My Secret Plan
An email conversation about the news of the day.
June 24 2002 5:51 PM

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Dear Dahlia,

Advertisement

Today's decision in Ring v. Arizona— which will set aside hundreds of death sentences—is another aftershock from the court's decision two terms ago in Apprendi which wrecked havoc with the "modern" idea that sentencing judges could more efficiently than juries determine additional facts that enhance the sentence. The 5-4 Apprendi majority found that the right to jury trial precluded many aspects of the "efficient" system of sentencing by judges. The most frequent comment on Apprendi concerns what many saw as its "strange" lineup with Justices Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens making up the majority. But it was not strange at all. This split is between the Legalists and the Pragmatists. Speaking very loosely, the two Legalists of the right (Scalia and Thomas) joined with the three Legalists of the left (Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens) to uphold the strict application of the Sixth Amendment jury-trial right, while the four most Pragmatic justices (Breyer, O'Connor, Kennedy, and the Chief) opted for a more efficient, practical, workable system, as they saw it. I think we will see this split more often in criminal cases—the old right/left lines are breaking down. I will return to this subject tomorrow, after I've had a chance to digest today's post-Apprendi decisions. Meanwhile …

Can I get in one more e-mail that's not mostly about Supreme Court decisions? My secret plan was to use this Slate gig to launch myself on a fresh, non-law career. This dream ("Newly Discovered Social Commentator Rivals Moliere for Wit, Insight") has so far gone nowhere, buried by end of the term legal opinions. I yearn to speak of sports and culture and art, subjects on which no one wants to hear from me for the trivial reason that I don't actually know anything about them. But since Slate will be left with a lot of blank space unless it runs this last-minute submission, I'll seize the moment to play critic.

As I said last week, I rarely get beyond the sports pages at breakfast, but there is actually a lot of culture and politics to be found there these days. Was I the only person who felt bad about the U.S. soccer team's recent World Cup victory over Mexico? Do we have to be No. 1 in everything? The pictures of grown men in tears in the streets of Mexican towns took away my pleasure.Does this mean that I am a bad American, or even worse, a patronizing one? At any rate, by the time of the U.S.-Germany match, I was totally back with the program ("USA! USA! USA!").

The Holy Grail of all sports records is Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, so a recent story caught my eye. It seems that a Florida Marlins baseball player, Luis Castillo, hit safely in 35 consecutive games, the 10th longest streak ever. Then comes this startling sentence: "The 26-year-old Castillo also surpassed the longest hitting streak by a Latin player, beating the 34-game hitting streak of Benito Santiago in 1987."

Longest hitting streak by a Latin player? What is that all about? According to Sunday's New York Times, "Castillo got a standing ovation after his hit, and the ball was taken out of play to commemorate the Hispanic record." The emergence of many Latin players to stardom in major league baseball has been remarkable (i.e., literally: a thing worthy of being remarked upon) and well worth celebrating. And I'm not always averse to taking account of race. So, then, what bothers me? Is it the quasi-official nature of this "record keeping"? (Will some future baseball commissioner have to rule on who qualifies as "Hispanic")? Will we soon see records set for "most rebounds by a white player"? Isn't this a bad idea?

OK. That's it. Back to law for tomorrow.

Legally,
Walter

Walter Dellinger is a professor of law (on leave) at Duke University and a partner in the appellate practice at O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.