The Supreme Court short list.

Taking stock of people and ideas in the news.
July 1 2005 11:34 AM

The Supreme Court Shortlist

The views of the likely candidates.

(Continued from Page 6)
J. Harvie Wilkinson III
J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Age: 60 Graduated from: University of Virginia School of Law. He clerked for: Justice Lewis F. Powell. He used to be: a law professor at the University of Virginia. He was also at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration and served as the editorial-page editor of the Virginian-Pilot. He's now: a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (appointed 1984).

His confirmation battle: Wilkinson is reported to be an affable, middle-of-the-road southerner like Lewis Powell, the Supreme Court justice for whom he clerked. But his record as a forward-looking defender of core conservative values is more akin to William Rehnquist's. Like Rehnquist, Wilkinson has a long affiliation with the Republican Party (he ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in Virginia in 1970). His confirmation battle would probably highlight his willingness to defer to the president in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi. Wilkinson's approach to the case was overturned by the Supreme Court and pilloried, in a separate opinion, by Scalia. Another factor to consider is Wilkinson's age—at 60, he is the oldest of the shortlisters by a significant margin.


Civil Rights and Liberties

For the 4th Circuit as a whole, upheld the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Wilkinson's opinion rejected the claims of a gay-rights group that the policy violated the equal-protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against homosexuals. (Thomasson v. Perry, 1996) 

In the 1985 book One Nation Indivisible: How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America, sharply criticized affirmative action for causing racial division.

Over a dissent, struck down an affirmative action program in Richmond, Va., which guaranteed that at least 30 percent of municipal contracts would go to minority-owned businesses. Wilkinson's approach was adopted by the Supreme Court. (J.A. Croson Co. v. City of Richmond,1987)

For a unanimous panel, rejected the claims of Yaser Esam Hamdi. Wilkinson argued that the president's war powers allowed him to hold Hamdi without trial as an enemy combatant captured abroad and that he was not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court rejected this approach. (Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 2003)

Separation of Church and State

For a unanimous panel, found that a "non-sectarian invocation" recited at the start of meetings of a county board of supervisors in Virginia does not violate the Constitution's prohibition against government-endorsed religion. (Simpson v. Chesterfield County Bd. of Supervisors, 2005)

For a unanimous panel, reversed a district-court ruling to find that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prisons to accommodate the religious observance of prisoners, is constitutional. The Supreme Court unanimously reached the same conclusion. (Madison v. Riter, 2003)

Voted unsuccessfully (along with Luttig) to reconsider a case in which a three-judge panel found that a superintendent at the Virginia Military Institute who required cadets to say a prayer before eating supper in the mess hall possibly violated the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state. (Mellen v. Bunting, 2003)

Environmental Protection and Property Rights

Over Luttig's dissent, upheld various regulations issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service promulgated under the Endangered Species Act in the face of a challenge that they exceeded Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause. (Gibbs v. Babbitt, 2000)


Voted to deny rehearing (along with Luttig) in a case about South Carolina's decision to offer "choose life" license plates. Wilkinson's vote helped to uphold a ruling that the license-plate program violated the First Amendment because it did not offer pro-choice advocates a similar opportunity to make license plates that asserted their views. (Planned Parenthood of S.C. Inc. v. Rose, 2004)



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?