April 20, 2004


QUESTIONS FOR KENNETH STARR: Life After the Report (Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON, April 18, 2004, NY Times Magazine)

At the moment, you are representing the mother of the 9-year-old girl whose father wants the Supreme Court to strike the words ''under God'' from the Pledge of Allegiance.

It's obviously a very important case on both a constitutional level and a practical level. And it was a great honor to be called upon by Sandra Banning, the mother in the case.

Do any other countries have a pledge of allegiance to their flags?

Not to my knowledge.

And the phrase ''under God'' wasn't initially part of the pledge, was it?

No. Congress added the words ''under God'' in 1954. The American political philosophy was viewed in the 1950's as standing in sharp contrast to the political philosophy of the other side of the cold war.

But don't you think it trivialized religious belief to evoke God that way, as a handy weapon against Communism?

In my judgment, it is a clear and forceful articulation of our founding principles. We are endowed by our creator, in Jefferson's words, with certain inalienable rights.

Do you pray every night?

I am going to decline to get into that.

Do you believe that atheists go to hell?

I am not going to get into theology.

You're impeding my investigation. You won't answer anything, although you investigate everyone else.

Wait a second. Not everyone. Just one person. And I had a nice legal charter!

What do you do for fun?

As a family, we love hopping on horses. Our principal activity is most summers we get out to Wyoming and we ride.

And are you reading anything interesting now?

I am rereading Dickens's ''Bleak House.''

Now that is a book that certainly explains how getting obsessed with legal procedure can cause one to lose sight of the larger issues, namely justice.

One of my favorite quotes is from Justice Frankfurter, who said, ''The history of liberty has largely been the history of procedural safeguards.''

Whom do you plan to vote for in the presidential election?

We have a wonderful reform in this country. It's called the secret ballot.

I find you unnecessarily secretive.

But I told you about ''Bleak House.'' Now don't forget to mention my book -- First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life. It's just out in paperback.

Nearly the dictionary definition of suffering fools gladly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2004 1:01 PM

You're impeding my investigation. You won't answer anything, although you investigate everyone else.

WTF? Talk about cheap shots.

Posted by: pchuck at April 20, 2004 1:23 PM

So what's the inside scoop here? Solomon and Starr must be best of friends or something, otherwise this whole interview makes no sense, certainly not the second half or so.

Posted by: brian at April 20, 2004 1:47 PM

Damned Jesus Freaks! Can't get a straight answer out of 'em.

Posted by: John Resnick at April 20, 2004 5:10 PM

Ms. Solomon sounds like she's gunning for the "lunatic female columnist" position on the Times when Maureen Dowd retires...

Posted by: John at April 20, 2004 10:51 PM

Do you think part of the interview is missing, just before she asks him what he does for fun, or that she did a 180?

For me, the oddest thing about this interview is that Solomon clearly considers herself superior to Ken Starr.

Posted by: Nicholas Stix at April 21, 2004 1:18 AM

Are you sure this isn't from The Onion?

Posted by: Brooks at April 21, 2004 1:47 AM