James J. Kilpatrick has worn half a dozen hats during a long life in the news business. He has been reporter, editor, columnist, commentator, and briefly an adjunct professor of journalism. He regards himself primarily as a writer who functions as a critic of ideas.
Born in Oklahoma in 1920, he began his professional career in 1941 as a reporter for the Richmond, Va., News Leader. In 1949 he succeeded Douglas Southall Freeman as editor of the News Leader's editorial pages.
In 1964 he began writing "A Conservative View." Over the next 28 years, he became the most widely syndicated political columnist in the country. In 1981 he took on a weekly column, "The Writer's Art," on the use and abuse of English. In 1992, seeking a slower pace in semiretirement, he bade farewell to "A Conservative View" and turned to the love of his public life, the U.S. Supreme Court, with a new column called "Covering the Courts." Upward of 200 newspapers have signed on.
Mr. Kilpatrick achieved his 15 minutes of fame during nine years as a debater on "60 Minutes." Over the years he has served as a talking head on "Meet the Press," "Inside Washington," and other television programs. He has written or edited 11 books, including two dealing with the writer's art.
In June 1998, he married syndicated columnist Marianne Means, thus inheriting eight grandchildren to go with his own seven. The newlyweds live in a century-old townhouse in Washington. They both are members of the capital's prestigious Gridiron Club.
He's also a trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society and a founding trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. He writes frequently in defense of freedom of the press.
It remains to be said only that Mr. Kilpatrick cherishes other honors and high positions. He is No. 1 Pea, Pro Tem., of the Black-Eyed Pea Society of America, an office he voted himself into in 1961. He is the recording secretary of his political party, the True Whig Party, and served as doorkeeper and bartender for the party's last national convention in 1856.
In its petition to the Supreme Court, Laws' counsel argues that if Judge Bybee's opinion is affirmed, the likeness of any prominent person could be used without his consent on any licensed work that is subject to copyright.
First, a caveat: There is no rule -- absolutely NO rule -- against using nouns as adjectives! The supposed rule is an old grammarian's crotchet, to be prudently ignored.
First the good news: The Supreme Court will hear argument early next year in the sad case of a 19-year-old who tried to outrun some Georgia cops and wound up a paraplegic.
Robert Browning said it first, but the architect Mies van der Rohe made it famous: "Less is more." It's a fine rule for writers -- let us use only necessary words -- but "less is more" is not a rule to be followed blindly.
Some long-forgotten jurist long ago laid down a maxim for the ages: "De minimis non curat lex." Loosely translated: Appellate courts should not bother with trifles.
The field includes a minister's brief homily, an author's introduction, a student's book report and, more particularly, an editor's editorials.
How did "quality" get to be an adjective? In 1936 or thereabouts, the gurus of Merriam-Webster counted their citations and declared that a rite of passage had occurred.
Verily, verily, remarked the Preacher, of the bringing of First Amendment cases there shall be no end. The venerable Ecclesiastes thus provided a text for an important case now pending in the Supreme Court on a petition for review.
Seventeen years have passed since Jeffrey Landrigan murdered Chester Dean Dyer, but the story won't go away. Now the record is resting in the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's appeal from a regrettable decision in the 9th Circuit.
My sympathies are with the irresponsible driver, crippled by his own lawless behavior, but my heart goes out to the cop. A policeman's lot is not a happy one.
Viewed in one way, the two union labor cases now awaiting argument in the Supreme Court are much ado about mighty little.
The questionnaires are of interest. Most of the 79 questions dealt with violence; 10 dealt with sex.
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, Morton R. Berger will spend the rest of his life in an Arizona prison. Maybe he deserves it. Then again, maybe not.
Four years ago, in a different place far away, another smart-aleck also stood upon his First Amendment rights. He had better luck, and now he's in the U.S. Supreme Court, ready to defend his glorious victory against a formidable foe.
On the Fourth of July in 2002, John Gilmore set out to fly from the West Coast to Washington, D.C. As things turned out, he never made the trip, mainly because the airline security folks wouldn't let him board a plane. He hasn't flown commercially from that day to this.
eorge W. Bush took the presidential oath on that January day in 2001, came home from the Hill, and promptly issued Executive Order No. 13,199. Thus he created, overnight, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The city of New York wants to protect its vagrant citizens in its way -- preferably far away.
The facts in the case of Weldon Angelos are not in dispute: He really did sell 24 ounces of marijuana to an informant, and he really did carry a handgun when he did it.
Ah, the subjunctive mood! Editors have been writing its obituary for the past 400 years.
In the final paragraphs of his 39-page opinion, Souter abruptly lapses into lucidity.