Hebrew Center series headlines Greenhouse and Wolf on Supreme Court
With Nov. 4 only three and a half months off, election talk is filling the air on Martha's Vineyard. NPR Washington Correspondent Mara Liasson regaled a Chilmark Community Center audience Sunday night with insider dope on the Obama and McCain races. Just-retired Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times Linda Greenhouse and Chief U.S. District Judge for Massachusetts Mark L. Wolf were to take up an equally important election topic, the Supreme Court, at the Hebrew Center Wednesday night. Their scheduled talk, "New Directions in the Supreme Court," is part of the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute lecture series.
The Supreme Court will loom large on the roster of critical appointments for whoever is elected President in November, since Associate Justice John Paul Stevens turns 89 next April. Whoever ends up replacing him will change a divided Court's political balance.
"We want to have a discussion that will be meaningful for an intelligent audience," Judge Wolf said in a conversation before the talk. Some of the topics he hoped to address included the impact of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed in 2005, and of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has often served as the "swing" vote.
Another issue expected to come up Wednesday was whether the current court is activist. Judge Wolf suggested that over the last 30 years the Republican Party has railed against judicial activism, raising the question of whether their rhetoric has matched the reality. Legal rights for Guantanamo detainees and the court's recent decision on Washington, D.C.'s, gun control law were also likely to be discussed.
Both Ms. Greenhouse and Judge Wolf have longstanding Vineyard connections.
"In my first job at the New York Times, I was an assistant to James Reston, who owned the Vineyard Gazette then, so long before I set foot on the Island, I knew about it," Ms. Greenhouse says. During the 30 years when she was based in New York, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist spent a week on the Vineyard regularly. Her sister, Carol Greenhouse, and brother-in-law, Fred Aman, summer in Oak Bluffs, and she stays with them every summer.
"We have rented a house on the Island for 32 consecutive summers," Judge Wolf says. "That probably sets a record for renting." Initially they had friends from Washington, D.C., and New York who had come to the Island and rhapsodized about it. What kept bringing the Wolfs back is the Island's unique combination of physical beauty and interesting people. They spent their first 15 years in Chilmark, then switched to Vineyard Haven in 1991. While they were growing up, the Wolfs' two children could be independent in Vineyard Haven. The switch was also because of their friendship with Mary Wallace, wife of CBS correspondent Mike Wallace. The Wallaces have spent part of the summer in Vineyard Haven and plan to stay into October this year.
Photo courtesy The Washington Note
"What we've developed here is a real sense of community," Judge Wolf says. "This is the place I have thoughtful adult companionship. We all have friends at home. Here the whole is more than the sum of the parts." Both Judge Wolf and his wife Lynne, who is co-chair of the Camp Jabberwocky board, try to participate in community activities.
Ms. Greenhouse's retirement became official on July 18, but she will not have much time for rocking chairs or hammocks. In January she begins a two-and-a-half tenure at Yale Law School as the Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence and a Joseph M. Goldstein Senior Fellow. "That's my second act," she says. "The time will go fast."
While at Yale, Ms. Greenhouse will advise students, do research and teach. In addition, she plans to write several lectures and articles and organize a New York conference on judicial matters.
In addition to the Hebrew Center lecture, she speaks tonight at the Chilmark Library at 5 pm.
Judge Wolf has served on the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts since 1985 and became its Chief Judge in 2006. He has also taught courses at Harvard and Boston College Law Schools.
Ms. Greenhouse served as the New York Times Supreme Court correspondent from 1978 until the end of the 2008 Court term, except for a two-year hiatus covering Congress in the 1980s. She has also appeared regularly on the PBS program, "Washington Week."
The Hebrew Center's Lecture Series continues next Wednesday, July 30, with U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking on "The United States and the United Nations." On August 6, former Nixon, Reagan and Ford appointee, David Gergen, now a Harvard professor, will discuss "Leadership and Presidential Politics."
The final lecture in the series comes August 13, when Andrea Levin, president of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle-East Reporting in America (CAMERA) will join Alan M. Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University, to speak about "Anti-Zionism - Two Views from the Campus." All lectures start at 7:30 pm and cost $15 per person.
Brook Robards reviews books, film, theater, and art for The Times.