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2012 Archive (12 found)

Iron Curtain

November 9, 2012  | 

Imagine yourself at a summer soccer game. The day is fine, the play is lively, and 20,000 fans cheer alongside you. Halftime arrives. Instead of a marching band or cheerleaders, a handful of politicians takes the field. In stiff, bureaucratic language, they urge all present to vote in tomorrow’s three-part referendum on parliamentary reform, the …

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Raw Judicial Power

October 4, 2012  | 

William Rehnquist was not an odds-on favorite for a seat on the Supreme Court. The man who put him there, Richard Nixon, was un-impressed after their first meeting, asking an aide in July 1971: “Who the hell is that clown?” At the time, Rehnquist was a Justice Department lawyer known for wear-ing loud psychedelic neckties …

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The Oath

September 12, 2012  | 

President versus chief justice: it’s a compelling narrative. Everyone knows the power of the president, with his launch codes, legislative veto, and ability to get network air time whenever he wants it. The Supreme Court, though, wields a bazooka of its own: the power of judicial review, which allows the Court to invalidate laws that …

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A Malevolent Forrest Gump

September 1, 2012  | 

Like many artists and most bigots, Strom Thurmond was highly productive early in life. By the age of fifty-five, the humorless South Carolina reactionary had run for president as a Dixiecrat, secured election to the U.S. Senate, penned the neo-confederate “Southern Manifesto” denouncing Brown v. Board of Education, and performed the longest one-man filibuster in …

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Young Guns

July 1, 2012  | 

Of the many surprises in President Obama’s first term—accomplishing health care reform, neglecting judicial nominations, appointing Hillary Clinton secretary of state—the most interesting may be the administration’s robust foreign policy. Democrats are supposed to be strong on domestic matters but weak on defense. The party seemed to have embraced that stereotype by nominating a community …

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Record of Achievement

July 1, 2012  | 

George Orwell (1903–50), the moral compass of the 20th century, had his own true north: farming and fishing in peace. He spent the last years of his life on the rural island of Jura, off Scotland, fighting tuberculosis and writing his sixth and final novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)—one of the great books of our time. In …

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The Years of Lyndon Johnson

May 13, 2012  | 

For proof that the greatest stories come from history rather than imagination — that we can best discover the outer limits of the human experience by measuring what those before us have done — we have the lifework of Robert Caro. The author of the multivolume biography The Years of Lyndon Johnson has won shelves …

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From Brown to Lawrence

April 16, 2012  | 

In 1890 Louisiana passed a law requiring “equal but separate” train carriages for white and black passengers. The penalty for refusing to comply was a $25 fine or up to twenty days’ imprisonment. An “octoroon” (one-eighth black) named Homer Plessy sought to challenge the law: he entered a white carriage, and after refusing to leave …

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Isn’t She Wonderful?

March 21, 2012  |  ,

“Mr. President, the prime minister is on the phone.” So said the White House butler to Ronald Reagan on October 25, 1983, during a briefing on the United States’ impending invasion of Grenada. Margaret Thatcher was upset that Reagan had disregarded her advice against attacking the Caribbean nation (and Commonwealth member), where Marxist rebels had …

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Thinking Out Loud

March 1, 2012  | 

Tony Judt died nearly two years ago, yet he keeps writing books. A historian of Europe, an essayist for the New York Review of Books, and an outspoken public intellectual, Judt died in August 2010 after a long and public struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. During the final years of his life he was extraordinarily …

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Crime and Punishment

January 30, 2012  | 

William Stuntz, who died in March at 52 after a long struggle with cancer, was a law professor who devoted his career to ending the scourge of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Widely acknowledged as the leading criminal procedure scholar of his era, Stuntz defied easy labeling. He was a conservative and an …

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The Last Days of Hugh Trevor-Roper

January 1, 2012  | 

Such is the hunger for new books about Nazi Germany that authors have begun chronicling the chroniclers. Last autumn Newsday editor Steve Wick wrote The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of the famous journalist’s dispatches from Berlin in the 1930s. The latest arrival in …

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