Quick Takes

* Yesterday, the 8-member Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the most significant abortion case to reach the high court since 1992. You can read more about Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt here. As a feminist, I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me to read this from Dahlia Lithwick about the court proceedings.

On one side, you have a group of testy male justices needling a female lawyer for Texas clinics about whether it was even appropriate for them to hear this appeal. On the other, you’ve got four absolutely smoking hot feminists pounding on Texas’ solicitor general for passing abortion regulations that have no plausible health purpose and also seem pretty stupid.

It felt as if, for the first time in history, the gender playing field at the high court was finally leveled, and as a consequence the court’s female justices were emboldened to just ignore the rules. Time limits were flouted to such a degree that Chief Justice John Roberts pretty much gave up enforcing them. I counted two instances in which Roberts tried to get advocates to wrap up as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor simply blew past him with more questions. There was something wonderful and symbolic about Roberts losing almost complete control over the court’s indignant women, who are just not inclined to play nice anymore.

Of course, I immediately thought of this old saying:

* Speaking of the 8-member Supreme Court, Sen. Al Franken was pretty succinct in summing up what the message is from Republicans who are intent on obstructing consideration of President Obama’s nominee.

I guess we don’t have to do anything. It’s probably constitutional for me to stay in Minnesota and not show up here. But that’s sort of not the point of bothering to become a Senator.

* Donald Trump’s response to Speaker Paul Ryan’s critique of his remarks about the KKK is a pretty good indication of what we could expect from Trump as president. You can almost hear Marlon Brando’s muffled voice in Godfather saying something just like this.

“Look, I don’t want to waste a lot of time,” Trump said. “I’m going to get along great with Congress, OK? Paul Ryan, I don’t know him well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him, and if I don’t? He’s gonna have to pay a big price, OK?”

* Finally, we’ve all heard critiques about Hillary Clinton’s use of the word “superpredator” during a speech she gave in 1996. Kevin Drum – who is singularly responsible for what a most of us know about the effects of lead poisoning on children – puts it in perspective by making an important connection.

It may have been the wrong thing to do—DiIulio’s term was criticized by plenty of other criminologists, not least because of its racial subtext—but it was hardly invented out of whole cloth. At that moment in history, juvenile crime really was high, and many of the lead-poisoned teenagers responsible for it really were scarily impulsive, violent, and conscienceless.

Little did we know that we had already solved the problem years before when we banned lead paint and then leaded gasoline. By the turn of the century, juvenile crime was down dramatically, and it kept falling for the next decade.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.