FEDERAL JUDGES. You've read their opinions in the Federal Reporter. You, or your clients, have complied with their orders. But how well do you really know our nation's federal judges -- not just as jurists, but as people? Enquiring minds want to know: What do federal judges have going on "underneath their robes"? (Does Chief Justice Rehnquist wear boxers or briefs? Probably boxers, except when playing tennis with his law clerks.)
"Underneath Their Robes" ("UTR") is a combination of People, US Weekly, Page Six, The National Enquirer, and Tigerbeat, focused not on vacuous movie stars or fatuous teen idols, but on the federal judiciary. The mission of UTR is to get "underneath the robes" of our federal judges, to find out what they are really like -- not as impersonal guardians of the Constitution, or as disembodied legal minds analyzing complex legal disputes, but as human beings. After all, federal judges are people too, with unique personalities, private lives, and peccadilloes, all just waiting to be explored.
There are some one million lawyers in the United States, but only 877 active federal judges. These 877 brilliant men and women represent the top 0.1% of American lawyers. Prior to taking the Article III bench, they distinguished themselves as practicing lawyers, state court judges, non-Article III federal judges, or legal academics. Now these superstars of the legal profession have been apotheosized, through nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate, to life-tenured positions of tremendous power and prestige. Federal judges are the gods and goddesses of the American justice system. The decisions that they make affect all of us, touching countless aspects of our everyday lives.
In short, federal judges are legal celebrities. Although certain flashy criminal defense or plaintiffs' lawyers might be more well-known to the general public, federal judges are the "rock stars" of the legal profession's upper echelons. Although they might not admit it, practicing lawyers spend countless hours around the water cooler gossiping about the federal judges before whom they appear. Ambitious law students seeking prestigious judicial clerkships become similarly obsessed with Article III jurists, fixating on them as if they were teen idols. In light of federal judges' high station and great influence, as well as the insights of legal realism concerning the important role that a judge's personality and private life can play in judicial decisionmaking, such keen interest in federal judges as people is understandable and justified.
Despite this interest, surprisingly little attention is paid by the news media to the personal lives of federal judges. This is in part the result of the low profiles kept by many federal judges, who often seek to present themselves to the public as judicial machines, administering justice with absolute impartiality. But the insufficient attention paid to federal judges as people is also the fault of news reporters and legal commentators who spend hours poring over the latest judicial decisions, but hardly any time delving into the personal backgrounds of the decisionmakers.
UTR seeks to change all that, by bringing you the latest news and gossip about federal judiciary: who's good, who's bad, and who's ugly. Yes, UTR will expose the shortcomings and imperfections of our federal judges. But it will also celebrate their positive attributes. Adjectives commonly used to describe our federal judges include honorable, intelligent, learned, distinguished, and hardworking. UTR proposes to add a few more to the list: glamorous, sexy, fun -- and fabulous!
These upcoming reports from UTR provide a taste of what you can look forward to in future posts:
The Wheels of Justice: What do our nation's judges drive? (Hint: Jaguars are surprisingly popular. Grrr!!!)
UTR Cribs: Inspired by MTV Cribs, UTR goes inside the halls of justice, with this exclusive report about the luxurious residences of the most well-heeled federal jurists.
Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" Or, less poetically: Which legal minds have the best bodies? UTR is now accepting your nominations for the hottest women and men whose firm, toned butts occupy the Article III bench. Please send nominations to UTR by email, preferably with photographs.
A Hunger for Justice: Judge Jerome Frank and his fellow legal realists thought that a case might get decided "based on what the judge had for breakfast." So -- what did the judge have for breakfast? What judges have idiosyncratic culinary tastes? Which judges are on diets -- and which judges aren't, but should be? Find out in UTR's exploration of the care and feeding of Article III judges.
A final note: UTR is only as good as the information obtained by yours truly, Article III Groupie. Drawing upon a wide range of news sources, she conducts diligent research to bring you the latest news about the federal judiciary, which she combines with her own unique and colorful commentary. But she relies upon you, her readers and correspondents, for the "inside scoop" about federal judges -- the juicy morsels of gossip, the piles of dirty laundry that never make it into the sanitized pages of our media outlets. So please, email your news and gossip about federal judges to Article III Groupie, early and often!
Welcome to the pages of UTR!