The Supreme Court: Self-Reversal

Times change, and so does the Supreme Court—sometimes quite rapidly. In 1952, during Senator Joseph McCarthy's heyday, the court confirmed the validity of New York State's Feinberg Law, barring subversives from the public-school system. The matter seemed settled then and there. Last week the court ruled again on the Feinberg Law. This time it reversed itself, ruling by a vote of 5 to 4 that the law is now unconstitutional. Such short-term reversal is not unprecedented, but it does require agile rethinking on the court's part. The 1952 case, decided by a...

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