While there are infuriating episodes of disgusting, inexcusable male behavior on college campuses, some shown in CNN’s film “The Hunting Ground,” the film as a whole was not an honest documentary but rather slick propaganda. It gravely distorts the facts of some of the cases it discusses; falsely suggests that there is a campus rape “epidemic” by promoting alarmist statistics that had been amply discredited before the firm aired; and hypes a campus “rape culture” that does not exist. It also ignores how the disciplinary process in American colleges and universities has been pervasively slanted, under Obama Administration pressure, to presume the […]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Six Supreme Court justices Thursday came down for common sense and judicial self-restraint by rejecting, over bitter dissents, a legal challenge that had threatened to cripple President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in 34 states. Because the court sided with the president, Obamacare will continue in effect with no change from the current pattern of distributing to many millions of low-and-middle-income people in all 50 states the premium subsidies (in the form of tax credits) that make health insurance affordable for many or most of them.
Stuart Taylor talked about his essay “The Big Snoop,” for the Brookings Institution. In the piece he profiled four national security experts and their views on the National Security Agency’s practices, and changes needed since former government contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of information gathering programs. Watch the video here.
Author and journalist Stuart Taylor responded to C-SPAN’s “Q&A” interview with William D. Cohan that aired April 20, 2014, in which Mr. Cohan talked about his book, The Price of Silence, about the 2006 Duke University lacrosse rape case. Mr. Taylor comprehensively refuted the book. He is the co-author of the 2007 book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. Video clips were shown of the interview with Mr. Cohan.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was a case with a potent mix of race, sexual violence, and class. The alleged rape of a black woman who had been hired as a stripper at a party by three white members of Duke University’s lacrosse team.
It garnered headlines across the country, stirred turmoil at one of the nation’s leading universities, and then fell apart completely. In the end, North Carolina’s attorney general announced that the three players — Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty, and David Evans — were innocent and called Mike Nifong, the local district attorney who brought the case, "a rogue prosecutor."
A new book by Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson called "Until Proven Innocent" takes a hard look at what happened. Stuart Taylor, a longtime legal journalist and currently a columnist for the National Journal, joins me now.
Welcome to you.
STUART TAYLOR, Legal Journalist: Nice to be with you.
JEFFREY BROWN: You suggest that the flaws in this case were apparent from the very beginning from the police investigation. Give us a good example.
STUART TAYLOR: The woman who ended up claiming she’d been raped didn’t say anything about it for 90 minutes. She first claimed she has been raped while she was being checked into a mental hospital for involuntary confinement. That was her ticket out.
As soon as she was out, she recanted the rape allegation and told Sergeant John Shelton, "No, I wasn’t raped." And while he was calling that in, somebody says, "Well, she’s changed it again. During the course of the night, she said she had been raped by 20 men, five men, three men, four men, take your pick."
And her story continued to be wild and crazy and inconsistent and implausible, self-contradictory and contradicted by all medical evidence from that point forward. None of the police at the hospital believed her.
MARGARET WARNER: It was the Supreme Court’s inaugural term under Chief Justice John Roberts, the first new chief in two decades. The blockbuster ruling of this term, involving presidential power in time of war, didn’t emerge until the final day last week.
But, before then, the court issued 68 decisions on legal controversies, ranging from political redistricting to physician-assisted suicide, and from the death penalty and other criminal law matters to military recruitment on college campuses. The term was notable, too, for the midway replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor by new justice Samuel Alito.
We assess the term now with four longtime court watchers: in California, Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University Law School; and Kathleen Sullivan, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University and former dean of its law school; and, here in Washington: Stuart Taylor, a columnist for The Legal Times and senior writer for "National Journal" magazine; and Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University and legal affairs editor at "The New Republic," and, I should say, author of a new book as well about the courts.
Welcome to you all.
If this is the beginning of the Roberts’ era, Kathleen Sullivan, to what degree did he put a distinctive stamp on this court?
KATHLEEN SULLIVAN, Constitutional Law Center Director, Stanford University: Margaret, the term this year is best described as the Roberts conservative court in waiting. He was unable to put a clear stamp on the court in any new direction.
And let’s make no mistake about it. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are very conservative. Justice Alito voted with the conservative bloc 15 percent more of the time than Justice O’Connor, whom he replaced.
RAY SUAREZ: We are now joined by two court watchers who have been following these hearings closely: Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor at the New Republic, and Stuart Taylor, a columnist with National Journal and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
And Stuart, Judge Alito was in the hot seat for upwards of seven hours. They covered a great many subjects during this first day of questioning. Looking at the arc of the day, how did he do?
STUART TAYLOR: Given the rather arcane rules of this game– and it is sort of a game– I thought he had a pretty strong day after a little bit of a weak opening statement yesterday beginning with the joke that fell flat.
