The stories of the postradical generation are not only of intellectual interest but also affect the future of American government. Obama has been criticized by many for not nominating enough theoretically ambitious and bold liberals to the federal courts. Part of the reason for that dynamic, however, has less to do with politics than with the supply of such theoretically ambitious liberals—particularly law professors.Spare me! There are plenty of strongly liberal and lefty lawprofs and if you want theoretical ambition you can find it. The reason these folks don't get nominated to the Supreme Court is crushingly obviously because they'd be soundly rejected by the American people and borked in the Senate.
Many of the more-radical jurisprudential movements from the earlier generations have succeeded in opening eyes to the flaws in the legal system, but beyond that have largely disappeared. The Old Left efforts to push courts to be more aggressively liberal floundered after years of courts dominated by Republican appointees. The New Left efforts by the critical-legal-studies movement and others floundered, in part because, like with the Old Left, their ideas were met with sustained resistance from the elite institutions of the legal system.
The country has moved to the right, so there are fewer law professors who are truly liberals.Yeah, there's a little balance now. I can imagine what "truly liberal" means to Fontana. I think they're nearly all liberal from the standard that prevails among American voters, but that's not truly liberal.
Many of those on the left today are simply trying to maintain older decisions... Others on the left, who once might have aggressively pursued liberal legal ideas, are now increasingly writing about law from a more theoretical or quantitative, and therefore less practical, perspective—making their writing less related to the issues judges decide and making them less obviously candidates for future judgeships."Prejudicial"? I know what he meant to say but... what a hilarious word!
And some on the left who write more directly about cases and courts, like Tushnet or Dean Larry Kramer of Stanford Law School, and Dean Robert C. Post of Yale Law School, are now increasingly members of the "popular constitutionalism" movement, who believe that courts should be stripped of all or most of their decisional powers—hardly the prejudicial profile that one wants.
Anyway, yes, many brilliant liberal/lefty lawprofs have applied their minds to generating arguments for why courts shouldn't enforce rights, but I think the reason they have gone in that direction is that they have perceived that it is the most effective way to push back against the conservative and liberal-but-not-truly-liberal jurists who get appointed to the Supreme Court. The "popular constitutionalism" movement is further evidence that the American people have a pretty conservative view of what judges should do and how the Constitution should be interpreted. And that's why the nominees aren't "theoretically ambitious and bold liberals."