jueves, 21 de octubre de 2010

Ser el ficciólogo...

Ser el ficciólogo comenzó a darme todos los martes a las 10:14am desde que tenía 11 años. No obstante, ser el ficciólogo pasó también a los miércoles, allá en la época de Oro donde las coronitas estaban a peseta.


Ser el ficciólogo implica ver con los ojos de las manos, tocar con las manos de los ojos. Sufrir de antítesis como esa y otras taquicardias literarias.

Ser el ficciólogo es estar en contacto constante con la naturaleza literaria, los árboles de palabras, los ríos de embustes y las yerbabruja de verbosidad en las que pasto cual animal imbécil en inanición.

Ser el ficciólogo es estar tan y tan cansado del control de la “academia”, de ser continuamente observado con mesura ante la evidente carencia de la “disciplina” que se necesita para ser “exitoso” en los “estudios”.

Ser el ficciólogo implica ser contestatario y un poco subversivo, lo suficiente como para hincar en las bolas del “establishment”. Lo que se necesita para ser un hongo vaginal del Gobierno.

Ser el ficciólogo conlleva estar leyendo, leyendo, leyendo, leyendo y nuevamente leyendo cosas que no se asignan en los prontuarios. Como buen patriota, colgarme en dos o tres clases en la universidad de la vida, no dejando a un lado el mandar un poquito al carajo los currículos.

Ser el ficciólogo significa estar en una línea bien difusa entre la Literatura, el Derecho y el Periodismo…no sin antes advertir, con rótulos enormes (que jamás serán tumbados por El Departamento de Obras Públicas) que en realidad no se ha estudiado ninguna de estas materias. Que no se es filósofo si no se nace bruto y luego se busca el cuerno de la abundancia retórica.

Ser el ficciólogo es ser hijo del sociólogo/historiólogo y la secretarióloga/facturóloga y llamarse por un nombre y un binomio de apellidos. Ser ficciólogo también conlleva una vida de cauces en unión de hecho/sacramenta/sexual con la teatróloga/pedagógoga.

Ser el ficciólogo da licencia para matar verbos, degollar libros y unirlos luego como un Frankenstein sudado y bello, recién parido gracias a los pujos de la madre MUSA.

Ser el ficciólogo dota de un poder sobrenatural a lo superman (que nadie se da cuenta que viste el Red, White and Blue, pero es en realidad un extrarreste en EE.UU., un “ilegal Alien” de Kryptonia) para mandar al carajo a quien me de la gana y cuando me de la gana, en nombre de la paciencia artística y el reumatismo de mi exilio en los libros.

Ser el ficciólogo se pega como una gripe de desgracia verbal. Te consumirá y se esparcirá a tus hijos y los hijos de tus hijos, hasta que los hijos de los hijos (ficciólogos todos) hagan el Gobierno de la Ficciólogía.

Att.

EL FICCIÓLOGO

NOTA: Esto es sólo una pieza de uno de mis libros inéditos. Su reproducción está rotundamente prohibida so pena de ficcidio.

Back in Black: La polémica entre Clarence Thomas y Anita Hill

Increíblemente, 19 años después de las controversiales vistas de confirmación del juez Thomas, todavía subsiste la polémica sobre su alegado patrón de hostigamiento.

Esta vez la esposa del Juez Asociado es la protagonista, junto a la ya afamada Anita Hill. Una llamada telefónica fue el detonante. La pregunta: ¿Por qué tiene que escarbar tanto la señora Thomas? ¿Dudas? ¿Envidia?

O, por otro lado, ¿cuán cierto son las versiones de Hill? ¿Habrá algo que no ha contado?

