Stories by Stuart Taylor Jr.

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    The Twilight of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

    With the courts, Congress and the Pentagon moving away from the ban on gays in the military, the end of the Clinton-era policy appears to be coming.
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    Amid Partisan Bickering, Kagan Is Narrowly Confirmed

    The outcome was never in doubt. But the narrowness of the 63–37 margin by which the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan as Supreme Court’s 112th justice this afternoon would stun a Rip Van Winkle who had slept through the rising partisan rancor that has poisoned judicial confirmations at all levels in recent years.
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    Kagan Hearings Are All About the Midterms

    With little doubt that Elena Kagan will be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, senators have turned her hearings into a preview of the fall elections. Wednesday's topics: abortion, gays in the military, and campaign finance.
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    Graham, the Gentleman, at Kagan Hearings

    Sen. Lindsey Graham injected a distinctive and salutary element Tuesday afternoon into a dreary confirmation process drenched in partisanship, yet devoid of real drama. It was a lesson about the need to tamp down the bitter liberal–conservative battles poisoning Washington.
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    Are Kagan Hearings a Waste of Time?

    Like many similar proceedings that came before, the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings have offered little in substance or excitement. Why some think Congress should scrap testimony from reviews of judicial nominees.
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    Sessions Pounds Kagan on Military

    The Supreme Court nominee defends her decision as Harvard Law dean to restrict U.S. armed-services recruiters from using the school’s career-services office. Will the attacks resonate with patriotic Americans?
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    Kagan Hearing Is the Charade She Detests

    The nominee once criticized Supreme Court confirmation hearings as "vapid and hollow." Hers is shaping up to be exactly that. And that's a good thing for the White House.
  • Dems Use Kagan Hearing to Go After Roberts

    Democrats in the Senate used the first day of Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings to launch attacks on the Supreme Court under John Roberts, which Sen. Patrick Leahy derided as driven by "conservative judicial activism." Meanwhile, Kagan may have found an supporter among Republicans: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
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    Gun-Rights Decision May Have Limited Impact

    The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the right “to keep and bear arms” in the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment applies to state and local governments. But this new-found right may not restrict gun control laws very much.
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    Kagan's Best Strategy Is Silence

    Republican Sen. Charles Grassley says he will press Elena Kagan at her confirmation hearing to be “as forthcoming” about her views of specific issues as she once argued other Supreme Court nominees should be. Many commentators have also called on her to disclose her specific views. But Kagan will not do that. And she should not.
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    Order on the Court: Why Kagan Won't Mean Change on War Powers

    With solicitor general Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearing due to start June 28, left-leaning skeptics worry that she may be more deferential to presidential war powers—at the expense of civil liberties—than retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
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    Leahy Proposal to Avoid 4–4 Ties: It’s About Timing

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has floated the idea of passing a new law to allow a retired Supreme Court justice to sit on a case in which a current justice has recused, to avoid 4–4 ties.
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    Kagan to Be Attacked From Left and Right

    It’s a pretty safe bet that the Democratic-ruled Senate will confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, by about Aug. 6, with over 60 votes.
  • Washington State Fights to Out Antigay Activists

    Is signing a petition a public act, like holding up a protest sign, or is it a private decision, like casting a vote? That question is before the Supreme Court next month, in a case that could have far-reaching implications for activism on both the left and right.The controversy began last year when 138,000 Washington state residents signed a petition to repeal benefits for same-sex domestic partners. The effort, which became Referendum 71, failed at the ballot box. But that wasn't the end of it: Washington's secretary of state, Sam Reed, tried to make the signers' names public, citing state law. Fearing harassment, some signers sued to block the release of their names—setting the stage for a lose-lose decision.If the high court makes petitioners' names public, people on the wrong side of hotly contested ballot measures nationwide could face a backlash. If the court upholds their anonymity, however, it's a blow to transparency—and the significance of "We the undersigned."
  • If Ginsburg Retires, Obama Faces A Tough Choice

    President Obama has tried to remain true to his campaign message of bipartisanship. But he's struggled to get everyone else to play along. Congressional Democrats, finally out from under the GOP thumb, want to enjoy their powers, while Republicans are already plotting their comeback. It'll only get worse with time, as firm decisions have to be made on issues that are loaded with ideology and emotion.A reminder came with the news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg, 75, has no apparent plans to leave the court, and she may well serve out Obama's term. (She survived a 1999 bout with colon cancer without missing a day on the bench.) But both she and another liberal justice—88-year-old John Paul Stevens—are the oldest and thus deemed the most likely to step down in the next four to eight years. When that happens, Obama will have a tough choice to make, one that seems guaranteed to upset a good portion of the country.Obama has...
  • Obama's Cheney Dilemma

    Cheney pushed for expanded presidential powers. Now that he's leaving, what will come of his efforts? The new president won't have to wait long to tip his hand.
  • The Supreme Court's Political Rulings

    A - Liberal justices are politicians on the bench, B - Conservative justices are politicians on the bench, C - Liberal and conservative justices regard each other as hypocrites on this question, D - All of the above
  • Stuart Taylor on Race and the Court

    Measured by the passion of the dissenters, today’s 5-4 vote to strike down two school districts’ use of race-based student assignments to promote integration could be the biggest Supreme Court decision of any kind in years. Justice Stephen Breyer’s 77-page dissent—which he summarized from the bench in a tone of mounting indignation, for a near-record 27 minutes—thundered that “to invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise” of “true racial equality” that Brown v. Board of Education established. Breyer added that the position of the four most-conservative justices “would break that promise.”Breyer’s apocalyptic language notwithstanding, the decision may not be the watershed that he and the other three liberal dissenters feared. The majority opinion of Chief Justice John G. Roberts—especially the portion that the man in the middle, Justice Anthony Kennedy, declined to join—exuded skepticism of all government programs that consider the race or ethnicity of individuals...
  • Taylor: The President's War Powers

    President Bush did not mince words May 1, in announcing his decision to veto the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill. “This legislation is unconstitutional because it purports to direct the conduct of the operations of the war in a way that infringes upon the powers vested in the presidency by the Constitution, including as commander in chief of the armed forces,” Bush said. His pronouncement did more than blunt a Democratic-led congressional effort to start winding down the war. He also planted the seeds for an extraordinarily sweeping assertion of presidential power—one which, if carried to its logical conclusion, could allow him to defy any and all congressional restrictions on the conduct of war in the future.The bill that Bush denounced as unconstitutional would in fact have placed only minor restrictions on his conduct of the Iraq War. Yes, it would have required that Bush begin withdrawing troops by July 1 under certain circumstances, and by October 1 at the latest. But...

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