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The Lonely American Dream

Last week an article in The Economist described the worst punishment our society has ever been able to conceive of – solitary confinement. It described a prison in Texas in which Tony Medina, “spends 23 hours inside a concrete box measuring 7 feet by 11 feet.” He is forbidden any human contact. Guards pass trays…

Law versus politics on the Supreme Court

There is a sharp divide in the Court, for instance, on the question of whether the Constitution’s meaning should remain fixed (a position most often associated with Justices Scalia and Thomas) or whether its meaning should change over time (a position that Justices Alito and Breyer, among others, have expressed sympathy with recently). Similarly, a number of justices have staked out divergent positions on whether it is more important to interpret the law to be coherent and consistent (Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, for example) or to account for the law’s practical consequences (Justices Breyer and Kennedy).

Supreme Court to clarify limits on executing the mentally disabled

From a broader perspective, Florida contends that it is simply inappropriate to defer to the private medical community for a constitutional judgment of such importance. If such a delegation of authority were made to clinicians, Florida argues it would create perverse incentives. After all, Florida’s goal is to prevent eligible death row inmates from evading execution, while many in the psychiatric community may seek just the opposite.

Bridging the civilian-military gap

In honor of Veterans Day, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Stanford professor David Kennedy ’63 spoke on Monday about the danger posed by the widening gap between civilians and the military in the United States. At the event, which was held at the Clark Center and sponsored by the Stanford Historical Society, Kennedy identified the 1970s…