October 16, 2009

"Althouse is probably live-blogging my remarks. I hope so."

Says lawprof Barry Friedman — in the middle of responding to the comments about his book "The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution" here at the symposium.

There's a lot of talk about puppies. Professor Jenna Bednar, a few minutes ago, said, characterizing the message of Barry's big book: "The Court is the People's puppy and the people hold it firmly by the leash." How does the Court feel that leash? That's a question. Can you answer it? The Court doesn't just do its own thing and say whatever the hell the law is. It must interact with public opinion and things evolve accordingly.

Another metaphor is marriage, which Barry quips he's an expert on because he's had 2.

He says: "Any good marriage requires confrontation." This has something to do with the Supreme Court. I'm sure you can extrapolate.

But in a marriage that works — which includes, presumably, his 2d — you derive the unspoken rules about what you can do without having to have a whole fight about it. He recites a list of things you can possibly do and get away with.

The only one I remember is coming in drunk at 2 a.m. with no explanation. One reason I can't remember anything else on his list was that I got distracted by how similar it was to something Andre Gregory says in "My Dinner With Andre":
You see, that's why I think that people have affairs. Well, I mean, you know, in the theater, if you get good reviews, you feel for a moment that you've got your hands on something. You know what I mean? I mean it's a good feeling. But then that feeling goes quite quickly. And once again you don't know quite what you should do next. What'll happen? Well, have an affair and up to a certain point you can really feel that you're on firm ground. You know, there's a sexual conquest to be made, there are different questions: does she enjoy the ears being nibbled, how intensely can you talk about Schopenhauer in some elegant French restaurant. Whatever nonsense it is. It's all, I think, to give you the semblance that there's firm earth.
But, Althouse, are you live-blogging my remarks?

Yes, yes, because I'm the one who says what blogging is... subject to the leash-tugging of traffic, linkage, and the commentariat.

19 comments:

Triangle Man said...

I will defer to rhhardin on this, but I think the type of collar is at least as important as the mere presence of a leash.

traditionalguy said...

How will people react to me? The SCOTUS decisions are aware of this question. The affair participant has this same question. Both do any thing to get another response to the question and experience some certainty that they are important to the other in a brief moment. This being the case, then the cultural traditions/religions of the affair participants or Justices is the secret power force behind the "evolution of the Law". I just want to know that they will still respect me (read, my rights in the Bill of Rights) in the morning.That is why Sotomayor was fine with me, but a new age environmentalist/marxist would be poison as a nominee. I wonder when will Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat open?

rhhardin said...

A proper leash is kept slack so that the dog can't tell what you're doing without watching you.

Except for brief moments when he finds out you're walking fast the opposite direction and he wasn't watching.

Never ever let a dog tug on the leash. Reverse course and walk quickly the other way before it tightens.

A choke collar is the usual choice.

Michael Hasenstab said...

The collar and leash are an important part of (judicial) restraint. Handcuffing (the justices) is also an important element in bonding (to the rule of law). Some Congresspeople who believe in (judicial) restraint look for safe words like "literalist" for a sense of security.

The same may be said of those merely curious (about the law) who need lessons in (judicial) restraint.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Althouse, are you also doodling? Did you doodle a picture of yourself blogging the speaker saying that your were probably live-blogging?

John said...

"The collar and leash are an important part of (judicial) restraint. Handcuffing (the justices) is also an important element in bonding (to the rule of law)."

Actually, that was a pickup line Scalia used to use on Sandra O'Conner. It was rumored to be fullproof.

Michael Hasenstab said...

And if you are also conference-photographing, could we see a photo that includes your laptop, the doodle pad, the speaker and your feet? That would be excellent composition.

Your pal,

Ansel Adams

peter hoh said...

So, with regards to a blog, is the commontariat the puppy or the leash holder?

ricpic said...

The People hold the Court on a leash? Examples please.

Would any of the following cases have been decided as they were if the People had the Court on a leash?

Brown v Board of Education

Roe v Wade

Kennedy v Louisiana (death penalty for child rape ruled unconstitutional)

Boumedienne v Bush, George (terrorists at Gitmo have the "right" to challenge their detention in US civilian courts).

