Politics

Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

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My court has, by my lights, made many mistakes of law during its distinguished two centuries of existence. But it has made very few mistakes of political judgment, of estimating how far … it could stretch beyond the text of the constitution without provoking overwhelming public criticism and resistance.

Dred Scott was one mistake of that sort. Roe v. Wade was another … And Kelo, I think, was a third.

– Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court, commenting on several cases in which he believed SCOTUS had made mistakes of political judgment. His speech was given at the Chicago-Kent College of Law (which, as you may recall, is facing a potential class action suit over its post-graduate employment data).

When last we talked about the Occupy Wall Street protests, I was busy ripping them a new one. My friends on the left were outraged, while my friends on the right said “I’m not your friend, guy.”

When producers for the Mike Huckabee show on Fox called, I thought they were interested in my thoughts about what the OWS crowd was doing wrong.

But no, they had a real live Tea Party organizer to handle that side of the argument. Instead, the producers wanted me to defend the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

So, like Lat, I had to go down there and check them out. Then, after a delousing, I had to go on television and defend their cause.

Tell me how I did….

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Three protesters on their way to Occupy Wall Street. Fellow New Yorkers, note the Duane Reade shopping bag.

Over the weekend, I realized that I needed some new white dress shirts. So I headed downtown to the Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza here in Manhattan.

One Liberty Plaza — also the home of another white-shoe institution, the Cleary Gottlieb law firm — happens to be located across the street from Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Since I was going to be in the neighborhood, I decided to pay a visit to OWS, keeping an eye out for law-related angles to the event.

I brought my trusty camera and reporter’s notebook, so I could record my impressions and interview some of the protesters. What did I observe?

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Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), come on down! Okay, I’m sure Senator Coburn wouldn’t put it this way, but you can count him as the latest Senate member who has joined the fight for something that the Occupy Wall Street people should really care about. He wants there to be more transparency when it comes to American law schools.

First, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) led the charge to try to get law schools to engage in some basic honesty when telling prospective students about the value of a law degree. Then Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) added his voice. That was important, as Grassley is the Republican leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And now Coburn, another Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is joining in.

Democrats, Republicans, men, women, when will the ABA figure out that there will be broad support for law schools that are required to tell the truth about their graduate outcomes?

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Give me a break. I 'raised' 23 foster kids.

* Members of the Occupy Wall Street brigade were allowed to continue to be dirty hippies living in a park without toilets this morning. So fresh and so clean! OMG, yippee! [Wall Street Journal]

* French prosecutors have dropped another yet another rape charge lodged against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Seriously? It looks like nothing sticks to this man except money. [CNN]

* Recognizing that it’s really hard to get someone to pick up a partner from the drunk tank when there’s a Blackberry outage, DLA Piper is thinking about switching to iPhones. [Reuters]

* RajRaj was literally the biggest target in the Galleon case, but one of his buddies was sentenced, too. On Wednesday, Michael Kimelman got 2.5 years at the luxurious Club Fed. [Daily Record]

* It took Michele Bachmann seven years to graduate from law school (whereas most graduate in three). She can get things done, but apparently only on her own time. [New York Times]

* Food fight! Things are getting really dirty in this Food Network lawsuit. Guy Fieri not only likes to cook with alcohol, but he allegedly speaks like an angry drunk behind the scenes. [City Pages]

Anwar al-Awlaki

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow.

* If you are curious about that legal memo justifying the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, Charlie Savage describes its contents in this very interesting NYT piece. [New York Times]

* Ten years after the start of the anthrax attacks, some observers are asking whether Bruce Ivins, the Army microbiologist blamed for the attacks by the FBI, , was wrongly accused. [How Appealing]

Paul Bergrin

* Jury selection gets underway this week in the trial of notorious New Jersey lawyer Paul Bergrin (who’s being represented by a famous defense lawyer). [Newark Star-Ledger via WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor turned U.S. Senate candidate, is making “a proper case for liberalism,” according to E.J. Dionne Jr. [Washington Post]

* Andrew Cohen’s review of Justice John Paul Stevens’s new book, Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (affiliate link). [The Atlantic]

* In case you missed it last week, here is Proskauer’s response to the discrimination lawsuit filed against it by its former CFO, Elly Rosenthal. [Am Law Daily]

Thank God!

– Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown commenting in response to opponent Elizabeth Warren’s recent jab that she “didn’t have to take her clothes off” to pay for college.

(Actually, Brown posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1982, when he was studying for finals at Boston College Law School.)

I’m hoping the living Constitution will die.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, in remarks made yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Justice Scalia and Justice Stephen G. Breyer were invited by the Committee to discuss their views on constitutional interpretation and the proper role of judges in our democracy.

With Election 2012 in sight, Gallup just finished conducting nationwide polls on government approval ratings, with a focus on the Supreme Court. Now, in a typical employment situation, how well you’re able to perform your job is something that actually matters. Donald Trump could have a field day with the current SCOTUS roster. Haven’t spoken in over five years? You’re fired. Fell asleep at the State of the Union address? You’re fired.

But guess what, folks? No one with a bad combover is going to be there to fire a Supreme Court justice over some possibly problematic behavior. What’s more is that our SCOTUS justices probably don’t really care about your opinion. Approval ratings or not, they have life tenure, and their decisions are the only ones that matter….

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