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Conservative Domination of the Federal Courts

[ 5 ] October 31, 2008 |

As a welcome companion to Steven Calabresi’s silly ranting about how — horrors! — Barack Obama may completely transform the federal courts (if a whole bunch of relatively young judges retire en masse, of course, Charlie Savage brings some data about the extent to which Bush has transformed the federal courts. Democrats control exactly…one of the 13 federal circuit courts (with 2 being evenly split), and overall Republican appointees represent a whopping 62% of the federal circuit courts. Moreover, these numbers probably understate the reactionary tilt of the federal courts; recent Republican presidents have tended to be much more committed to appointing strong conservatives than Democratic presidents have been to appointing strong liberals.

In his first term, Obama will just be attempting to restore balance to the courts. And what they would look like after a couple more Republican terms is something I don’t even want to contemplate. And I hope that Obama will look beyond the cautious moderates he seems attracted to for some appointments.

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Revisting Roe’s Status

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

Kay Steiger has an excellent article about how vulnerable Roe is under the current Supreme Court, which quotes yours truly. The bottom line for me remains that the argument that Roe‘s overturn is imminent depends on the belief that Kennedy has changed, and I just don’t think there’s any evidence that he has. To add a couple of points:

  • Leaving aside the question of how “political” we can expect the Court to be, I don’t understand why a politically savvy court would wait until Democrats hostile to their views controlled every branch of the federal government to overturn Roe. I don’t see how it becomes any better for the GOP to overturn Roe explicitly in 2010 than it is now. If anything, a politically savvy Court would have seen 2008 as a likely Democatic year anyway and gotten it over with if it wanted to do it.
  • The idea that Roe would be explicitly overturned also ignores the extent to which Alito and Roberts have gone out of their way to nominally “uphold” precedents they’re not seriously applying. If they’re not willing to explicitly overturn precedents that almost nobody in the general public cares about, they’re certainly not going to be anxious to do so on a high-salience issue where such an outcome would be very unpopular.

None of this is to say that I’m sanguine about women’s access to abortion in this country. It’s important to remember how much damage can be done to abortion access without Roe being overturned. And if a court gets more Republican appointments, that’s a different matter entirely. But the Court as currently configured isn’t going to explicitly announce the overruling of Roe v. Wade.

How Can We Forget You if You Won’t Go Away?

[ 28 ] October 31, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim Bob Kerrey: “Obama understands that to succeed, he must make peace with John McCain just as he has done with Hillary Clinton. When this historic election concludes, I expect the two to sit down, without precondition, and negotiate an agenda of reform.”

Admittedly, I’m not opposed to any such discussion that begins (and ends) with Obama saying “Here’s my offer: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would sell one of your 13 houses to put up personally.” Students who have watched Kerrey perfect the the all-too-active art of concern trolling will not be surprised to learn, however, that the “reforms” Kerrey seems to have in mind involve Obama agreeing to implement Republican fiscal policies using feeble Republican talking points…

A Simulation

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

We may never get to see the lost Farley/Goldfarb tapes, although I’ve heard rumors of a bootleg annotated by Greil Marcus turning up at Bleeker Street Records. But I assume the missing footage went a little something like this.

A Brief Note

[ 0 ] October 31, 2008 |

Based on personal and other anecdotal experience, I would have to say that SuperShuttle is pretty much the worst thing ever. If I understand correctly, the deal is that you add about four hours on to your travel time to save about six bucks (or, in New York, pay significantly more for something that actually takes significantly longer than public transportation to most places.) I’m permanently inclined to pass…

Easy Answers To Questions Asked By People Inexplicably Entertaining Desperate Hackery

[ 8 ] October 31, 2008 |

John Dickerson:

The McCain campaign is unusually upbeat. Does it have reason to be?


No.
This has been…

In addition to which, since when is it “unusual” for presidential campaigns to be “upbeat?” What do you expect a spin doctor to say? “John, we’re completely screwed. We’d sign for Dukakis’ electoral college tally right now.” These guys are paid to be upbeat.

