August 27, 2017

Quote of the moment

History isn't encouraging. Judges frequently like to roar from the bench about their independence and high-mindedness; but when it comes to true independence, these lions of the law often turn cowardly. Times of war and emergency make them even more timorous. The court enthusiastically backed Woodrow Wilson's World War I crackdown on civil liberties; it meekly surrendered to the Japanese Internment. In two Nixon-era cases, the court held that media outlets could publish the formerly secret Pentagon Papers, and that Nixon had to turn over the "smoking gun" tape to a federal court. But those decisions, historically, are anomalous.

-- Garrett Epps