Emeritus Faculty Association news April 2015
Friday April 3rd, 10.30am Javits room, library 2nd floor.
Member Peter Winkler will speak on A Symphony Must Be Like the World - The Evolution of Peter Winkler's Symphony.
New member Peter Winkler, who retired from Stony Brook's composition faculty last year, began his symphony the year he began teaching at Stony Brook (1971), and completed it seven years later. The 45-minute long work begins with craggy dissonances and ends with a lilting, Caribbean-flavored tune in B major. Prof. Winkler will discuss the musical and dramatic structure of the symphony, and the evolution of his aesthetics in the course of its composition. A newly revised version of the symphony will be performed by the Stony Brook Orchestra, conducted by Eduardo Leandro, during its program on Saturday, March 28.
Bio: Peter Winkler joined the Stony Brook Music faculty in 1971, and retired this past June. His principal composition teacher was Earl Kim, with whom he studied at Princeton and Harvard Universities. Kim's spare, exquisite music and his goal of reducing music to its absolute maximum, inspires Peter to this day. While a graduate student in the mid-1960's Peter was fatally seduced by the music of the Beatles and Motown, and began a life-long creative and scholarly involvement with popular music. His research and teaching dealt with the history and theory of popular music, as well as traditional composition and theory. His compositions include both concert works and music for the theater; many of his pieces involve a synthesis of popular and classical styles. For example, his CD Silken Rags(2004), a collaboration with his wife, violinist Dorothea Cook, includes tributes to gospel music, Ghanaian highlife, Cuban music, American popular song, and tango. Over the years he has written many pieces for Stony Brook, including the University's Alma Mater, scores for several productions by the Department of Theatre Arts, two works for the Premieres series, a Partita for the Stony Brook Baroque Ensemble, the opera Fox Fables, and the Symphony which is being performed during the program on March 28. Upon his retirement, the music department honored Peter Winkler for his "legacy of enthusiasm for the wonders of music in its myriad forms" and thanked him for his "energy, generosity of spirit, deep musicality, wonderful compositions, and contributions to the scholarship of popular music."
Sydney Gelber Memorial:
The SAC Auditorium is being named in honor of former Provost Sidney Gelber who passed away in November. The dedication is scheduled to take place at 11 am Thursday, April 9th. RSVP by April 3 by calling 632-6320 or clicking here: https://docs.google.com/a/cs.stonybrook.edu/forms/d/118uVUzYFmfyWS7ObjsrKgMjegf71cEikX6b9xrbpb1w/viewform
Political science chair (and son-in-law of one of our members), Jeffrey Segal, spoke on the Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty as it applies to the supreme court. The term was coined in 1962 by Yale Law School professor Alexander Bickel to describe the argument that judicial review is illegitimate because it allows unelected judges to overrule the lawmaking of elected representatives, thus undermining the will of the majority.
Prof Segal started off with an example of the relevant forces at work. In 1996 with public support of same-sex marriage running at only 30%, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Since that time public opinion steadily changed, passing through the 50/50 mark in 2011, and many state legislatures decided to recognize such unions. Edith Windsor's Canadian marriage was recognized by her state of residence (NY), but when her partner died she was denied the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses on the basis of DOMA. Windsor sued and lower courts ruled that the $360,000 should be returned to her. But when the case came to the supreme court the conservative faction balked. Justice Scalia wrote in part "We have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation" (However, Segal has not observed such deference from Scalia when liberal laws were being reversed). Fortunately for Windsor, Justice Kennedy sided with the 4 liberal justices, and the court is now thought to be rapidly coming into line with a strongly emerging popular opinion on this subject.
Indeed Segal believes that because members are appointed by popularly elected presidents, the supreme court will always be brought back to a majoritarian position. For this to be true it would be sufficient if nominees are selected according to the President's ideology, and if the justices vote on the basis of their ideology. This is the attitudinal model of which Segal is a major proponent. To test it Segal needed measures of:
(1) The President's ideology: Based largely on bills signed or vetoed.
(2) The nominees' ideology: This must be exogenous, ie: independent of votes later cast on the court. Segal used earlier newspaper editorials. Nominees testimony before the judiciary committee was not always so reliable.
(3) How the nominees voted once they were on the court: In fact this often turned out to be better correlated with ideology than avowed principles such as precedent, freedom of speech, states rights, etc.
For these measurements Segal was also able to take advantage in part of voluminous data previously compiled by such scholars as Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, as well as his advisor Harold Spaeth. Segal illustrated the results with a series of graphs which overall tended to validate his majoritarian thesis.
Some other interesting facts that came out of the data: Eisenhower didn't care so much about ideology in his nominations, but in the years since politics has become steadily more polarized. Once on the court, the justices more likely to modulate their opinions were those from outside the Washington DC area. Going forward, prospective justices are being much more closely vetted.
Finally, to render supreme court majoritarianism a little more timely, Segal would like to see the terms reduced from lifetime to 18 years with nominations every two years.
The Supreme Court and Affordable Health Care
In deciding the case King vs Burwell in the next few months, the Supreme Court may cite the phrase "established by the State" at one particular point in the text of the Affordable Care Act to effectively destroy it. If they do, a student has come up with way to use the same phrase to put the bill back in business: https://journals.law.harvard.edu/jol/2015/01/08/saving-the-affordable-care-act-if-the-king-v-burwell-challenge-succeeds