Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Trevor Noah ignores my advice to demonstrate its limits

On Thursday, Trevor Noah opened The Daily Show by reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Noah noted that the Court’s move was essentially unprecedented: “The Supreme Court blocked Obama’s climate regulation before the case even reached them. And this is the first time . . . that they’ve ever done this.”

And he followed up with a bit of advice for the Supreme Court that began to sound extremely awkward only about a day and a half after Thursday’s show. Highlights (i.e. the most relevant bits) are in bold:

Continue reading Trevor Noah ignores my advice to demonstrate its limits


Corrigendum for Above the Law: Endangered Eagles edition

[Yes, I am getting exceedingly lazy with these titles of late.]

About a month ago, Above the Law published an article about eagle feathers. More specifically, it discussed whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby (which recognized the company’s claim for a  religious exception to secular laws) will be extended to Native American tribes who wish to use eagle feathers in religious ceremonies despite their protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. In the form of an aside, the article made a good point:

Continue reading Corrigendum for Above the Law: Endangered Eagles edition

Justice Kagan is a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life, and mean

JTA published a story yesterday that described how “U.S. Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Elana (sic) Kagan talked about their Jewish identities at the opening plenary of the 2014 General Assembly conference of the Jewish Federations of North America”. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis added):

Continue reading Justice Kagan is a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life, and mean

Anonymous Daily Show staffer subliminally injects context into the show’s Middle East coverage

Jon Stewart couldn’t get wait to get back from his 4th of July vacation and discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the unfolding debacle was featured heavily in his very first segment the Monday of his return, (500) Crazies of Summer.

You’ve probably seen the segment by now. You’ve probably even seen some of the criticism it’s attracted. You might have even stuck around long enough on Tuesday night’s The Daily Show to watch Hillary Rodham Clinton tell Jon why she thinks his understanding of the conflict is skewed (here and here).

But even if I hadn’t directed you to those pieces of criticism, you probably could have just watched the clip yourself and had no trouble arriving at the conclusion that Stewart’s analysis of the current situation was largely facile and pointless. Essentially it boiled down to this: Israel has bigger guns.

Thank you, Mr. Leibowitz, for the nuanced update.

Though I don’t agree with everything Horovitz had to say about the segment (in “some of the criticism” above), there was one paragraph fragment that stood out to me as undeniably true and to the point:

Continue reading Anonymous Daily Show staffer subliminally injects context into the show’s Middle East coverage

The more subtle irony of Orscon Scott Card’s plea for tolerance

Ender’s Game is coming out later this year — not to be confused with Hunger Games II, which comes out three weeks later — and I’m pretty excited. I first read the book for fun, then I read it for an assignment in high school, and then I read it again for an assignment in college. But not everyone – including some fans of the book – share my sentiment. And it’s not just the usual litany of concerns, like “Will your movie be as good as the book?”, “Why did you pick a 16-year old actor to play 6-11 year old Ender?”, and “Why did you show the movie’s epic conclusion at the end of the first trailer?” [I trust my readers are astute enough to recognize that clicking on that last link is just asking for a spoiler.]

Instead, Ender’s Game has gotten some flak because the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, is — according to one online petition — “an anti-gay activist, writer, and board member of the National Association for Marriage.” It’s unclear why “writer” qualifies for strike II, but questions of sentence structure aside, I have to admit: I couldn’t care less about who wrote the book and what he thinks about gay marriage. We’ve all read books written by people we disagree with, and I’m hardly the only one who feels this way. Get over it, grab some beans, and get ready for Ender on the big screen on November 1.

Still, there are some people upset about the whole thing, and movie studio Lionsgate publicly distanced itself from Card and promised to host an “Ender’s Game”-themed benefit for the LGBT community, so Card felt the need to respond to his critics. He wrote in Entertainment Weekly:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Headlines seized on the irony of the author’s plea for tolerance regarding his own intolerance:

Orson Scott Card Responds to Ender’s Game Boycott With Ironic Plea for ‘Tolerance’ – Wired

Poor Hateful Homophobe Orson Scott Card Is Tired of Being Picked On – The Stranger

But I want to point out another irony: Card’s work is part of a long line of science fiction authors who have taken it upon themselves to reimagine marriage in future societies. In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein introduces us to the line marriage. In The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin imagines a society without any real conception of gender. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, if my memory serves me correctly, has all sorts of freaky things going on socio-biologically. And these are just the examples that popped into my head first.

Orson Scott Card’s work is no exception. In Children of the Mind — the third book in the post-Ender’s Game trilogy that follows the story of Ender himself — he envisions what opponents of gay marriage would characterize as the inevitable outcome of the legalization of gay marriage: the marriage of man and machine (though to be fair, George Lucas almost got there first).

I haven’t read the trilogy in a while, but I remembered the story in broad outline and knew just where to turn to to fill in the details: Wikipedia. These scattered excerpts should do:

Continue reading The more subtle irony of Orscon Scott Card’s plea for tolerance

The only Supreme Court decision that really should turn on the wisdom of King Solomon

[If at any point, you know exactly where I’m going with this post, stop reading it. I have nothing to say beyond the totally obvious.]

Gay marriage is just one of those topics that induces people to say dumb things. The latest seems to be Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who quoted King Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes in response to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on gay marriage:

“[The Supreme Court was] not aware that the most wise man in history, Solomon, said there’s nothing new under the sun. And this isn’t new, and it’s been tried over and over. And it’s usually tried at the end of a great civilization.”

Weighty stuff, to be sure.

