Every Supreme Court decision seems to confirm Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s pivotal role at the center of the court, and Monday’s ruling on abortion showed that restrictions on a woman’s right to the procedure for now will go only as far as the chief justice allows. In a remarkable stretch of decisions over the past two weeks, Roberts has dismayed conservatives and the Trump administration by finding that federal anti-discrimination law protects gay, bisexual and transgender workers and stopping the president from ending the federal program that protects undocumented immigrants brought here as children…Roberts’s admirers speculate he was turned off by the attempt to have the court’s 2016 decision overturned because the court’s membership had changed with Trump’s two appointments. Too soon, said Richard Lazarus, a Harvard law professor who has known Roberts since law school days and who has taught summer courses with the chief justice. “The chief’s clear message is that is not how justices do their work,” Lazarus said in an email. “It is a shot across the bow at presidential candidates who campaign with lists of nominees based on the assumption that, if confirmed, they will of course necessarily vote based on the preferences of the majority who supported that candidate.”
Here’s the Radio Boston rundown for June 29. Tiziana Dearing is our host. The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals. We’re joined by a retired federal judge and WBUR legal analyst Nancy Gertner. According to a new report from MIT and City Life/Vida Urbana, communities of color in Boston are disproportionately impacted by evictions in Boston — and it could get worse with the pandemic. We dig into the report and its implications. In an effort to show how executives of color can lead on eliminating racial inequities, a group of Black and brown business leaders in Boston has come together to create the “New Commonwealth Racial Equity And Social Justice Fund.” We speak with one of the women behind the effort. We “Check The Score” and dig into Cam Newton’s move to the New England Patriots.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled on a major abortion case to start the week. The court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals — the effects of which could have left the state with a single abortion clinic. We discuss with Nancy Gertner, retired federal judge, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, and WBUR’s legal analyst.
It took a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders for 1.5 billion people worldwide, but something is finally occurring to us: The future we thought we expected may not be the one we get. We know that things will change; how they’ll change is a mystery. To envision a future altered by coronavirus, Quartz asked dozens of experts for their best predictions on how the world will be different in five years. Below is an answer from Bruce Schneier, a security expert focused on technology. He is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the author of more than a dozen books—his latest, Click Here to Kill Everybody, was published in 2018. “For decades, we have prized efficiency in our economy. We strive for it. We reward it. In normal times, that’s a good thing. Running just at the margins is efficient. A single just-in-time global supply chain is efficient. Consolidation is efficient. And that’s all profitable. Inefficiency, on the other hand, is waste. Extra inventory is inefficient. Overcapacity is inefficient. Using many small suppliers is inefficient. Inefficiency is unprofitable. But inefficiency is essential security, as the Covid-19 pandemic is teaching us. All of the overcapacity that has been squeezed out of our health care system; we now wish we had it. All of the redundancy in our food production that has been consolidated away; we want that, too. We need our old, local supply chains—not the single global ones that are so fragile in this crisis. And we want our local restaurants and businesses to survive, not just the national chains.”
Each year, the United States deports over 100,000 noncitizens through “expedited removal,” a fast-tracked deportation process. In creating the system, Congress intentionally limited procedural protections for certain immigrants, allowing judges reviewing these removal orders to consider only three narrow questions: whether the immigrant is a noncitizen, has been ordered removed, or is a lawful permanent resident, refugee or asylum seeker. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan national who sought asylum in the United States, challenged that limit, arguing that it was an unconstitutional barrier to habeas corpus, a right that allows a judge to review whether someone is legally detained. On Thursday, the Supreme Court disagreed, issuing a sweeping ruling in Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam…Boumediene found that the Constitution guarantees habeas corpus rights even to detainees the Bush administration held as “enemy combatants.” That was true even though the detainees weren’t citizens. In fact, as legal scholar Gerald Neuman put it, Boumediene “confirmed and held that the Suspension Clause constitutionally guarantees habeas corpus to noncitizens” (emphasis original). The Thuraissigiam majority opinion, however, characterizes Boumediene as “forming ‘no certain conclusions’ ” on whether habeas rights extend to “alien[s] who lack … any allegiance to the country.”
An article by Cass Sunstein: The year: 1964. The location: the Oval Office. President Lyndon Johnson, an improbable advocate for civil rights, was meeting with Governor George Wallace, an implacable foe of civil rights. Wallace had requested the meeting. The specific topic was voting rights and the ongoing demonstrations on their behalf. He wanted the president to help stop them. After a little small talk, the governor began the conversation by alleging that many of the “malcontents” had been “trained in Moscow.” Johnson responded that all the protesters wanted was the right to vote. He added that “you can’t stop a fever by putting an icepack on your head. You’ve got to use antibiotics and get to the cause of the fever.” Wallace was disdainful. He said that it was impossible to “deal with street revolutionaries,” who could never be satisfied. You might give them the right to vote, but “then it’s jobs; then it’s distribution of wealth without work.” Increasingly frustrated, Johnson asked Wallace to think about the verdict of history, not about the current moment. He asked: “George, what do you want left behind? Do you want a great big marble monument that says ‘George Wallace: He Built’? Or do you want a little piece of scrawny pine lying there along that hot caliche soil that says ‘George Wallace: He Hated’?” Wallace was shaken. Later he said to an aide, “Hell, if I’d stayed in there much longer, he’d have had me coming out for civil rights.” Johnson’s key distinction — between the builders and the haters — is keenly relevant today, of course. Most important, it captures the split between those who are working for racial justice, including voting rights (and jobs), and the modern-day Wallaces, who in various forms are complaining of “street revolutionaries,” doubting the patriotism of the protesters, and emphasizing looting and acts of violence, as if they are all that matter.