Tomado de http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13070937


Clarence Thomas' Wife In Spotlight After Phone Call

October 20, 2010
A phone call from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has rekindled a steamy controversy that riveted the nation nearly two decades ago.
In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee reopened confirmation hearings for Thomas, after NPR disclosed that University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill — a onetime aide to Thomas -– had accused her former boss of sexual harassment. At the hearing, Hill graphically detailed the events that she said eventually put her in the hospital with stress-related abdominal pain.
An enraged Thomas called the accusations a lie and called the proceedings "a circus," a "national disgrace" and "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."
Thomas was narrowly confirmed, and the matter has lain dormant, and unresolved, for 19 years — until 11 days ago, when Virginia Thomas called Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, at 7:30 a.m. and left a voice mail message. It said:
Good morning, Anita Hill; it's Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK have a good day.
Hill apparently didn't get the message for several days because of the holiday weekend. When she did, she was unsure whether it really was Virginia Thomas calling or a crank. So she conferred with her longtime friend and onetime lawyer, Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, and decided to turn the matter over to the Brandeis campus police, who in turn referred it to the FBI. According to sources close to Hill, the bureau then contacted Virginia Thomas, who confirmed that she had made the call.
On Tuesday, Virginia Thomas issued a public statement, saying the call was an "olive branch" to Hill and that she had not intended any offense. But the Brandeis professor did take offense, declaring that Virginia Thomas "can't ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive." Hill said she has no intention of apologizing since she testified truthfully.
Theories abound as to why Virginia Thomas would have made such a bizarre call. Oct. 9 was close to the anniversary of the hearing. Was she just stewing? Was this an attempt to get more attention for the anti-Obama political group she founded this year? Or was it a reaction to a New York Times front page article that appeared that morning discussing her elevated political role, her links to the Tea Party movement and the problems that might or might not pose for her husband?

Long active in conservative politics, Virginia Thomas has assumed a far more visible role in the past year, founding a group called Liberty Central, which advertises itself as linked to the Tea Party. She has spoken publicly about opposing what she calls the "tyranny" of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats. As president and CEO of Liberty Central, she has raised money from secret donors — more than $500,000 to begin with, and presumably much more since then; all of which has raised questions about a potential conflict of interest for her husband, Justice Thomas.
While some critics have said they are troubled by Virginia Thomas' political activities, the conflict-of-interest statute is aimed primarily at financial conflicts. Therefore, legal ethics experts say that a spouse's political opinions don't matter. That is particularly true in the modern age when spouses have their own careers and are free to express themselves politically. As Northwestern Law School legal ethics expert Steven Lubet observes, the conflict-of-interest law governs a justice's conduct, not his spouse's. New York University ethics expert Stephen Gillers agrees, noting that Supreme Court justices have an obligation to avoid recusal if they can. Unlike lower court judges, who can recuse themselves and be replaced by another judge, that is not true on the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the conflict-of-interest law also counsels judges to avoid the appearance of conflict. Failure to do so could potentially cause the public to lose confidence in a justice or even in the impartiality of the court itself. Would the public, for example, come to regard the court with the same cynicism it regards other institutions if a justice's spouse is front and center, campaigning against the health care bill, and then that bill comes before the court, without the justice's stepping aside?
The ethics experts all say that the law does not impute a spouse's views to the justice she is married to. They say the only solution to the problem is restraint on the part of the spouse.
That assumes there is no financial conflict. In the case of Virginia Thomas, there is one fly in the ointment, according to professor Gillers.
Liberty Central, the organization founded by Virginia Thomas, has accepted a great deal of money from secret donors, all of which is legal under the Supreme Court's 2010 decision striking down many of the previous limits on campaign spending. But Gillers notes Virginia Thomas is CEO and president of the group and that an opportunistic donor, by giving money to an organization that pays Virginia Thomas' salary, is in fact giving a financial benefit to Justice Thomas, too. And that could constitute a financial conflict.
That raises one critical question: How will we know if such a conflict exists, when the donors' identities are secret?

jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

Literatura Puertorriqueña Negra del siglo XIX escrita por negros Obras encontradas de Eleuterio Derkes, Manuel Alonso Pizarro y José Ramos y Brans



Literatura Puertorriqueña Negra del siglo XIX escrita por negros Obras encontradas de Eleuterio Derkes, Manuel Aloso Pizarro y José Ramos y Brans
Roberto Ramos Perea
Ateneo Puertorriqueño.
Editorial Lea 378 págs.

