Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

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Robert K S
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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Robert K S »

georgespelvin wrote:Robert K S just posted this on Facebook but hasn't posted it here yet, so I will give him the well-deserved credit for uncovering this. The Supreme Court decision in question in FJ is a per curiam affirmance of the District Court decision in "Browder v. Gayle". The Supreme Court decision does not even have an opinion tied to it, it's a summary affirmance and the Supreme Court title for the affirmance is "Gayle v. Browder" (as Gayle appealed). If you are a lawyer by trade and training, that likely would get in the way of your 30 second analysis of the clue because (at least this was true in my case) you probably start thinking of actual historic Supreme Court opinions as opposed to the historical milieu in which it happened (at least not at first). I think that this makes the FJ much more difficult for lawyers and law students. It's a case (no pun intended) of too much knowledge.
I was about to come here and see if anyone had mentioned this yet--thanks for beating me to the punch and for the kind nod. I wondered if there was any chance of arriving at the correct response via the route of Constitutional law scholarship. I suspected the chances of doing so might be miniscule, given that the Gayle v. Browder per curiam opinion was not exactly a landmark decision. (The entirety of the decision is as follows: "Per Curiam: The motion to affirm is granted and the judgment is affirmed. Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483; Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Dawson, 350 U.S. 877; Holmes v. Atlanta, 350 U.S. 879.") I suspected even that the Browder case would not be found in my Con law textbook. But I was wrong. Here is what Kathleen Sullivan and Gerald Gunther have to say, in their notes on the meaning and implications of Brown v. Board of Education:
Segregation in other public facilities. Soon after the 1954 decision in Brown, the Court found legally mandated segregation in public facilities unconstitutional in contexts other than education. Despite the Court's emphasis on the school context in Brown, its results in the later cases were reached in brief per curiam orders, most simply citing Brown. See, e.g., Mayor of Baltimore v. Dawson, 350 U.S. 877 (1955) (beaches); Gayle v. Browder, 352 U.S. 903 (1956) (buses); Holmes v. Atlanta, 350 U.S. 879 (1955) (golf courses); New Orleans City Park Improvement Association v. Detiege, 358 U.S. 54 (1958) (parks). Cf. Turner v. Memphis, 369 U.S. 350 (1962) (municipal airport restaurant). Not until Johnson v. Virginia, 373 U.S. 61 (1963), reversing a contempt conviction for refusal to comply with a state judge's order to move to a section of a courtroom reserved for blacks, did the Court state: "[It] is no longer open to question that a State may not constitutionally require segregation of public facilities."
Of course, this brief mention still would not necessarily lead the Con law scholar to Mrs. Parks and Montgomery, Alabama. But, at least, it cannot be said that the astute Con law student would not have even had the chance to see the names "Gayle" and "Browder" in his or her studies.

Most law students take Con law in their second year of law school. I saved it for my fourth year, and took my final exam the same day this Final aired. I had probably near 1,000 Con law cases and holdings in my head when I saw this Final, and still could not arrive at the correct response. Given the 1950s date, I suspected the correct response had something to do with Brown and the per curiam decisions that followed, but there was no way that I was going to be able to connect it up specifically with the bus boycott.

This was, I think, one of the hardest Final Jeopardy! clues in many, many years. But that should go without saying when it stumps arguably the best champion of all time, an attorney, and a guy who wrote the book on being a Jeopardy! champion.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by naurae29 »

Robert K S wrote:
georgespelvin wrote:The Supreme Court decision in question in FJ is a per curiam affirmance of the District Court decision in "Browder v. Gayle"... I think that this makes the FJ much more difficult for lawyers and law students. It's a case (no pun intended) of too much knowledge.
...
Most law students take Con law in their second year of law school. I saved it for my fourth year, and took my final exam the same day this Final aired. I had probably near 1,000 Con law cases and holdings in my head when I saw this Final, and still could not arrive at the correct response. Given the 1950s date, I suspected the correct response had something to do with Brown and the per curiam decisions that followed, but there was no way that I was going to be able to connect it up specifically with the bus boycott.
When I told my law school colleagues what the category was, one of them said, "I'm either going to love this or hate myself." That was an accurate prediction. ;)

To be fair, I haven't taken Con Law II (Bill of Rights, Fourteenth Amendment) at any point during law school, but I did write an exam in Race and American Law less than a week before this FJ. I still missed the FJ. It's not surprising that we never read this case, since it's a per curiam opinion, but I was shocked that there was a major FJ-worthy race case that I hadn't heard of. Even though the date pointed me directly to Civil Rights, I assumed that it had to be something else.