An article by Noah Feldman: Chief Justice John Roberts has drawn his line in the sand. In what may well come to be his most famous opinion ever, a solo concurrence in today’s Louisiana abortion case, Roberts voted to uphold Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the 1992 decision in which Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter declined to overturn Roe v. Wade. The basis was stare decisis — the doctrine of precedent which, he said, instructs us “to treat like cases alike” rather than changing the rules and reversing course. Roberts made it clear that he reads the Casey decision very narrowly, to allow restrictions on abortion that don’t impose an “undue burden” on reproductive freedom. He signaled that he is still open to upholding laws that chip away at the existing abortion rights framework, which has been his approach in the past. Roberts hasn’t had some transformative epiphany that made him into a staunch defender of abortion rights. But crucially, Roberts also made it as clear as he could that, so long as he is the swing vote on the court, he isn’t open to overturning Roe or Casey. He doesn’t want the Roberts Court to be remembered as a reactionary body that reversed nearly 50 years of settled law on abortion rights. This is a massive setback for legal conservatives. It means that to overturn Roe and Casey, they need President Donald Trump to be re-elected and to get at least one more conservative on the court to replace a liberal justice.
An article by Jeannie Suk Gersen: In 1946, William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley argued, in their classic essay, “The Intentional Fallacy,” that critics interpreting a literary work should cast aside pursuit of the author’s intent. “The poem belongs to the public,” they wrote, because “it is embodied in language, the peculiar possession of the public.” The New Criticism, a movement that dominated the academic study of literature in mid-century, asserted that only close analysis of the words and structure of the text—not external knowledge about the author, politics, morality, or a reader’s feelings—was the key to understanding its meaning. Salvatore Eugene Scalia, a professor of Italian literature at Brooklyn College, was an adherent of this theory. He also advocated for “literalness” in reading and translation, to avoid “yielding to the temptation” to follow one’s own language’s conventions in interpreting the words of the text. The New Criticism fell from prominence in the nineteen-eighties, but its impact became discernible in another field, through Professor Scalia’s only child, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, the same year that the elder Scalia died. Justice Antonin Scalia became the country’s most important expositor of textualism, the influential method of legal interpretation wherein “the text is the law, and it is the text that must be observed,” regardless of what lawmakers may have intended in passing the law. Since the nineteen-eighties, textualism has been favored by legal conservatives—but, in more recent decades, its focus on the words of a text has become influential with liberal judges, too. Last Monday, under the shadow of Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, the current conservative Justices aired their strife over his textualist legacy in Bostock v. Clayton County, a landmark gay-and-transgender-rights case.
An article by Samantha Power: In 1944, two priests arrived at the Kennedy home to inform Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy that their oldest son had been killed in World War II. Sixteen-year-old Jean, the eighth of their nine children, was devastated. After riding her bicycle to church to pray, she went next to the local hospital–to volunteer. Jean later recalled this as an obvious choice, asking, “What else could I do?” To spend time with Jean Kennedy Smith, who died on June 17 at 92, was to be bowled over by the sheer quantity of positive energy she brought to this world. When I saw her after I became U.S. ambassador to the U.N., she was firm (and wise) in her direction: “Don’t waste any time, and find the people who actually want to do things.” Conscious of her privilege, Jean dedicated much of her life to providing arts programming to children with disabilities. And whatever pain she carried inside, she projected a permanent twinkle and an eagerness to conspire. Her matchmaking gifts were legendary–she not only set up brothers John, Bobby and Teddy with their wives, but as ambassador to Ireland in the 1990s, she also convinced a skeptical Clinton Administration to work with shunned Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. In so doing, she made a significant contribution to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which would end the deadly conflict in Northern Ireland. Asked how she’d like to be remembered, she evoked Abraham Lincoln: “I have planted a rose where only thistles grew.” Jean Kennedy Smith did that and so much more.
An article by Andrew Manuel Crespo and Kristy Parker: On Wednesday, two accounts of the Department of Justice — one grounded in fact, the other in fiction — were on display in the nation’s capital. The first occurred before the House Judiciary Committee, where Andrew Zelinksy, a career prosecutor currently working at the Justice Department, took the extraordinary step of testifying about political interference in criminal cases from “the highest levels of the Department,” namely by Attorney General William Barr. Zelinsky described career officials being overridden and departmental sentencing practices violated, all to give “a break” to President Trump’s close associate Roger Stone, who has been convicted of conduct that threatened our country’s national security. At virtually the same moment, a divided three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, issued an opinion in the prosecution of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Barr intervened in that case to give a break to yet another close Trump associate, by filing a highly unusual motion to dismiss the case even though Flynn had already twice pleaded guilty. Under the governing federal rules, such a dismissal requires “leave of court,” and the judge overseeing Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, was preparing to hold a hearing on the government’s request. But in an unprecedented move, the Appeals Court stepped in before Sullivan had even considered the government’s motion and ordered him to grant it.