      Literatura Puertorriqueña Negra del siglo XIX ...es un texto que destaca una de las contribuciones literarias olvidadas de nuestra historia, la literatura de nuestros negros intelectuales escrita por los propios negros. Roberto Ramos Perea esboza en este escrito un excelente estudio analítico en donde plantea la importancia de rescatar unos escritos que la sociedad predominantemente blanca, adinerada y católica ha sentenciado a la marginalidad histórica.   
      Sorprende la cantidad de escritos que nunca han resaltado en los currículos de la educación pública del país. Tomo licencia para criticar esta coyuntura aun más, ya que a pesar de haber realizados estudios en literatura, en ninguna de mis clases de Literatura Puertorriqueña, Poesía y Ensayística he escuchado los nombres que Ramos Perea resalta en su ensayo. Me avergüenzo de mi conocimiento y hasta del premio que me concedieron en el pasado ante la falta de respeto que es leer por primera vez los maravillosos dramas de Eleuterio Derkes, los escritos de Manuel Alonso Pizarro y José Ramos y Brans.
      No obstante, en este barco estamos casi todos, ya que las clases sociales dominantes conspiraron para enterrar en el tiempo lo que Ramos Perea con verbo incisivo y certero rescata de la memoria del Sur, Sureste y Oeste de Puerto Rico. Literatura Puertorriqueña Negra del siglo XIX... presenta un resurgir de las letras boricuas. Su concienzuda búsqueda no peca de lacaya, siendo una cacería literaria que hurga los archivos nacionales, eclesiásticos y hasta la memoria colectiva que aún rebrota aquí y allá.
      Las dimensiones de este texto son enormes, sus 378 páginas se componen de tres partes principales. Un estudio preliminar del Dr. Ramos inicia el recorrido histórico de cada una de estas, siendo los parámetros mayores las obras de Derkes, Alonso Pizarro y Ramos y Brans. Sin embargo, esta numeración no es limitativa ya que Ramos Perea destaca también a Eleuterio Lugo, Carlos Casanova, José González Quiara, Tomás Carrión Maduro, José Celso Barbosa, José Elías Levis, Arturo Más Miranda, Eduardo Conde, Luis Felipe Dessus, Enrique Lefebre, Jorge Alonso Fernández y al excelso maestro Arturo Schomber.
      Los mencioné a todos, aunque la lista sea larga, no para aburrir sino para perdurar sus nombres en la radio puertorriqueña. Para que cada uno de ellos goce de lo que le veneraron a Tapia, Lloréns Torres y a Manuel Zeno Gandía. Para que le duela a los blancos y conservadores el saber que hay negros que escriben, piensan y construyen la literatura de este país. Literatura Puertorriqueña Negra del siglo XIX ...es un libro para la historia. Aplaudo enérgicamente el esfuerzo del Dr. Ramos Perea. Este libro es lectura obligatoria, para todos, gusten o no de la literatura, punto.

martes, 12 de octubre de 2010

Esta semana es de América.


Mientras en Puerto Rico no se sabe si el día feriado se celebra martes o lunes (porque lo importante es tener un día libre en la semana), el resto de Latinoamérica busca justicia por el mayor genocidio de la historia.

Ayer 12 de octubre se celebró el Día de la Resistencia Indígena. Esta fecha marca los 517 años de una de las mentiras de la historia: El descubrimiento.

Los colonizadores españoles encontraron un mundo de recursos, sus brillaron con la imagen de la explotación y la desidia ante la vida.

