Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen . . . the Supremes!

The Supreme Court had a big news day -- two rulings, one preserving the Clean Water Act of 1974 by a cat's whisker, and another on the admissibility of 911 records as evidence.

What makes these two cases so interesting together, in the same news day, is that they typify what's going on with today's court. The High Court tends to produce these unanimous "gimme" decisions on subtle matters (such as the 911 call case), or else we get these intense 5-4 decisions that keep Congressmen awake at night and turns every judicial appointment into a epic battle (as in Justice Kennedy's solomonic tie-breaking vote on how to regulate wetlands). Maybe it's just me . . . I should probably check the record to see if that's really how the numbers shake out, but it seems relatively uncommon to get a 7-2 split. Occassionally I hear about 8-1 decisions where Thomas or Scalia need to get something off their chests in a dissenting opinion, but other than that not a lot of uneven splits in the court opinion.

As I had written before, what makes the Supreme Court decisions interesting is that they illustrate philosophies in action. You get to see what makes a philosophy what it is, by seeing separate philosophies have drastically different readings of the same laws and the same judicial principles. It reaffirms my faith in philosophy as an essential discipline of intellectual life, rather than just a vestigial organ of liberal arts colleges . . . you only have to hang around appeal court decisions to realize: "Philosophy isn't abstract or unreal . . . philosophy is everything." There is nothing admissible or inadmissible, but thinking makes it so . . .



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