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Civic Lesson by United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

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As part of the Eizenstat lecture series at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue, United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer shared his thoughts about his job in the United States Supreme Court.

Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, who began the lecture series in the honor of his parents and uncle, introduced the justice. He shared a story about how while he worked in the Carter White House right after Carter was trounced in the 1980 Presidential election. He received a call from Senator Ted Kennedy.  Kennedy asked Eizenstat for a favor, to ask President Carter if he would appoint Breyer to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Eizenstat was taken aback; he brought up his concerns about how unpopular this would be with the lame duck Congress and was sure that the Republican would oppose this, especially the incoming Judiciary Chair Senator Strom Thurmond.  Eizenstat also went further to point out that the tough primary battle with Kennedy did not endear Kennedy to Carter and this favor would be unlikely.

Senator Kennedy told Eizenstat, “You take care of the President, I’ll take care of Thurmond”.  Eizenstat did go to the President. Carter appointed Breyer and he was unanimously supported by the Senate.

There is a shroud of mystery surrounding the Supreme Court, so getting a chance to hear a justice is a treat.  Eizenstat acknowledged that teaching civics is no longer required in schools, but it is important to understand our system and, more importantly, our history.

This lecture was part history and civic lesson. Eizenstat referred to Federalist Paper 78, where it makes the argument that there needs to be a body to make sure that the values of the US Constitution are consistent with the changing circumstances of the times.

The question that Stephen Breyer receives most often and, most recently from a Justice from Ghana is: “What do people do when you come out with an unpopular decision?”  Breyer shared that there really is no easy answer.  He then went through and singled out some conflicting examples in our history.

The first occurred in Georgia.  The Cherokee Indians had lands, treaties and a nation.  Then gold was found on their lands; the Cherokee were then pushed out.  The Supreme Court ruled that they could not be moved but President Andrew Jackson said “Let them enforce this,” and he pushed the Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma and what became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

Breyer pointed to integration battle that finally worked out.

He spoke of a more recent example with Bush vs. Gore.  He was in the minority, but after the decision was made, it was accepted.  No riots, not violence, and we moved on as a nation.

The most recent rulings were about Guantanamo detainees, where the Supreme Court said that the prisoners do have rights even though they are not technically on American soil, but remain under American custody. Justice O’Connor said, “the Constitution gives the President the power to protect us, but it is not a blank check.”

The constant battle of the US Supreme Court is to continue to embody the values that don’t change much in a world where the circumstances change rapidly. Law is not a mechanical business and that is the challenge of the court.

Justice Breyer’s most important point of the evening was: “Know your history a little bit and understand what your Constitution will do.”

Check out his latest book: Making Our Democracy Work, A Judge’s View

 

Follow Dr. Wilson Trivino on Twitter@T4Vista

Literature

An Evening with David Sedaris at Fox Theatre April 16

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ATLANTA, GA (Feb. 24, 2015) – The Fox Theatre is pleased to present An Evening with David Sedaris, author of the previous bestsellers Naked, Me Talk Pretty One DayDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and regular National Public Radio contributor who will be appearing for one night only at the Fox Theatre on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:30pm.

Celebrating the June 3, 2014 paperback release of his latest title, #1 New York Times Bestseller, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, author David Sedaris comes to Atlanta for an evening of engaging recollections and featuring all-new readings.

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Literature

Dr. Mike’s “The Fallacy of the Calorie”

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Dr. Mike (Michael S. Fenster, MD) has a sense of humor in dispersing his dietary and nutritional advice in The Fallacy of the Calorie, but what’s also funny is the fact that this cardiologist is dishing out all this information while criticizing supposed self-proclaimed food experts.

Take this passage, for example: “These days it seems as if everybody has an opinion about food and health. People watch Dr. Oz, tune in to the Food Network, or read some anecdotal diatribe on the Internet and all of a sudden they’re full of expert opinions and analysis.”

Dr. Mike mentions only Dr. Oz by name. He then goes on to allude to a bunch of straw men who give consumers lots of conflicting food guidance before launching into his own enterprising book of culinary realness. Dr. Mike is in your face and sounds like a go-getter, I guess. He says if I’m happy with the food I eat and my state of wellness, health, verdure, heartiness is a-okay, then this is not the book for me. PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. If only!

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SPX 2014 Programming Schedule

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SPX is fast approaching! Check out the release about this year’s panels and programming to plan your weekend. They all sound remarkable, highlighting diversity in the comics and cartooning industry that is often overlooked.

The Small Press Expo is pleased to announce the SPX 2014 Programming Schedule.  SPX continuing the festival’s established tradition of rich, thought-provoking programming featuring leading comics artists and critics in conversation. As in previous years, the Programming Schedule will feature two simultaneous tracks on both Saturday and Sunday, September 13th and 14th.

SPX 2014 programming highlights include special Q&A sessions with headline guests Lynda Barry, Jules Feiffer, Charles Burns, Raina Telgemeier, Drew Friedman. Eleanor Davis, Mimi Pond and John Porcellino, many of whom will also join in other panel discussions.

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