotiate the freedom of Alan Johnston--just what, exactly, is the BBC doing hiring people who belong to Hamas? Angering? Yes. Surprising? No. --James Kirchick
As Ezra Klein says, there's not too much that's shocking about the new Labor Department report finding that workers want more sick leave and paid vacation while businesses want, well, less. But this paragraph seemed ominous: Many businesses complained that the Labor Department's definition of a serious health condition enabling workers to take leave was unclear and too generous.
Martin Peretz argues that the disintegration of Gaza marks the end of Palestinian nationalism; Jonathan Chait says that Michael Bloomberg's attempt to transcend ideology is merely a pretense; Jason Zengerle begins a debate with Chait over whether Fred Thompson stands a chance in the presidential race; Benjamin Wittes identifies the Supreme Court's looming legitimacy crisis; and Mark Lilla calls Alexis de Tocqueville a prophet for our times. --Alexander M. Belenky