Walter notes how far to the right the court has moved in recent years, and plenty of evidence backs him up. If you look at a standard ranking of justices by how conservative their votes are (and I am looking at the third column on Page 111 of The Behavior of Federal Judges, a recent book by by Lee Epstein, Bill Landes, and our Breakfast Table interlocutor Richard Posner), you will see that Thomas, Alito, Scalia, and Roberts are the second-, fourth-, fifth-, and 11th-most conservative justices since 1937. With Walter, I suspect that Alito will rise to the top when the data set is extended beyond 2009. O’Connor is No. 14, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Walter were right that her replacement with Alito moved the court further to the right.
I agree that the Supreme Court’s opinions tend to be too long. The padding often muffles the meaning, and I also think it’s one reason journalists sometimes screw up in the instant of first reporting a major decision (as some infamously did when the Obamacare ruling came down last year, and after Bush v. Gore). Another reason the opinions lend themselves to error on a quick read: They don’t have clear headlines. Would it really kill the court to say at the top of the very first page: Hey, there are two parts to this ruling. The first part was decided 5–4. Here’s the breakdown of justices, and here’s what the majority said. The second part was 7–2, and ditto. On the other hand, maybe I’m arguing against my own interest here, since the current, more confusing, setup helps me justify my three years of law school. (Watch me blow it next week!)
When Killer Mike took the stage last week at the Bonnaroo music festival, he spotted amid the crowd a white woman rapping along to his lyrics, shaking her body and contorting her face to the beat. The Atlanta rapper has his share of white, female fans, but he quickly realized this woman was different: Holly Maniatty wasn’t, in fact, a fan, but a sign language interpreter. Intrigued by her work, the rapper jumped down from the stage to the raised platform Maniatty shared with a colleague and started dancing with them. Curious just how far he could push his interpreter, he rapped every dirty word he could think of on the spot, picking up the speed of his flow to see if Maniatty could keep pace.
When I first contacted Alice Wu, she had just returned from a week of meetings with store buyers and fabric suppliers in Los Angeles, but she promised to get in touch with me soon. The following week, she was on the road for sales appointments in the Pacific Northwest. Ten days later, she wrote a warm, apologetic note from a cab en route to the airport; she was about to fly to Taipei, Taiwan, to visit family before returning for another week of promoting her Feral Childe brand. In fact, Wu is almost always going about the business of making and touting her surprising creations, but she still endeavors to do even more.
In Virginia hunt country, 47 miles from Washington, D.C., you’ll find the town of Warrenton, population 9,735. On Main Street, across from the town library and next to the courthouse, there’s a small, refurbished filling station with a cherry-red pickup truck parked out front. This Norman Rockwell painting come to life is the work of Brian Noyes, 56, who, after more than 25 years in magazine publishing, decided to chuck it all in to start Red Truck Bakery.
Saul of Tarsus’ path to sainthood began when a celestial light enveloped him on the road to Damascus. He heard Jesus’ voice, inaudible to his companions, saying: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The conversion experience of Father James Martin was less dramatic. Once a corporate finance grunt, he came home one night after a particularly frustrating day at the office and flipped on the television. PBS was airing a documentary called Merton: A Film Biography, about Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who had chucked his dissolute New York life to serve God in rural Kentucky. Onscreen, Merton’s face glowed with an otherworldly peace; Martin was so stressed and miserable at work that he regularly suffered stomach aches and migraines. “I still remember his expression, so much happier than the one I saw in the mirror every morning,” the priest [or Jesuit] recalls. “His life—the monastic life—seemed exotic, mysterious, romantic.”
Andy Enfield is one of those people who seems to succeed at everything he does. In high school, Enfield was his class valedictorian. In college, he set the NCAA career free-throw record at Johns Hopkins University by shooting an unheard-of 92.5 percent from the charity stripe. After earning his MBA, he started a business to teach his shooting technique, which led directly to his being hired as a shooting coach and then an assistant coach in the NBA. He then stepped away from coaching to work as a vice president at a fledgling health care technology firm, which is now reported to be worthwell over $100 million. Then he married a supermodel.
