Stuff We Like

Dahlia Lithwick writes the "Supreme Court Dispatches" column for Slate. Her writing is never short of inspired. I've started trying to memorize the following passage (from her dispatch on the presidential election lawsuit before the Court), so that I can crack people up by quoting it to them:

Poor Laurence Tribe. It's all Act V, Scene V, for him out there. Blood and mayhem. His 35 minutes before the court take place in another stratosphere: Where geniuses roam free and the federal Constitution is not safe for you and me. The gist of the dispute -- whether the Florida Supreme Court's equitable power to promote voting rights somehow trumps its duty to interpret legislation -- is barely comprehensible. Tribe goes head to head with Scalia on this point, and the light sabers are buzzing so hard no one can think. The one mortal moment happens when Tribe, at a rare loss, blurts: "The disenfranchising of people isn't very nice."

It's the kind of vivid reportage usually reserved for senior sportswriters, but Lithwick, perhaps responding to the arena-like nature of oral arguments, makes it work beautifully for legal reporting. In fact, Lithwick is the first beat reporter I've found myself really liking in a while: she's doing exciting things with the day-to-day process of going somewhere where something is happening and writing about what exactly it is that's happening there. Are her dispatches the wave of the future? I feel as though they just might be, and I sincerely hope so.

Lithwick almost makes journalism look fun. Almost. She understands that sometimes the commentary is less interesting than the action, when it comes to understanding what's going on. 3'12'00