Patterico's Pontifications


Lawrence Tribe’s Letter to Obama on Supreme Court Picks

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:35 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

There are a lot of juicy things in this, like his claim that Sotomayor is “not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is.”  So let me suggest you read the whole thing.

Also, Bench Memos has Tribe’s response to this letter becoming public, and mocks it.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

29 Responses to “Lawrence Tribe’s Letter to Obama on Supreme Court Picks”

  1. Isn’t Lawrence Tribe a little old for infatuations?

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  2. Looks like sotomayor beat up on tribe one too many times.

    imdw (53b665)

  3. Larry really likes to polish the ol’ apple, don’t he?

    People's Front of Judea (aefe1c)

  4. You all know the quote:

    “The reason that academic infighting is so bitter is that the stakes are so low.”

    Kissinger gets some credit for this quote, but it is much older.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  5. It’s funny how Tribe almost grasps real enlightenment — but then lets it slip away. Sonya Sotomayor isn’t nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, but neither are Larry Tribe or Barack Obama.

    I’m a member of the same club as each of these people — a top honors graduate and law review editor from one of the nation’s best law schools — and I’m not saying any of these people are stupid. I’m not claiming that I’m smarter than them, but neither am I going to be easily persuadable that they’re any smarter than I am.

    But my father taught me something that their fathers apparently never taught any of them: No one is wise enough to wield, responsibly and effectively, the vast, intrusive, and potentially devastating power that Larry Tribe, Barack Obama, and would-be judicial despots like Sotomayor and Kagan all seek for themselves and their ilk. They all want to make your choices for you, or so limit your range of choices that they might as well give you no choice at all. Tribe’s friend and colleague Cass Sunstein can rationalize it by saying that they’re not dictating, but merely “nudging,” your behavior. But of course, at the end of the day, their collective and cumulative nudges are backed up by a boot to the throat and the compulsion of law.

    For your own good, you know. (You stupid peasant.)

    Beldar (fa3a16)

  6. Beldar- excellent.
    They all want to make your choices for you, or so limit your range of choices that they might as well give you no choice at all.

    All the while fretting that perhaps we are ungovernable.

    Yet they are too stupid to see that their philosophy is their problem. The fewer things about us they try to control, the less control they have to have. And governing because infinitely more doable again.

    MayBee (a3efe7)

  7. Beldar, it takes a village.

    A village of smart people who know what is better for you than you do.

    Autocrats with a smiley face.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  8. Maybee, I hope that you had a nice dinner with JD and Mr. Feet.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  9. She must have beat Tribe in a softball game. Dimwit is truly dim.

    JD (206902)

  10. Eric- I had the best kind of dinner with JD and Mr. Feet. Truly wonderful food and company.

    MayBee (a3efe7)

  11. Yet they are too stupid to see that their philosophy is their problem.

    If they were to ever see and admit this, it would render them irrelevant, and that’s a disappointment none so enamored by self-perceived relevancy ever wants to experience.

    Best to blame things on others. Keep up the charade.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  12. Frankly, bolted doors, cans of gasoline and lack of moral character is about what is needed to “right” what is “wrong” at HLS. Any chance Carrie can make an appearance?

    Not saying, just wishing it would, someone, a brave moral-less soul, we can them throw him a big pity party and talk about his poor upbringing and the such.

    Marco Rubio (a8a9b2)

  13. Sock Thread …

    That Scalia sure is stupid to think the first amendment makes no mention of separation ….. what a moron!!!!!!!

    Larry Tribe (a8a9b2)

  14. Maybe, I can re-awaken from the dead in Cambridge.
    God, that school is rot.

    Torquemada (a8a9b2)

  15. MayBee is as lovely as she is kind and patient. Animal is a simply sublime and whimsical restaurant. World class. Fois gras and spam! Chocolate with bacon!

    JD (206902)

  16. JD got me to eat pig’s ear!! What more can I say?

    MayBee (a3efe7)

  17. JD is the friend you’ve always had and just hadn’t met yet. And Haps is just the adorable sweet bunny you thought.
    Very funny men.

    Done raving now.

