The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

CNN's Toobin discusses the modern Supreme Court

By Noah Westreich

On Wednesday afternoon, best-selling author, CNN senior legal analyst, New Yorker staff writer and father of a Macalester student Jeffrey Toobin delivered a lecture in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall. After a gracious introduction, Toobin took the stage and said to the audience with a straight face: “To hell with all those accomplishments. My real accomplishment is being the father of a Macalester sophomore!”

In line with his latest book, “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court,” Toobin channeled his expertise surrounding the Supreme Court, sharing anecdotes, analyses, and historical and current affairs involving the Court. He recommended that everyone in the audience visit the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. for an intimate, entertaining look into this aspect of the Government.

Starting with the present state of the Court and working his way back in history, Toobin creatively strung together significant events in order to explain state of the Supreme Court in the age of President Obama.

Toobin commented on the peculiarity of the Supreme Court as an institution. Among its peculiarities, he mentioned, are its religious and academic makeup. The Court is made up of six Catholics and three Jews, all of whom attended Harvard or Yale Law Schools. Toobin also pointed to the Justices that issued the Oath of Office to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2009. They were sworn in by Justices that they did not vote for while in the Senate- the first time in history this has occurred.

On partisan issues, Toobin noted that the Republican Party of George W. Bush is not the same as the Republican Party of Richard Nixon. The evolution of partisanship on the Court is evident by looking at the Justices-they are not divided along partisan lines, rather they are divided by polarized ideologies. It can be observed that the 60s were the last time the Court had a primarily liberal agenda.

“Fantastic,” said Charlie Carter ’13 of the lecture. “His humor was spot on and his encyclopedic knowledge was impressive.”

In addition to the all-campus lecture, Toobin visited two classes and met with Pre-Law and Political Science students. In one of the classes, POLI 207 US Civil Rights and Liberties, taught by Patrick Schmidt, “The Nine” is assigned reading.

“The simple geography of being in the Midwest can make us feel that the really big-time politics happen somewhere far away. Having Toobin in the classroom helps bring us a little bit closer,” Schmidt said via email.

Toobin was sure to preach the magnitude of the Court’s decisions. Quoting former Justice Robert H. Thomas: “We [the Supreme Court] are not final because we are infallible, we are infallible because we are final.

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