Saturday, July 09, 2005

Activist judges

This Op-Ed from the NYTimes makes a great point about who the real "activists" are on the Supreme Court today.
The authors use a formula by which they determine how much of an activist each current justice is based on the percentage of times they have voted to overturn Congressional legislation.

Declaring an act of Congress unconstitutional is the boldest thing a judge can do. That's because Congress, as an elected legislative body representing the entire nation, makes decisions that can be presumed to possess a high degree of democratic legitimacy. In an 1867 decision, the Supreme Court itself described striking down Congressional legislation as an act "of great delicacy, and only to be performed where the repugnancy is clear." Until 1991, the court struck down an average of about one Congressional statute every two years. Between 1791 and 1858, only two such invalidations occurred.

Since the Supreme Court assumed its current composition in 1994, by our count it has upheld or struck down 64 Congressional provisions. That legislation has concerned Social Security, church and state, and campaign finance, among many other issues. We examined the court's decisions in these cases and looked at how each justice voted, regardless of whether he or she concurred with the majority or dissented.

Here is how the justices came out:

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

It is pretty clear that by this measure the "conservative" justices are more likely to intervene and strike down legislation than the "liberal" justices.
So who are the real "activists" in this case?

9/11: The Movie

I'm kind of intrigued by this future movie...

...Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone will direct a film based on the story of two police officers who were trapped in the rubble on Sept. 11, 2001.

Nicolas Cage, who won a best-actor Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas," will star as Port Authority police Sgt. John McLoughlin. McLoughlin and fellow officer William J. Jimeno became trapped during rescue efforts after the collapse of the twin towers.

Paramount Pictures said the movie is expected to be released next year.

I can already imagine the wails of protest from the right. And while I wouldn't put it past Stone to include a less than flattering scene of Bush reading "My Pet Goat" while all hell is breaking loose, I would still argue that Stone is an excellent director who has done well with other historical fare (check out his honest and fair treatment of Tricky Dick in his film "Nixon").

Friday, July 08, 2005

My latest obsession

IPod Mini
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
For my birthday (I turned 40 over the weekend) my wife bought me an IPod Mini with 4 GB of memory. That’s enough to hold about 1,000 songs.
It’s like having your very own personal radio station programmed with all your favorite music that can be mixed in random order with no DJs and no commercials. I’ve been having fun trying to get mine set up with just the right mix of music.
A thousand songs is a lot and it is certainly more than enough to be carrying around on your belt loop, but when you are like me and you start out by dumping all of your Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby and Ken Burns’ Jazz music into the IPod you suddenly find yourself having to make decisions about what to keep and what to leave off.
I’m pretty happy with what I have on it now, but I will probably be constantly fiddling with it which is half the fun anyway. Right now I have lots of music by the above folks plus lots of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Tom Petty and U2. I don’t have enough Rolling Stones or Led Zepplin, but those are the sacrifices you must make.
Now you know what I’ve been doing in my spare time instead of blogging.