Patterico's Pontifications

6/12/2005

Edith Jones: A Personal Story

Filed under: Judiciary,Real Life — Patterico @ 1:20 am



The Supreme Court Nomination Blog says that, of the most commonly discussed candidates for the Supreme Court, the most divisive would be Janice Rogers Brown and Edith Jones.

With upcoming Supreme Court nomination battles looming on the horizon, I thought this might be an opportune time to discuss the time I met Edith Jones.

The background: I was applying for judicial clerkships at the time. In truth, I was not particularly certain whether I preferred a Circuit Court clerkship or a District Court clerkship. I recognized that an appellate clerkship is generally considered more prestigious; at the same time, I had ambitions to be a trial lawyer, and was frankly more interested in working for a trial judge. Also, I was at the time torn between California and Texas. I was going to school in Texas, but I had ambitions of living and working in California. But I didn’t know how that would work out — and most important, I didn’t know whether my girlfriend would come with me to California if I moved out here. (Luckily, she did! We are now married and have two wonderful children.)

So when I interviewed with Edith Jones, a Fifth Circuit judge in Houston, I was impressed by her intellect and prospects — but internally, I was rather diffident about whether I really wanted to clerk for her. It probably showed.

I think she was diffident about me as well.

Since I didn’t own a car, I had ridden a Greyhound bus from law school in Austin, Texas. The ride was through pouring rain and took several hours. When I finally arrived, I first spoke with her clerks, who seemed like nice folks but were interested in knowing whether I was a member of the law school’s Federalist Society. (I am now an enthusiastic member of the Society, but in law school I was slightly more liberal than I am now, and I was consequently a bit put off by what I believed to be the excessive conservatism of some of the members. While I had attended a couple of meetings, I hadn’t joined. Judge Jones’s clerks seemed disappointed to learn this.)

I then spoke with Judge Jones, but the conversation lasted for only about 5 minutes. It was a fluke. My interview happened to fall on a day when Houston was having one of the worst floods it had ever had. Judge Jones had just received a call from her child’s school, saying that she had to pick up her child immediately, because the school was closing early due to the intense flooding.

She told me this at the outset of our short interview, and in truth, I felt guilty holding her up as long as I did. After the unsuccessful interview with the law clerks, I had the feeling that I wasn’t going to get an offer anyway.

We shared a nice moment discussing Cornell University (she and I both obtained our B.A. at Cornell and our J.D. at U.T.-Austin). Ironically, our common ground was our disgust at Cornell’s liberalism. Judge Jones had been a student at Cornell during the armed student takeover of Willard Straight Hall in 1969; I had been a student during the 20th anniversary of the takeover in 1989. She had been disgusted by the University’s capitulation to black militants at the end of the takeover. I had been equally disgusted by the soft-focus reveries of that wonderful time prompted by the 20th anniversary, which treated the incident as a matter of pride rather than shame.

The kicker was when the leader of the “rebellion” was granted a much-praised guest spot in the Cornell Daily Sun to wax nostalgic about the takeover. I couldn’t believe it. This guy had been an armed criminal, and was being treated like a hero.

Judge Jones and I both frowned and shook our heads. It was a brief moment of bonding, but then it was over and we parted company. Judge Jones went to drive through the rain to pick up her child. I boarded the Greyhound for the long, rainy return ride to Austin.

The bonding over the excessive liberalism of Cornell was not enough. I didn’t get an offer, and I wasn’t surprised. But I wish Judge Jones the best of luck, and I think she would be one of the best choices that President Bush could make for the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: More on the armed takeover of Cornell’s Willard Straight Hall here from Thomas Sowell, who was teaching at Cornell at the time.

15 Responses to “Edith Jones: A Personal Story”

  1. […] Kavanaugh should sail through the Senate, along with Terrence Boyle. Meanwhile, Patterico says Edith Jones “would be one of the best choices that President Bush co […]

    Confirm Them » Sunday Stuff (e203ab)

  2. “This guy had been an armed criminal, and was being treated like a hero.”

    Did the cross-burnings stop?

    actus (3be069)

  3. Yeah, and the reprimands too. Nothing stops reprimands like a little gunplay.

    They got a few other concessions as well; I think the Italian government took lessons from the Cornell administration in how to negotiate with terrorists.

    Patterico (756436)

  4. “They got a few other concessions as well”

    Next time maybe they should just ask nicely. I wonder why they didn’t do that.

    actus (3be069)

  5. Because gunplay works so much better.

    If I want you to stop making annoying comments on my blog, I could ask nicely, or resort to gunplay. Which do you think would work better?

    It follows logically that these students were perfectly entitled to take over the student union and hold it by force of arms.

    Patterico (756436)

  6. If I want you to stop making annoying comments on my blog, I could ask nicely, or resort to gunplay. Which do you think would work better?

    Asking nicely. He’s in D.C., where all the guns magically disappeared in the early 1970s.

    Xrlq (717f9d)

  7. “If I want you to stop making annoying comments on my blog, I could ask nicely, or resort to gunplay. Which do you think would work better?”

    You could throw my tea in the harbor.

    “It follows logically that these students were perfectly entitled to take over the student union and hold it by force of arms.”

    I have no idea where you get that.

    actus (3be069)

  8. Right, because you have no idea what happened.

    Patterico (756436)

  9. According to Thomas Sowell, the “cross burning” was done by the militants themselves, Tawana Brawley-style. I’m not going to debate with you whether he’s right, because cross burnings wouldn’t justify what they did in any event.

    Patterico (756436)

  10. ” I’m not going to debate with you whether he’s right, because cross burnings wouldn’t justify what they did in any event.”

    Of course not. But I am sure that the presence of the second amendment kept them from getting their asses kicked.

    actus (cd484e)

  11. I can’t remember the second amendment ever created a permission for students to carry firearms into a campus building, Actus. Perhaps you feel that this sort of thing is covered by the first amendment as a freedom of speech issue? I think you ought to contact the ACLU and see what their position on the matter is.

    Dan Collins (208fbe)

  12. Dan has it just right. When I point a gun at your head and say “Your money or your life” — well, that’s the first two Amendments right there.

    Patterico (598e97)

  13. “I can’t remember the second amendment ever created a permission for students to carry firearms into a campus building, Actus. ”

    The first doesn’t either. Not at a private school.

    But I do like how Sowell not only was able to go and read student’s files, but also likes to share their contents with us.

    actus (cd484e)

  14. […] lse, the comments from Beldar make it worth a brief visit. Regular readers will recall my post from the other day about meeting Judge Jones in the early 1990s. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » The Supreme Court Nomination Blog Profiles Judge Edith Jones (0c6a63)

  15. “She hates liberals.”

    What qualifications!

    jami (00e92d)


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