The Infomercial

[ 10 ] October 30, 2008 |

I was working so have only seen brief excerpts — was it this good? Certainly, Tom Brady is even better than Katarina Witt. (I’m guessing that very few people still wish that Mark Penn was running the Democratic campaign…)

No Phutility Here

[ 0 ] October 30, 2008 |

Congrats to Philadelphia’s local athletic club for winning their professional sports competition. A few notes:

  • The Rays seemed to spend the series proving my egregiously misplaced skepticism retroactively correct. They played like a talented but inexperienced team, symbolized for me by Upton lunging at the first pitch with the (extremely fast) tying run on first in the top of the 8th. They had a lot of terrible ABs against wily but (the marvelous Hamels aside) hittable pitchers. And defensively they seemed to think it was 2007 again.
  • Another addition to my voluminous “people I was wrong about” file is Charlie Manuel. And it will be interesting to see how Amaro does as GM. Gillick has done a terrific job filling out his formidable talent core with a lot of quality spare parts (and also deserves credit for not dealing the underrated Burrell.) It may seem like when a GM arrives with three MVP-calibre players in his lineup his job is easy, but as a fan whose formative sports experience was the early 80s Expos and most recent is the Mets teams the Phillies have humiliated for two straight years and have to be considered the favorites to do so again, it ain’t easy. If the Phillies keep finding Werths and Victorinos while the Mets keep finding Castillos, Chavezes, and Decomposed Corpse of Alouses, they’ll keep beating them. (Of course, this makes it all the more annoying that he conspicuously failed — speaking of teams with formidable talent cores who win much less than they should, although most of that was Woodward — to do this with the Mariners.)
  • It will, of course, to be interesting what happens to Tampa. The bad news is that the only miracle team to have accomplished much of anything else is the 1991 Braves; the good news is that it’s probably the best comparison (although ironically I think you can also make a good case for the Whiz Kid Phillies.) You have to worry about a team with so much young pitching in a division that will leave little margin for error, but they have a lot of impressive talent on both sides of the ball and a seemingly good organization. It will be interesting to watch.

Taking Joe’s Gavel

[ 22 ] October 29, 2008 |

Looks like the idea of stripping Joe Lieberman of his Homeland Security Chairmanship is being floated publicly. Obviously, given his stumping for McCain (including at the GOP convention), the Democratic leadership should show no mercy towards him; the only question is which punishment is most consistent with party interests. I still like the idea of making him commit to voting cloture on every Democratic bill as a condition of keeping his chairmanship, but if Reid thinks that it isn’t necessary just booting him is certainly fine with me.

With respect to the Select Intelligence committee, I would see Rockefeller leaving as good news, but Dianne Feinstein taking over is just marginally less bad news. Easing Byrd out of of his Appropriations chair seems like a good idea too.

Lies, Dripping Off Your Mouth Like Dirt

[ 9 ] October 29, 2008 |

Apparently pointing out the indisputable fact that the Bush administration lied in the run-up to the Iraq war is now, according to one of the Kagans who pass for a Republican foreign policy intelligentsia, a “conspiracy theory.” Of course. if Kagan knew anything about anything that would be “elitist”, and he’s nothing if not a man of the people by that standard.

Bonus Bush Iraq-related lying here.

Pierre Laval Feminist of the Day

[ 0 ] October 29, 2008 |

Elaine Lafferty.

Although, in fairness, when Lafferty asserts that “Sarah Palin supports women’s rights, deeply and passionately,” one can see her point. Palin does clearly support such cherished women’s rights as their right to be subject to state coercion forcing them to bear their rapist’s child, their right to have no viable legal remedies if they get unequal money for equal work, their right to pay for your own rape kits, etc. If you define “feminism” as “bog-standard reactionary Republican anti-women policies…supported by a woman!” then you have to admit Palin qualifies. As for the value of using this standard, you’ll have to use your own judgment…

LGM Meme Goes National!

[ 8 ] October 29, 2008 |

Huh. I see no alternative but to give us the credit for the forthcoming victory.

[Thx to T.S. for the tip.]

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