, the Supreme Court's role is modest on some fronts, yes—I agree that deciding that child rapists can't be executed is not of the same order as upholding the death penalty in the first place. Or that outlawing one method of late-term abortion isn't up there with
. But in other areas, the court looks bigger to me, and the disagreements worthy.
is my best recent example: Whether the Guantanamo detainees have the right to go to federal court matters enormously to them, and quite a lot to America's legal tradition and world image, I think.
is harder to tell, since it's like an opening bid that invites more challenges to gun restrictions, but it's not every day that a new constitutional right appears in our midst. And the knocking back of the punitive damages award against Exxon seems significant to me, for its own sake and because of the signal Justice Souter's opinion sends about potential limits to state punitive-damages laws. I often wonder if to write about the court is inevitably to hype its importance, and I like your impulse to knock it (and many of us) down a peg. But I'm glad the justices see more than small beans to fight over—Justice Scalia's rhetoric, as usual, being the best evidence of passion stirred.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.