If you’ve never seen an episode of The Barefoot Contessa, watch one as soon as possible. You don’t like cooking shows? Don’t let that stop you. The dishes featured on The Barefoot Contessa certainly look delectable—fun, flavor-packed, and achievable at home—but the show is as much about Ina Garten, the contessa herself, as it is about the food. The shows are filmed in Garten’s own kitchen in a converted barn on her spacious estate in East Hampton, N.Y., and she treats the viewer like a competent but underskilled apprentice, bantering light-heartedly as she walks us through each dish. It’s alluring, even entrancing: instruction disguised as entertainment, all presented with Garten’s sophisticated yet down-to-earth charm.
Eric’s piece about the relative coherence of the liberal and conservative coalitions on the Supreme Court is very interesting, but I am inclined to question his statement that one “decidedly unfashionable” explanation for this “is that the conservatives (or some of them) genuinely care about, and disagree over, important matters of law.” I’m not sure that such an explanation is “unfashionable”; I imagine that most judges, lawyers, and law professors would say (though some with tongue in cheek) that Supreme Court justices “genuinely care about, and disagree over, matters of law,” though this may depend on what a matter of law is. My own view is that any statement in a judicial opinion is a matter of law. (That is the legal realist in me.)
It would have annoyed Jonathan Swift to know that posterity would think of him as an Irish writer, since he considered himself thoroughly English. Born in Ireland to English parents, brought up in Ireland and educated in England, it was his bad luck to be an outsider in both countries: an Irishman in England and an Englishman in Ireland. Forced to settle for a clerical post in Dublin, which he saw as a provincial backwater, Swift had plenty of time to brood on perspective. In 1726, he published the perspective-shifting masterpiece by which he is remembered, Gulliver’s Travels.
It’s June and hot outside and you head to the neighborhood pool for the day. The kids want to swim and you just want to be doing nothing for a while. Everyone files through the gate as you scan for an open lounge chair and your friends. The kids have sunscreen on, you have your book, and yes—Mike is the lifeguard on duty. You like Mike. He’s a good kid and always nice to yours and he doesn’t tolerate too much funny business. He’s been a lifeguard here for three seasons now, he’s Red Cross certified, and you have seen him in action. With cat-like reflexes and keen eyes, Mike has yanked more than his share of nonswimming kids out of the deep end. “Why don’t their parents watch them more closely?” you think. Then you crack open your book as your strong-swimming kids head into the pool under the watchful eye of good old Mike.
Emily, thank you for having me back again. It has now been more than a decade since I hit the “send” button on my first piece in this Slate Supreme Court dialogue. I guess I have written more than 100 posts in that time and I shudder to think how many ill-considered snap judgments of mine still lurk in cyberspace. I’m nonetheless looking forward to being in a discussion this coming week with you and the esteemed Posners père and fils.
I’m often asked what the “next big breakthrough” in physics will be. My answer is always the same: “If I knew, I would be working on it right now!” By the same token, politicians cannot determine in advance what discoveries will be important any more than the scientists themselves can.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States suffered through a skyjacking epidemic that has now been largely forgotten. In his new book, The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, Brendan I. Koerner tells the story of the chaotic age when jets were routinely commandeered by the desperate and disillusioned. In the run-up to his book’s publication on June 18, Koerner has been writing a daily series of skyjacker profiles. Slate is running the final dozen of these “Skyjacker of the Day” entries.
Welcome back to Slate’s weekly news quiz. I’m your host, 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings.
In a June 20 “The Kids,” Melinda Wenner Moyer misstated that the Honest company promised her an interview. While Moyer corresponded with an Honest representative about the prospect of an interview, one was never promised. Moyer also incorrectly wrote that Honest diapers contain several nut oils. They do not.
In 2009, Penguin Group, one of the most successful publishers in the world, printed a charming history called The Book of Penguin, in the slim, orange paperback format that the company made famous in the mid-20th century. It begins: “This is a book about the most advanced form of entertainment ever. You can pause it at any time. Rewind and replay it if you miss a bit … It’ll fit in your pocket. It’s interactive … It’s pretty cheap. It’s completely free to share. And it lasts a lifetime. This is a book about books.”
I’ve sat through three big, super-secret, well-orchestrated Facebook press events in the last year. Or at least I think there were just three; they all kind of blend together, and there might have been one or two I didn’t attend due to previously scheduled dental work. But of the ones I remember, there was the time Facebook unveiled a new search engine. Another time, it redesigned the news feed. Oh, and then this one time, like two months ago, it launched a home screen app for Android phones. That event was in a big new auditorium at Facebook’s headquarters. I remember the housemade sushi being particularly delicious that day.
After you’ve seen World War Z, come back and listen to our Spoiler Special: