The current New Yorker has an interesting piece by Jeffrey Toobin on President Obama’s judicial picks. Toobin took part in a live chat about the piece at NewYorker.com
right now earlier today if you’re interested. (Try not to crash their website.).
UPDATE: The chat’s quite interesting. Toobin reveals why he likes Justice Souter best and answers this young wannabe judge’s question:
11:31 Guest: I’m a 25 year old law student, I want to be a judge, and my roommate smokes pot. How worried should I be? Do you think people will still care when I’m older?
11:32 Jeffrey Toobin: Don’t inhale! I’m kidding. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. Our president has more or less admitted he was a pretty big pothead in his day, and it’s been a non-issue. Certainly the fact that your roommate smokes — not you — is irrelevant.
Toobin’s piece is available online to non-subscribers here. If you don’t feel like clicking through seven pages, here’s the ATL reader’s digest version:
More bullets, after the jump.
There’s a lot of other stuff — it’s a long piece — but basically Toobin crafts an argument that Obama’s judicial picks ain’t very liberal. And that’s due in part to Obama’s opposition to the political process unfolding in the judicial branch: Political battles should be won during elections, not in the courts. Read the piece, and its definition of the “new liberalism” as exemplified by Obama, here.
One thing we found fun: more detail on the path that could have taken Obama to One First Street instead of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We’ve noted Obama as the “man who got away” from the justices before. Toobin has more on the Supreme Court route that Obama could have taken:
As the outgoing president of the Harvard Law Review, in 1991, Obama could have had his pick of judicial clerkships. “I asked him to apply to clerk for me,” Abner Mikva, a former federal appeals-court judge in Washington, told me. “I was a feeder. At the time, I was sending clerks to work for Brennan, Marshall, Stevens, and Blackmun. I don’t have any doubt that Obama would have got a Supreme Court clerkship if he wanted one.”
But Obama decided against taking any clerkship and instead moved back to Chicago, where he joined a small law firm, started teaching law at the University of Chicago, and laid the groundwork for a political career.
Instead of joining the ranks of the Elect, he gets to choose their bosses. Not a bad trade-off.
Bench Press [The New Yorker]