How old is “bench slap”? Should I put it in Black’s Law Dictionary? How would you define it?
(Information about the origins of “benchslap,” after the jump.)
Federal judges don’t always tell lawyers that their writing is crap, but when they do, they’ll do it in a publicly filed court order. Because while judges have got many a tool in their benchslapping arsenal, a public shaming is perhaps the most useful of them all.
Today’s instance of public shaming comes to us courtesy of Judge Steven Merryday (M.D. Fla.), the same fellow who denied a motion to suspend trial in a death penalty case from an attorney who wanted to participate in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest.
Let’s jump right in and see what happened, because this judge had a field day with redlining….
This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.
(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)
In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.
Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….
Responding to a Supreme Court Justice who calls one a liar requires special care in expression.
(More about this tiff, which we’ve been covering quite closely here at Above the Law, after the jump.)
I’m not going to get into this whole thing written for a glossy magazine.
(We attended Scalia’s talk, which took place this afternoon and was sponsored by the New York City Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. Additional highlights from the eminently quotable justice’s remarks, after the jump.)
Over the past few months, Justice Antonin Scalia and Judge Richard Posner have been trading benchslaps. The most recent clash got going a few weeks ago, when Judge Posner wrote a harsh review for the New Republic of Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner’s new book, Reading Law (affiliate link).
Scalia surrogates rushed to the justice’s defense. One of his former clerks, Ed Whelan, wrote a series of posts for the National Review’s Bench Memos blog in which he criticized the Posner review. Justice Scalia’s co-author, Professor Garner, also responded forcefully to Judge Posner (who in turn responded to Garner, again in the New Republic).
Now Justice Scalia has broken his silence. And His Honor seems none too happy with Judge Posner’s book reviewing skills….
The jurisprudential wrestling match between Justice Antonin Scalia and Judge Richard Posner is quickly turning into a WWE tag team battle royal. Tagging in to help Justice Scalia: Bryan Garner, one of the foremost authorities on legal writing and legal language. Professor Garner, of course, is Justice Scalia’s co-author on Reading Law (affiliate link).
Professor Garner is not happy with Judge Posner’s treatment of the book. Let’s hear what he has to say — and also speculate on how the Posner/Scalia tiff might affect Posner’s feeding of law clerks to Scalia….
In case you missed it, you should check out Judge Richard Posner’s recent review of the new book by Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, Reading Law (affiliate link). The review is deeply thoughtful and elegantly written, but a bit… harsh. It’s a definite reverse benchslap.
And it’s just the latest blow in an ongoing slugfest between Judge Posner and Justice Scalia, which we’ve chronicled in our pages. In June, Judge Posner criticized Justice Scalia’s dissent in Arizona v. United States. In July, Scalia saucily responded by saying of Posner, “He’s a court of appeals judge, isn’t he? He doesn’t sit in judgment of my opinions as far as I’m concerned.”
Ouch. These exchanges got me (and others) wondering: What’s going on between these two eminent jurists?
I reached out to both Justice Scalia and Judge Posner with this question: Is it personal?
What a weird situation…. [But Justice Scalia] is an incredible game player, using intellectual honesty as a trope, and that is the kind of thing that David Wallace would just love.
(The background behind Justice Scalia’s interest in Wallace, after the jump.)
Actually, just like most cert petitions, drama got denied. In an interview last night with Piers Morgan of CNN, Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s longest-serving member, denied that he had any kind of tiff with Chief Justice John Roberts over National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (aka the Affordable Care Act case, aka Obamacare).
Justice Scalia’s denial of drama is pretty funny, actually. Let’s read about it — along with the latest opinion polls about public approval of the SCOTUS….