May 08, 2010
Imagine a candidate for the U.S. Senate who has never taken a public stand on almost any policy issue. Imagine that her campaign consists of asking people for their support because, according to friends and colleagues, the candidate is smart, fair, and good to others. When her friends are asked what her views are on various political matters, they reply that they don't know—but that they're confident she'd make an excellent senator. This bizarre hypothetical closely resembles the actual campaign to put Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court.
April 28, 2010
For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.
April 27, 2010
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog.
Living Without Stevens
April 21, 2010
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog. A version of this piece was originally posted there on April 18, 2010. Supreme Court retirements inevitably produce much more coverage of process than substance. The press is dominated by political rather than legal reporters. Politics is also more familiar and therefore more accessible to the public than are court decisions. The irony is that this attention to process is not very meaningful—at least at this stage, when there is no nominee.
The Next Justice
April 09, 2010
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog. A version of this piece was originally posted there on February 23, 2010. When Justice Stevens retires, what happens then? There will be a pretty efficient process. The White House will receive significant pressure from both the right and left, all of which it will basically ignore. Conservatives will want to use the Court as a rallying point for their base for the 2010 midterm elections and beyond.
Is All CO2 Created Equal? Maybe Not.
March 16, 2010
Does it matter where carbon-dioxide is emitted? From a climate perspective, at least, the standard answer has always been, "Not really." Carbon-dioxide mixes pretty evenly and uniformly throughout the atmosphere, so that the heat-trapping gases coming out of a factory in China have the same effect on global temperatures, pound for pound, as the greenhouse gases emitted by, say, cars in Delaware.
Toward a New Alexandria
March 12, 2010
Imagine a new Library of Alexandria. Imagine an archive that contains all the natural and social sciences of the West—our source-critical, referenced, peer-reviewed data—as well as the cultural and literary heritage of the world's civilizations, and many of the world’s most significant archives and specialist collections. Imagine that this library is electronic and in the public domain: sustainable, stable, linked, and searchable through universal semantic catalogue standards.
From the Chait Vault: Race to the Bottom
January 25, 2010
Another Chait classic is this 1999 gem, written just about a year before the public--er, the Supreme Court--delivered us President George W. Bush. Turns out Sarah Palin wasn't the first one to epically fail a journalist's "pop-quiz." After Bush was unable to name various heads of state in an interview, Jon argues why in the 2000 election, it was smart to be dumb: It would seem, on the face of it, that the only thing standing between George W. Bush and the presidency is a persistent reservation about his intellect.
Reid's Three Little Words: The Log In Our Own Eye
January 09, 2010
To rake Harry Reid over the coals about his “no Negro dialect” comment will bring to mind the Biblical passage about trying to take a speck out of someone’s eye when you’ve got a log in your own. Pretty much all of America black and white feels exactly the way Harry Reid does about the way black people talk – and aren’t even worried about saying it out loud. First of all, we need not pretend that by “Negro dialect” Reid meant the cartoon minstrel talk of Amos n Andy.
Is $500 Billion In Foreign Aid Possible? (Maybe...)
December 14, 2009
This week, National Journal is hosting a useful series of Copenhagen-related roundtable debates that are worth checking out. In this one, Rep. Ed Markey asks how wealthier countries should help poorer ones tackle global warming. It's a timely question, since this is perhaps the biggest quagmire in the climate talks right now. A recent U.N. report estimated that developing countries would need $500 billion to $600 billion per year to get on a path of low-carbon growth, as well as to adapt to a hotter world.