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The Mid-Atlantic Gazette

This Morning’s Newsletter Issue

by Colin Helb

This morning, last year’s conference attendees were converted to “former conference attendees” in order for us to prepare the registration process for the 2013 Conference. This process unsubscribes everyone from a specific mailing list we have set up with MailChimp for the attendees of the current conference. As people are accepted and register to attend the conference, they are added to this list.

We wanted this process to occur. What we didn’t want to occur was for a notification to be sent that you were deleted from the list. Please note, this was not the General Newsletter which you should still be subscribed to.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

April 2013 Newsletter

by Colin Helb

This newsletter was sent to MAPACA members on April 12, 2013. View an archived copy with links and images.

Now Accepting Abstract Submissions for the 2013 Conference in Atlantic City

The 24th Annual MAPACA Conference will be taking place in historic Atlantic City, New Jersey November 7–9, 2013. The MAPACA website is now accepting abstracts for proposals. Proposals are welcome on all aspects of popular and American culture. Single papers, panels, roundtables, and alternative formats are welcome.

Proposals should take the form of 300-word abstracts, and may only be submitted to one appropriate area. General questions may be submitted on our contact page. Area specific questions should be directed to the individual area chairs.

The deadline for submission is Friday, June 14, 2013.

Abstract Submission Instructions

You must be registered and logged in to the site to submit a proposal abstract. Payment and registration for the conference will occur following your paper’s acceptance. To learn more, visit our “Submitting abstracts” help page. We have also put together a “Style Guide” for your convenience.

Mid-Atlantic Almanack

The deadline for submissions to the 2013 volume of the Mid-Atlantic Almanack, MAPACA’s peer-reviewed journal, is June 30, 2013. For more information, visit the Almanack page or contact editor Gary Earl Ross at [email protected].

Letter From the President

by Marilyn Roxin Stern

How perfectly appropriate that the 2013 MAPACA Conference will be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from November 7 through 9. After all, Atlantic City is the template for one of popular culture’s most iconic games: Monopoly. And today, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, also set in Atlantic City, draws us in to one of popular culture’s most contemporary pastimes: watching great popular performances and reminiscing about America’s past, even the underbelly.

Each year, the MAPACA conference offers an opportunity for those of us who appreciate popular and American culture to share our own expertise and to benefit from the scholarship of others. While the panels are always exciting and extraordinary, some of the best experiences can be found in informal settings, such as our opening reception, or at the coffee table on break. This has been my experience of MAPACA. I have met wonderful colleagues and had incredibly interesting conversations with the strangers standing next to me, who are strangers no more, to quote a popular song. And the richness of those interactions is what led me to the MAPACA Board, and now to the President’s bully pulpit.

Since I have run out of clever popular and American cultural references, let me please simply encourage you to review our CFP for the 2013 conference. Check out our web site, and join us in Atlantic City in November, where I promise you, everyone will “Pass Go,” and everyone will be afforded the opportunity to “Collect (more than) 200 Monopoly Dollars” worth of good conversation, good company, and good culture.

Marilyn Roxin Stern
President, MAPACA

Review of Linda Greenhouse’s Becoming Justice Blackmun

by Linda T. Chin

Linda Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun, (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2005)

Linda Greenhouse, in her book Becoming Justice Blackmun, has given us a sensitive biography of the life of Harry Blackmun and his journey as a United States Supreme Court Justice from 1970 to 1994. She had access to Harry Blackmun’s personal and public papers at the Library of Congress which became available on March 4, 2004, five years after his death. These papers give us a deep and personal insight into his thinking and the development of his judicial philosophy.

Even though Harry Blackmun is remembered for writing the majority decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, he participated in 3,874 Supreme Court rulings. Linda Greenhouse focuses on abortion, capital punishment, sex discrimination and Harry Blackmun’s relationship with his boyhood friend Warren Burger, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986.

Linda Greenhouse lays a foundation for understanding Justice Blackmun’s decisions by giving the readers a detailed account of his background. Harry Blackmun was born in Illinois in 1908, but his family lived in Minnesota. He went to Harvard on scholarship in 1925 and upon graduation he went to Harvard Law School. When he graduated law school in 1932, Blackmun returned home to St. Paul and received a clerkship with Judge John B. Sanborn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth District. After the clerkship ended, Blackmun worked at a law firm in Minneapolis. In 1949 the Mayo Clinic offered Harry Blackmun the position of resident counsel of the clinic. He stayed there nine years before accepting a position as a judge in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth District, replacing his mentor Judge John B. Sanborn. His friend Warren Burger, who was then a judge on the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, encouraged Harry Blackmun to accept the position. The two friends were now judges in the federal appeals court.

