The Corner

The Roberts Kerfuffle

Dahlia Lithwick writes that “the president has every right to criticize the court, and the justices have every right to appear annoyed.” So far, so good. What’s inappropriate, in her view, was not Obama’s conduct or Alito’s but rather Chief Justice Roberts’s. She faults Roberts for “lobbing long-distance partisan attacks at Congress and the president” and lacking “the courage to insult” Obama to his face. So it’s okay for justices to respond to criticism with facial expressions but not with words? How does that make any sense?

Ruth Marcus writes that Roberts is a “big crybaby” — either for preferring not to be criticized in a forum where he cannot respond, or for responding later. She concludes that for the conservative justices to stay away from future State of the Union addresses would be “a mistake” — although she identifies no reason for thinking that the justices have any duty to be there, nor even any good that their presence serves. She concludes, “If conservative justices boycott a Democratic president’s State of the Union address, who, then, will be politicizing the court?” If by “politicizing the court” she means making the Court the subject of political controversy, then the answer is that both the president and the justices will have done so — but by Marcus’s own (correct) argument, that’s alright, since “the court is and should be part of the conversation.” If, on the other hand, by “politicizing the court” she means joining that conversation in some improper way, then the answer is that nobody will have done so; and she doesn’t even try to explain why she holds otherwise.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular


White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More

Who Is Boris Johnson?

By next week at this time, Boris Johnson will be prime minister of the United Kingdom. Not since Margaret Thatcher has such an outsized personality resided in Number 10 Downing Street. Not since Winston Churchill has such a wit presided over Her Majesty’s Government. Wit is actually the chief reason for ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Ohio Bans ‘Nature Rights’

Finally! After voters in Toledo granted "rights" to Lake Erie -- in a special election, it should be noted, with minuscule turnout -- Ohio has outlawed the enforcement of "nature rights" in a budget bill signed by the governor. From the legislation: Sec. 2305.011...[Definitions omitted] (B) Nature or any ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More