More Perfect – Justice, Interrupted

The rules of oral argument at the Supreme Court are strict: when a justice speaks, the advocate has to shut up.  But a law student noticed that the rules were getting broken again and again —by men.  He and his professor set out to chart an epidemic of interruptions.  If women can’t catch a break in the boardroom or the legislature (or at the MTV VMA’s), what’s it going to take to let them speak from the bench of the highest court in the land?

 

Justice Interrupted: The Effect of Gender, Ideology and Seniority at Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Brett Kavanaugh’s Expert Evasions, Learned From Past Masters

Judge Kavanaugh must have studied earlier confirmation hearings carefully, as he had absorbed all of their key lessons: Say nothing, say it at great length, and then say it again.

.. His confirmation would represent the culmination of a decades-long project of the conservative legal movement

.. Democratic senators sought assurances, for instance, that Judge Kavanaugh was not “a human torpedo being launched at the Mueller investigation,” as Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, put it.

They wanted a promise that Judge Kavanaugh would be independent of Mr. Trump, asking him, for instance, to promise to recuse himself from cases arising from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the president.

Judge Kavanaugh refused. Making such a commitment, he said, would jeopardize his judicial independence.

.. Judge Kavanaugh’s general strategy was summarized in a 1981 memorandum prepared by a young White House lawyer who had been assigned the job of preparing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for her confirmation hearings.

.. The memo’s author was John Roberts, and he took his own advice at his 2005 confirmation hearings to become chief justice of the United States.
.. he demonstrated a seemingly complete command of Supreme Court precedent.

He was knowledgeable but not glib, effortlessly summoning the names and summarizing the details of old decisions without indicating how they would apply to new controversies.

.. Judge Kavanaugh was less sure-footed when the questions turned from the law to his own actions.

.. “The point of having public hearings is so relevant issues can be vetted, not just for the senators but for all of us. I fear that this hearing may represent a move away from that, and back to the days of confirmations as back room deals.”

.. He used a rare colorful phrase in refusing to answer questions about Mr. Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. “I’m not going to get within three ZIP codes of a political controversy here,” he said.

The Democrats made a fairly strong case that Judge Kavanaugh is very partisan and loyal to the president,” he said. “The nominee’s refusal to criticize the president in his attacks against the judicial branch didn’t help his case.

.. “Justice Ginsburg’s favored technique took the form of a pincer movement,” Justice Kagan wrote.

  • If a question was too specific, she would decline to answer on the ground that she did not want to forecast a vote.
  • If it was too general, she would say a judge should not deal in abstractions or hypothetical questions.

Professor Kagan explained what had counted as too specific: “Roughly, anything that might have some bearing on a case that might someday come before the court.” She also described what had been too general: “Roughly, anything else worthy of mention.”

.. his calculated praise for United States v. Nixon, the 1974 decision in which the Supreme Court unanimously ordered President Richard M. Nixon to comply with a trial subpoena to turn over Oval Office recordings. The decision would, of course, be the leading precedent if a dispute arising from the Mueller investigation reached the Supreme Court.

.. But Judge Kavanaugh ranked it among the Supreme Court’s greatest hits.

Those included, he said, just three others:

  1.  Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 decision that ruled segregated public schools unconstitutional;
  2. Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer, the 1952 decision rejecting President Harry S. Truman’s attempt to seize the nation’s steel mills to aid the war effort in Korea; and
  3.  Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 decision that established the basis for the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review.

.. But where Judge Kavanaugh responded to questions about Roe with equivocation, he embraced the Nixon case.

“It was one of the greatest moments because of the political pressures of the time,” he said. “The courts stood up for judicial independence in a moment of national crisis.”

Still, he drew the line at saying whether, say, a grand jury subpoena calling for Mr. Trump’s testimony should be enforced. That would, he said, require him to answer a hypothetical question.

President Dumb and Dumber

Donald Trump has a penchant for labeling particular people. It might strike some as just another insult for a petulant urchin of a man who insults everyone with whom he takes issue. But I believe that the nature of his insults to specific kinds of people says something more about the character and nature of the man, something of which he may or may not be aware.

I believe that the fact that he so often attacks the intellectual capacity of women and minorities exposes a racial and gender bias, one that has a long history and a wide acceptance.

.. Hover over the irony here: The man trying to help at-risk children by opening doors for them was being attacked by the man who has put children at risk by locking them in cages.

.. Trump repeated the sobriquet he has assigned to California Representative Maxine Waters, calling her, “Very low I.Q. low. Low I.Q.”

..  review of the many insults Trump has spouted since he declared his candidacy finds that although he has called many people dumb, or dummies or low I.Q., the targeting of that particular insult at women, including minority women, occurs with curious frequency and is often a singular line of attack against them, rather than one of many.

He has called MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock,” “low I.Q.,” and “crazy and very dumb.”

He has called HLN anchor S.E. Cupp and political commentator Ana Navarro “two of the dumbest people in politics,” and has called Cupp “one of the dumber pundits on TV.”

He has called Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus “really dumb” and “a real dummy.”

He has called Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin “one of the dumber bloggers.”

He has said of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that she “has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me.”

He has said of the journalist Mary Katharine Ham that she “isn’t smart enough to know what’s going on at the border.”

He has called the Forbes writer Clare O’Connor a “dummy” multiple times.

He has said that Maria Cardona made Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts look “even dumber” than he believed she was on a news show.

He has called Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffPost, a “dummy.”

.. I read in these comments an overt misogyny that has long existed in this country and the world, one that seeks to undercut the seriousness and cerebral capacity of women, to render them as emotionally unsuitable for deep deliberative analysis.

.. This is the very same argument that people have used to deny women’s suffrage and prevent access to full political participation.

.. Most people, male and female alike, believed that women were biologically unfit for politics. According to one orator at a mass meeting in Albany, New York, ‘A woman’s brain involves emotion rather than intellect, [which] painfully disqualifies her for the sterner duties to be performed by the intellectual faculties.’

..  ‘Housewives!’ announced a Massachusetts journal, ‘You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout.’ ”

And yet, 170 years on, we have a president of the United States questioning women’s intelligence.

.. “Women have scored higher than men in intelligence testing for the first time since records began.”

The Economy Can’t Grow Without Birth Control

Before the A.C.A., 85 percent of health insurance plans at large companies offered contraceptive coverage, but most required at least a co-payment. Individual women paid about $250 a year. Now the president has given insurance companies a way out of taking on that burden.

.. The Trump administration has tried to reassure women that they can still get inexpensive birth control, asserting that “many forms of contraception are available for around $50 a month.” Even if that’s the case, $50 a month — $600 a year — is no small item in many people’s budgets, particularly for the women who make up a majority of low-wage workers. As the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has pointed out, the cost of an intrauterine device, one of the most effective forms of contraception, is about the same as a month’s minimum-wage pay.

.. On the other hand, a raft of evidence has definitively found that when women gained greater access to the pill in the late 1960s and early ’70s, they were able to delay marriage and childbirth and invest in careers through education, job training and staying in paid work.

Legal access to the pill transformed the economy in that era. It increased young women’s labor force participation by 7 percent. Those who were able to get it the earliest because of relaxed state laws worked significantly more hours than those who couldn’t get it until later. In fact, about a third of the increase in how many women attained careers in fields like law and business was due to birth control.

..  About half of women who use it say they do so to complete education or to get and keep a job. Contraception is still increasing the share of women who get educated and get paid work, particularly prestigious jobs.
..  The high growth rates during the Reagan years were linkedin part to women continuing to enter the workplace. But women are already trickling out of the work force, and it could get worse with more unexpected pregnancies.