Originalist Sin

I’m a subscriber to The Nation; I’ve been reading your magazine for two to three years. The March 7 issue is impressive and, in my opinion, the best one I’ve seen so far. Of particular merit are the group of articles concerning Antonin Scalia. “Supreme Court Showdown,” 
by Nan Aron and Kyle C. Barry; 
“Scalia’s Weak Legacy,” by David Cole; “Homophobe Supreme,” by Natalie Pattillo; and “The Justice Set in Cement,” by Katha Pollitt, are not only essential reading for lifelong Democrats like myself—they are also a clear presentation of how much damage a 30-year tenure for the wrong person on the Supreme Court can inflict.
Bernard DeMartini
shepherdstown, w.va.

I greatly applaud David Cole’s analysis of originalism and its limitations as a school of judicial thought [“Scalia’s Weak Legacy”]. I don’t think originalism deserves as much respect as Mr. Cole seems to give it, but I enjoyed his article very much.

The problem, of course, is that Scalia was an originalist only when it led to a result he desired. For example, he was all about states’ rights when the Justice Department wanted to enforce the Voting Rights Act, but not so much when Florida actually wanted to count the ballots that would have resulted in President Al Gore. I see Scalia as a corporate whore with a bad temper: very articulate, but willing to absolutely savage his colleagues when they disagreed with his results-oriented brand of jurisprudence. May we never see his like (at least on the Supreme Court) again!
Michael Daniels
albuquerque, n.m.

When the primary campaigns began earlier this year, I wrote a letter to The Nation on the importance of choosing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for the presidency, and the first issue I mentioned was the Supreme Court appointments that the next president will make. This is why I was utterly dismayed by your subsequent support for Bernie Sanders, a candidate with no chance of winning the presidency.

The article “Supreme Court Showdown,” by Nan Aron and Kyle C. Barry, says more eloquently and more knowledgeably than I can why I believe we must move Hillary to the left as much as possible to ensure our victory on this and numerous other issues. I shudder to think of the upcoming Supreme Court decisions if any of the Republican candidates win the presidential election, and even more so in the wake of Scalia’s death.
Joan Gregg
new york city

Barking Up the Right Tree

By my count, there were 10 mentions of “dog whistles” in the February 29 issue. That’s more than enough to make a small canine band, and the cacophony is deafening. I understand how these phrases become trendy. A few years ago, “at first blush” was ascendant. It even started appearing in my technical journals. I suppose that every dog has its day and I should simply wait this one out, but as a cat person, I would like to see a journal as egalitarian as the The Nation not go to the dogs.
David Weber
paonia, colo.

Co-op Nation

Having been a member of numerous co-ops and worker-owned enterprises, as well as having founded or been elected to a leadership position in some of them, I applaud Gar Alperovitz’s “Practically Socialism” [Feb. 29] for surveying and promoting some of the different types of social ownership.

Co-ops and worker-owned enterprises can give people experience with real democratic processes. They can also provide jobs and services unencumbered by a corporate owner’s wanton dictatorial control and skimmed profits. And they can be somewhat of a bulwark against the offshoring of jobs, as this is usually not in the interests of their members.

However, localized democratic ownership within a market or monopoly-capitalist system doesn’t guarantee socialist ideals like sustainability, fairness, and security. We need democratic and socialist governments, unions, and a vibrant array of organizations to compel that.

Overwhelmingly, most businesses fail—usually within a few years—regardless of their ownership structure. This leaves workers and members without jobs, “benefits,” services, or a social safety net. Also, within a capitalist system, the incentive to avoid paying the social costs of sustainability, enterprise by enterprise, is overwhelming despite internal democracy. For example, my rural electrical co-op and its national organization fight against reimbursing sustainable member-generated electricity at the retail rate despite the obvious climate disruption we’re already experiencing. This makes it uneconomical to install distributed solar or other sustainable generation in most areas when competing against fracked-gas or coal-generated power that doesn’t pay externalized costs.

Co-ops may be useful and maybe even necessary, but they’re only just the beginning.
Michael Kaufman
bovina center, n.y.

The Hateful Pate

The latest disturbing development in Donald Trump’s campaign is his lack of concern (or feigned ignorance) regarding support from leaders of white-supremacist and other hate groups, including David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, and now James Edwards [“Donald Trump’s Hate-In,” March 7]. Trump’s new campaign slogan should be “Yes We Klan.”
Randy Poplock

Dark Matter
(with apologies to 
Calvin Trillin)

Don’t know what it is
But know that it’s there
And most of it lies
Under Donald Trump’s hair.
Terry Toepker


Óscar Martínez’s “Our Bottomless Well” [March 21] omitted the names of the translators of A History of Violence, the book from which the article was adapted. It was translated by Daniela Maria Ugaz and John Washington.


In her March 21 letter to 
The Nation, Rachelle Marshall lamented that socialist feminists Suzanna Danuta Walters and Liza Featherstone never discussed foreign policy in their dueling articles about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign [Jan. 25/Feb. 1]. 
In fact, Featherstone’s article did discuss foreign policy, 
with specific reference to Clinton’s legacy in Honduras, Iraq, and Libya.