Lastimosamente nos creemos que todavía España es “La madre patria”. A inicios de la semana lo escuché en Radio Universidad, como si fuese algo de lo más normal, como si la gran madre estuviese llamándonos para volver a sus entrañas. La carcajada que solté fue casi automática ante el ominoso cognomen pronunciado por un invitado.

En realidad, esta antítesis de la “madre patria”, resalta la ultracolonización de generaciones a través del tiempo. El concepto del “descubrimiento” es uno centralista y carente de visión emprendedora. Es pensar en Europa como el ombligo del mundo. Si Richard Dawkins no se equivoca, el “descubrimiento es un enorme meme. Un fenómeno cultural capaz de cambiar la historia.

El “descubrimiento”, el concepto como tal, es destruir un lado del mundo a expensas del desconocimiento de los habitantes de occidente. Es validar el genocidio, las violaciones en masa, el hambre y la destrucción de la balanza entre lo natural y lo místico, que tanto caracterizó a nuestros nativos.

Sin hablar del concepto “indio”, sin embargo, este es un elemento que deberá ser considerado por los organizadores de este “celebración” (si es que hay algo que celebrar).

Esta semana Urrutia se destacó como periodista antropológico.

Esta semana los nativos resisten.

Esta semana es de América.

sábado, 9 de octubre de 2010

Vargas Llosa, el literato y su constante misión política

Luego de ser anunciado que Mario Vargas Llosa fue galardonado con el Premio Nobel de Literatura, el versado narrador asestó contra su ex contrincante de papeleta Alberto Fujimori.


Sin embargo, a los pocos días, Vargas Llosa no dudo un segundo en hacer un comentario en torno al ruedo político de Lima y a la candidata de izquierda Susana Villarán.

La nota es tomada del diario El comercio en http://elcomercio.pe/noticia/651456/premio-nobel-literatura-mario-vargas-llosa-susana-villaran-no-representa-ningun-peligro


Premio Nobel de Literatura, Mario Vargas Llosa: "Susana Villarán no representa ningún peligro"

El novelista refirió que la candidata de Fuerza Social “es una persona muy respetable, porque es un izquierda realmente democrática, moderna, que no va poner en peligro las instituciones, sino, al contrario, las va a reforzar”

El laureado escritor peruano Mario Vargas Llosa, recientemente nombrado Premio Nobel de Literatura 2010, destacó que la elección a la Alcaldía de Lima se esté definiendo entre Lourdes Flores Nano y Susana Villarán, “ambas muy respetables”.

En esa línea, el novelista señaló, en entrevista con el diario La República, que “es muy bueno que en estas elecciones democráticas haya habido dos mujeres candidatas, (…) una más de derecha, otra más de izquierda, pero creo que ambas tienen un compromiso claro con la democracia y eso hay que celebrarlo”.

Vargas Llosa, además, refirió que Villarán de la Puente, quien lidera el escrutinio de los votos oficiales, es “una persona de izquierda democrática que no representa ningún peligro”.

“ES DEMÓCRATA Y LO HA DEMOSTRADO DE MANERA CLARA”

“Susana Villarán es una persona de izquierda democrática y lo ha demostrado de una forma muy clara, a diferencia de muchas personas de izquierda en el Perú, que todavía no se atreven a criticar a Cuba, por ejemplo, a pesar de que saben que es una dictadura”, precisó MVLL.

“(Villarán) Es una persona muy respetable, porque es un izquierda realmente democrática, moderna, que no va poner en peligro las instituciones, sino, al contrario, las va a reforzar”, agregó.

lunes, 4 de octubre de 2010

La saga de la Hostos… ¿Qué pasará?


Remitan su lectura al blog del profesor Prof. Meléndez Juarbe. La foto habla por sí sola…


http://cualestuplan.blogspot.com/2010/10/hostos-nos-compete-tods.html

NPR entrevista a John Paul Stevens


 La más reciente entrevista de NPR a uno de los Jueces más influyentes de las últimas tres décadas de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos, John Paul Stevens.

