In this very interesting post over at The Becker-Posner Blog, entitled "Blogging, Spam, and the Taxation of Internet Transactions," Judge Richard A. Posner offers the following comments in support of his view that there is "no pressing need for imposing ethical standards on bloggers":
The self-correcting machinery of the blogosphere is more efficient than the internal fact-checking departments of conventional media enterprises. This is not only because many more people... are watching out for mistakes; it is also because corrections are disseminated virtually instantaneously throughout the network. [W]hen the mainstream media catch mistakes, it may, especially in the case of the print media, take days or weeks to communicate a retraction to the public.
Article III Groupie couldn't agree more with Judge Posner. Indeed, her own blogospheric interactions with The Giant Hedgehog underscore this point. When A3G made a mistake in her reporting of Judge Posner's visit to Harvard Law School, Judge Posner brought the error to her attention in an email, and A3G promptly corrected the offending post.
As regular readers of UTR know, Article Three Groupie is constantly correcting herself (as she recently did with respect to her reports on the OT 2005 Supreme Court clerks). She would now like to amend her prior opinion of Justice Priscilla R. Owen, who could win Senate confirmation to the Fifth Circuit as early as today, in the wake of the eleventh-hour compromise that averted a filibuster showdown.
Article Three Groupie's overall opinion of Justice Owen has not changed: Priscilla R. Owen richly deserves a seat on the Fifth Circuit (and it looks like she will finally be getting one, knock on wood). But additional information about what Justice Owen is like as a person, which emerged during the non-stop news coverage about the filibuster controversy, call into question Justice Owen's entitlement to a far more important title: Queen of the Right-Wing Judicial Divas.
Perhaps buying into the left-wing propaganda about Priscilla Owen, Article III Groupie had imagined Justice Owen as a deliciously imperial female judge. Her conception of Justice Owen as magnificently high-handed, combined with Justice Owen's impressive credentials and above-average looks (by judicial standards), led A3G to name Priscilla Owen as UTR's top judicial diva. Justice Owen vanquished such worthy competitors as Justice Janice Rogers Brown, "The Uppity Black Diva," and Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl, "The California Dreamin' Diva."
Recent reports suggest, however, that Priscilla R. Owen has a softer side -- one that severely undermines her claim to judicial diva-dom. Consider the following, representative excerpts from articles and testimony about Justice Owen (A3G apologizes for the non-Bluebook-compliant citations, and she thanks How Appealing for most of the links):
Pastor Jeff Black said most of the congregation [of Justice Owen's church] did not know Owen was a state supreme court justice until her nomination become a subject of national controversy.
"[Priscilla Owen] is very quiet and conscientious," said Black, who founded St. Barnabas the Encourager Evangelical Church in 1997. "She teaches Sunday school and is the head of our altar guild. Our people thought she was a nice, single lady who loves children, probably the most unlikely person to be the center of controversy."
[Priscilla Owen] is a founding member of the St. Barnabas Episcopal Mission in Austin, Texas. She serves as head of the church's altar guild. And she teaches Sunday school to preschool, kindergarten, and grade school children. On any given Sunday, you can find Justice Owen hopping on one leg, reading stories, and helping these children find ways to make the right choices in their conduct.
[Priscilla Owen] loathed the campaign trail. "She was miserable at it," says Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who campaigned with her. Owen was so shy that she'd spend 15 minutes on a fund-raising call and never muster the nerve to ask for money.
Born in Palacios, Texas, she lost her father to polio when she was 10 months old. She grew up running cattle and working the rice fields of her family farm. Owen and [President] Bush shared a political consultant in [Karl] Rove and later inhabited the same Austin social circles. During quail season, Owen -- a talented chef -- would invite the Bushes and her fellow justices over for a feast of home-cooked game.
Owen's Texas friends hardly recognize the ominous figure in TV ads. To her clerks, she's "the Pro," a perfectionist judge who likes to draft her own opinions. To her Sunday-school students, she's "Miss Priscilla." For Owen, who's divorced, life revolves around work. "She has a kind of monastic commitment to it," says her pastor, the Rev. Jeff Black. She separates faith from work, says Black, who notes she was appalled by the religious right's recent "Justice Sunday" rally.
Owen's secure job as Supreme Court justice has helped her wait patiently. In the meantime, says pastor Black, Owen seems serene. "Just pray for God's will to be done -- pray for everyone on both sides," she tells him.
Her mother says they talk by phone nearly every day and frequently see each other on weekends when Owen drives the 90 miles to Waco.
"She's just a very normal, loving person," [Phyllis] Derrick said in a telephone interview. "She's not an extremist."
Owen, who is divorced and has no children, lives in northwest Austin with her mixed-breed dog, Annie, who was rescued from an animal shelter.
Friends describe Owen as somewhat shy, unassuming and perhaps a bit reclusive, though she is sometimes seen at public functions. She is an avid water skier and loves horseback riding. Her mother says her fantasy ambition is to live on a ranch.
Senator Patty Murray [D.-Wash.] said she had met with Justice Owen and found her to be "a lovely person."
"Nice," "quiet," "shy," "unassuming," and -- worst of all -- "a lovely person"? What self-respecting judicial diva would ever earn such epithets? If a senatrix from the opposite political party calls you "a lovely person," you're definitely doing something wrong.
Based on the foregoing observations, Justice Priscilla R. Owen appears to be more drab than delicious. She is a superb jurist, and she will be a fine addition to the Fifth Circuit. But her low-key personality prevents her from being a judicial diva of the first rank.
Indeed, Justice Owen seems incapable of even playing the part of judicial diva. Take a look at practically any photograph taken of her (such as the one at right, by Doug Mills for the New York Times; proposed caption: "What, me, a judicial diva?"). Justice Owen carries herself stiffly; she looks awkward and uncomfortable in front of the cameras. She lacks the ease, poise and confidence of a true judicial diva. There is no swish to her robes.
The Fifth Circuit has 17 authorized judgeships, and after a four-year struggle, it looks like Justice Owen will finally lay her claim to one of them. But there can be only one Queen of the Right-Wing Judicial Divas -- and this title, sadly enough, must now be stripped from Justice Owen.
P.S. Article III Groupie's profile of Justice Breyer's clerks is coming "soon" -- before the upcoming holiday weekend.