Spirit Of The Law

Eye Contact in the Highest Court in the Land

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer looked at me and nodded at 1:33PM Eastern Daylight Time on January 21, 2014.

I arrived early that day. You have to. Seating is limited at the Supreme Court. At 6:04AM, I was eighth in the queue. Snow was imminent. Most schools in DC, Virginia, and Maryland were closed. The federal government was closed too, but Chief Justice John Roberts kept the doors of justice open. It takes more than a few flurries to close this Article III court.

The day’s docket was unique. Instead of the typical two cases, three oral arguments were on the schedule. I had no personal stake [...]


The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

An abridged version of this article first appeared in the October 1984 issue of The Atlantic Monthly as the cover story "The Politics of the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?" It is republished here, in its entirety, for the first time.

For anyone with insomnia in the New York metro area, the ads have become ubiquitous: three middle-aged men dressed in cornflower blue lab coats, holding mysterious technical equipment, and offering the owners of haunted houses (or haunted anything, really) their unique ghost capture and removal services.

I first saw one after falling asleep to the dulcet drawl of Charles Rose on "CBS News Nightwatch." [...]