    MayBee (a3efe7)

  18. Reading Tribe’s letter, and endless gushing over Elena “Rubber Stamp” Kagan, was about enough to make me barf.

    Just goes to show what a “tribe” of liberal activists we have running our universities — especially the elitist ones.



    heir2freedom (d9456e)

  19. I’m glad you had a good time, MayBee. I am off to Seattle tomorrow night for a Night on the Town with my lovely and brilliant wife. A Hallowe’en themed play, and dinner somewhere. The boys will be at a YMCA Hallowe’en overnight event!

    Too bad I am still grading exams.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  20. My guess is that Obama is not the first president to get unsolicited advice on Supreme Court picks from people in his past, nor is Tribe the first to proffer it in the form of candid and private letter. No doubt George Bush heard plenty from conservative lawyers on the political advantages of Roberts and Alito.

    I can’t help wondering how Ed Whelan, who’s associated with an ethics institute, got the letter. I seem to recall an imbroglio a few years back when he revealed the identity of a pseudonymous legal blogger, apparently in a fit of pique over a debate with Eugene Volokh (he later apologized). Let’s hope no methods were used that violated Tribe’s privacy.

    Angeleno (193c25)

  21. Maybe i missed it but i did not notice any reference to the constitution that they are sworn to uphold.Who cares?

    dunce (b89258)

  22. Tribe was his adviser at the Harvard Law Review and actually works in the Justice Department, in some
    capacity, and it’s not like he hasn’t had any ethical contratempts before

    ian cormac (6709ab)

  23. Tribe’s comments about being taken out of context have effectively mooted any potential dispute as to the letter’s authenticity.

    I wonder if Whelan got the letter through a Freedom of Information Act request? Tribe’s consolation-prize title with the DoJ doubtless generated a paper trail. I can think of several exemptions that arguably would apply to a letter like this, but they only get invoked if someone knows/cares to do so.

    Beldar (fa3a16)

  24. Beldar

    whelan has another post suggesting it was leaked to him, somehow.

    Aaron Worthing (f97997)

  25. Well, gee, dunce, the discussion might be because one member of the Smartest People in the WorldTM told another member to not nominate yet another member because she didn’t exactly qualify.

    Ag80 (743fd1)

  26. I seem to recall an imbroglio a few years back when he revealed the identity of a pseudonymous legal blogger, apparently in a fit of pique, thanx.

    Christy (e06a5b)

  27. Oh, and by the way, I’d like a job.

    Lots of love,


    TexasBob (3f475a)

  28. The last paragraph is a wonderful example of the sycophancy of the Larry Tribe’s of the world and the Ruling Class in general –on Harvard letterhead to boot!!!

    Hey Larry, the first one hundred days and for that matter the last 100 days of Our Beloved President’s rein, has not been particularly impressive largely due to the fact that BO has been educated by clowns like you.

    BT (74cbec)

  29. Reading Professor Tribe’s letter, the tone struck me as astonishingly the same as C.S. Lewis’ hilarious “The Screwtape Letters”, in which “Screwtape”, a senior demon in the devil’s bureaucracy writes a series of advice letters to his nephew, a junior level demon, “Wormwood”.

    The regular theme is how the uncle (now Professor Tribe) is disappointed once again that his nephew (now President Obama) has ineptly tempted or failed to seize an opportunity to corrupt his earthly “Patient” and claim him for all eternity.

    Mr. Lewis was funny.

    Professor Tribe’s advice to the President of the United States nauseates:

    “I think it very important that you view [the next Court nomination] as an opportunity to lay the groundwork…” [for a further corrupted Court]. (Yeah, that’s about the so-called Living Constitution.)

    “If you were to….”

    “Bluntly put….”

    “When [the next chance comes], you might consider…”

    I was amused that good justices have familiar first names “Steve” and “Ruth” and “Tony”, but the Enemy are the “Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas wing”

    Of course, I recommend “The Screwtape Letters” highly to all of Patterico’s readers.

    And finally, can anyone explain what is lurking behind Professor Tribe’s expression in paragraph 5: [We are using the Supreme Court] “… in advancing a humane and yet suitably cautious conception of the rule of law…..”

    Doesn’t that really sound like evicerating the rule of law?

    You can’t just humanely nibble around the rule of law.

    Bill Lever (a16f35)

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