John said...

"Would any of the following cases have been decided as they were if the People had the Court on a leash?"

Absolutely not. But if elite beltway opinion had the Court on a leash, those decisions would have come out exactly as they did.

Someone is holding the leash. It is just not us.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Professor Jenna Bednar, a few minutes ago, said, characterizing the message Barry's big book: "The Court is the People's puppy and the people hold it firmly by the leash."

Oliver Wendell Holmes is spinning in his grave.

former law student said...

Prof. Althouse, are you learning anything? Are these presentations worthwhile?

My law profs did not indulge in vague analogies, though my fellow students' minds may well have wandered to thoughts of My Dinner with Andre.

Henry said...

Peter Hoh wrote: So, with regards to a blog, is the commontariat the puppy or the leash holder?

We're the bag of poop.

Chip Ahoy said...

I cannot accept the leash analogy. It assumes a single trainer and a responsiveness to clear commands as well as a fair uniformity in responses, which is all nonsense in regard to judges. But this does provide the chance for ...

‹anecdote alert›
My German shepherd was as trained as any dog ever gets, but he was a thick dunce compared to any of the four Belgians. Every single thing took at least a week of steady repetition. He did all the fun stuff, jumping boards and fences, if a little sloppy on the return, he tracked, and he even counted (only to 4, beyond that he got confused), among many other things in which my friends enjoyed watching him do. In high school, I wasn't that great a trainer.

Belgians on the other hand responded to calm suggestion, they could not be corrected. Period. They very quickly trained me how they are to be trained. I simply could not move fast enough to outmaneuver them while they were on leash. I could spin on a dime at full pace, which is totally unfair, and they'd whip around matching my spin. In a trial, we'd be marked down for crowding. They were all like that. I just accepted that's the way they are. Besides trials are uptight and the opposite of fun. My dogs were show offs with interactive personality and they mark down for that in trials, no matter how entertaining. They were not little robots, as Shelties are prone to perform.

Off leash, a verbal correction wrecked their little psychologies completely and the session would be ruined. They taught me not ever to correct them. Withholding vocal praise or a tiny touch to the tip of their ear was punishment unbearable that took the place of correction. Physical separation was agony. They were happiest with constant physical connection. They kept a paw on my shoe, their shoulder pressed to my knee, and I MUST keep the tip of their ear gently pinched. All of that is not good for straight obedience trial, but it was the basis of our obedience relationship. They were a joy to train and shockingly fast responding to commands, vocal and physical, with a tendency to anticipate. I had to keep them guessing what would come next with no physical movement at all that could be interpreted as a clue or a trace of command or else the error would be my fault. They would complete a command before the word was finished. They hit the floor on "Down!" before the "n" was pronounced so hard it was startling, which forced practicing on grass or carpet because I was afraid they'd chip their little elbows. Witnesses remarked they never had seen anything like it and it all seemed a little bit Nazi-esque.

I rarely ran them through their paces, usually only after an interlude following a scolding for them for having done something doggy naughty. It provided a means to get beyond the scolding and erase all that by allowing them to perform something they were secure in the knowledge they're great at.

Brief animated tribute shows how Belgians obey beautifully then purposefully goof to keep the interaction and the attention on themselves going.
‹/anecdote alert›

No, I do not believe justices are like that, differences in breeds and training styles notwithstanding. They are not like puppies on leashes. Not even in a stretched or tortured analogy. I don't even know why a justice would suggest such a thing.

EDH said...

Aptly supporting the comparison of my earlier comment, puppies will also lick their balls in front of guests until you tug on the leash.

raf said...

I believe Ann just declared herself to be Supreme Blogger. But then, we all knew that already. Right?

wv: snedit. To edit for proper levels of snark.

traditionalguy said...

The Professor needs a DC power dinner at the Ebbit Grill with Andre, or Meade if Andre is busy.

m00se said...

Wow. What a bizarre post for a newly marrried woman.

Rock on...

Charlie K. said...

subject to the leash-tugging of traffic

Translation: conservative wingnuts control my chain