Alexander Wohl

Alexander Wohl is an adjunct professor at American University in the Department of Justice, Law and Society.

Recent Articles

Contenders for the High Court

If It's Bush Send in the Scalia-Thomas Clones Emilio Garza, Fifth Circuit : This former marine captain has clear conservative stands on all the important issues (like the purported error of Roe v. Wade ). But he's shrewd enough not to wear them on his sleeve. Appointed by President Bush in 1991 after three years as a U.S. district court judge and another three as a state trial judge, Garza was also a finalist for the High Court seat that went to Clarence Thomas. His Hispanic background is a big asset: Both presidential candidates would love to appoint the first Hispanic to the Court. J. Michael Luttig, Fourth Circuit : The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has the reputation of being the most conservative court in the land. One recent Fourth Circuit decision overturned Miranda --and was reversed by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Appointed in 1991, Luttig is a big reason for the circuit's shift to the activist right. He has also paid...

Halting the Judgernaut

A s Capitol Hill adjusts to Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords's earthshaking repudiation of the Republican Party, the Senate Judiciary Committee is bracing itself to be the center of the aftershocks. The judicial branch of government, after all, is where a president is likely to have his most far-reaching impact; the judges he appoints will last much longer than the one or two terms he serves. And the Judiciary Committee--which is a key venue for debate about potent legislative issues such as abortion, school prayer, flag burning, and civil rights--is also the primary battleground in judicial-confirmation fights. Thus, with George W. Bush's first slate of nominees for the federal bench waiting for hearings, the most resounding political clashes of the summer are likely to occur on the Judiciary Committee's turf. When Jeffords abandoned the Republicans, he threw control of Senate committees to the Democratic Party, providing Dems on the Judiciary Committee with the power to strangulate...

Bush's Tenth Justice

While Democrats in the Senate failed to block the appointment of John Ashcroft as attorney general, they did send a message--albeit a weak one--with their opposition. Their 42 votes against Ashcroft were enough to demonstrate that they might have filibustered the appointment and that they could block any future judicial appointment they found similarly unpalatable. Yet the Democrats appear to have missed their own message, because they subsequently have given a virtually free ride to what ought to have been an equally controversial appointment: Ted Olson as solicitor general. Under serendipitous cover of a foreign policy imbroglio with China, Olson sailed quietly through an abbreviated hearing in the Senate and appears at this writing to be headed for imminent confirmation. The solicitor general of the United States may be the most important job you've never heard of; its holder plays a greater role in shaping constitutional and legal policy in this country than anyone in the...

Diversity on Trial

I f this article had appeared before Tuesday, March 27, the sentence you are reading now would have said: "A recent decision by a district court judge about admissions policies at the University of Michigan is heartening news for supporters of affirmative action in higher education." Instead, that introductory sentence needs to be replaced with this one: "A recent decision by a district court judge about admissions policies at the University of Michigan is disheartening news for supporters of affirmative action in higher education." What happened? Actually, as contradictory as those two sentences sound, they're both true. On December 13 of last year, a federal district court judge appointed by Ronald Reagan upheld the constitutionality of race-conscious undergraduate admissions at the University of Michigan. Yet a mere three months later, on March 27, another ruling--by another Reagan-appointed judge on the same district court--held that the race-conscious admissions program of the...

And the Verdict Is...

I n the world of television, imitation is not simply the sincerest form of flattery; it is among the most lucrative. That's why network executives are doing everything they can to cash in on the reality TV fad. It's also why the hottest new category of reality TV shows turns out to be that old faithful of programming, the courtroom drama. At least five new law-based reality shows are slated for the fall schedule, the latest progeny of Judge Wapner's famous People's Court , which first aired in 1981, ran 12 years in syndication, returned in 1997 with New York City's former Mayor Ed Koch on the bench handing down wisecracks and off-the-cuff decisions, and is now presided over by Jerry Sheindlin (Judge Judy's husband). The new shows are as contrived as Survivor , of course. TV viewers raised on daytime Wapner and prime-time courthouse fictions--from The Defenders in the 1960s, through several incarnations of Perry Mason , to L.A. Law and now The Practice , Judging Amy , and Ally McBeal...

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