I should point out that a classmate of mine who also took Race *did* get it right, so it's clearly just a matter of having overestimated my own knowledge. Given that even the Wikipedia article focuses on the District Court case, not the Supreme Court opinion, this overestimation was not completely unreasonable.
Last edited by naurae29 on Fri May 09, 2014 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by periwinkle »

I definitely agree - from a lawyer perspective, this FJ was extremely hard, as you sit there thinking "Why doesn't this case sound familiar?" and try to think of landmark cases from that era. I even thought about Brown v. Board but thought this was unrelated to that case and the companion cases.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Magna »

Robert K S wrote:Most law students take Con law in their second year of law school.
It's a standard first-year course at a lot of law schools.

Fwiw, I think the FJ question had much more to do with legal history. If the writers are asking about a Warren Court decision, it probably dealt with either civil rights or the rights of criminal defendants. The length of the event, plus the fact that both named parties are individuals rather than states, points towards the former. So, a 381-day civil rights event ending in 1956? That led me to the correct response.
Last edited by Magna on Fri May 09, 2014 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by davey »

georgespelvin wrote:Robert K S just posted this on Facebook but hasn't posted it here yet, so I will give him the well-deserved credit for uncovering this. The Supreme Court decision in question in FJ is a per curiam affirmance of the District Court decision in "Browder v. Gayle". The Supreme Court decision does not even have an opinion tied to it, it's a summary affirmance and the Supreme Court title for the affirmance is "Gayle v. Browder" (as Gayle appealed). If you are a lawyer by trade and training, that likely would get in the way of your 30 second analysis of the clue because (at least this was true in my case) you probably start thinking of actual historic Supreme Court opinions as opposed to the historical milieu in which it happened (at least not at first). I think that this makes the FJ much more difficult for lawyers and law students. It's a case (no pun intended) of too much knowledge.
It seems like you're sayng that most lawyers and law students would not have heard of the case, any more than laymen. So in that sense it only leveled the playing field. No need to "start thinking of actual historic Supreme Court opinions" if you just recognize that you haven't heard of this one.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Robert K S »

davey wrote:It seems like you're sayng that most lawyers and law students would not have heard of the case, any more than laymen. So in that sense it only leveled the playing field. No need to "start thinking of actual historic Supreme Court opinions" if you just recognize that you haven't heard of this one.
It seems to me that the reasoning here thinks it reasonable that the category can be a red herring. When you see SUPREME COURT DECISIONS come up, you think of landmark Supreme Court decisions--especially ones that are activist in that they overturn the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives, overturn prior Supreme Court precedent, or find implied governmental powers or implied individual rights that are not textually expressed in the Constitution. Brown was such an activist decision, on two out of the three counts, at least. Browder was not.

It didn't take a Supreme Court decision to desegregate buses in Montgomery once Brown had already been decided. In only took a district court to so rule. All the Supreme Court did was to politely tell the petitioner to go away. It's tough to argue that there was really any decision by the Supreme Court involved here, other than the one they had already made a few years before in Brown.

I think you're right that the writers' crafty formulation of the clue helped level the playing field and took away, to a fair degree, the advantage that a lawyer or student of Supreme Court history might have had in deriving the correct response. But I am of the sentiment that trivia should be more about knowledge than luck, and to disadvantage knowledge and advantage luck (in thinking of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott rather than some other Civil Rights matter) is, I think, against the spirit of the game. The writers were trying their damndest to create a Triple Stumper final. By chance it just ended up being wasted on a lock Rutter game.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by zakharov »

I couldn't have told you the name of any court case involved, but I got it by connecting the time period to the civil rights movement, and thinking of events that lasted for more than a year around that time. I remember learning about how the boycott was meant to last just one day but kept on going. I guess that stuck with me. I really don't think you needed to be "lucky" if you considered civil rights actions that took a long time.
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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Magna »

Robert K S wrote:I think you're right that the writers' crafty formulation of the clue helped level the playing field and took away, to a fair degree, the advantage that a lawyer or student of Supreme Court history might have had in deriving the correct response. But I am of the sentiment that trivia should be more about knowledge than luck, and to disadvantage knowledge and advantage luck (in thinking of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott rather than some other Civil Rights matter) is, I think, against the spirit of the game.
For reasons I mentioned, I think familiarity with the Warren Court was a big help here. I also can't think of any other lengthy and prominent civil rights event in the mid-50s that was concluded by a court decision. (Basically, I agree with zakharov on this.)

