Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"In Touch" is One Thing....

Kathleen Parker reminds us,
President Obama has made clear his desire to nominate justices who are in touch with "ordinary Americans."
Then complains,
But the president adheres to the ordinary-people principle, and so the question must be asked: Does Kagan meet the standard? She may have other qualifications, including her willingness at Harvard to invite conservative scholars to her faculty. But a New York City girl who attended a prep school, Ivy League colleges and law school -- who once barred military recruiters from Harvard's recruitment office and was an adviser to Goldman Sachs -- can't be characterized as anything close to mainstream America.
Talk about a giant leap. No, Kathleen, it is not necessary to apply the, "Which Presidential candidate would you rather have a beer with" test to the Supreme Court... That would be a bad idea, and it's not what anybody could realistically infer from the concept of being "in touch" with ordinary people.

The type of personality that is drawn not only to a career in law, but a career path that is at all likely to lead to the Supreme Court, is not the type of personality that you're likely to find on a neighboring bar stool at your favorite watering hole. Parker knows this. But rather than addressing the reality of the situation, she chooses to be part of a noise machine. In comparison to recent appointees, based upon their paper records and my impression of their personalities, I would venture that both Kagan and Sotomayor are a lot more approachable and a lot more attuned to the lives of everyday folk than are Alito and Roberts. In a sense, sure, that's damning them with faint praise, but help me out here, Ms. Parker - where can I find somebody who has a strong law school record, made law review, clerked for a federal appellate judge, clerked for a Supreme Court Justice, entered academia, became a federal judge, scholar, or (for goodness sake) Solicitor General, and did so walking hand in hand with the common folk?

Way back when I was in law school, I recall a professor speaking somewhat longingly of the job of Solicitor General. He saw it as the closest thing to being on the Supreme Court - an intensely academic job focused on Supreme Court practice. Despite the potshots others have taken at Kagan's intellectual record, Eugene Volokh (who would certainly prefer others for the job) finds it solid. Which is about what you would expect from a Supreme Court nominee, but... no, not something you find from your pal at the neighborhood bar. "Didja catch that sports game?" "Oh, man, I wanted to see it, but I had to revise my law review article."


  1. Parker has flatly said she doesn't particularly like women (if you hadn't figured that out for some reason); there's no reason to think she would like Kagan, regardless of Kagan's beer-sharing-ability.

  2. I think she is ultimately qualified - but I still find it somewhat disturbing that she could find a way to lose 8-0 on an issue . . . the court is pretty much predisposed towards 5-4 outcomes, getting a goose egg takes some doing.


  3. You're talking about her signing the amicus brief on the issue of military recruiting on campus?

  4. . . . and being rather outspoken about the position before and after. Her personal position is one thing - her legal one another.



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