Stephen Breyer

Tim Wu Timothy Wu Above the Law.jpgAlthough we mentioned it in passing, we didn’t give adequate attention to Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s delightful profile of Tim Wu when it appeared earlier this month in the New York Observer. (It was discussed on several other prominent blogs.)
Now we have an excuse to double back and correct the error: We’ve received an email from the good professor! Here it is (reprinted with permission):

Hi this isn’t exactly a tip — I just read your entry for above the law and the FedSoc conference, and wanted to say sorry I couldn’t meet you at the Net Neutrality panel…. It turned out I had the wrong date and it conflicted with my Thursday copyright class, so I couldn’t come….

I hope to run into you in person one of these days.


Wow! When we received this email, we giggled girlishly with excitement. First, Professor Wu is brilliant. As noted in the profile, he was nicknamed “the Genius Wu” by no less an authority than Judge Richard Posner, who knows genius when he sees it (e.g., when he looks in the mirror).
Second, Professor Wu is quite handsome (see photo). How many other Columbia Law School professors have earned themselves a music video tribute (“Ain’t No Other Man But Wu”) from their students?
(Our only grooming suggestion to Professor Wu: Have those eyebrows thinned. We go to someone very good for ours, but she’s probably not convenient for you given that you’re in New York.)
Finally, we were glad to learn why Professor Wu missed the Federalist Society panel: he misread his calendar. It’s nice to know that a member of the Elect — and not just any old Supreme Court clerk, but one who has been called “indefatigable” and “a valuable man in chambers” by his former boss, Justice Breyer — makes scheduling mistakes. How utterly charming!
Wu-Hoo! Nutty Professor Is Voice of a Generation [New York Observer]
Tim Wu, Voice of a Generation [Volokh Conspiracy]
George Clooney’s Got Nothing On Tim Wu [WSJ Law Blog]
“I Heart Wu” [YouTube]

supreme court 2006.jpgYou may recall our recent Above the Law reader polls for Most Favorite Supreme Court Justice and Least Favorite Supreme Court Justice. The results of those polls are available here and here, respectively.
One of you had an interesting suggestion: Combine the results of the two polls to generate “net popularity scores” for the justices. These scores, combining measures of how much each justice is liked and disliked, could be viewed as measuring “overall” popularity.
We thought it would be interesting to see the results, so we went ahead and did this. We took the percentage of the vote each justice received in the “Most Favorite” poll, then subtracted from it the percentage of the vote received in the “Least Favorite” poll. We labeled the result the justice’s “Net Popularity Score” (NPS).
Here are the results of this number-crunching, with the justices ranked by NPS, from highest to lowest:
net popularity score 2.jpg
A few quick thoughts:
1. The rankings strike us as decent measures of overall popularity. Two of the top three finishers are favorites of their respective ideological wings. Justice Scalia, a cult figure among conservatives, comes in first; Justice Stevens, a hero of the liberals, places third.
2. The Chief is like Sara Lee: Nobody doesn’t like him. He got zero percent of the votes in the “Least Favorite” poll (just 24 votes out of 6,290). And, presumably due to his good looks and great resume — since he doesn’t have many opinions to be judged by yet — he won 16 percent of the “Most Favorite” vote. This gave him an NPS of 16, almost enough to beat Nino.
3. The next three justices — Justices Breyer, Thomas, and Alito — have net popularity scores close to zero. This makes sense too: as jurists, they don’t excite grand passion (even if Justice Thomas, prior to his confirmation, was a controversial figure).
4. Justice Alito, a fairly low-key personality, earns a “perfect” score of zero. Two percent of voters picked him as their favorite; two percent picked him as their least favorite. He’s like The Justice Who Wasn’t There (although, in fairness to Justice Alito, he’s too new to the bench to have made many enemies or fans).
5. Three justices have negative net popularity scores: Justices Kennedy, Souter, and Ginsburg. Their negative scores may have been affected by the fact that the voter pool in the “Least Favorite Justice” pool skewed to the right (thanks in large part to an Instapundit link).
6. As for why Justice Ginsburg attracted such a high percentage of the “least favorite” votes, Ann Althouse — and her commenters — have some interesting thoughts on the matter.
Earlier: ATL Poll Results: Your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court Justice
ATL Poll Results: Your Favorite Supreme Court Justice

* “Colombian Supreme Court: grabbing a woman’s behind is a crime.” [Herald-Tribune via How Appealing]
* One week until elections — there must be some litigation somewhere. [Wall Street Journal via [How Appealing]
* Justice O’Connor spoke in Utah this week, and she and Justice Breyer shed some politico-rhetoric in Washington. [CNN]
(For related links, see yesterday’s MD.)
* A second plea bargain has been reached in the Iraqi civilian murder case. [MSNBC]
* For you trusts-and-estates buffs, check out Kenneth Lay’s will. Notice he leaves much of his assets in the “Ken Lay Trust,” which seems oxymoronic. [Slate]

