Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | May 9, 2014

The Court, Restaurants, and Assorted Links for Friday


1. The Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway came down on Monday.

Burt Likko at Ordinary Times has a lucid and informative post on the decision and the background and precedent leading to the decision. Burt sees this case as a sign that the Court is moving away from the “endorsement” test that Justice O’Connor formulated back in the 1980s and which the Court appeared to have adopted in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000). Eugene Volokh reads the opinion more narrowly and thinks that the endorsement test is still good law in many contexts.

At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick looks at the opinions and predicts an upswing in sectarian (Christian) prayers at public meetings.

2. In discussing the news out of SCOTUS, Lithwick links to an older case (2005) out of the Fourth Circuit, involving a Wiccan priestess who sued (unsuccessfully) to be included in the list of spiritual leaders who, on a rotating basis, gave the opening prayer at meetings of a county board in Virginia. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote the opinion for the appellate court panel. (I disagree with Judge Wilkinson in plenty of cases, including this one; still, I had a thought, when reading this opinion, that maybe George W. Bush would have done better to appoint Wilkinson to the Supreme Court rather than Alito; I have not been very impressed with Justice Alito, who seems more results-oriented and partisan than any other justice.)

3. Executions by lethal injection have not been going so well lately. So, the Tennessee Senate has passed a bill to reinstate use of the electric chair if lethal injection becomes a non-workable option. The vote was 23-3 in the Senate; I’m not sure if the bill will get through the House before this session ends.

(The last person to die in the electric chair in Tennessee was Daryl Holton, in 2007; his execution was the first in Tennessee to use the electric chair since 1960. At present, in Tennessee, death-row inmates who were sentenced when the electric chair was still the official execution method are allowed to choose between the chair and lethal injection.)

4. Mike Masnick on net neutrality: “How Comcast Is Trying To Turn The Internet Into The Old, Broken Phone System.”

5. Liberals eat at Chipotle and California Pizza Kitchen; Conservatives eat at Cracker Barrel and Krystal: the Wall Street Journal reported on a study looking at the political leanings of the customers at various chain restaurants and supermarkets: “The survey assigns liberal and conservative scores to different establishments based on their customers’ political preferences. A 100 is average, a 120 is 20% more liberal or conservative than average, 80 is 20% less than average, and so on.”

Some (or a lot) of the results reflect regional effects: e.g., Cracker Barrels are concentrated in the Southeast, and the Southeast happens to be very Republican and/or conservative at this point in time. On the flip side, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Au Bon Pain in the Southeast, except maybe in the Atlanta airport.

And anyone who has makes a long north-south drive east of the Mississippi will notice where White Castles end and Krystals begin. (I was shocked a few weeks ago to see a White Castle in Nashville; it seemed out of place.)

With that big caveat in mind, I was surprised by the breakdown in scores for a few places (there are tables at the WSJ link). Buffalo Wild Wings attracts more liberals than conservatives, for reasons that are a mystery to me. Dunkin’ Donuts has numbers that skew liberal (though not as much as Starbucks). Politically aware liberals may be conscious enough to stay away from Domino’s, but apparently that message has not filtered down to the masses in blue states.

The scores for Steak’n Shake, Chick-fil-A, and Dairy Queen are no surprise. Liberals like to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s — again, no surprise. Liberals also apparently like the over-priced menu at Einstein Bros. Bagels. The scores for Sonic and Long John Silvers probably reflect a regional effect, as discussed.

See also posts at Marginal Revolution and TaxProf Blog.

6. Mapping political regions of the US/North America.

Dürer rhino

7. Chris Attaway: “Rhinos, Unicorns, Evolution, Gay Marriage, and Scripture.”

8. Chasing Prester John, in the Middle Ages and beyond.

9. The (Non-Western) Logic of Buddhist Philosophy.

10. A grove of aspen trees in Fishlake National Forest, Utah, is actually one enormous organism: “Every tree — or stem, technically — is genetically identical, and the whole forest is linked by a single root system. Pando’s aspens reproduce asexually by sprouting new stems from the root structure.” (The picture at the top of this post is from that National Forest.)

Image Credits: (1) aspen tree stems of Pando, Richfield Ranger District, Fishlake National Forest, Utah. Photo by Mark Muir, October 2005, for the Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
(2) Rhinoceros, print by Albrecht Dürer, 1515. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Love the rhino post. I may have to start reading that blog.

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