But today he managed to duck the questions he needed to duck. He gave very reassuring answers to the questions that people were worried about. You know: yes, I respect precedent. I would have an open mind about Roe v. Wade; I believe in the right to privacy; I believe in the right to contraception, Griswold v. Connecticut. The president is not above the law. I agree with Justice O’Connor when she said a state of war is not a blank check for the executive when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens. The one person/one vote principle is a fundamental part of American law.
So these are all areas where he previously said things that shook some people up, and he to some extent took the sting out of a lot of those. And with the help of Republican senators, he gave some counter examples to the claims that have been made that he very rarely rules in favor of a civil rights plaintiff or a race discrimination complaint.
This isn’t to say that he has no problems, but going in the idea was that he would be confirmed unless he stumbled. I didn’t see him stumble.
RAY SUAREZ: Professor Rosen.
RAY SUAREZ: As a lawyer in the Reagan administration, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote several memos, briefs and letters that have garnered widespread attention since their release by the National Archives earlier this month. In these documents, Alito advised his superiors at the Justice Department on matters ranging from executive privilege to abortion rights to civil rights, subjects that are likely to take center stage at his Senate confirmation hearings in two weeks.
Meanwhile, advocates and court watchers are pouring over the writings, hoping to glean how Alito might rule from the high court.
I’m joined now by two scholars who have been doing just that: Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor at the New Republic; and Stuart Taylor, a columnist with National Journal and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
And, looking over these vast number of documents that have been released in the last month, are you getting a better sense of who Samuel Alito is?
JEFFREY ROSEN: It is possible to get a sense, and it’s interesting to compare them with the Roberts memos. In many ways, Alito’s seemed less deft; I think in particular of that job application that he sent to Attorney General Meese where he said, "I am a fierce conservative. I’m proudest of my opposition to abortion."
There was an earnestness and a rawness that we didn’t see in the wittier Roberts. On the other hand, you have the sense in these memos that Alito is a careful lawyer, always strategically advising the Justice Department to choose conservative and prudent strategies, rather than a fire-breathing ideologue, and in that sense he seems a little bit more reassuring than I might have feared.
RAY SUAREZ: Stuart?
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, remembering Lloyd Cutler, counselor to presidents. The Washington lawyer died yesterday at 87. I said he was 84 in the News Summary earlier. That was wrong.
We get some insight into Lloyd Cutler’s life and career from Stuart Taylor, columnist for the Legal Times and senior writer for National Journal Magazine. Back in 1977, Stuart was fresh out of law school and a new associate at Lloyd Cutler’s law firm here in Washington. He has since written often and extensively about Mr. Cutler. Welcome.
STUART TAYLOR: Nice to be here, Jim.
JIM LEHRER: What’s the most important thing all of us should know about Lloyd Cutler?
STUART TAYLOR: He was a great lawyer in a time when lawyers could be called great, not just slick or good and when great lawyers could also be great statesmen, when being a great Washington lawyer, a super lawyer, as he and others were called, meant serving the country not just serving a bunch of corporate clients. He served a bunch of corporate clients. The list goes on and on and he served them well.
But he also was in and out of government as you mentioned. He had jobs with six presidents. He worked across party lines. He was a democrat and not a conservative democrat, I’d say, a little bit liberal for a democrat. But he worked with Republicans all the time on all kinds of things and had their respect. In today’s Washington, I’m not sure anyone could do that.
But as you mentioned earlier, six presidents, his greatest headliners were president — he was counsel, White House counsel to each of our last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. But he also served in commissions and various other capacities for the first President Bush, for President Reagan, for the second, the current President Bush. He was, when he died he was at least ex-officio a member of the commission investigating weapons of mass destruction.
JIM LEHRER: Margaret Warner talked with Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson last week, beginning with why so much of the legal proceedings have been conducted in secret.
LARRY THOMPSON: Nothing that we have been done has been enacted in secrecy. Every measure that we have undertaken is out in the open. Every measure that we have undertaken has had the sunlight of public attention. And almost all measures are not done unilaterally by members of the Department of Justice. These measures are subject to judicial review by judges and other judicial officers.
MARGARET WARNER: But let me just ask you for instance, the chief immigration judge, who just explained to our viewers also is part of the Department of Justice, Michael Creppi, issued an order saying, and I’ll just read it to you, that these hearings, these deportation hearings, were to be held in secret, "no visitors, no family, no press, not even confirming whether it’s on the docket."
LARRY THOMPSON: The only thing that has been secret, if you will, has been the list of the individuals and the actual hearing itself. But the fact that an individual was taken into custody, the fact that he or she was in a particular detention facility, that was open to the public, if you will, to their friends, to their relatives, they could make phone calls.
This was not done in the dark of night. People do not disappear in this country and we have really not done anything in secret, if you will. The actual administration of justice with respect to some of these cases was done, what we call in camera, because of national security and other concerns, and even that has been subject to judicial review, but nothing has been done in secret.