After days of a veritable maelstrom of reports about swine flu, bird strikes, Somali pirates, and torture, Clerquette was desperately in need of a spirit-boosting respite from bad news. In these dark times, what does a girl have to do to get a little relief? Make a visit to the day spa? Spend a weekend at Kripalu? Head to the bathtub for some Calgon escapism?
These are all good ideas, dear readers, but in this instance, my deliverance from the blues came from a most unexpected source: the Federalist Society. Admittedly, the Federalists are not generally known as the folks to turn to when one is in need of a mental adjournment from the stresses of daily life. They were, however, the hosts of a Very Special night at New York City's Cornell Club, featuring none other than ... Judge Richard Posner! And nothing puts the spring back in this groupie's step like proximity to an Article III superstar like the illustrious Judge Posner.
Judging (pardon the pun) by the turnout, Clerquette was not the only one whose "relief sought" included some quality time with a distinguished jurist: the event, which was billed as a conversation of sorts between Judge Posner and American Enterprise Institute fellow and deregulation guru Peter Wallison garnered an overflow crowd. And what a crowd it was! Let it suffice to say that the affair was something akin to a conservative/libertarian Grateful Dead show (set in a state which, of course, exists to preserve freedom). The crowd was comprised of a colorful smattering of septuagenarians, young Brooks Brothers-clad Alex (and Alexa) P. Keaton types, one fabulously coiffed woman with an elegant, Jackie O-style vertical updo, and more than a few bow-tie wearers.
As the parking lot, er, I mean, Ivy Room filled with Posner acolytes, a palpable sense of restlessness descended. In a fitting demonstration of free market principles, competition for seating and refreshments (the supply of which was far outstripped by demand) grew intense; chairs were aggressively staked out with Hermes scarves and Valextra briefcases, and men in bespoke suits jockeyed for a turn at the dwindling cracker pile. Indeed, Clerquette began to wonder whether a fight for the individual's right to crudite would break out in the buffet line. At one point, moderator Liz MacDonald (of Fox Business News) distracted Clerquette with a pretextual inquiry about the hot hors d'oeuvre, and then seized the opportunity to swipe the cheese tongs. Needless to say, Clerquette does not approve of poor plate-side manners in the presence of an Article III luminary!
Eventually, the show got underway. The madding crowd, however, was not to be appeased; when MacDonald began her opening act with a declarative -- and distinctly Seinfeldian -- "Did ya hear about Air Obama doing a flyover of lower Manhattan? What is up with that? Did ya hear about this thing with Bank of America?," an elderly gentleman seated behind Clerquette answered wearily, "Yes, dear. Yes, dear ... we did." After some rapid-fire denunciation of ... something (the precise subject of the remonstrance was unclear) and a comparison of certain economic policies to "faith-based initiatives," MacDonald cited John Kenneth Galbraith for the proposition that the "only purpose of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." That principle, Clerquette finds, is res judicata!
Finally, the lectern was ceded to the distinguished guest. Although Judge Posner's credentials and accomplishments are both too resplendent (and too numerous) to catalogue fully here, let it suffice to say that he is a bona fide member of The Elect, and then some; among other things, His Honor graduated from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude '62), clerked for Justice William J. Brennan (OT '62), and -- lest we forget -- turned "Law and Economics" into a household turn of phrase. And, of course, he ascended to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 1981, from whence he has dispensed his distinctive market-driven judicial magic ever since.
Alas, Judge Posner's speech began with some minor technical difficulties which, to Clerquette's surprise, were barely tolerated by the restive crowd. As the Judge struggled to adjust his microphone, the crowd fussed captiously. Clerquette saw one woman turn to her companion and announce smugly that "this is why everyone should invest in media training and developing presentation skills." (Surely she was not suggesting that the father of law and economic analysis polish his public speaking technique? Clerquette moves for sanctions!) Another gentleman in the crowd carped irritably that the "crowd [was] too rowdy because they' [were] all drunk. All of 'em." Another audience member bellowed for Judge Posner to "bend over into the microphone, for God's sake." (Gasp! Uttering the words "bend over" to an Article III judge? Clerquette nearly reached for her smelling salts.) Clerquette heard yet another man lament that the equipment malfunction was not His Honor's fault. "They should be helping him," he said crabbily. Clerquette refrained from asking the nice man whether he was advocating institutional intervention into a judicial process.
The good news, dear readers, is that Posner handled both the fractious audience and the sophisticated subject matter with a most judicial degree of equanimity and grace. Speaking extemporaneously, His Honor summarized, succinctly, the historical allocation of risk in the American banking system, enumerated the causes and early indicia of the current financial crisis, and engaged in a thoughtful, though critical, analysis of Mssrs. Greenspan, Bernanke, and those who seek to stifle the market with intrusive regulations.
But, speaking of bubble-bursting ... Judge Posner had barely concluded his remarks when Clerquette heard the gentleman behind her grumbling.
"That was a lot of strained history that we already knew," he announced.
