Garrett Epps is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore. He covers the Supreme Court for theatlantic.com. His book, American Epic: Reading the US Constitution was published in August 2013 by Oxford University Press.
When future critics ask whether turn-of-the-century American TV produced any works of genius, the verdict on the entire medium--all 128 channels of it--is likely to depend on their assessment of a cult teen hit currently airing on UPN, with syndicated reruns on FX.
In a surprise breakthrough in antitrust settlement talks, negotiators for Microsoft and the government have agreed on a plan by which the software giant will acquire the U.S. Department of Justice for $7 billion, sources close to the discussions said yesterday. Though no official announcement has been made, the parties are said to be working out the final details of the settlement, including the role of Attorney General Janet Reno in the new subsidiary, which will be known as "MicroJust."
By Cass R. Sunstein. Oxford University Press. 304 pages $29.95
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, constitutions
have been a major American export. Like French lieutenants carrying a field
marshal's baton in their rucksacks, many top-ten law professors have a draft
document for Klopstockia or Zembla tucked away on their hard drives, just in
In 1957 the Fund for the Republic asked a young historian to write a brief memorandum on the original understanding of the First Amendment. Leonard Levy, who was teaching at Brandeis University, examined the sources and concluded that, at the time the amendment was framed, American courts recognized the crime of "seditious libel"--criticism of the government that could be punished as a crime even if true. "Freedom of speech," he wrote, then meant only the freedom from "prior restraint" on what could be said; speakers could be readily punished after the fact.
Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality, Ronald Dworkin. Harvard University Press, 511 pages, $35.00.
About halfway through Sovereign Virtue, I came across an intriguing paragraph. Ronald Dworkin is discussing Lochner v. New York, an infamous 1905 decision in which a conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a statute limiting the workweek of bakers to 60 hours. The statute, the Court explained blithely, wrongly limited the bakers' "freedom of contract" (a right mentioned nowhere in the Constitution).