Supreme Court

The Contract with K Street
December 04, 1995

When 367 Republican House candidates signed the Contract with America on September 27, 1994, they pledged to create "a Congress that is doing what the American people want and doing it in a way that instills trust." As they stood on the steps of the Capitol, Texas Representative Dick Armey declared, "[W]e enter a new era in American government. Today one political party is listening to the concerns of the American people, and we are responding with specific legislation.

Disoriented
October 23, 1995

Two years ago in a Denver courtroom, when we last encountered the anti-gay rights case Evans v. Romer, Professors Martha Nussbaum of Brown and Robert George of Princeton were wrangling about the proper translation of tolmema, Plato's adjective for homosexuality. Nussbaum said "deed of daring"; George preferred "abomination." (See "Sodom and Demurrer," TNR, November 29, 1993.) In its journey up to the Supreme Court, however, the case has been transformed from one about the definition of homosexuality to one about constitutional limitations on plebiscitary democracy.

Grover
October 09, 1995

President Kennedy, we're reminded by his biographers, understood the need for politicians to maintain their public dignity at all costs. When Hugh Sidey of Time playfully reported that Kennedy had posed with his family for the cover of Gentleman's Quarterly, "modelling a trimly tailored dark gray suit," Kennedy became apoplectic at the thought that he might be considered frivolous or effeminate for appearing in a flashy men's fashion magazine. " Anybody who read this would think I was crazy," he raged at Sidey, according to Richard Reeves.

The Color-Blind Court
July 31, 1995

The conservative justices are privately exuberant about the remarkable Supreme Court term that ended last week. Surprised and slightly dazed by the magnitude of their victory, they think they have finally exorcized the ghost of the Warren Court, fulfilled the goals of the conservative judicial revolution and vindicated the ideal of a color-blind Constitution for the first time since Reconstruction.

Terminated
June 12, 1995

The Supreme Court struck down congressional term limits this week; and the surprising part of the 5-4 decision was not the wooden majority opinion by John Paul Stevens but the elastic dissent by Clarence Thomas. For the justices and their clerks, of course, rhetorical excesses are one of the pleasures of writing dissents, and shouldn't always be taken seriously.

Sins of Admission
June 08, 1995

James Q. Wilson argues the controversial effects of affirmative action in this article from July, 1996.

Liberal Ghosts
May 22, 1995

James Q. Wilson meticulously reviews a book on New Deal liberalism in an issue of TNR from 1995.

Fed Up
May 22, 1995

It was a coincidence, of course, that exactly a week after the Oklahoma bombing, the Supreme Court struck down the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990, holding that Congress had exceeded its enumerated powers for the first time since the New Deal. Nevertheless, some commentators are treating the two events as if they were portentously linked.

Search and Seize
March 27, 1995

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week debated a bill that would abolish the exclusionary rule, which bars illegally seized evidence from criminal cases. Instead, the bill would let victims of unreasonable searches sue the government for tort damages. "This hearing is an interesting and worthwhile academic exercise," intoned Senator Joseph Biden, who proceeded to browbeat the Republican's star witness, Akhil Amar of Yale Law School. Amar, a liberal Democrat, wrote an article in 1994 that criticized the exclusionary rule as a betrayal of the original understanding of the Constitution.

Dancing Days
March 02, 1995

George Stephanopoulos turned up at the Supreme Court last week, sitting next to Joel Klein, the deputy White House counsel. Their joint appearance seemed to illustrate the administration's anxiety about the case, Adarand v. Pena, in which the Court is being asked to strike down racial preferences in the construction industry that have been endorsed by every president since Nixon. But Klein assured me afterward that Stephanopoulos, who had never seen a Supreme Court argument before, had come along purely out of curiosity. He picked a good day.

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