All posts filed under: Democracy’s Constitution

Is Mitch McConnell Too Smart for His Own Good?

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Democracy's Constitution / The Sjupremes

Last Spring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell embarked on a risky plan to deprive President Obama of the chance to appoint a Supreme Court Justice during his last year in office.   McConnell  won that bet; now it’s time to consider what the final consequences of that victory will be. Some say it gives the Republicans  control of the Supreme Court for  the foreseeable future. But turning the   Supreme Court  into an overtly partisan […]

The Big Apple Shows How Free Lawyers for the Poor Pay for Themselves

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Democracy's Constitution / Repairing the System

Leyla Martinez is a good example of the problem and its solution. Ms. Martinez, a single mother, had just been evicted from her apartment in the Bronx after a year’s struggle representing herself in the New York Housing Court. Then she was able to contact an attorney at the Urban Justice Center; soon thereafter Ms. Martinez and her kids were back in their apartment. Seventy percent of low-income tenants come to housing court without a […]

A Wise Latina

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Democracy's Constitution / Heroes / The Supremes

Sonia Sotomayor has been a different kind of Supreme Court justice from the beginning.   At her confirmation hearing, instead of putting the Senate committee to sleep with platitudes, she told a male Senator that she thought a “wise Latina” might  have some valuable insights to offer in constitutional discussions. Then she ignored the  tradition for first term justices  to be  seen but not heard by  immediately joining in the colloquies  with counsel  during oral […]

The Right Choice for the Wrong Reason

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Democracy's Constitution / Repairing the System

In an earlier post I discussed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to refuse to even to hold hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. That post generated a good deal of interest. So I would like to look now at the Garland nomination from the Democratic perspective. Obama’s motives in nominating Garland do not appear much different from McConnell’s in opposing him; he too was looking at the nomination’s […]

Asleep at the Wheel?

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Book/film List / Democracy's Constitution

Michael Glennon’s National Security and Double Government is a brilliant book that could change how we talk about both national security and the Supreme Court. He starts by posing a question that any intelligent reader of the New York Times might ask: “Why did the national security policies of the Obama administration differ so little from those of the Bush administration?” Glennon concedes there might be more than one explanation for this similarity. Maybe the “naïve” […]

Even the Laws are Secret

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Democracy's Constitution

In his book Secrets,  Daniel Ellsberg tells a story that changed my thinking about how democracy  works (or doesn’t work) in America.  Ellsberg, who now is remembered as the Edward Snowden of the Vietnam War era, was an aide to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who ran the war. One day on a flight back from a “fact-finding” trip to Vietnam, McNamara and another colleague were debating whether the situation in Vietnam had improved in […]

Care-free Court ?

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Democracy's Constitution / Repairing the System

  Here is a story from  SCOTUS about a Reuters study that came up with some very intriguing facts about how the Supreme Court chooses the cases it hears. 63 lawyers, less than 1% of the lawyers filing petitions, were the lawyers in 43% of the cases accepted by the Court.  Not only that, these disproportionately successful few tended to represent corporate interests.  And half of them had also served as law clerks at […]

How Does a Bad Start End?

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Book/film List / Democracy's Constitution

Erwin Chemerinsky’s excellent new book The Case Against the Supreme  Court points out a lot of problems plaguing our constitutional process, but I would like to focus on one vice early on that  infects  the whole—- the fact the nominees to the Supreme Court routinely misstate  their views on constitutional issues during their confirmation hearings. Remember that these hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are the only place where  nominees to an extremely powerful post with […]