The remark has been roundly ridiculued around the internet, from John Oliver on the Daily Show to some random guy on some liberal blog and every degree of cleverness in between, for the obvious reason that Gohmert might have picked a better person to make his point than a king who had 700 wives and 300 concubines to his name.

To his credit, Gohmert seems to have realized his mistake, or maybe intended to make it all along, and clarified/walked back the remarks in his week-end remarks on the House floor:

Although Gohmert cited the wisdom of Solomon in criticizing the high court, the Texan found fault with the king of Israel’s lifestyle.

“You know, King Solomon, many — including me — believe was the wisest man who ever lived,” Gohmert said. “Of course, then he had too many wives, and that [will] always mess up anybody’s wisdom.”

Now, I’ve gone on record to argue against invoking the Biblical conception of marriage in the argument over gay rights — both on the part of opponents and especially by proponents — but if we accept the wisdom of invoking Solomon in reference to Supreme Court decisions, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Louie Gohmert simply picked the wrong case.

Take, for instance, another case decided last week to comparatively-minimal media attention, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, which pitted the rights of an adoptive couple against the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act:

One of the ways ICWA protects Indian families is by forbidding the involuntary termination of Indian parents’ parental rights. Under the statute, such terminations are forbidden in the absence of a heightened showing that serious harm is likely to result from the parent’s “continued custody” of the child. Brown based his argument on this statutory provision and won in South Carolina. After two years of living with the Capobiancos, Veronica was turned over to her biological father. But now, in a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court has said that the South Carolina courts were wrong.

I found this case particularly interesting both because the YLS Supreme Court clinic played some small role (unfortunately, on the losing side) and because Roberts, C.J., and Thomas, J. (who both sided with the majority) are themselves adoptive fathers.

But if Louie Gohmert taught us anything, it’s that we should be less interested in the wisdom of the current nine Justices than in that of a certain, historical Judge, and — my apologies for the exceedingly anti-climactic punchline — but I think we all know how King Solomon would have decided this case:

Continue reading The only Supreme Court decision that really should turn on the wisdom of King Solomon

ABC loses all sense of what constitutes a news headline — and news

Friday morning, ABC ran a story its anchors introduced as follows:

“This morning, a visit to a hidden gem of Upper Manhattan: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que founder and owner John Stage makes us a sandwich and talks about what makes barbecue oh so special.”

“This is guaranteed to make you want barbecue for breakfast.”

Watching the video that ensued did not make me want to consume barbecue for breakfast, or at any other time. I want my money back. [Editor’s note: Yes, I’m aware I paid only in opportunity cost.]

I’ll be honest: I don’t watch a lot of TV, and when I do, I certainly don’t watch a lot of TV of this sort. So I’m not so much here to complain about the topic — maybe it was a slow news morning, maybe it was a Friday, or maybe this is just what TV has become — but about how ABC went about titling the video online:

Continue reading ABC loses all sense of what constitutes a news headline — and news

Who’s got two thumbs and liked all of last week’s Supreme Court decisions? These guys

As you probably heard, last week was a big one for American politics. The Senate passed its immigration reform bill, Wendy Davis stood around for a really long time in Texas, and the Supreme Court handed down four eagerly-anticipated long-awaited cases: Fisher, Windsor, Perry, and Shelby Co. — in addition to some less-noticed but possibly nearly-as-important decisions like Koontz.

And while the week-after is typically too soon to fully evaluate the legal ramifications of those SCOTUS decisions — they should generate law review articles for years to come — one thing is clear: nobody seems to be perfectly happy with how everything went down. Even the all-powerful Anthony Kennedy filed a dissent in Perry.

Except, I’d venture, the guys throwing a party in the basement of my building on Thursday evening:

Continue reading Who’s got two thumbs and liked all of last week’s Supreme Court decisions? These guys

My favorite Colbert Report subtitle fail on The Daily Show: second-grade humor edition

You may remember Marco Rubio’s response to Obama’s State of the Union — and if that doesn’t ring a bell, this might:

rubio thirsty

Stephen Colbert made the obligatory pass at water-related jokes, but then he made a more curious — and perhaps adventurous — decision to go after ABC News’ broadcast of the speech in Spanish. Specifically, he had a lot of fun with the fact that ABC’s subtitle-generating speech-recognition software is not also language-recognition software, and transcribed Rubio’s words as though he was speaking en Ingles — to predictably hilarious results.

I call the decision curious because I’ve had ample opportunity to note that Stephen Colbert’s speech-transcription software often has trouble of its own with what he has to say… and he’s speaking in English. I usually watch The Colbert Report with the aid of subtitles because I am on a noisy treadmill, and began to pay closer attention than usual after the Rubio speech in the hope of catching an outrageously egregious mistake.

Since I began to pay close attention, I’ve come across no shortage of absurd transcriptions, but nothing so good it was worth interrupting my run to hit PrtSc and save an image of it.

Until now.

OK, in all fairness, the following screenshot was taken from The Daily Show — but they’re basically the same show, and they certainly use the same software. That technicality out of the way, some quick background: the offending clip contains John Hodgman’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Myriad Genetics that naturally-occurring human genetic material cannot be patented.

You can watch him attempt to collect saliva, facial hair, and toenails from John Oliver — or you can just look at this: Continue reading My favorite Colbert Report subtitle fail on The Daily Show: second-grade humor edition

Grand Ayatollah posts anti-Semitic update, inadvertantely confirms Iranian election was rigged

We could be best friends.

This is my third post about the Iranian election, and the second to involve that cousin. This time, because she alerted me to the existence of a recent Facebook post by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (by way of Yair Rosenberg, for Tablet):

Continue reading Grand Ayatollah posts anti-Semitic update, inadvertantely confirms Iranian election was rigged