"Well," his companion said, "I suppose a judge can do whatever he wants."
Order in the Court! Clerquette hereby declares the following: an Article III rock star like Judge Posner is entitled to susbtantial deference, folks. A few members of tonight's crowd could have benefitted from the exercise of much wiser discretion, so to speak.
But no matter. This fan thoroughly enjoyed her brief moment in the glow of an Article III luminary (which was, sadly, cut short by the persistent call of billable matters). Clerquette likes to think of it as an "Article III spritzer" -- just enough to refresh a weary soul, and to tide us over until the next Judicial Sight-ation.
Have judicial sight-ations of your own? Clerquette would love to hear about them!
Your above-signed blogress is going to be away from the web for two weeks, on a much-needed vacation. But fear not, lovers of judicial news and gossip; A3G leaves you in the capable (and well-manicured) hands of Clerquette.
Before she departs, A3G would like to leave you with a few reading recommendations. Some of these items are a bit old, so you may have already read them; but if you haven't, they're well worth your time. In no particular order:
Article III Groupie's obsession with The Elect, aka Supreme Court clerks, is well-documented. So it should come as no surprise that she's also obsessed with "feeder judges": those lower-court judges with a track record of sending their clerks on to the SCOTUS.
Earlier this month, the blog of the Daily Journal ran an item about Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain (9th Cir.) as a feeder judge. Judge O'Scannlain has been a feeder judge for many years (see here) - and his feeder judge ranking is rising fast, thanks to his placing three clerks at the Court for October Term 2009.
Having stepped into the Manolos of A3G relatively recently, Clerquette is, admittedly, somewhat behind the news cycle. Nonetheless, it is never too late for an update on a doubly delectable superstar -- in this case, past UTR favorite Michael Chertoff, who, we learned recently, has officially moved on to the next phase of his illustrious career.
If you've forgotten the multi-faceted nature of the Honorable Mike Chertoff's fabulosity, allow Clerquette to refresh your recollection. First, Chertoff is a member of The Elect: after graduating from Harvard College (magna cum laude, '75) and Harvard Law School (magna cum laude, '78), and clerking for distinguished SDNY Judge Murray Gurfein, Chertoff spent OT '79 at the elbow of Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. After a brief stopover at Latham & Watkins, Chertoff returned to the Southern District as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where he passedmuch of the 1980s making his boss, Rudolph Giuliani, look good. Chertoff eventually returned to his ancestral home (New Jersey), where he served as First Assistant U.S Attorney, and then "full-frontal" U.S. Attorney from 1990-1994.
Whew! Clerquette is getting winded. Let's fast forward past a few dozen notable achievements (with apologies to our illustrious subject) to 2003, when Chertoff ascended to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Alas, Chertoff's time on the bench was brief ... but what it lacked in longevity, it made up for in judicial flair. During his fleeting tenure, we learned that Judge Chertoff was an avid runner and weightlifter, an impeccable dresser, and inclined (or -gasp! -forced???) to fetch his own lunch. We realize that this latter, scandalous detail was unearthed five-plus years ago. Clerquette believes, however, that there is no statute of limitations on shaming law clerks who fail to carry the judicial take-out bag. In any event, Judge Chertoff was alluring enough to inspire his very own trivia quiz, known as the "Chertoff Challenge." As A3G concluded back in the day, "Judge Chertoff may be a fairly private person, but he can't hide the fact that he is a fun and fascinating individual 'underneath his robe.'" Clerquette joins the majority's opinion!
Recently, now-citizen (but still Honorable) Chertoff announced the formation of The Chertoff Group, which will "advise corporate and government clients on security and risk management issues." (FYI: Chertoff has also signed on at Covington & Burling, where he will be Senior Of Counsel.) The Chertoff Group is sure to be a powerhouse: in addition to its marquee member, the firm recently added such luminaries as General Michael Hayden (of CIA and NSA fame), and former DHS-ers Admiral Jay Cohen, Charles Allen, and Paul Schneider. But let's not kid ourselves, dear readers: the firepower on this gunboat will be provided by the only principal whose qualifications include "Anointed One" -- Chertoff himself. And, although the WSJ noted last week that Chertoff would be "going head to head in the business world with former bosses John Ashcroft and Rudolph Giuliani," Clerquette is quite certain that the former judicial superstar can overrule the competition sua sponte.
Chertoff will be holding court in his current hometown, Washington, D.C. Although Clerquette is always hoping for news of judicial sight-ations, she will make an exception, in this instance, for a former-judicial sight-ation. If you've seen Judge/Secretary/Citizen Chertoff, drop us a line and let us know what he's up to.
This caused A3G to wonder about whether Justice Stephen G. Breyer, as a youth of "8 or 10 or 12," wore tightey-whiteys. She sees Justice Breyer as a tightey-whitey kind of kid. But did briefs exist when SGB was a boy?
As it turns out, they did. Justice Breyer was born in 1938, and briefs were first sold in America in 1935. By the time Justice Breyer was eight years old or so, briefs were probably all the rage.
