US Supreme Court Chief Justice told law professor and commentator Jeffrey Rosen, “I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.” He expressed his intention to help steer the Court away from 5-4 decisions. Now, three years later, Rosen argues that Roberts has been an activist, combative chief justice, willing to risk confrontations with the other branches of government and public opinion.
President Obama spoke at length to House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore, responding to questions after his remarks. Video (also here). Transcript. [more inside]
Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have compared the recent US subprime mortgage crisis with five downturns in industrialized economies in the past 30 years in their brief paper, Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? (pdf). Their conclusion: “given the severity of most crisis indicators in the run-up to its 2007 financial crisis, the United States should consider itself quite fortunate if its downturn ends up being a relatively short and mild one.” Summarized, with some data and charts, here. Via.
Today's Washington Post: "The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials." [more inside]
"Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes. ... I don't care about holding people. I really don't." Justice Scalia on 24 and torture. 24 and torture previously.
"Tired of the LIBERAL BIAS every time you search on Google and a Wikipedia page appears?" At Conservapedia, a "conservative encyclopedia you can trust," you can learn that "faith" is a concept "exclusive to Christianity," and about how Wikipedia is biased in matters such as its description of the Bell Trade Act of 1946, its gossipy treatment of the private life of NPR reporter Nina Totenberg, and its seeming acceptance of evolution. The Wikipedia bias entry also complains of a "rant" against the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group for which Conservapedia founder (and son of conservative gadfly Phyllis Schafly) Andrew Schlafly has worked. Signups are here; its take on evolution is criticized here.
Time magazine recently launched a new politics blog, Swampland. The blog is, to this point, most interesting for its confrontations between the commenters and the bloggers. [m.i.]
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
“I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, decrying “the personalization of judicial politics,” describes his efforts to increase comity on the Supreme Court and to decide more cases unanimously. In Roberts' first term as chief justice, “while a relatively large number of the Court’s decisions” were unanimous, “several important, closely divided cases” were decided by 5-4 votes, with Roberts joining the more conservative justices.
Newsfilter: Washington Post columnist/blogger Dan Froomkin writes the "White House Briefing," an online "daily anthology of works by other journalists and bloggers," which is often critical of the administration. This past Sunday, the new Post ombudsman wrote that the paper's White House correspondents worried that Froomkin's column creates an appearance of bias at the Post. Froomkin responsed, and hundreds of commentors offered their support. Then Post national politics editor John Harris weighed in, to somewhat less acclaim from commentors. Harris expanded on his views in this interview. The whole affair raises issues about allegations of a subservient, stenographic press, how the media deals with charges of liberal bias, the perceived vindictiveness of the Bush administration, and the relationship between in-house bloggers and the traditional media.