The Atlantic Daily: Justice and the American Way

Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch for SCOTUS, Rex Tillerson was confirmed as U.S. secretary of state, Putin inspired the world's nationalist leaders, and more.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

What We’re Following

The Supreme Court: Last night, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia. The long standoff over that vacant seat was one of the pivotal issues of the 2016 election: Many evangelical voters who were reluctant to back Trump were banking on his choice of a conservative justice—and with Gorsuch, Trump delivered. In addition to a strong interest in bioethics, the 49-year-old federal appellate judge has a record of reliably conservative decisions and tends, like Scalia, toward originalist interpretations of the Constitution. But he differs somewhat from Scalia in his Jeffersonian view of natural law, which may make him especially willing to enforce constitutional checks on the president’s power.

Confirmation Bias:  Senate Democrats quickly responded with criticism of both Gorsuch and the GOP’s year-long refusal to consider Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Some Democrats intend to oppose Gorsuch, but it’s not yet clear whether the party will be able to present a unified opposition. Such unity is something their progressive constituents have clamored for during the Cabinet hearings, but so far that pressure has been slow to force the Democrats into action. Today, three Democrats joined the GOP in confirming Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. But two Republicans announced their opposition to would-be education secretary Betsy DeVos, which means her confirmation could hinge on just one Republican vote.

Bipartisan Branding: For some Americans sick of the news from Washington, the Super Bowl this Sunday provides some hope for distraction—or some partisanship that isn’t explicitly political, at least. But even the many companies advertising during the year’s biggest sporting event are finding nonpartisanship hard to come by—including Budweiser, whose new ad celebrating its founder’s immigrant heritage has particular resonance with Trump’s controversial travel ban. Over in academia, some schools are trying to capitalize on the backlash against leftist campus culture by highlighting their own conservatism. Is there any hope of getting everyone to get along? Some psychologists say liberals and conservatives can agree on key issues—but it all depends on the argument.


NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this image of Saturn’s north pole on January 22, 2017. More photos of Saturn here. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute)

Evening Read

Franklin Foer on how Vladimir Putin became a hero to nationalists around the world:

Putin had never spoken glowingly of the West, but grim pronouncements about its fate grew central to his rhetoric. He hurled splenetic attacks against the culturally decadent, spiritually desiccated “Euro-Atlantic.” He warned against the fetishization of tolerance and diversity. …

Few analysts grasped the potency such rhetoric would have beyond Russia. But right-wing leaders around the world—from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Nigel Farage in Britain to Donald Trump in the U.S.—now speak of Putin in heroic terms. Their fawning is often discounted, ascribed to under-the-table payments or other stealthy Russian efforts. These explanations don’t wholly account for Putin’s outsize stature, however. He has achieved this prominence because he anticipated the global populist revolt and helped give it ideological shape. With his apocalyptic critique of the West—which also plays on anxieties about Christendom’s supposedly limp response to Islamist terrorism—Putin has become a mascot of traditionalist resistance.

Keep reading here, as Foer considers what Putin’s widespread influence means for the world and for America.

What Do You Know?

1. A frog’s tongue is ____________ times more flexible than a human’s.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Though the U.S. has over 500,000 open computer jobs, only ____________ Americans receive computer-science degrees each year.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Filibusters are the accidental byproduct of an 1806 Senate rule change that was proposed by ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 10, 43,000, Aaron Burr

Look Back

On this day in 1865, President Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S. Nine years earlier, in the infamous Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court had ruled not only that the federal government had no constitutional power to regulate slavery, but also that African Americans could never be U.S. citizens. Charles M. Ellis excoriated that decision in our February 1865 issue:

Would to God [the Court] had not faltered in the path of duty … ! Would that it had not been the mere reflex of popular opinion or the passion of the day, that it had not abrogated its judicial character! Would that it had read the plain words in the holy spirit in which they were written! Would that it had left the Constitution as it was, and, instead of thus writing its own condemnation, had shown how efficient an instrument that Constitution would be, if fearlessly used to carry out the great principles of humanity for which its preamble declares it was established!

Three years earlier, in our November 1862 issue, Ralph Waldo Emerson hailed Lincoln’s most famous executive order—the Emancipation Proclamation:

With this blot removed from our national honor, this heavy load lifted off the national heart, we shall not fear henceforward to show our faces among mankind. We shall cease to be hypocrites and pretenders, but what we have styled our free institutions will be such.

Read Emerson’s essay here.

America by Air

Reader Philip Thomas Waters sends a beautiful view from the spacious skies:

Looking due east between the farming communities of Lochbuie and Hudson, Colorado, on final approach from the north to Denver International Airport. Homeward bound after a fishing expedition immersed in a vast, green, roadless wilderness in Kamchatka, Russia, I could not help but silently sing to myself those first two lines from “America the Beautiful”…

See many more aerial photos here, and send us your own via (guidelines here).

Reader Response

A 26-year-old woman in her last year of doctoral studies adds her personal story to our ongoing series on abortion:

I was just shy of 17 years old and nearly 22 weeks pregnant. No one in my family knew. …

The week I learned I was pregnant … I was kicked out of my home for forging the letter [for permission to leave school to see a doctor] and embarrassing my mom at work. … Only a few weeks before, I had confronted [my boyfriend] on some changes I saw in his behavior. I learned that he was doing drugs behind my back. Hard drugs.

I wanted to escape. I was very much pregnant but I could not even afford a cellphone. I traveled to many clinics before one would see me, since several had turned me away. This prolonged the pregnancy several weeks. A number of providers painfully apologized to me. They said I was “too far along.” They said they required parental consent. …

Without Planned Parenthood, I would have had no option.

Read the rest here.


Tears taunted, tribute trumped, review order reversed, Jon Stewart returns.

The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email