Structurally, I think this clue is analogous an old Trivial Pursuit question that goes something like "Who took the photo of sherpa Tenzing Norgay on Mount Everest on May 29, 1953?" The average person might not know who Tenzing Norgay was, and asking about the photo is an interesting but mostly irrelevant detail. The facts you need are Mt. Everest and 1953, and you can reason out what one other person could have been there with him. If this were reworded and used as a Jeopardy clue, it would fit reasonably well in a "Historic Photographs" category despite the fact that the photo isn't the focus of the question.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by davey »

Robert K S wrote: But I am of the sentiment that trivia should be more about knowledge than luck, and to disadvantage knowledge and advantage luck (in thinking of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott rather than some other Civil Rights matter) is, I think, against the spirit of the game. The writers were trying their damndest to create a Triple Stumper final. By chance it just ended up being wasted on a lock Rutter game.
Luck comes into it since our three players didn't work it out. Apparently many of the rest of us did. But bringing in Rosa Parks comes from consideration of the "historical milieu," as georgespelvin put it, not from luck.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by davey »

BTW, if anyone could show that the boycott ended when the district court case was signed, in anticipation of a favorable outcome to the appeal, then I'd start changing my thinking on this. But if, as the clue said, the Supreme Court ruling marked the end of the boycott, then it was significant as history if not precedent. I'm reading that the district court decision was in June 1956, the Supreme Court ruling came in December, and the boycott didn't end till then.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Robert K S »

davey wrote:Luck comes into it since our three players didn't work it out. Apparently many of the rest of us did. But bringing in Rosa Parks comes from consideration of the "historical milieu," ... not from luck.
I agree that "1950 + Supreme Court" may lead one to consider segregation cases, if one is lucky not to spend too much time thinking of the Steel Seizure case or any of the other numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions of the time. To hit upon the bus boycott, however, either takes knowledge that W.A. Gayle was the mayor of Montgomery in the '50s (he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page), or knowledge that the bus boycott lasted a little over a year (also not common knowledge), or luck in choosing public buses over any of the myriad other segregation challenges. Public schools, public beaches, public golf courses, public parks, publicly-owned restaurants--all of these had legal challenges brought, and all came before the Supreme Court around the same time. If one knew of all of these, one would be lucky to pick buses from among them.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by lieph82 »

The problem here is clearly that a Supreme Court decision is not technically a "command." And Bill Gates never actually said the quote, or if he did, he was referring to something else! Ergo, clue invalid, qed.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Robert K S »

davey wrote:BTW, if anyone could show that the boycott ended when the district court case was signed, in anticipation of a favorable outcome to the appeal, then I'd start changing my thinking on this. But if, as the clue said, the Supreme Court ruling marked the end of the boycott, then it was significant as history if not precedent. I'm reading that the district court decision was in June 1956, the Supreme Court ruling came in December, and the boycott didn't end till then.
It's only slightly more complicated than that. The district court decision came on June 5, 1956. Why, procedurally, Mayor Gayle et al. were able to petition the Supreme Court without first going to a circuit court of appeals, I am not sure. But the Supreme Court issued its per curiam affirmance on November 13. Dissatisfied with being dissed in a single sentence, the mayor petitioned for clarification and rehearing, which the Supreme Court summarily denied on December 17. (A petition for rehearing by another defendant, Jack Owen, was denied the same day.) On December 19, MLK sent a letter to Gayle, telling him that as soon as the district court got the latest from the Supreme Court in the mail and issued its desegregation order, the boycott would be ended. This happened the next day, December 20. Meanwhile, the boycott was wreaking havoc on the city and causing instances of violence against blacks and other retaliatory measures (e.g., carpoolers' insurance policies being canceled). It is not clear that the boycott would have been successful on its own terms without the federal courts' intervention. In that sense, the Supreme Court ruling helped a great deal.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Dr. J »

Bamaman wrote:
Dr. J wrote:Considering that I'm co-writing a role-playing game on the Bus Boycott, that was as instagetty as it gets for me. Ran Movie Directors, too. So sorry to see the cannons go off for you, Danny Boy! We'll commiserate over bourbons and beer in a month.
How will the game work?
It's part of the Reacting to the Past series, so students play actual historical characters and speak in character. For this game, we have held the court case where the MIA was indicted and Parks, et. al., are on trial. Fred Gray and Bayard Rustin defend, and students play jurors, Montgomery residents, civil rights activists, etc. We recreate the trial, and the jurors get to make their decision based on what the prosecution is pressing charges for and how well each side argues their case. (Of course, many of the juror characters are openly racist, so it's not very likely that the MIA will win...) We're still working on the game and the format, and are hoping to include a pre-trial White Citizen's Council meeting and an MIA meeting at King's church for more student speaking opportunities. It will probably still culminate in the trial, however.

