Thursday, October 06, 2005

Nerds Rule!

Ann Coulter agrees that SMU matters (a little):
. . . even if you take seriously William F. Buckley's line about preferring to be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston telephone book than by the Harvard faculty, the Supreme Court is not supposed to govern us. Being a Supreme Court justice ought to be a mind-numbingly tedious job suitable only for super-nerds trained in legal reasoning like John Roberts. Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a "Best Employee of the Month" award. It's a real job. . . .

To be sure, if we were looking for philosopher-kings, an SMU law grad would probably be preferable to a graduate from an elite law school. But if we're looking for lawyers with giant brains to memorize obscure legal cases and to compose clearly reasoned opinions about ERISA pre-emption, the doctrine of equivalents in patent law, limitation of liability in admiralty, and supplemental jurisdiction under Section 1367 – I think we want the nerd from an elite law school. Bush may as well appoint his chauffeur head of NASA as put Miers on the Supreme Court.


Anonymous said...

Her argument is not without merit, but her last line is a disgraceful slur. Not altogether surprising, considering the source. Ann Coulter is conservatism's gift to the Democrats.

Bugg said...

Coulter has a point-conservatives from the Ivy League and other elite vineyards in the arena of ideas as judges and law professors have had to fight for their very voice every step of the way. They know what has to be said in the form of argument; it's not necessarily about counting noses and outcomes. They know that as Supreme Court justices their words will resonate for generations. Dissents may even become law;da mn hope at some point the dissent in Griswold about emanations and penumbras being gibberish will someday act as precedent. This is all so uncnecessary, if he had chosen Luttig, McConnell, Brown, Owen, Alito. And you get the sense that Bush treats the conservative ideals those of us in the legal profession cherish as things that cannot be said nor defended rather than shouted from the rooftops. He wants our support, but keep all that judicial restraint stuff quiet. And sadly, it reminds us of his father-payuing lip service like a chore to those ideals to get elected, but more interested in winning than fighting the good fight. And in the end, he lost to Clinton. Granted, Bush is a lame duck. But between this, the fiscal mess over which he has presided and his indifference to enforcing immigration laws, his legacy is fast going down the drain.

Anonymous said...

Bush may as well appoint his chauffeur head of NASA as put Miers on the Supreme Court.

Let's not give the man any ideas, shall we?

Anonymous said...

Judging from the quality of supreme court decisions lately, I would say that even those judges from the so-called "elite" schools have no idea what they are doing. Given that, how can SMU be worse?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Coulter's contention that the role of the Supreme Court is essentially one of understanding obscure legal technicalities. The role of the court is ultimately to interpret the rather plain language of the Constitution, and decide whether the parties to the cases before it have acted within the scope of the powers granted to them by that Constitution. For example, think of the case that became notorious when Roberts was nominated, involving the teenager who was jailed for eating a french fry on the Metro. His decision was that while we may think that the enforcement of the law was a bit overzealous, the city had been perfectly within its legal rights to enact such a law. Do you need to be a legal genius to understand that sort of thing?

Bugg said...

Coulter is very right in that regard. Supreme Court decisions go on for pages and pages with references to precedents. Now ideally, that verbiage is probably overwrought junk in many cases, but they form the base for the case to follow. It is a constant battle within the framework of constitutional law. Which is why someone we know has been in those battles and defended that ground is vastly preferable to the blank slate that is Miers.

Few constitutional issues that would come before the Court would be as simplistic as your "french fry" case example. If you read Scalia's opinions in any number of areas, you might have a better appreciation of what the job entails.

We're starting to get into the "mediocrity of Carswell"area with the arguments in support, and it's embarrassing.

What we know-she's better known for checking punctuation than policy, except on Title IX and affirmative action in the Michigan cases. In each case she was on the wrong side.She was a big wheel in the ABA and thinks it still has a preeminent role to play in judical selections, which is anathema to conservatism. In a Dallas city council race, she was in favor of giving privileges to gays. She's given money to Dems.And she has stated the President Bush is the most brilliant of men,an idea which the President himself probably would laugh at, his accomplishments notwithstanding.

Are you getting a picture that trusting a lifetime appointment to this "blank slate" except as above might not be a great idea?And given the great alternativess, it's infuriating.

Anonymous said...

WFB's comment regarding being governed by the first 200 names is to (I believe) be taken as a preference for temperament over sheer intellectual brilliance….

Coulter seems to draw the analogy between lawyers and hard scientists/engineers, where from their supercomputer-like brains they are able to draw on an encyclopedic-like database of legal knowledge and apply their immense deductive powers of legal understanding to come up with the right answer. How then can she explain the last 50 years of Supreme Court and lower court rulings as anything but the use of immense legal knowledge and brilliance by her uber-nerds to mint up new rights and judicial philosophies whether it is emanating penumbras or looking to foreign courts for precedent.

Going back to Buckley’s choice- it’s not an absolute choice between temperament and brilliance but rather a preference that one will predominate within either an individual or a group thereof. No judicial candidate this side of John Roberts was going to present the perfect combination of temperament, Coulter’s nerd like ability, and ease of confirmation- and remember the fire Roberts drew on whether he would consider Roe a super-precedent, that while want all 3 we need in reality to prioritize. Luttig, McConnell, Owens, and Rogers would have provoked a war in the Senate- Clement and Gonzalez are considered squishy at best.

I think all of us in the conservative camp understand this dilemma after the Souter and Kennedy fiascos. The problem is that with everyone going on a post-nomination hissy fit that we tend to point our guns and shoot at anything- including calling a brilliant woman the mental equivalent of a chauffer and saying to the rest of the country that any law school in fly-over country is second-rate. Good lord, you all acting like Andrew Sullivan and that goes for you too Last.

Personally I am concerned about Miers, I would have preferred a Luttig or Owens and war in the Senate but I know the difference in language that I use over beer with my buddies and stuff I put on Web for everyone to see


Anonymous said...

Janice Roger Brown: Cal State, UCLA
Michael Luttig, Washington and Lee, UVA
Alice Batchelder: Ohio Wesleyan, Akron
Priscilla Owen, Baylor, Baylor
Edith Clement, Alabama, Tulane
Emilio Garza, Notre Dame, University of Texas
Maura Corrigan, Marygrove, University of Detroit
Karen Williams, Columbia College, University of South Carolina
Larry Thompson, Michigan State, U. of Michigan
Consuelo Callahan: Stanford, McGeorge School of Law
Diane Sykes, Northwestern, Marquette

Jay D. Homnick said...

A lot of smart anonymi here. Ann may have a SMUdge in her makeup.