After finding out your Favorite Supreme Court Justice (answer: Justice Scalia), we asked about your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court justice. And the result was surprising, at least to us.
Voter turnout was massive, with over 6,000 votes cast. Maybe everyone’s in a voting frame of mind, with Election Day so close. Here’s how you voted:
least favorite supreme court justice poll results.JPG
The “winner”: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a whopping 40 percent of ballots cast. Second place went to Justice David H. Souter, with 19 percent of the vote.
Thank you to the voters — all 6,000 of you. And thanks to everyone who linked to the poll, especially Glenn Reynolds, Ann Althouse, and Jason Harrow (of SCOTUSblog).
We have a few cursory observations on these results, which appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Poll Results: Your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court Justice”

supreme court 2006.jpgNot much explanation required. This is just the flip-side of our recently concluded Favorite Supreme Court Justice poll (in which Justice Scalia easily prevailed).
Now we want to learn which of the Nine Robed Ones is your LEAST favorite jurist.
We’ll keep the polls open until we get at least 1,000 responses, so that the result can be viewed as a fairly reliable indicator of ATL reader sentiment. Here’s the poll:

Who is your LEAST favorite U.S. Supreme Court justice?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Justice John Paul Stevens
Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Justice David H. Souter
Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
Free polls from

Please cast your vote, and spread the word to others who might be interested. Thanks!
Earlier: ATL Poll Results: Your Favorite Supreme Court Justice

Last Friday, we asked you to vote for your Favorite Supreme Court Justice.
Over 1,300 votes were cast. Here are the results:
favorite supreme court justice poll results.JPG
Interesting! Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll. And thanks to SCOTUSblog and Professor Althouse for linking to the poll, which generated many votes.
Update: Vote for your LEAST favorite Supreme Court justice by clicking here.
Our random observations on the results, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Poll Results: Your Favorite Supreme Court Justice”

This is NOT an official ATL contest. We won’t offer any commentary on the candidates, to keep the proceedings objective. This is simply a random Friday poll that we’re conducting for our own curiosity.
Readers of this site are generally interested in, and highly knowledgeable about, the United States Supreme Court. Many of you might be called “legal nerds” or “judicial groupies” (both of which we view as badges of honor).
So while we have you all here, we thought we’d ask:
supreme court 2006.jpg

Who is your favorite U.S. Supreme Court justice?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Justice John Paul Stevens
Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Justice David H. Souter
Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
Free polls from

We know that such online polls have been conducted previously. See, e.g., here. And we have seen articles in which legal experts are asked to name their favorite member of the SCOTUS. See, e.g., here.
But we haven’t seen such polls or articles for the Court as currently constituted, i.e., after the appointements of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. So we thought we’d run such a poll and see what results we get.
Please cast your vote, so this tally will be as accurate a representation of ATL reader opinion as possible. Thanks!

yale law school.jpg* Our Law School Dean hotties contest is now underway. Vote on the women here, the men here, and the alternate male candidates here.
* Do you know anyone who is currently clerking for Justice Alito? If so, we’d like to hear from you.
* If you’re in law for the money, we recommend Korean transactional practice, at a big firm. You’ll probably make more than you would as a solo practioner or small firm lawyer.
* If money is your top priority, then don’t bother with the law; go work for Goldman Sachs . Partners there take home an average of $7 million a year. And still find time to beat up on small businessmen.
* ATL readers: Not as rich as Goldman Sachs partners. But pretty damn smart.
* Creative ways to get yourself criminally charged: (1) walk around your office buck naked; or (2) walk out of a restaurant without paying (after concluding that your seafood pasta dish was short on the seafood).
* But protesting while topless, that’s okay.
* Lori Alvino and Matthew McGill: We are not worthy. The happy couple tied the knot earlier this month. Their wedding guests included two sitting Supreme Court justices, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit, and two SCOTUS short-listers. (Yes, we’ve categorized this under Nauseating Things.)
* Some dispatches from the New Yorker Festival: Justice Breyer, with Jeffrey Toobin; legendary criminal defense lawyer Gerald Shargel, along with other experts on the Mafia; and some guy named Jon Stewart.
* There’s a new kid on the ATL block: Meet Stella Q. Welcome, Stella!

stephen g breyer stephen breyer stop signs jeffrey toobin.jpg

Justice Stephen G. Breyer demonstrates his hidden talent for pantomime, as Jeffrey Toobin looks on admiringly. (Photo by Startraks.)
This is our final post about Justice Stephen Breyer’s recent appearance at the New Yorker Festival. Prior posts are available here, here, here, and here.
We highlight some of the more interesting or amusing remarks by Justice Breyer, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Breyer at the New Yorker Festival: Some Highlights (Part 2)”

jeffrey toobin jeff toobin and justice stephen g breyer stephen breyer.jpg

“Nino, you wanna piece of me?” Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Jeffrey Toobin, at the New Yorker Festival. Photo by Startraks.
Somewhat late, but better late than never: part one of the more detailed account that we promised you of Justice Stephen Breyer’s interview with Jeffrey Toobin, at the New Yorker Festival last weekend.
The setting of the interview was impressive. The Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library is a grand, high-ceilinged room, with marble and dark wood trim gracing the walls. Justice Breyer and Jeff Toobin sat on two directors’ chairs on the small, elevated stage at the front of the room, with a gold and brown backdrop behind them.
Before the talk started, one could feel the buzz of anticipation in the room. Our knees were trembling with anticipation, and our heart was beating almost audibly. Supreme Court justices make us weak! (And apparently we’re not alone. Festival publicist Kimberly Burns informed us that the Breyer/Toobin talk sold out on Ticketmaster in three minutes — like a rock concert.)
More notes, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Breyer at the New Yorker Festival: Some Highlights (Part 1)”

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