Law from the Inside Out
November 7, 2013 issue
Ronald Dworkin (1931–2013) was Professor of Philosophy and Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law at NYU. His books include Is Democracy Possible Here?, Justice in Robes, Freedom’s Law, and Justice for Hedgehogs. He was the 2007 winner of the Ludvig Holberg International Memorial Prize for “his pioneering scholarly work” of “worldwide impact” and he was recently awarded the Balzan Prize for his “fundamental contributions to Jurisprudence.”
Why Did Chief Justice Roberts Change His Mind?
There is persuasive internal evidence in the various opinions the justices filed that he intended to vote with the other conservatives to strike the Act down and changed his mind only at the very last minute. Commentators on all sides have speculated furiously about why he did so.
July 9, 2012
Why the Health Care Challenge Is Wrong
The Supreme Court’s hearings in the health care case, Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, over a nearly unprecedented three days of oral argument, generated all the attention, passion, theater, and constant media and editorial coverage of a national election or a Super Bowl. The legal issues, most analysts think, are not really controversial: the Constitution’s text, the Supreme Court’s own precedents, and basic constitutional principle seem obviously to require upholding the Affordable Health Care Act. But the questions of the ultra-conservative justices in the oral argument have now convinced most commentators that on the contrary, in spite of text, precedent, and principle, the Court will declare the Act unconstitutional in June, by a 5-4 vote.
April 2, 2012
Can Obama Act Alone?
As the debt ceiling fiasco continues unresolved and increasingly dangerous, with no agreement among the House, the Senate and the White House yet in sight, an obscure and forgotten constitutional clause has suddenly come under scrutiny. The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, provides that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Does that clause mean that it is unconstitutional for Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling – the amount the nation is legally permitted to borrow – in our present circumstances, and that the President is therefore constitutionally permitted to borrow money on his own authority?
July 29, 2011
How FDR Did It
We now have a President we can admire and respect. But he seems unaware that his opponents are not patriots anxious to help govern through a decent consensus but fanatics who would destroy the country if that would lead to his defeat. We think he should understand that this is a time for confrontation not compromise. He should therefore remember the words of another president running for reelection in the middle of an even graver economic catastrophe, words that seem eerily relevant now.
July 7, 2011