Quote IconIt is regrettable that five members of the Supreme Court upheld state and federal DNA databases based on a premise that Scalia reveals to be a fiction: that the purpose of DNA testing is to identify suspects rather than to solve cold cases. Scalia notes that the Court’s broad holding—that DNA can be seized from arrestees—was “quite unnecessary,” since everyone concedes that King’s DNA could have been seized as a result of his conviction for second-degree assault. The 22 remaining states that don’t collect DNA from arrestees are likely to do so now, and the threats to privacy will only grow. But it is inspiring to see Justice Scalia’s wit, passion, and devotion to constitutional principle being deployed so effectively on behalf of American liberty.

Scalia’s DNA Dissent Was One of His Finest, Ever by Jeffrey Rosen.

How the 2000 election changed the gun control debate.

In the days after the Aurora horror I was considering floating a theory about the past decade’s decline in support for gun control even in the face of a string of mass shootings. I never got around to it, and put it on the back burner. Well, here we are just a couple weeks later and I once again have what we in the news business call a “peg” for my argument—another half dozen shot dead by a well-armed nutcase. So, here’s my idea: that the Supreme Court seriously undermined the prospects for gun control efforts long before its 2008 ruling in D.C. v. Heller, which affirmed the Second Amendment right to bear arms in very strong terms. When was that? Well, in another little case from 2000, Bush v. Gore.

It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time, not so long ago, when it was not anathema for politicians—well, Democratic ones, at least—to propose major restrictions on gun ownership. In the 2000 Democratic primaries, Bill Bradley ran on a platform of registering all handguns, and repeatedly challenged his opponent, Al Gore, for being too soft on the issue. 

Alec MacGillis  Did Bush v. Gore Eviscerate Gun Control?” 

Is the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare that good for liberalism after all?

"SOME VICTORIES prepare the ground for more victories; others lay the basis for future defeats. The great question for liberals about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is which kind of victory it is.

John Roberts’s decision to spare the ACA at least allows the president this fall to claim health reform as a major achievement. But the chief justice’s new limits on the scope of the Commerce clause and federal spending powers may put future reforms at risk of being struck down and require liberals to rethink their approach to national policy. Roberts’s opinion upholds conservative positions in nearly every respect except its conclusion, and it is especially worrisome in light of the readiness of the four right-wing dissenting justices to use the same arguments to overturn the ACA in its entirety. As long as the Court has a conservative majority, the threat of a judicial veto will now hang over a wide range of liberal initiatives, including many long believed to be moderate, incremental, and constitutionally secure.”

Paul Starr — "Between the Lines"

What lies behind Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold the Obamacare mandate?

AT THE END OF ROBERTS’S first term as chief justice in July 2006, I interviewed him in his chambers at the Supreme Court. Our conversation, which I wrote about in an article for The Atlantic, was wide-ranging, but Roberts returned repeatedly to one theme: his desire to restore the bipartisan legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

In Roberts’s view, the Court was losing respect with the public because it issued too many rulings along partisan lines. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term-after-term focus on five–four decisions,” he said. “I think the Court is also ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution,” he told me, “because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility.”

Roberts said he had been inspired by the example of his greatest predecessor, John Marshall. “He could easily have got on the Court and said, ‘I’m the last hope of the Federalists: We’re out of Congress, we’re out of the White House, and I’m going to pursue that agenda here,’” he said. “But instead he said, ‘No, this is my home now, this is the Court, and we’re going to operate as a Court, and that’s important to me.’”

— Jeffrey Rosen, “Big Chief

Timothy Noah on the GOP’s misdirected Obamacare anger

Republicans would rather kick up a fuss about a pipsqueak tax on health-insurance-shirkers, most of them probably lower-income, which means they’re an unlikely bet to vote Republican. Maybe it’s because they don’t really think of payroll taxes as taxes. (Grover Norquist has said he has no problem with raising them.) Maybe it’s because they got burned fighting with Obama over his payroll (i.e., OASDI) tax cut late last year, which possibly left them never wanting to speak the words “payroll tax” ever again, even if it’s to point out that Obama is now raising them (albeit only on people in the top 5 percent of incomes nationwide; but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Republicans to leave that part out). For whatever reason, the GOP is spending remarkably little effort on fighting Obamacare’s most significant tax hike. As a liberal, I find this pleasing. As a journalist, I find it puzzling.”

–– Timothy Noah, “The Real Obamacare Tax Increase