Who is She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? To refresh your recollection, look back at this post, which discusses political dynamics on the fabulously fractious Ninth Circuit:
Judge [Stephen] Reinhardt is the Emperor rather than Darth Vader because Darth Vader's position is already taken: by the brilliant, cold-as-ice Judge Marsha Berzon.
A member of the Elect, Judge Berzon
uses the light-saber of her chilly intellect to cut down all who stand
in her way. President Clinton spent a tremendous amount of political
capital pushing Judge Berzon's nomination to the Ninth Circuit through
the Senate, despite strong opposition from the Republicans, because he
knew that only she was qualified to take up the mantle of Judge
Reinhardt. After Judge Reinhardt's inevitable passing, only Judge
Berzon can provide comparably courageous and cunning leadership for the
left wing of the Ninth Circuit. Article III Groupie is both obsessed
with and deathly afraid of Judge Berzon, who will no doubt cast her
dark shadow over the pages of UTR in the not-too-distant future.
She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named may be one of our nation's most fearsomely liberal jurists - but she's also now the mother of a Pulitzer Prize winner! From the AP:
Las Vegas Sun reporter
Alexandra Berzon and her editors said Monday that they believe the
Pulitzer Prize-winning stories they produced about construction safety
brought an end to a spate of worker deaths at resort projects on the
Las Vegas Strip.
"I think it's great recognition for the newspaper
and for everyone," said Berzon, who estimated she wrote more than 50
stories on the subject.
Like her mother, whose legal credentials are blinding in their splendor, the Berzonspawn is something of a prodigy. She's only 29 years old - a far cry from the grizzled gumshoes often favored by Pulitzer pickers - and she has been at the Las Vegas Sun for just over a year (since December 2007).
Clearly Alex Berzon is far better at writing and reporting than she is at carrying coffee. Now that she's a Pulitzer winner, presumably she'll have interns to fetch coffee for her.
Congratulations to Alexandra Berzon and the entire Berzon family!
Justice Stevens turns 89 today. Happy Birthday, Your Honor!
Despite his advanced age, don't expect Justice Stevens to retire from the Supreme Court anytime soon. Most observers expect Justice Stevens to remain on the SCOTUS until after February 24, 2011, at which point he would replace Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as the oldest justice in the Court's history, or maybe even after July 15, 2012, when he would break Justice William O. Douglas's record as the longest-serving justice.
Since former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan's nomination to the fantastically lofty post of Solicitor General, much has been written about one of the most pressing issues facing the nation's appellate advocate-in-chief. We're not referring to the thorny jurisprudential and ideological matters confronting the country's first Solicitrix General. No, dear readers; we're talking about an issue which, by now, is plenty ripe for review: to wit, what should Solicitrix Kagan wear?
President Obama's nomination of Dean Kagan - who is known as a "brilliant Constitutional scholar and writer," and who "garnered wide praise for the triage work she did at Harvard Law" - was met with "near universal acclaim." But commenters were also quick to point out the "epiphenomenal fashion crisis" threatened by Kagan's ascendance to the position, which has historically been occupied by men. And, as we know, tradition dictates that those men don a "frock coat with tails, stripey pants, and a vest" when they step up to the highest lectern in the land to argue before the Supremes. At the risk of stating the obvious, Clerquette submits that a woman as distinguished as Solicitrix Kagan can hardly be expected to "represent" in Victor/Victoria-style drag.
On this point, the panel is unanimous. "Here's ... hoping that she never dons that silly morning coat in the first place," declared Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. Blogress Ann Althouse quibbled with the very thought of referring to the sartorial custom of wearing tails to the High Court as a "tradition," preferring instead to call it "an affliction." And law professor Patricia Williams recounted an incident, "perhaps apocryphal," involving a female advocate whose appearance in a "dove brown" or "doe-beige" suit prompted then-Chief Justice Rehnquist to "go berserk." Thereafter, the S.G.'s office recommended that women wear a "feminized" version of morning attire, which Professor Williams described as "more or less like the men's version, only with darts at the bust-line: that is, a dark jacket, often with silk trim on the lapels and those perky Scrooge McDuck tails flapping out behind."
Although Kagan wore a black pantsuit when she was officially presented to the Court on March 20, it has been noted that her opening day outfit was "not dispositive." Why? Because "[w]omen who wear the morning coat buy a man's coat -- and usually pants as well -- and have them tailored to fit, a process that can take time." Gasp!
Needless to say, we hate to think of Solicitrix Kagan going where no woman has gone before dressed as ... Scrooge McDuck. So, dear readers, we're looking for your suggestions re: a fitting outfit for SG Kagan to don when she faces the Supremes. Clerquette wants to hear your ideas, or, better yet, see your suggestions depicted in photographic or illustrated splendor.
So, please, send Clerquette your ideas, artistic renderings, and Heidi Klum-approved designs. We look forward to publishing the most lectern-worthy entries!