Con la toga recientemente colgada y con su silla ocupada por Elena Kagan, Stevens habla sobre los cambios que ha hecho en su visión del derecho y algunas de las opiniones que ha escrito para las postrimerías de la Unión.

Tremenda discusión sobre la pena de muerte y sobre todo, segun Stevens: Law clerks are supposed to not make the Judge look stupid.

Adjunto el documento íntegro tomado de http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130198344

***

Justice Stevens: An Open Mind On A Changed Court

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term Monday, with new Justice Elena Kagan sitting in the junior justice's seat at the far end of the bench. For the first time in its history, a third of the nine-member court is female, and all of its justices are either Catholic or Jewish — no Protestants. Also, for the first time in 35 years, Justice John Paul Stevens is not there.
The 90-year-old justice retired in June; this summer, he sat for an interview in his chambers. During a lengthy and wide-ranging conversation, Stevens said he regrets one vote: his 1976 vote to uphold the death penalty. He also said he remains undecided about whether it would be a good idea to allow TV cameras in the Supreme Court; gently chided the Senate for the way it conducts confirmation hearings; and said he has often changed his mind about issues after reading the briefs and hearing oral arguments.
To understand the arc of history Stevens has witnessed, you need only know that one of the artifacts in his office is a scorecard from the famous 1932 World Series game in which Yankees hitter Babe Ruth, playing the Chicago Cubs in their home park, pointed to center field and then hit a home run there. The blast was a blow to a 12-year-old John Paul Stevens, sitting in the stands with his father.
Nearly three-quarters of a century later, at age 85, Justice John Paul Stevens threw out the first pitch at a Cubs game.
"I used to be able to throw the ball pretty well," he said. But he quickly realized he needed to brush up his skills. He spent weeks practicing and when the big day came, "I pretended … that I was out in left field trying to get a guy out at home. It worked out fine."
A Competitor, And A Teammate
Even now, there is nothing about Stevens that suggests he is 90. He still plays singles tennis several times a week, swims, plays golf and contract bridge, and has a competitive streak belied by his gentle demeanor.
One of his colleagues recalls encountering Stevens early one morning in the Supreme Court garage. Stevens was still in his tennis clothes, and when the other justice asked how the game went, Stevens jumped up and down like a kid, declaring, "I creamed him."
That is not the kind of behavior usually seen from the Midwesterner often called "a judge's judge." Colleagues, clerks and counsel all describe him as a man of "unaffected decency," who is "unfailingly polite and gracious." So skilled is he at building relationships on the court that other justices have said they would like to bottle his talent. During the interview in his chambers, he chuckled about the notion that he is some sort of great tactician.
"There's no grand strategy or anything like that; it's just part of the way I think judges should work together on a multi-judge court," he said. "One of the things that makes this a nice place to work is the custom of shaking hands before you go on the bench. It's a funny thing that that very minor ceremony starts everybody off in a collegial manner, and it stays right there."
Unlike many court commentators, Stevens does not attribute political motives to colleagues with whom he disagrees. "The wonderful thing about this institution is that we do disagree about very profound things," he says, but every justice "accepts the fact that his or her colleagues are doing the best job they can consistent with their own understanding of the law and the Constitution."
That doesn't mean that Stevens and his antagonists on the court have disdained strong language. In January, when a new conservative majority struck down a 100-year-old ban on corporate spending in candidate elections, Stevens wrote in dissent that the court's decision would "cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process."
In 2008, when the court, including Stevens, declared that detainees at Guantanamo have a constitutional right to judicial review of their detentions, Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissent, said the majority opinion "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."
With a tiny twinkle in his eye, Stevens says that Scalia "has written a number of opinions in which he has made very seriously dire predictions about what would happen, and I think by and large those things did not happen."
A Fundamental Dispute
Stevens and Scalia have gone at each other on many subjects, but their core disagreement is over Scalia's espousal of originalism — the idea that the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to mean only what it meant at the time of enactment, no more and no less. Or, as Scalia puts it, "the Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead."
