September 20, 2004

Open house at the Law School.

There is a group of prospective students at the Law School today. They were just listening to a presentation in the faculty library down the hall from my office, so I know it's a huge group. I believe they'll be auditing some classes today, so it will be interesting to see how many extra faces there are in my Civpro2 class that meets in a few minutes. I'm glad we're on the first day of a new topic (diversity jurisdiction), rather than the last day of the previous topic (where we struggled with the most perplexing thing about the Erie Doctrine). Maybe some readers of this blog will sit in on the class, and if so, feel free to drop me an email and let me know if everyone has been suitably nice to you and whether you think Congress should abolish diversity jurisdiction. Just kidding about the diversity jurisdiction. I'll add a funny story about diversity jurisdiction later. I've got to go to class now.

ADDED STORY: Here's an anecdote I tell at the beginning of an article called "Late Night Confessions in the Hart and Wechsler Hotel" (47 Vand. L. Rev. 993 (1994)):
Chief Justice Rehnquist visited my law school last year to deliver a lecture entitled "The Future of Federal Courts." The University Theater filled: overdressed alumni in the front rows, respectful students in the balcony, camouflaged professors here and there. I sat in the middle and hunched over a folded-up sheet of legal paper. I scribbled notes and hoped for some insight into the tangled mass of problems I had made my life's work. Would the Chief Justice perhaps explain the Court's new habeas corpus jurisprudence? I wanted a little accounting for Butler v. McKellar, in which he had denied federal court relief to a man who faced the death penalty after a conviction based on a confession that the Court's own case law would, without question, exclude.

The Chief told some jokes, elaborated on his ties to Wisconsin, and discoursed at length about the workload of the courts. The issues were neutral, administrative, managerial, structural.

"Did he say anything provocative?" asked a colleague who had missed the speech.

"He never got any more provocative than to say he's against diversity."

My friend was shocked. "He's against diversity! ? "

"Diversity jurisdiction," I said, realizing she was not a proceduralist.

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