July 21, 2005

"The English teacher used to talk about his papers after he had written them because they were outrageous but very well crafted."

Another interesting basis for insight into John Roberts from the NYT piece:
"The English teacher used to talk about his papers after he had written them because they were outrageous but very well crafted," remembered John Langley, an emergency room doctor in New Orleans who was a class below Judge Roberts at [the prive high school] La Lumiere. "He could take an argument that was borderline absurd and argue for it so well that you were almost at the point of having to accept his stance even though it was intuitively obvious that it was absurd."
Let me try to constrain my wild enthusiasm as a lawprof for beautifully constructed opinions that require hard work to discover the flaws. Most of the awful stuff I'm forced to assign to students is drudgery to read just for the most basic understanding of what this judicial character is trying to say.

How much more fun law school would be if the prose were crystalline! We could enjoy reading it, and get, right away, what the judge was saying. Then we could spend all our class time critiquing and questioning and devising arguments to the contrary. Heaven!

Ah, but I know the Supreme Court is not really about providing law school classroom pleasures. Still...

5 comments:

Smilin' Jack said...

"He could take an argument that was borderline absurd and argue for it so well that you were almost at the point of having to accept his stance even though it was intuitively obvious that it was absurd."

Let me try to constrain my wild enthusiasm as a lawprof for beautifully constructed opinions that require hard work to discover the flaws...we could spend all our class time critiquing and questioning and devising arguments to the contrary. Heaven!


Outside the legal profession that sort of thing is termed "sophistry." Most people do not hold it in high regard.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

It's considered so inside the profession as well. I'm just enjoying it as an object of inquiry making my life as a lawprof interesting. A scientist might find a rotting corpse crawling with maggots or a droplet of water teeming with deadly bacteria fascinating as well. I'm not saying the Supreme Court should be populated with Justices who serve this selfish interest of mine.

Matt Barr said...

I think you've hit on about 3/4 the appeal of Justice Scalia.

Ken Begg said...

I take this to read, "He writes opinions that I disagree with politically, and yet almost makes me think that it's not the job of the court to impose my views. How crazy is that!"

Maybe that's unfair, but I'd lay a fin on it anyway.