My immersion in the issue made it an easy clue: 381 days, 1955, Gayle is a character in the game, etc. I think this FJ would be quite hard if you got stuck precalling more famous Supreme Court decisions. I had skipped over the category and fast forwarded just to the clue, so that may have actually helped!

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by davey »

Robert K S wrote:
davey wrote:Luck comes into it since our three players didn't work it out. Apparently many of the rest of us did. But bringing in Rosa Parks comes from consideration of the "historical milieu," ... not from luck.
I agree that "1950 + Supreme Court" may lead one to consider segregation cases, if one is lucky not to spend too much time thinking of the Steel Seizure case or any of the other numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions of the time. To hit upon the bus boycott, however, either takes knowledge that W.A. Gayle was the mayor of Montgomery in the '50s (he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page), or knowledge that the bus boycott lasted a little over a year (also not common knowledge), or luck in choosing public buses over any of the myriad other segregation challenges. Public schools, public beaches, public golf courses, public parks, publicly-owned restaurants--all of these had legal challenges brought, and all came before the Supreme Court around the same time. If one knew of all of these, one would be lucky to pick buses from among them.
How many famous events resolved in the courts during the civil rights era could have lasted about a year only? Not instances of segregation, surely. I think seeing the significance of that was crucial to getting it.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Magna »

Robert K S wrote:I agree that "1950 + Supreme Court" may lead one to consider segregation cases, if one is lucky not to spend too much time thinking of the Steel Seizure case or any of the other numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions of the time.
The steel seizure cases were during the Truman administration, so 1956 is too late. Also, the case name doesn't include a steel mill.
davey wrote:How many famous events resolved in the courts during the civil rights era could have lasted about a year only? Not instances of segregation, surely. I think seeing the significance of that was crucial to getting it.
We can also assume the event was well known or they wouldn't ask about it. Most notable protests, like lunch counter sit-ins, rallies, or marches, were far too short to be a correct response.
Last edited by Magna on Fri May 09, 2014 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by periwinkle »

davey wrote:
Robert K S wrote:
davey wrote:Luck comes into it since our three players didn't work it out. Apparently many of the rest of us did. But bringing in Rosa Parks comes from consideration of the "historical milieu," ... not from luck.
I agree that "1950 + Supreme Court" may lead one to consider segregation cases, if one is lucky not to spend too much time thinking of the Steel Seizure case or any of the other numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions of the time. To hit upon the bus boycott, however, either takes knowledge that W.A. Gayle was the mayor of Montgomery in the '50s (he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page), or knowledge that the bus boycott lasted a little over a year (also not common knowledge), or luck in choosing public buses over any of the myriad other segregation challenges. Public schools, public beaches, public golf courses, public parks, publicly-owned restaurants--all of these had legal challenges brought, and all came before the Supreme Court around the same time. If one knew of all of these, one would be lucky to pick buses from among them.
How many famous events resolved in the courts during the civil rights era could have lasted about a year only? Not instances of segregation, surely. I think seeing the significance of that was crucial to getting it.
That makes sense. In my case, although I knew the bus boycott lasted many months, I didn't know it was resolved by a court case (I thought the economic pain suffered by the bus company led them to back down in the end). That's the reason it didn't occur to me (that plus being stuck on the steel strike from a few years earlier, where I was pretty sure the Supreme Court had ruled on Truman's seizure of the steel industry - I didn't know if that was resolved during Truman's term or not).

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Robert K S »

Magna wrote:The steel seizure cases were during the Truman administration, so 1956 is too late. Also, the case name doesn't include a steel mill.
The timing is a bit off, but Steel Seizures was still the '50s, and case names don't always mean that much; the case named in the clue didn't include the name of a bus. Or a city, for that matter. I only mentioned the Steel Seizures by way of example. There were other things going on in the courts in the early-to-mid mid-'50s besides segregation/equal protection issues. They were also looking at separation of powers, free speech, taxation, post-Lochner economic liberties, eminent domain, civil procedure issues, etc., etc.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by naurae29 »

Magna wrote:
Robert K S wrote:Most law students take Con law in their second year of law school.
It's a standard first-year course at a lot of law schools.
Con Law I (federalism, war powers, separation of powers) is, but many law schools reserve discussion of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment for a separate course.

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Re: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Game Recap & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by MarkBarrett »

AP's take on the story:

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