Bench Memos

Michelle Obama Is Right

The Blog of the Legal Times reported yesterday that Michelle Obama raised the importance of judicial appointments at a campaign fundraiser over the weekend. According to the BLT:

Obama, who practiced law as an associate at Sidley Austin in Chicago, emphasized that the appointments will likely have long-lasting and wide-ranging effects. “Let’s not forget,” she said, “the impact that their decisions will have on our lives for decades to come — on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and love whoever we choose. That is what’s at stake in this election.”

She is right. We don’t need actuarial tables to tell us that the next president will make plenty of consequential appointments. And, on the Supreme Court, we have seen time and time again that just one vote can determine the outcome of the most important cases. 

In the near-term, just one vote on the Court could decide all the things Mrs. Obama alluded to: whether abortion rights shrink or expand, to what extent courts can second-guess presidential war powers, how far the government can go in restricting political speech, how far the government can go in dictating how churches manage their internal affairs, and whether a right to same-sex marriage is written into our Constitution. And she didn’t even mention the upcoming blockbuster question: whether the federal government can compel individuals to purchase health insurance and, by extension, any other imaginable product.

In the next election, the American people will get to decide whether they want judges who have promised to to apply the text and original meaning of the Constitution, or whether they want judges who decide cases on the basis of “empathy” for parties identified for preferred status by the president. 

Most Popular

History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More
History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
U.S.

Raise the Entrance Fees for Our National Parks

In my role as your go-to purveyor of unpopular opinions, I offer this: We should jack up the entrance fees for our national parks — a lot. One of the many disappointments of the Trump administration is that in spite of his DGAF posturing, Donald Trump has always been a slave to public opinion, which made his ... Read More
U.S.

Raise the Entrance Fees for Our National Parks

In my role as your go-to purveyor of unpopular opinions, I offer this: We should jack up the entrance fees for our national parks — a lot. One of the many disappointments of the Trump administration is that in spite of his DGAF posturing, Donald Trump has always been a slave to public opinion, which made his ... Read More
The Economy

The New York Times Sells Envy

A product always sure to sell, even on Thanksgiving, and especially amid a pandemic, is envy. So I can hardly blame New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo for capitalizing on a bull market. Lamenting that the portfolios of America’s richest men and women have made a quicker recovery from the ... Read More
The Economy

The New York Times Sells Envy

A product always sure to sell, even on Thanksgiving, and especially amid a pandemic, is envy. So I can hardly blame New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo for capitalizing on a bull market. Lamenting that the portfolios of America’s richest men and women have made a quicker recovery from the ... Read More