Multiple UTR readers e-mailed Article III Groupie to bring to her attention the delightful Daily Journal profile of Judge Consuelo M. Callahan, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. For those of you interested in tracking down a hard copy, the piece, entitled "Tough Customer: 9th Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan Has a Playful Side But Not When It Comes to Sentencing," was written by Pamela MacLean, and it was published on November 2, 2004.
(Shameless plug: as you may recall, earlier this year A3G wrote a piece entitled "In Defense of Superhotties" for the California Lawyer, another publication in the Daily Journal family. You can access the article via this post.)
The stylishly written profile of Judge Callahan begins as follows:
A hoofer with a sense of humor, Callahan likes to surprise judicial and legal gatherings by starting discussions about serious topics and ending with a quip about appellate judges who tap dance around issues. She then pulls off her black robe to reveal a sequined costume and tap shoes.
She's been known to hop on a tabletop or in one case on a judicial bench during these special events and do some pretty impressive steps. "I may be the highest ranking tap dancer in federal court," Callahan said with a grin during a recent interview in her chambers in the Sacramento federal court building. "It is fun and it has a certain shock value."
Sensational! The idea of a federal appeals court judge ripping off her robe, leaping up onto the bench, and tap-dancing up a storm is making A3G dizzy with intoxication. (For those of you who have seen the excellent Lars von Trier film Dancer in the Dark, think of the dazzling but disturbing scene in which Joel Grey, playing Czech film star Oldrich Novy, executes a superb tap routine on the bench in the middle of a death penalty trial.)
Drooling over the prospect of photos of a federal judge clad in sequins and tap shoes, A3G sent Judge Callahan the following message:
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 02:55:34 -0800 (PST)
From: Article III Groupie
Subject: Underneath Their Robes
To: Judge Callahan
Dear Judge Callahan:
Greetings. My name is Article III Groupie, and I am the proprietor of the blog "Underneath Their Robes," which provides "news, gossip, and colorful commentary about the federal judiciary."
Numerous readers have brought to my attention your recent profile in the Daily Journal, which I'm planning to discuss in my blog in the near future. You sound absolutely fabulous!
I would just love to get a picture of you in your dancing regalia for my photo feature, "In Camera." Is there any chance I might be able to obtain a digital photo of you in your dancing shoes?
I hope all is well in Sacramento.
P.S. My internet research did not locate any pictures of you in your dancing gear -- although the pictures of you that I have seen suggest you should have been nominated for UTR's Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary contest...
Judge Callahan sent A3G the following response, reprinted herein with Her Honor's permission:
Subject: Re: Underneath Their Robes
To: Article III Groupie
From: Judge Callahan
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 21:42:23 -0800
I am afraid you may have me confused with Judge Morrison England of the Eastern District of California, who, rumor has it, is surprisingly light on his feet and gave up a promising dance career for his second love -- the law! [A3G note: Judge England, captain of the federal judicial football team, played professional football for the New York Jets before going to law school.]
All kidding aside, I am in receipt of your recent "ex parte" communication requesting access to certain photos which may or may not be in existence. I must deny your request without prejudice, but will entertain a noticed motion to produce an official court photograph at a later date.
In re Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary, thank you for your interest and kind words . . . I believe the people have spoken, and the winners are truly worthy of such an august award.
WOW! A3G is certainly disappointed about not getting her hands on a picture of Judge Callahan decked out to dance -- but isn't that a lovely and gracious note? It manages the impressive feat of being simultaneously witty, funny, and elegant -- which is, according to several UTR readers, fully in keeping with Judge Callahan as its authoress.
Judge Callahan's terpsichorean talent is all the more impressive in light of her record of achievement within the legal profession. She is a highly accomplished woman, with a long string of "firsts" to her name. As the profile notes:
A little more than a decade ago, Callahan made history in San Joaquin County as the first woman and the first Hispanic to serve as a superior court judge. She topped that four years later, when Gov. Pete Wilson elevated her to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. She became the first judge in 73 years from San Joaquin County picked for the appeal court. She filled the seat left vacant by [resplendent judicial diva] Janice Rogers Brown, who had moved on to the state Supreme Court.
Callahan, born in Palo Alto, now considers Stockton her home. There, she launched her legal career as a county prosecut[rix]. She commutes daily to the Sacramento federal courthouse, the only member of the 9th Circuit with chambers in the Central Valley. . . . .
Her conservative, Republican credentials and Hispanic background came to the attention of President George W. Bush, who made Callahan his third appointee to the 9th Circuit. The White House touts her as the first of two Hispanic appointments the president has made to the nation's largest appellate court. She sailed through Senate confirmation 99-0, while two other California nominees have languished in a storm of political opposition.
