We feel a bit like Senator Joe Biden must feel right now, after his ill-advised comments about Senator Barack Obama. In case you haven’t heard, Sen. Biden paid Sen. Obama’s presidential candidacy some backhanded compliments:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
Take foot (or, in our case, keyboard). Insert into mouth. Then push, as far as it will go.
Yesterday we published a post about a recent plane trip made by Judge Marsha Berzon, of the Ninth Circuit, and her family. It was supposed to come across as playfully irreverent (and yes, slightly snarky). But instead, it turned out to be rather mean-spirited, at least in the eyes of some readers — such as Judge Alex Kozinski.
In a later post, we will explain various aspects of that original post (and vigorously defend the decision to publish in the first instance). But for now, we would like to point out that the timing of our post could not have been worse.
The following email is representative of others we’ve received. It’s from a former clerk of Judge Berzon (who, by the way, thinks very highly of her and enjoyed the clerkship):
Judge Berzon’s brother passed away Tuesday quite suddenly and unexpectedly. So, whereas I would be bothered by such a post about someone I so thoroughly revere as a general matter, I wouldn’t normally object to its very existence — I’d just fight back. Given current circumstances, however, I do think it is in especially poor taste this week, a point you might want to consider as you post further on the subject.
Point well-taken. Obviously we had no idea of the passing of Judge Berzon’s brother at the time we published our post. It was a story we had on hand for a while — non-time-sensitive stuff, or what we in the biz call “evergreen” material — and we didn’t get the chance to write it up until yesterday. So it was pure (and unfortunate) coincidence that it appeared at such a terrible time for the Berzon family.
We send our sincerest condolences to Judge Berzon on the passing of her brother. And we apologize if we have in any way made such a difficult time for her family even more trying.
Update: Some interesting comments here. Please be sure to read our clarification of the point of this post. Thanks.
Earlier: Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies: An Open Letter from Judge Alex Kozinski
Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies