A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

A Legal Primer for Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd

By LASIS Staff

We love you, Maureen Dowd. You are one of our favorite columnists in the New York Times. You’re one of our favorite columnists, period.

But you were confused in your column today when you expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court’s coldheartedness on the bench this week during oral arguments about same sex marriage.

“The justices offered no pearls on liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Justice Antonin Scalia didn’t even know how many states allowed gay marriage. Clarence Thomas looked distracted, whispering to clerks and titling horizontally in his chair.”

We’re with you so far, Ms. Dowd.

But you go on to chastise Justice Kennedy, who “offered no lovely odes to fairness as he did in Lawrence v. Texas, which states that “the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Those eloquent words are taken from the written opinion, Ms. Dowd, delivered by Mr. Kennedy on behalf of the court, in what’s known as the majority opinion.

You are comparing these well thought out sentiments, and carefully crafted prose, delivered months after oral argument, with the real-time questioning of the adversaries in Court the other day. Apple and oranges.

Will some justices deliver the kind of compassion you’re looking for in their written opinions for Hollingsworth v. Perry, expected to come down in June?

We wager they will. As the world learned last year in the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, it’s unwise to read much into the tenor of oral arguments.

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