It was a busy week in existential threats to the Republican Party. Two issues that various Republicans have said require the party to evolve or die have been thrust into the national spotlight: Immigration reform is on its way to passing the Senate, and the Supreme Court offered two major victories for the supporters of marriage equality.
“Words do have a limited range of meaning, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible,” Antonin Scalia said in a speech at Princeton University in 1995. But as the Supreme Court’s most flamboyant wordsmith, Justice Scalia routinely pushes the boundaries of vocabulary, metaphor, and hyperbole. In an enraged dissent in today’s ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Scalia added to his 27-year history of bold rhetorical flourishes, railing that the court’s “jaw-dropping” decision has its “diseased root” in its own hubris and “black-robed supremacy,” etc. In honor of this classic dissent, we have compiled a starter glossary of Nino-isms, culled from the 77-year-old justice’s most famous opinions; Scalia-watchers should add their favorites in the comments.
When you join a social network, it usually asks if you’d like help finding friends who also use the service. It sounds like a nice offer—much easier than manually searching the site. So you click “yes,” put check marks next to the people you want to follow, and go merrily on your way.
After interns ran the Supreme Court’s decision to the networks, crowds in Washington, D.C., erupted, activists across the country celebrated, and two plaintiffs got a call from the president on live TV. Luckily, cameras were never far away.
The Gentleman Scholar inked this question in the margin of his commonplace book a couple months ago, scratching a note to self alongside a draft of a villanelle, a recipe for a Paloma variation, and a doodle of an octopod xylophonist. The sentence regards pants in the usual American sense of trousers, and it regards greens more vibrant than the drab olives and miliatry mosses with which the American male has more traditionally draped his legs. Going about my flaneuristic rounds in New York this spring, I witnessed an unprecedented number of dudes sporting a virid variety of pants and shorts. I espied much mint and seafoam, a lot of grass and Astroturf, some lime and spinach-leaf and haricot vert and Shamrock Shakes shades. And I enviously eyed bold bolts of emerald, which the forecasters of Pantone, issuing a prediction that has the force of a decree, have declared the 2013 color of the year.
People in the crowd in front of the Supreme Court waved rainbow flags as they celebrated today’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and allow gay marriage in California. If you enter the word “gay” into Google’s search box, the results appear in a rainbow frame. When and why did the rainbow become a symbol of gay rights? Explainer recounted the history during last year’s Gay Pride Month. The original article is below.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and let stand a lower court decision that reinstituted gay marriage in California. Historians have referred to the cases as Brown v. Board of Education for gay rights. Was the public this fixated on the Brown decision in 1954?
There’s no question that today’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on equal protection grounds is sweeping and historic. There is a unique feature of the 40-year gay marriage debate that makes the question of history and historical evolution particularly important: Unlike racial segregation, to which anti-gay laws are often compared, the traditional restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples was not designed, in and of itself, to denigrate or harm same-sex couples. No matter how angry pro-gay advocates may rightly feel toward those who oppose our equality, it seems fair, at first blush, to concede that restricting marriage to straights was not exactly a malicious or irrational act based on nothing but animus against gay people. But none of that means DOMA was constitutional. Whatever the dissenters may say, each generation should interpret the meaning of a law as it applies in that generation’s own time.
Melting under the sweltering Washington sun, hundreds of gay marriage supporters (and swarms of journliasts) gathered outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to hear the court's rulings on the Defense of Marraige Act and California's Proposition 8. Same-sex marriage proponents chanted and sang, made bets with one another on the court's decisions, and lamented slow cellphone service while searching for updates before and during the announcements. Opponents to same-sex marriage were almost entirely absent.
Although the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the map above, based on data from the Pew Research Center, shows that marriage-equality activists still have a long road ahead worldwide. Only 15 countries have national laws allowing same-sex marriage. In another two, the U.S. and Mexico, gay marriage is legal in some jurisdictions. Thursday’s ruling requires the federal government to provide married gay couples with the same benefits as married straight couples. It’s a historic victory, but the U.S. has far to go before joining Canada, France, Brazil, and other countries in legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
Some of us go through our professional lives wondering if we’re in the right line of work or if there’s something else we could be doing that would make us happier. Musing about a career change or other life pivot can be a potent source of motivation, yet most of us never act on these impulses. Those who do follow through often engineer second acts that are game changers.
It’s a rare moment when a court can write a stream of words and make the lives of many thousands of people instantly better. That’s what five Supreme Court justices have done today by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Their historic, tremendously exciting, and full-throated stand for equality will bring federal benefits raining down on legally married gay couples in a dozen states—and resonate far beyond even that important change.
On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Windsor, voting 5–4 to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Tonight, as proponents of same-sex marriage celebrate the decision, they should be sure to raise a glass to an attorney and activist named Mary Bonauto, who has been called the mastermind of the legal strategy that eventually led to DOMA’s collapse. Bonauto works for a Massachusetts-based gay rights organization called Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD. She has had a hand in pretty much every major gay marriage legal victory over the past 20 years. As Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued United States v. Windsor, put it in a March New York Times piece, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.”
Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it is time for the court to strike down a federal statute in order to advance a liberal policy goal rather than a conservative policy goal. Justice Scalia’s paean to the democratic process in his dissent sounds a little hollow, coming in the wake of his votes to strike down affirmative action programs and Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act—both of them the result of the democratic process, as much as DOMA was. Meanwhile, none of the liberals pipe in to explain how to reconcile the outcome of this case with the concerns about democracy that they expressed in dissenting opinions in the other cases. (Ginsburg, in Shelby County: “That determination of the body empowered to enforce the Civil War Amendments ‘by appropriate legislation’ merits this Court’s utmost respect.”)
In this week's video, Prudie counsels a woman whose rabbit just endured with the world's worst pet-sitter.
For years the National Security Agency has successfully shielded its surveillance programs from any real public scrutiny. But in the past few weeks, its controversial spying efforts have been thrust into the international spotlight following an unprecedented leak of top-secret documents.
Emily, you present Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl as a Solomonic tussle between the biological father of Baby Veronica and her adoptive parents. Both sides possess strong claims to parental rights, and the only thing to do is think deeply about what is in the best interest of the child, and resolve the case accordingly. That is not how I read the opinion. When a statute is as ambiguous as this one is, and the court breaks down along ideological lines (as the court nearly does—with Scalia and Breyer switching places, as is becoming increasingly common), a good place to start is with the ideological underpinnings of the case. Appearances to the contrary, the case is not about the relative interests of biological parents versus adoptive parents—an issue which has little ideological valence these days. It is about race and racial classifications.
For those who think that Edward Snowden deserves arrest or worse, cheer yourselves with the thought that Sheremetyevo International Airport might possibly be the most soul-destroying, most angst-inducing transport hub in the world. Low ceilings and dim lighting create a sense of impending doom, while overpriced wristwatches glitter in the murk. Sullen salesgirls peddle stale sandwiches; men in bad suits drink silently at the bars. A vague scent of diesel fuel fills the air, and a thin layer of grime covers the backless benches and sticky floor. It's not a place you'd want to spend two hours, let alone 48.
Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 249 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and June Thomas with the audio player below.