Louis Brandeis

Unlike in the 1930s and 1960s, Obama couldn't rely on surging liberal movements to help him advance his goals.

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You shouldn't read too much into John Roberts's recent display of jurisprudence.

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Some commentators have attributed the FCC’s decision last week to block the $39 billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile to the spread of anti-corporate sentiment in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests. “Imagine if the government didn’t take sides” lamented the conservative blog Red State. “Because AT&T really is getting an unfair deal.

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The Supreme Court has included good writers and bad writers during the past two centuries, but the literarily challenged justices have always had a comfortable majority. In the Court’s early days, one of its clumsiest writers was Samuel Chase, who, in addition to being impeached for excessive partisanship, had a weakness for random italics.

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With all the excellent commentary about what the criminal tactics of employees of the Murdoch media empire reveal about tabloid journalism and its cozy relationship with politicians and police, there has been a notable silence concerning the more fundamental question of what can rightly be called the tabloidization of our world.

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Amend Corner

On January 22, the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, I attended a summit called We the Corporations v. We the People, sponsored by the Coffee Party, a network of liberals, leftists and progressives. The summit was designed to rally support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United by declaring that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional protections of natural persons.

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Americans tend to be fascinated by what’s new and to be indifferent to the past, except when they can use “tradition” to reinforce current prejudices and power arrangements. This has had an unfortunate effect on how we govern ourselves. We forget important lessons, and repeat old mistakes. A century ago, on March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, most of them Jewish and Italian immigrant girls in their teens and twenties, perished after a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

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Judicial nominations have mainly served as proxy battles for cultural rifts. E.J.

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Washington—This week’s hearings over Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court will mark a sea change in the way liberals argue about the judiciary.  Democratic senators are planning to put the right of citizens to challenge corporate power at the center of their critique of activist conservative judging, offering a case that has not been fully aired since the days of the great Progressive Era Justice Louis Brandeis. It was Brandeis who warned against the “concentration of economic power” and observed that “so-called private corporations are sometimes able to dominate the state.” None of

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Confirmed Liberal

Soon after this magazine was founded, the editors joined with relish a fight over President Woodrow Wilson’s nomination of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. Defending Brandeis against his Boston enemies—the financial oligarchs whom he had attacked in his book Other People’s Money—we championed his vision of liberal judicial restraint: namely, the view that courts should defer to progressive laws and regulations enacted by the states, Congress, and federal agencies.

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