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If everything seems stable within the Supreme Court right now, surprise: the Court is in dire straits, and its supporters are scrounging to rebuild public trust.

It’s clear that the Court is facing a crisis of confidence. A major Gallup poll showed that 25% of Americans have confidence in the Court, while 36% did last year. Moreover, this year’s figure is five points lower than the previous all-time low point for the Court in Gallup’s last century of polling. Axios polls came in slightly higher, with 38% approving and 61% disapproving of the Court’s ability to function.

It’s also clear that Americans’ trust in the Court declined due to major decisions in cases like Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization and West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which were handed down in June. In July, Marquette Law School published national polls that showed the Court’s approval at 38% and disapproval at 61%. But back in May, after the Dobbs opinion leaked, they found that 44% of respondents approved of the Court’s conduct. Approval was even higher in March at 54%—before the public saw where the Court was headed.

It seems, then, that regardless of high-browed legal discussions about cases like Dobbs, people care more about the suffering that will come from the Court’s decisions. Legal arguments are important, and many have successfully argued against the Court’s overreaching decision in Dobbs (Kaity Taylor did so for this journal). But I point my gaze toward what comes next—resting on the idea that, if it wasn’t clear before, people see a gap between the legal theories embedded in the Court’s decisions and the Court’s regard for how those theories actually manifest.

Midwestern Citizen
I’m at a dive in Westport, and the idea is to make noise. I found a pack of Camel cigarettes and kept them, but not for me. I don't know who they're for yet. What I know is that the people here are strangers but not distant ones and the music is old and playlisted but sounds like there’s a band in the back of the place playing it live. I am not the only one who isn’t dancing, and so I know that I can’t be the only one wondering about things. 


I take a long look again at the crowd, and think back to the evergreen generational sentiment that everyone is Tired of Being Tired and Never Really Done Working. That is the sort of worn sentiment that is reassured by a list of commands and quips in a song like “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Nobody I see in this bar seems calm enough to have their hands wrapped tightly around their life, or even just the moment. Speaking strictly for me, I hear too often of high-priced houses and graduating during a recession and how I can't just buy a house or spot to live out of college anymore with a fixed-rate mortgage. Whose words to trust? I only know we hear too much advice, always advice that contradicts and complicates things and corners us into whatever shows or books or drugs double as our vices and our respites. Choice paralysis. We hear too much and read too much and so I think we are living finally enough when we choose to hear nothing but the harmonies that make us move and love and sometimes dance. Until we truly need to do or hear something else. 

Splat 154
Anand Giridharadas, author of ‘Winners Take All,’ was perplexed by a paradox. 

How could, in the same era, there be the most sweeping philanthropic efforts by corporations and big business — more giving, donating and well-working by well-to-do bodies — but also such vast inequality? How could so many foundations exist, so many billionaires with such incredible intentions be so powerful in their own moneymaking but so “powerless” to help outside of it in the world of policy? 

Splat 154
If anything was clear on May 26, 2019, it was that Abade Irizarry was filming, and Officer Ahmed Yehia was blocking his shot. Where and why Officer Yehia stood in the way posed hard questions with murky answers and ignited a quiet fire under the seats of criminal law reformers and First Amendment enthusiasts. The fire continues today. 


Irizarry, a man whose career meant chasing stories on criminal justice and law reform issues, will have his name attached to a case that will answer one fundamental question for the 560,625 squares miles around him: 

Does the First Amendment provide a right to record police officers performing their duty in public places? 

The 10th Circuit’s answer isn’t only important because it clarifies a First Amendment right in six states. An affirmative ruling points to a more significant phenomenon in U.S. criminal justice law reform that has surged over the last two years — a belated reexamination of a legal principle called qualified immunity that has denied citizens remedial justice for decades. Qualified immunity shields government officials “from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights,” but only “where officials violated a ‘clearly established’ statutory or constitutional right.” This leaves little room for plaintiffs to do anything other than file complaints to police departments in instances of police misconduct and/or violence. 

As this article explores, qualified immunity is one of the thorniest reform issues in criminal law. The answer of what to do about it has evaded scholars, lawyers, and judges for decades. But if the 10th Circuit affirms a citizen’s First Amendment right to film police officers in public spaces, other districts that haven’t yet specified the right may follow. As more hesitant districts see their neighbors rolling laws like these back, the problems that come with qualified immunity may finally start to dwindle.

Midwestern Citizen

It took Mark Twain years of writing to realize a simple and overlooked fact. 

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” 

The long-form gives the writer time to make mistakes, time to redeem them, time to introduce a slew of new ideas that might or might not work, and allows them to let everything rip. But to write small means tuning each word to the perfect pitch, refining the flow and meaning with far less at your disposal. 

So it’s always exceptional to hear music that does something similar: it takes big ideas and narratives and packs them into two lines, poetry in staccato but rarely crescendo, an essay’s worth of meaning in ten words and endless inference.  

Splat 154
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