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The Atlantic (5 found)

Deconstructing Clarence Thomas

August 5, 2019  | 

The first thing to know about Clarence Thomas is that everybody at the Supreme Court loves him. Surprisingly, given his uncompromising public persona and his near-total silence during oral arguments, Thomas cultivates a jovial presence in the building’s austere marble hallways. Unlike most of his colleagues, he learns everyone’s name, from the janitors to each justice’s …

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The Chief Justice’s Secret

February 1, 2019  | 

Two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the commencement address at the Cardigan Mountain School, in New Hampshire. The ninth-grade graduates of the all-boys school included his son, Jack. Parting with custom, Roberts declined to wish the boys luck. Instead he said that, from time to time, “I hope you will be treated unfairly, …

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Commander v. Chief

April 1, 2018  | 

At a white house stag dinner in February 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower shocked the new chief justice of the United States. Earl Warren was Eisenhower’s first appointment to the Supreme Court and had been sworn in just four months earlier. Only two months into his tenure, Warren had presided over oral arguments in the blockbuster …

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Thurgood Marshall, Badass Lawyer

October 1, 2015  | 

In the 1930s, African Americans in Texas were not allowed to vote in the Democratic Party primary. The Democrats had a stranglehold on state politics, so the exclusion effectively deprived blacks of the franchise. A 1923 statute had made the ban explicit; when the Supreme Court struck down the law in 1927, slippery local officials …

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How LBJ Saved the Civil Rights Act

April 1, 2014  | 

In the winter of 1963, as the Civil Rights Act worked its way through Congress, Justice William Brennan decided to play for time. The Supreme Court had recently heard arguments in the appeal of 12 African American protesters arrested at a segregated Baltimore restaurant. The justices had caucused, and a conservative majority had voted to …

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