May 01, 2009

The Court, Or The People?
12:00 AM

Jonathan Adler over at the Volokh Conspiracy makes two great points about Justice Souter's retirement.  First, as he notes, it's simply a mistake to say that Souter's departure won't have much impact on the voting lineup on the Supreme Court.  That may be true on most high-profile political issues the Court addresses, but in cases dealing with more mundane matters--that is, the majority of the Court's docket--the fault lines are more fluid and Souter's departure could make a real difference, notably in the realms of criminal procedure and punitive-damage awards.  This is especially true given

Did Eric Holder Just Save Journalism?

The Obama DoJ's decision to drop espionage-lite charges leveled by the Bush administration against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman--two former AIPAC officials who were accused of spreading state secrets--is drawing applause from Yglesias, Spencer, and bloggers at the CJR and Washington Monthly.

Is Rahm Micromanaging Treasury?
12:00 AM

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this piece in the Journal today, but it's definitely interesting: On Jan. 20, Timothy Geithner took control of the Treasury Department, directing the government's response to the financial crisis. Within three weeks, the White House tightened its grip, alarmed by the poor reaction to Mr. Geithner's performance during the rollout of his rescue plan, government officials say.

More Trouble For Chris Dodd?
12:00 AM

Just wanted to post a quick addendum to my piece today about the battle between big commercial banks and investors over the mortgage measure pending in the Senate. One of the provisions I focused on would give banks legal protection from investors when they modify loans. The banks argue that investors could sue over a modification a bank performed on their behalf.

Hillary's 100 Days
12:00 AM

The NYT has an interesting take. The bottom line is that she has been a remarkably good solider for her former arch-rival. Some of the piece echoed themes that I wrote about a couple of months ago, including the challenge to Hillary's managerial abilities and her role at a State Department stocked with high-profile envoys. But this bit jumped out at me: There are other vestiges of Mrs.

Towards A Theory Of David Souter

David Souter is one of the most private Supreme Court Justices, but this 1993 TNR article by Jeffrey Rosen did a fascinating job of illuminating Souter's inner life: "Have you read Proust?" Justice Souter asked near the beginning of my interview for a clerkship last March. We were talking about Henry Adams, the subject of my college thesis, and so the question was unexpected. I hadn't gotten very far, I confessed; but Justice Souter was sympathetic. "I failed, too, when I tried the first time.

After Souter: Will Obama Move The Court?
12:00 AM

Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. His is the founder of SCOTUSblog. Legal Washington's best-kept secret leaked this afternoon, and by 10pm Pete Williams and then Nina Totenberg had confirmed that Justice Souter intends to retire. Justice Souter obviously has a significant legacy at the Supreme Court. But it is important to pause and recognize he will go down in history as a gentleman and (rare these days) a scholar who (even more rare) sees no need to show that fact off.

April 30, 2009

What Fresh Hell Awaits?

The presidency isn’t supposed to be easy--but the sheer tonnage of catastrophe that has been heaped on Barack Obama in his first 100 days is astounding. As Michael Crowley put it, “Two wars, economic collapse, and now a possible global pandemic. When do the locusts arrive?” Never, hopefully. But that doesn’t mean that Obama’s second 100 days will be any easier. Below, five TNR staffers--some cheekily, some not--speculate on what fresh hell awaits Obama as spring stretches into summer.

Can't COPE

A theory of racial politics that shed light on last year's U.S. presidential election could perhaps have been used to better effect by a new opposition party in South Africa. The theory--promulgated by Shelby Steele, a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution--is that blacks who succeed in mainstream America are either race-stoking "challengers" or race-conciliatory "bargainers." While Steele's assessment was dead wrong stateside--it failed to adequately account for Obama's success--his framework was largely valid.

Who Should Obama Pick For The Court?
12:00 AM

The Plank dredged up a 2007 short list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president. One of the people on it is Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. He is still governor but has written such a dreary record in the office that I doubt even his friend, who happens to be the president of the United States, would risk sending his name to the senate. Not because it wouldn't pass muster on Capitol Hill.