Politics reign supreme.2:46 PM, Jan 29, 2010 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Regarding Obama v. SCOTUS majority in Citizens United, which continues to be a story at least in Washington: Count me among those who believe that a president may criticize an opinion by the Court. As Lincoln once said (though before he became president) a Supreme court decision is not a “thus sayeth the Lord.” Even so, there are better and worse ways for a president to take on a particular ruling, and Obama’s was, to say the least, provocative.
The Justices sat mere feet from him in the same (big) room, and all around sat members of Congress. Obama gave his audience an imprecise (to be charitable) treatment of the decision (which probably explains Justice Samuel Alito’s “not true” or “that’s not true” that he uttered, silently). Obama criticized the Court for having facilitated nothing less than the bankrolling of elections by moneyed special interests. Obama ended by imploring the legislative department in whose building he stood to pass a bill that would “correct some of the problems” the Court had created. Predictably, this call to action against the Citizens United majority served as an applause line for those many members who oppose the decision. And so probably a majority of the members rose to their feet, clapping as big grins spread over their faces, another dollop of farce thus lent to an annual occasion that seldom lacks for it.
Obama also used his radio address last Saturday to criticize Citizens United. Has Obama decided to play the populist by taking on the terrible majority that decided Citizens United (correctly, in my view)? Maybe he figures it’s smart politics in a mid-term election year that has begun badly for his party, not to mention his presidency. And he may be expecting that the much-rumored-to-retire Justice John Paul Stevens (who wrote the main dissent in the case) will leave the Court at the end of the term, in July. If he does leave, of course, Obama will get to name his successor—and also get to strike his populist theme in discussing the composition of the High Court. Citizens United thus may continue to be a story, though it is unclear to me, and should be of concern to Obama’s political advisors, how a decision vindicating the constitutional guarantee of free speech should prove a loser in the court of public opinion.
Colleges are doing away with their racially exclusive programs--even though they would prefer not to.11:00 PM, Mar 24, 2004 • By TERRY EASTLAND
YEARS AGO, once colleges and universities had decided to make race and ethnicity "a factor" in their admissions, many of them cast about for additional ways to advance educational opportunity for minorities. So they came up with scholarship and financial aid programs, freshmen orientation programs, and academic-enrichment programs, to name the most prominent. And they made sure that the programs were, as the lawyers say, racially and ethnically exclusive. Only minorities were eligible.
The former Supreme Court justice's records shed new light on Roe v. Wade.11:00 PM, Mar 10, 2004 • By TERRY EASTLAND
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS has just made public the accumulated papers of the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who served from 1971 to 1994. More than a half-million items fill 1,576 boxes. For obvious reasons, the papers on the abortion cases are likely to draw the most interest.
Is the liberal senator from North Carolina really capable of winning the South? Would he even need to?10:00 AM, Feb 3, 2004 • By TERRY EASTLAND
JOHN EDWARDS has a problem even if he wins the South Carolina primary today.
Why Howard Dean is wrong and the capture of Saddam Hussein does matter.11:00 PM, Dec 17, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
IN HIS INITIAL COMMENTS on Saddam Hussein's capture, President Bush didn't mention the main reason we went after the brutal dictator in the first place. Not that Bush needed to go into the principal justification for invading Iraq. But the matter is worth bringing up--especially since Howard Dean, whose candidacy has been fueled by his opposition to the president's decision to go to war, is the odds-on favorite to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.
Senator John Cornyn on limited government, how the Senate works, and the pursuit of a filibuster-proof majority.11:00 PM, Dec 3, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
ASKED HOW his life has changed during his first year as the junior senator from Texas, John Cornyn has a quick answer: "It's totally unpredictable." He explains: "I was used to having a schedule and keeping it. . . . But here you're subject to a calendar set by the leadership. It's very hard to plan things."
A look at how the arguments against the Pledge of Allegiance are shaping up for the Supreme Court.12:00 AM, Oct 22, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA won't participate in the Pledge of Allegiance case, which the Supreme Court last week accepted for review. Justices typically don't explain their recusals, and Scalia didn't say why he took himself out of Elk Grove School District v. Newdow.
The code of conduct for federal judges says that a judge should avoid public comment on the merits of a pending case.
Howard Dean won't touch the $87 billion question; he's convinced "It's the tax cuts, stupid."11:00 AM, Oct 15, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
DURING A LUNCH LAST WEEK with reporters and editors of the New York Times, Howard Dean was asked how he would vote, were he a member of Congress, on the proposal to spend $87 billion to cover troop deployment and reconstruction costs in Iraq. Dean, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, refused by saying, "I'm not running for Congress; I'm running for president."
By that logic, Dean needn't answer any question on which a member of Congress might vote. But does the candidate really believe his logic?
A Justice Department leak investigation isn't good enough--the Democrats want an independent counsel looking into the leaks, and fast.8:00 AM, Oct 9, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAWYER John Dion has worked on every major national security case of the past quarter-century, including the prosecutions of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen. Since 1997, he has run the counterespionage section within the Criminal Division. About once a week, the CIA advises his office of another case involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
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