Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Re: The Eighth Amendment and Sex-Reassignment Surgery

Back in January, I discussed a divided First Circuit panel ruling that affirmed a district-court order holding that the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishments requires the Massachusetts prison system to provide sex-reassignment surgery to a prisoner. Today, the en banc First Circuit, by a 3-2 vote, rejected the panel ruling and reversed the district court.

The First Circuit has only six active judges, and its newest judge, David Barron, did not take part in the case (perhaps because he joined the court in the midst of the en banc process). Judge Juan Torruella, who dissented from the panel ruling, wrote the en banc majority and was joined by chief judge Sandra Lynch and Jeffrey Howard. In dissent were the two members of the panel majority, O. Rogeriee Thompson and William Kayatta.

Most Popular


Angela Rye Knows You’re Racist

The political philosopher Michael Oakeshott said that the “rationalist” is hopelessly lost in ideology, captivated by the world of self-contained coherence he has woven from strands of human experience. He concocts a narrative about narratives, a story about stories, and adheres to the “large outline which ... Read More

What the Viral Border-Patrol Video Leaves Out

In an attempt to justify Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s absurd comparison of American detention facilities to Holocaust-era concentration camps, many figures within the media have shared a viral video clip of a legal hearing in which a Department of Justice attorney debates a panel of judges as to what constitutes ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Pro-Abortion Nonsense from John Irving

The novelist has put up a lot of easy targets in his New York Times op-ed. I am going to take aim at six of his points, starting with his strongest one. First: Irving asserts that abortion was legal in our country from Puritan times until the 1840s, at least before “quickening.” That’s an overstatement. ... Read More
Film & TV

Murder Mystery: An Old Comedy Genre Gets Polished Up

I  like Adam Sandler, and yet you may share the sense of trepidation I get when I see that another of his movies is out. He made some very funny manboy comedies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) followed by some not-so-funny manboy comedies, and when he went dark, in Reign over Me and Funny People, ... Read More