Very interesting! Judge Callahan, at 54 years old, is young. She's a fairly conservative Republican, with prosecutorial experience suggesting she'd be solid on criminal issues. She has oodles of judicial experience, in both trial and appellate courts, and in both the federal and (admittedly icky) state systems. Her confirmation hearings were a love-in. Y su mamá también es Latina... Could Judge Callahan hoof it all the way to One First Street?
If Judge Callahan made it to the Supreme Court, she would add a dose of much-needed style to the Conference. As noted in MacLean's excellent article, "The 54-year-old Callahan exudes energy. She is a splashy dresser who often glitters with gold jewelry." In other words, with respect to the Court, "if President Bush wants to bling it, Judge Callahan can bring it"!
And it sounds like Judge Callahan wouldn't hang up on the President if he telephoned to offer her a cabin aboard the Judicial Mother Ship. In her interview with the Daily Journal, Judge Callahan said, in explaining the appeal of the legal profession, "I am a person who does not like to work for other people. I am too opinionated and spunky for that." Hmm... She likes being her own boss, she's opinionated and spunky -- sounds like she'd make a great justice! So, dear readers, let's not overlook Judge Callahan when drawing up our Supreme Court short-lists.
A3G believes that if Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist departs the Court, the two most likely candidates to replace him would be Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. (D.C. Cir.) (#5 Male Superhottie) and Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (3d Cir.). (For a brief in support of Judge Roberts, who as a former WHR clerk may be the sentimental favorite, see Tom Goldstein's great SCOTUSBlog posts here, here, here, and here. For some interesting thoughts from Dahlia Lithwick concerning why the Chief Justice's job may not be all it's cracked up to be, click here.)
Why does A3G hold this view? Well, both Judge Roberts (49) and Judge Alito (54) are relatively young, impressively credentialed, and reliably conservative, but not fierily or flamboyantly so. They would probably vote much as Chief Justice Rehnquist would have, thereby maintaining balance on the Court. They are younger than Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III (4th Cir.), who is 60, and they have less ideological baggage and are less personally polarizing than their fellow shortlisters: the Uppity Black Diva, Judge Emilio "No me gusta Roe" Garza, the Horsewoman of the Right-Wing Apocalypse, the Luttigator, and the Kid from Tegucigalpa.
(My goodness, they all sound like federal judicial action figures -- collect them all! For those of you who aren't familiar with these colorful nicknames, and to increase Google-generated traffic to UTR from people engaged in Supreme Court speculation, A3G will identify the candidates she's talking about by name: Justice Janice Rogers Brown (California Supreme Court), Judge Emilio M. Garza (5th Cir.), Judge Edith H. Jones (5th Cir.), Judge J. Michael Luttig (4th Cir.), and Mr. Miguel Estrada (Gibson Dunn & Crutcher), respectively.)
Very well; by virtue of their staunch conservatism, Judge Roberts and Judge Alito may have an edge over the Dancing Queen when it comes to stepping into the Chief's shoes (or slipping into his striped robe). The White House will want to pick a strong conservative to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist, and the Senate Democrats, in recognition of WHR's conservatism, may be willing to accept a rather right-wing nominee to replace the Chief.
But what about if another justice -- say, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- should step down during President Bush's second term? Judge Callahan, described here by the Alliance for Justice as a "moderate conservative," would be a perfect demographic fit to replace SOC. (And, ridiculous though it might be given the Court's miniscule size, isn't it all about demographics?) Just like Justice O'Connor, Judge Callahan is a moderately conservative woman, from a western state, who would bring to the Court a less federal-o-centric perspective than the average nominee, thanks to her service as a state court judge (as well as her work elsewhere in state government; although she never served as a state legislator like SOC, Judge Callahan did serve in the executive branch, as a prosecutrix).
The Dancing Queen of the Ninth Circuit would also be a good pick to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, on the off chance that Justice Kennedy should depart the Court anytime soon. Like AMK before his apotheosis, Judge Callahan is a Ninth Circuit judge from Sacramento. They are also both Stanford alums (undergrad; AMK received his law degree at Harvard, while Judge Callahan went to McGeorge, where Justice Kennedy taught for many years). Fittingly enough, Judge Callahan also happens to be President of the AMK fan club, i.e., the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, where she has attained the lofty status of "M[istress] of the Bench" (whips and chains sold separately).
Furthermore, in a few years, Judge Callahan will have even more experience on the federal bench. As long as she keeps her nose clean and stays out of trouble, i.e., avoids participating in the liberal lunacy of the Nutty Ninth, she may be a viable contender for a High Court slot should one open up in the next few years.
And so, dear friends, when President Bush someday announces the nomination of Judge Callahan to the Supreme Court -- forcing many people who consider themselves to be legal professional insiders to rush to their keyboards and Google her up the wazoo -- don't forget: You read it here first, in the pages of UTR!
"Opinionated and spunky" herself, but a mediocre dancer,