Politics & Policy

The Corner

One-and-a-Half-Cheers for the New York Times

In the wake of the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court holding up First Amendment protections for offensive speech, the New York Times has changed its position.

The decision is likely to help the Washington Redskins, who lost their trademark protections in 2014 after years of complaints from Native American groups. At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office’s decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive. Based on this case, however, we’ve since reconsidered our underlying position.

On the one hand, good for them. Too few people and organizations change their minds based on new facts.

On the other hand, it’s amazing that a newspaper ever held a contrary position at all. The Times is in the First Amendment business after all.

More remarkable to me is that their original position was so poorly thought-through that a Supreme Court decision would cause them to abandon it. We all must abide with the Supreme Court’s decisions, but there’s no mandate to agree with them. After all, there are lots of constitutional interpretations from the 1930s and 1960s that I disagree with. Heck, there are some from the last few years I thought were batty (Chief Justice Roberts’s “it’s a tax” ruling comes to mind).

I respect their legal authority, but I am not obliged to agree with the reasoning behind them. The Times decision to say “never mind” about what they claimed to be a solid principle just because the Court disagreed with them is fascinating. Maybe it reflects real introspection. Maybe it reflects a kind of deference to power. I really have no idea. But it is interesting.

Editor’s Note: This post originally misstated the nature of Chief Justice Roberts’s Obamacare ruling. It has been corrected.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More