Linda Greenhouse focuses on the first of the abortion cases that the Supreme Court addressed in 1971. The medical establishment started to support abortion as a medical decision made by a doctor and the patient and opposed the criminal penalties that doctors faced if they performed an abortion. The two major cases brought to the court were Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Roe v. Wade challenged a Texas law that made it a crime to perform an abortion except to save the life of the mother. Doe v. Bolton was a Georgia law that permitted abortion if the pregnancy endangered the life or health of the mother or if the fetus would be born with a serious defect or if the pregnancy resulted from rape. These decisions had to be made by a doctor and performed in a hospital.

The cases were argued in December 1971 to only seven justices. Justices Hugo Black and John Harlan had retired in September. The justices found the Texas law to be unconstitutional. The justices were more split on the Georgia law since it seemed to offer more protections to the pregnant woman. Chief Justice Burger assigned both cases to Harry Blackmun, hoping that he would write a very narrow opinion. Because the law was vague on the definition of the health of the women, Blackmun viewed Roe v. Wade as an easier case to decide than Doe v. Bolton.

The cases were reargued in the fall of 1971 to allow the two new justices, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell, to take part in the deliberations. Blackmun spent a week of the summer of 1971 reading up on the medical history and practice of abortion. Greenhouse showed how Blackmun’s views on abortion changed over the summer. Blackmun came to view the right of privacy of the women as the major aspect of the case. After the re-hearing, the justices voted seven to two against the Texas law, with Rehnquist and Byron White dissenting. The justices wanted a broad decision using the right to privacy as the main justification. Roe v. Wade became the primary case. Doe v. Bolton would apply the principles of Roe v. Wade. The decision was issued on January 22, 1973.

Greenhouse explains how Blackmun would now spend his remaining years on the court defending Roe v. Wade against the future cases that attempted to restrict the women’s right to an abortion. Blackmun was part of the majority who voted down the law in Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc. (1983) and Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), which allowed some restrictions on abortion but kept the court’s holding in Roe v. Wade as law. In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey came before the court. The Pennsylvania law required a waiting period, informed consent and spousal approval. Those looking to uphold the Pennsylvania law would overrule Roe v. Wade. A majority opinion (O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Stevens and Blackmun) upheld parts of the Pennsylvania law but the constitutional right to an abortion was preserved.

Greenhouse also analyzed the complex, life-long relationship between Harry Blackmun and Chief Justice Warren Burger. Burger assumed that Blackmun, his friend, would support him on many of the cases. In the beginning Blackmun did, which is probably why Burger assigned the abortion cases to Blackmun. Later on, Blackmun began to disagree with Burger on many of the cases. When Burger resigned his position on the Court in June 1986, the relationship had become strained and distant.

Linda Greenhouse has given us a very personal and intimate account of Harry Blackmun’s time on the Supreme Court and the development and change of his judicial philosophy during his tenure. She vividly detailed Harry Blackmun’s struggle with reconciling his personal views of the cases and his attempt to follow the law. Blackmun did not believe in capital punishment but upheld death penalty laws as meeting the constitutional requirement. Later on, he opposed death penalty laws stating that they should be viewed as cruel and unusual punishment. In abortion cases, Blackmun’s views evolved from viewing abortion as a medical decision between a women and her doctor to a woman’s right to privacy.

When he retired, Blackmun was asked whether writing Roe v. Wade was a piece of good or bad luck. Blackmun said he was lucky to get the assignment. He believed that one grows through controversy. As Linda Greenhouse noted at the end of the book, the fact that Harry Blackmun was willing to consider and accept new ideas and adapt his judicial philosophy gave him the opportunity to create his own legacy and become Justice Harry Blackmun.

Are you coming to dinner?

If you’re attending the 23rd MAPACA Conference in Pittsburgh, you’re invited to the Annual Meeting and Dinner on Friday, November 2.

If you’re a registered conference attendee, admission to the dinner is included in the registration fee, but you can also bring guests, for an extra $60 for every accompanying adult, and $20 for every accompanying child (12 or younger).

Even if you’re not bringing guests, we kindly ask you to confirm your presence by 8:00 am (EST) on November 2, by following the reservation procedure.


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