Thursday, October 7, 2010
Slate Magazine: Watch as We Make This Law Disappear, by Barry Friedman & Dahlia Lithwick:
It's dark and silent. Reporters trickle into the grand ceremonial room from a door on the left; like everyone, they've been instructed that no recording devices of any sort are allowed. A clutch of spectators, some of whom have been waiting for hours, enters at the rear. At 10 a.m. on the dot, never earlier and never later, the marshal utters her incantation: "The honorable, the chief justice and the associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States." Then they file, from behind the velvet curtain, wearing long black robes; they sit behind a tall dais, sipping water from silver cups. Silent footmen glide back and forth bearing thick books. For the justices, it's a typical oral argument day, but if you didn't know better, you'd think you were watching the initiation into Harry Potter's school for wizards, Hogwarts; or, better yet, the Penn and Teller show at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Magic, mystery, and hush everywhere you look. . . .
How does the Roberts Court work its magic in that marble mega-mall of the law? Here, revealed, are the top tricks of the illusionist Roberts Court.
Trick 1: Stacking the Deck . . . .
Here's another example: Roe v. Wade. The conservative justices don't like it, but they can't simply overrule it because … well, there's that public opinion to consider, and this pesky legal issue known as "precedent." This time they whittled by taking a 2005 case, Gonzales v. Carhart, involving what in media parlance is called "partial birth abortion." The law bans late-term abortions in which the fetus is partially delivered before its brains are sucked out and skull collapsed. If you find it hard even to read that, you've caught the point: That's deck-stacking. . . .