Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals engages in some impressive benchslappery in a dissent released today. He’s not attacking the court’s majority opinion, just ignoring it:
I concede that this short opinion of mine does not consider or take into account the majority opinion. So I should disclose at the outset that I have not read it.
Ouch! (We take particular pleasure in pointing out that the majority opinion is by Judge Guido Calabresi, LEWW’s favorite elfin jurist.)
Click below to read more about the case, plus more from Judge Jacobs’ delightfully disdainful dissent.
The case involves a bitter controversy at the College of Staten Island, where a student newspaper supported by a mandatory student activities fee ran an issue supporting a particular slate of candidates in a student government election. The college’s president nullified the subsequent election (but the newspaper’s favored candidates won a second election). The students involved with the newspaper sued the student government and various CUNY officials, alleging that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated.
We skipped over a lot of details in the above paragraph; we urge you to read the opinion and absorb the entire spectacle of a full-blown student government p*ssing match in which the stakes could hardly be lower (the plaintiffs requested a total of $2 in compensatory and punitive damages from the student government defendants).
Judge Jacobs has little use for the student plaintiffs in the case; he thinks they’re self-important brats who are wasting the court’s time:
I fear that the majority opinion (44 pages of typescript) will only feed the plaintiffs’ fantasy of oppression: that plutocrats are trying to stifle an upsurge of Pol-Potism on Staten Island. Contrary to the impression created by the majority’s lengthy formal opinion, this case is not a cause célèbre; it is a slow-motion tantrum by children spending their graduate years trying to humiliate the school that conferred on them a costly education from which they evidently derived small benefit. A selection from the illiterate piffle in the disputed issue of the College Voice is set out in the margin for the reader’s fun.
A footnote in the dissent describes some of the “piffle”:
The issue features the Student Union’s “12-Pt. Program For Change,” including a call to “END CORPORATE CONTROL OF THE BOOKSTORE” so that it can “be returned immediately to the student body.” The reason: “CUNY in general and CSI in particular have become the crown jewel in [Barnes & Noble’s] campaign of corporate terror.”
Of course it’s only natural that Barnes & Noble would choose the student bookstore at the College of Staten Island as Ground Zero in its war on humanity.