Stevens disagrees. "To suggest that the law is static is quite wrong," he says. Stevens argues that "the whole purpose was to form a more perfect union, not something that's perfect when we started. We designed a system of government that would contemplate a change and progress."
This clash of views is exemplified in a 1990 opinion Stevens wrote, which invalidated the Illinois patronage system as a violation of employees' First Amendment rights to freedom of association.
Stevens notes that when he first encountered the question, he thought the claim had no merit. After all, as Justice Scalia would subsequently observe, patronage existed at the time the republic was founded. But Stevens, upon examining the question, reached a conclusion exactly opposite of what he originally thought.
"It did persuade me that some things that have been part of our law for a long, long time are not necessarily correct interpretation of the Constitution," he said. "The best example of that, of course, is racial discrimination. ... But the patronage system, it seemed to me, was a misuse of government power; the government has a duty to act impartially."
In his nearly 35 years as a justice, Stevens authored some 400 majority opinions for the court on almost every issue imaginable — from national security and Guantanamo to immigration; from abortion to obscenity; from school prayer to campaign finance reform; from term limits to the relationship between the federal and state governments.
During his tenure, he was seen as an increasingly respected and influential justice, a man beloved by his colleagues for his decency, his unassuming nature, and his tough inner core. Appointed by President Ford, Stevens was labeled a moderate conservative in his first decade. But by the time he retired, Stevens was seen as the court's most liberal member. So did he change or did the court?
"I think primarily the court has changed," says Stevens, referring to the composition of the court. But he acknowledges that on some issues, his views have changed as he has "learned more."
Debating The Death Penalty
Both the change in Stevens and the change in the court are illustrated by the issue of the death penalty. When he first joined the court, he voted to revive capital punishment, overturning a de facto moratorium imposed by the court four years earlier.
"I thought at the time ... that if the universe of defendants eligible for the death penalty is sufficiently narrow so that you can be confident that the defendant really merits that severe punishment, that the death penalty was appropriate," he says. But, over the years, "the court constantly expanded the cases eligible for the death penalty, so that the underlying premise for my vote has disappeared, in a sense."
In short, as moderate conservatives retired and were replaced by more hard-line conservative justices, the court changed the rules, he says. "Not only is it a larger universe, but the procedures have become more prosecution-friendly."
The court, he notes, has become more permissive in allowing prosecutors to object to seating jurors who have qualms about the death penalty. The result is that instead of getting a random sample of jurors, jury panels are more supportive of the death penalty. In addition, the court now allows the relatives of crime victims to testify during the penalty phase of a capital trial. These so-called victim impact statements were once ruled too incendiary to be permissible, but four years later, a more conservative court reversed the decision. All of this, says Justice Stevens, has changed the nature of the death penalty as he and the court envisioned it in the 1970s.
These subsequent decisions tend to "load the dice in favor of the prosecution and against the defendant," Stevens says. "I really think that the death penalty today is vastly different from the death penalty that we thought we were authorizing. And I think if the procedures had been followed that we expected to be in place, I think I probably would've still had the same views." Namely, he would have continued to favor a narrowly circumscribed death penalty.
Instead, he views his vote to uphold capital punishment in 1976 as the one he regrets during his tenure. It is "the one vote I would change," he says. Calling the decision "incorrect," Stevens says the 1976 court "did not foresee how it would be interpreted."
Father's Brush With The Law
Justice Stevens disavows the notion that his concern for the rights of criminal defendants might stem from his own family's experience. His father, who built and ran what was then the largest hotel in Chicago, was prosecuted for embezzlement and convicted. Facing 10 years in prison, he was subsequently exonerated by the Illinois Supreme Court, which unanimously reversed the conviction, declaring that the alleged crime was a mistaken investment and that there was "not one scintilla of evidence of concealment or fraud."
