Now that they control the Senate, some Democrats want to treat George W. Bush's judicial nominees as badly as Republicans treated Bill Clinton's. Senate Republicans repeatedly distorted the records of Clinton's nominees to the federal appellate courts, painting judicial moderates as judicial activists and denying them hearings. While Ronald Reagan and Clinton appointed similar numbers of appellate judges, 87 percent of Reagan's nominees were confirmed, compared with only 61 percent of Clinton's.
The debate over the Bush tax cut has been shrouded in a fog of cant and untruth. But every so often the fog clears, just for a moment. One such moment occurred in early March, when the Republican leadership in Congress held a rally in support of the president’s tax cut. As is often the case with such events, the rally organizers needed bodies as a backdrop, a visual cue indicating the support of the populace. And so they contacted Washington’s business lobbies, many of whom have pledged themselves to the tax cut effort. But the congressional leadership understood that a visual backdrop of Arma
In my criminal procedure class this year, we tried to decide whether a driver who has been pulled over by the police because of his race has suffered a constitutional injury. "The problem isn't being pulled over," said one African American student. "It's what happens after. You have to do this step-'n'-fetch-it routine, showing that you're subordinate to the officer, to make sure he won't arrest you. Even if the officer is black, it's incredibly degrading." The comment changed the way the class and I thought about the constitutionality of racial profiling.
Last week, the Supreme Court held that a Circuit City employee in California who claimed he had suffered race discrimination couldn't sue the electronics dealer under the state's antidiscrimination law. When he'd applied for the job, the employee had agreed to resolve employment disputes through arbitration. And last week the five conservative justices announced that the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 requires judges to enforce arbitration agreements even when they conflict with state law.
There are certain ideas so beyond the pale they cannot be publicly defended. You never see politicians arguing for child molestation or op-eds defending Hitler. But there is one particular idea so disdained, so monstrous, that it must be pulled out and flayed almost daily: conventional wisdom. Since 1980 the New York Times editorial page has published at least 38 columns condemning world hunger, 241 against South African apartheid, and 465 containing the phrase "conventional wisdom"--and never once did the Times mean it in a nice way. Like muckrakers railing against J.P. Morgan and John D.
Thank god for missile defense. For Washington foreign policy types who spent the last decade snoring through panels at the Brookings Institution, the salad days are here again. Just when it seemed no one cared about national security issues, back comes missile defense, and it's as if the Star Wars debates of the 1980s never ended. Nuclear strategists whom no one's listened to for ten years walk with a bounce in their step. Congressmen who couldn't find North Korea on a map lecture about the moral imperative of protecting America from Kim Jong Il's missile arsenal.
At the end of January, President Bush signed an executive order removing impediments to charitable choice, which allows religious as well as secular organizations to administer federal social service programs. In the mid-'90s, when an aide to then-Senator John Ashcroft first proposed charitable choice, its opponents claimed it was an unconstitutional merger of church and state. But today most of them, thankfully, have abandoned that argument.
When Claude Lanzmann was filming Shoah, he asked a Polish peasant whose fields abutted a death camp what he felt when he saw human ash from the crematoria chimneys raining down on his fields. The peasant replied: "When I cut my finger, I feel it. When you cut your finger, you feel it." The man's reply takes us to the heart of the problem of genocide. Why exactly is genocide a "crime against humanity"?
Sprawled along the Croatian border in northeastern Bosnia, the town of Brcko was a big prize in the bloody Balkan war. The site of three years of bitter fighting between Croats, Muslims, and Serbs, Brcko was so contentious that the framers of the 1995 Dayton peace accord left its fate unresolved. Instead, an independent arbitrator decreed in 1998 that the city would belong neither to Republika Srpska (the Serb-controlled half of the country) nor to the Muslim-Croat Federation. The town was declared a "district," with its own schools, police, and local government.
The public outcry against John Ashcroft's nomination to be attorney general has been remarkable not only for its ideological intensity but for its intellectual confusion. Whether they're women's groups on abortion, civil rights groups on race, or religious minorities on church-state separation, Ashcroft's opponents have largely been protesting the wrong thing. The former Missouri senator, they say, can't be trusted to enforce laws with which he disagrees--on abortion and civil rights, for example.