THE COURT AND THE CROSS:
THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT’S CRUSADE TO
RESHAPE THE SUPREME COURT
By Frederick S. Lane III ’88
This book sounds all the familiar alarms: judicial confirmation battles; Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube; defiant Ten Commandments displays; and conservative Christian universities training the next generation of crusaders to bottle the pill, smudge the gay wedding cake’s frosting, and fight abortion to a standstill.
Frederick Lane, a Vermont writer and expert witness, deplores what he sees as the Right’s decades-old use of the courts to legitimize government promotion of Christianity. That campaign, he argues, “assaults the fundamental premise of this country, that it is a pluralistic society that draws its strength in large part from the varied contributions of numerous cultures and traditions."
Lane is an elegant writer, and although his subject is contentious and his preferences clear, he avoids shrill combativeness by deploying extensive research, a thoughtful and reflective tone, and infrequent (although pointed) editorializing. The bulk of the book is an accessible tour through the Supreme Court’s Establishment- and Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence, but its best chapter recounts the history behind the failed effort to amend the Constitution’s preamble to acknowledge “the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler among the nations.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT
(Financial Times Press, 2008)
By Steve Weisman ’73
The internet is to scammers what Spam in a can was to hoarders: a glorious new frontier. Radio host and attorney Steve Weisman here describes every scam imaginable, including a handful that sound like some tripped out Dead-head nightmare—phishing, vishing, pharming, cramming, churning, the pump and dump. In one clever swindle, con men send emails to losing eBay bidders and falsely inform them that the high bidder failed to pay. The victim is offered a second chance to buy, and is directed to a faux eBay page; he enters his personal data to complete the sale, and there’s your identity theft (and the mint condition Optimus Prime never arrives).
Weisman uses a broad definition of scamming. His mini-chapters warn consumers about many legal practices, such as the racket that is rental car insurance, in addition to more nefarious schemes that empty bank accounts and prey on the elderly. Although he offers plenty of tips, there’s only one ironclad rule: If you give personal information to someone who has contacted you, rather than the other way around, you’re a sucker.
—Michael O’Donnell ’04