Patterico's Pontifications


Arlen Specter: Probably Not a Liar — Just Colossally Clueless

Filed under: Judiciary,Morons — Patterico @ 8:50 pm

Frequent commenter and Confirm Them blogger Andrew is upset at Arlen Specter, who continues to spread the falsehood that Robert Bork favored segregation. Given that Bork said exactly the opposite at his confirmation hearings (Specter was there), the question arises: is Specter a liar? Or is he just woefully ignorant (and therefore unqualified for his post as Committee Chairman)?

My guess is the latter. Most Senators are pretentious gasbags, and Specter is far from being an exception. Anyone who has read Bork’s book “The Tempting of America” knows that Specter’s knowledge of constitutional law is almost laughably superficial. The guy just doesn’t have a clue.

I’m filing this under “Morons” instead of “Scum.”

I still agree with Andrew that Specter owes Bork an apology. But he already did, even before his recent comments.

What a shame that the Chairman isn’t someone who knows what he’s talking about — for example, someone like John Cornyn.

On The Good Professor’s Errors

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Judiciary,Law — Angry Clam @ 8:44 pm

[Posted by The Angry Clam]

Professor Bainbridge has been the subject of several disagreements with Patterico, my host here. I figured that now would be as good a time as any to pile on him, because, in recent days, he’s made two errors, involving two different kinds of judgment.

Retirement Rumors

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 8:23 pm

Rehnquist retirement rumors are coming hot and heavy. Conventional wisdom is that he announces tomorrow morning.

London Terror Attacks

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 8:26 am

The London terror attacks are a stark reminder that the war on terror is global. Our thoughts are with the people of London today.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum suggests that blogs should refrain from political point-scoring today. I agree entirely, and I think that many bloggers feel the same way. (Unfortunately, many Kevin Drum commenters don’t . . .)

How Leftists Like to Define Judicial Activism

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:20 am

Yale law professor Paul Gewirtz, who surely knows better, was caught on the pages of the New York Times yesterday claiming that “a marked pattern of invalidating Congressional laws certainly seems like one reasonable definition of judicial activism.”

This is an exceedingly silly definition of judicial activism. Was Justice Scalia acting as a judicial activist when he voted to strike down McCain/Feingold on First Amendment grounds? Would he be acting as a judicial activist if he voted to strike down a Congressional law outlawing flag burning?

Of course not. Activism occurs when judges stray beyond the text of the Constitution or a statute to fashion open-ended principles which they can use to strike down legislation whenever it offends them. Striking down laws that clearly offend constitutional principles is not activism. It’s what we want judges to do.

Yet leftists like Professor Gewirtz and Michael Kinsley are quite fond of defining activism as simply invalidating laws, without regard to their constitutionality. Why? Because it allows them to paint conservative judges as the most activist — as the Yale law professor’s analysis purports to do.

The analysis is filled with caveats that Professor Gewirtz will no doubt point to when he is justly criticized for his ridiculous piece. But if he truly took his caveats seriously, he wouldn’t have published the piece at all. The only reason he wrote it — and the only reason the New York Times printed it — was to give uncritical liberals a chance to take a cheap shot at some textualist judges. The professor should be ashamed.

P.S. Tom Maguire, QandO, and Orin Kerr also have criticisms.

L.A. Times Runs Two Corrections

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:31 am

There are two corrections worth noting in the L.A. Times today.

First, the paper has printed its correction regarding the erroneous statement that began Saturday’s editorial regarding Justice O’Connor. In the print edition, the correction appears on the editorial page, which is the best place for it, as it increases the likelihood that editorial readers will actually see it.

The correction reads as follows:

Retiring justice — An editorial Saturday on Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said the Supreme Court in its last session had 13 5-4 decisions and that O’Connor had been in the majority on all of them. The number of 5-4 decisions during the court’s 2004-2005 session exceeded 13 (the number is up to 24, counting 5-3 decisions with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist not voting, and other vagaries). O’Connor sided with the minority in a number of these 5-4 splits.

To read her dissenting opinions in two such cases, involving eminent domain and the constitutionality of executing minors, go to

The link is to the original editorial, the online version of which now appends the correction at the beginning. According to an e-mail I received from the Readers’ Representative yesterday, the correction took an extra day because the editors were struggling with the issue of the total number of 5-4 decisions last term. (This is an issue that I mentioned in UPDATE x5 to the original post in response to a comment at Oh, That Liberal Media, and regarding which I had sent a follow-up e-mail to the Readers’ Representative.)

The Times also has this correction:

Deputy’s medal — A June 25 article in Section A about the killing of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz, in explaining that Ortiz won the department’s Medal of Honor last year after he fatally shot a carjacker who drew a gun on him and his partner, incorrectly identified the partner as Det. Colin Orpe. The partner was Deputy Timothy Brennan.

I first told you about that error in this post. The story had also incorrectly said that Dep. Orpe was a co-recipient of the medal; Deputy Brennan was in fact the co-recipient.

Still waiting for a correction on that mistake about the Three Strikes Law. It would have been fun to have inspired three corrections in one day, but I guess they’re still chasing that one down . . .

What It’s All About

Filed under: Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:08 am

Kevin Murphy has this hilarious guide to what Democrats like train-gabber Chuckie S. really mean when they use certain phrases in the judicial nomination wars.

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