Stevens acknowledges that he has thought about whether this experience affected his views. But, he adds, "I don't really think it had any impact whatsoever on me, to tell you the truth."
His voice cracking with emotion, Stevens continues: "And the reason I say that is that at the time I never really considered it being a realistic possibility that he would ever go to jail. Because I knew the kind of man that he was. He simply was not capable of either a dishonest or dishonorable act."
Indeed, Stevens says, after the decision, he still planned a career teaching English, and only changed his mind years later.
A Contrarian With An Open Mind
Stevens is feisty in defending both his majority opinions and some of his famous dissents, as well. Flag-burning? He still thinks the court was wrong to strike down a law making flag desecration a crime. Bush v. Gore? He still thinks the court overstepped its authority and should have left the recount to the state of Florida.
As for the court's recent ruling allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on candidate elections, Stevens thinks it was dead wrong — and, indeed, still doesn't think that money is the same thing as speech. "Can you hear it talk? Can you read it? [Money is] simply not speech," he says. "And I have to confess that my own views are that there is an interest in trying to have any debate conducted according to fair rules that treat both sides with an adequate opportunity to express their view. We certainly wouldn't, in our arguments in this court, give one side a little more time because they could pay higher fees to hire their lawyers, or something like that."
But Stevens still has not made up his mind about one Supreme Court issue: whether the court should allow television cameras to record and broadcast the arguments.
On the plus side, he says, "I think you develop more respect for the court when you see it — how it actually handles oral arguments — and you see that the justices are prepared and have thought about the problems and so forth."
But introducing television into a new forum can often have "an adverse impact on the process," Stevens says, pointing to Senate confirmation hearings for judges as an example. Ultimately, he says, "I think there is a very serious risk that if you introduce television into the Supreme Court arguments, it may have an unintended consequence that we really don't foresee right now."
A Different Approach
One of the hard things to fathom about a justice who is Stevens' age is how he discards the beliefs he grew up with when other, younger justices do not. Nearly a quarter-century ago, when the Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law that made it a crime for homosexuals to engage in consenting sexual conduct in the privacy of their homes, Stevens was among the dissenters.
When he joined the court, Stevens says, he didn't have any friends whom he knew to be gay, but he knew the first time he saw the issue that it was a tough call. When the court upheld anti-sodomy laws in 1986, Stevens dissented. Seventeen years later, he was part of the court majority that reversed that ruling.
"It's just part of the job where you take the cases one at a time," he says, "and I have found very often, I'm surprised [that] the result I come out with is not necessarily what I assumed in advance."
For Stevens, writing the first drafts of his opinions himself, instead of delegating the task to law clerks as many of his colleagues do, helped with that process. In writing it out, Stevens says, "your reasoning will either make sense or it won't. And if it doesn't, you change your vote, or you change your whole approach."
After the first draft was done, he would give it to his law clerks. "Their job is to prevent me from looking like an idiot," he says with a laugh.
The law clerks checked Stevens' facts and sometimes made only minor changes. But on other occasions, they rewrote his draft entirely — a rewrite that he sometimes embraced in whole or part, and sometimes rejected — in the nicest way possible, of course.
The important thing, Stevens says, is that in examining a question, he often changes his mind. What at first blush may look like a simple case with an easy answer turns out to be something quite different — a point, he observes, that seems to be lost at Senate confirmation hearings.
"The senators sort of expect the new nominee to know all the answers now," he says. "But this is a job in which you get briefs from lawyers, and you start out with sort of an expectation of being taught a little bit about the issues before you have to decide. And there's an awful lot you learn on almost every case. You don't know all the answers when you start. And if you think you do, you're kidding yourself."
So, is Stevens sad to have left the court?
"I'm both happy and sad," he says. "I have mixed feelings about it, because I know I'll miss the work. I really, really love the job. But I'm also looking forward to having not so many deadlines to meet."