Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Daily Digest

Everyone talks about (and bemoans) judicial activism, but few realize, as Robert McCloskey shows in The American Supreme Court, that the Supreme Court has historically followed the political winds. As FDR put it while trying to pack the Court in 1937, the American people expect the unelected third branch of government to fall in line behind the elected other two. Today, this ironic notion is given life by Anthony Kennedy, about whom law professor Michael Klarman observes, "Any court on which [he] is the median voter will never do anything to provoke dramatic backlashes, because Justice Kennedy has his finger on the pulse of Middle America."

Since 1937, the Supreme Court has comprised nine justices. But as Jean Edward Smith argues, "there is nothing sacrosanct" about the number nine. To the contrary, "Roosevelt’s 1937 chicanery has given court-packing a bad name, but it is a hallowed American political tradition participated in by Republicans and Democrats alike," including Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant. Note: I'm blogging Smith's op-ed not because I condone court-packing, which politicizes and destabilizes the law, but because of its interesting history.

Ward Churchill, aka Chief Lies-alot, is unrepentant. Of his "little Eichmanns" essay, he declares, "The only thing I regret is that I didn't take a harder line." Note: Churchill was fired not for this essay, which academic freedom protects, but for academic fraud in his "scholarly" work.

Who says reporters have to be poor? Salaries for top journalists at the Atlantic range as high as $350,000.