October 7, 2006

"If you've sat through one of Justice Breyer's civics lectures on C-SPAN... you've heard this all before."

David Lat gets antsy when an interview with Justice Breyer is insufficiently confessional. Why can't he be more like Justice Scalia (or Judge Posner or Judge Kozinski)? Is there some reason the conservative judicial stars are more fun? Do liberals always have to demonstrate their circumspection?

UPDATE: David tries to answer my questions, but the fact that he's reduced to bringing up Justice Douglas concedes the point. They don't make liberal Justices like that any more. We still have liberal Justices, but we no longer have liberal Justices who express their liberalism with deeply felt passion. The attacks on liberal activism have left a deep mark, and the liberals that we do have adopt a much cooler, more impersonal pose.


Cedarford said...

Is there some reason the conservative judicial stars are more fun? Do liberals always have to demonstrate their circumspection?

Must have been one of those lectures where Breyer doesn't get into how when he lacks a Constitutional basis for changing a law he wants changed he could always go to alternatives to justify it: "Changing global morality", "as the advanced European nations say...", "the Constitution of Zimbabwe makes perfectly clear", "the Transantional elites, the UN, and International Law and Treaties being higher than the Constitution..."

In the good old days, Breyer was entertaining, perhaps more so than in his entire life, when he sat down with Scalia and explained why the Euroweenies had a say in US death penalty cases that he must take into account in his decisions. Actually, more entertaining to watch Scalia erupt like a popped boil over Breyers reasoning like he did in dissent when O'Connor wrote one of her more unreasoned, vacuous, opaque decisions.

Of course, the good old days were when he, Ginsburg, and Kennedy had folded the semi-senile O'Connor into their Transnationalist camp and they had a decent shot.

Would have nevertheless been entertaining to see how Breyer and the remaining Transnationalists got to where terrorists were given more and more rights than any past enemy the US has faced from "evolving international standards" and a need to "read treaties such that documents like Geneva have to be interpreted as affording maximum rights to the accused enemy, rather than the aggrieved prosecuting nation."

Of course, unlike Souter and ACLU Ruth, Breyer actually comes down on the side of the citizen vs. the bad guys more often than not, so he's not the worst.

Seven Machos said...

Stephen Breyer would probably be the most boring and uninteresting person in the United States today if it weren't for David Souter.

Diane said...

Actually, David Souter can be very witty. He has a very wry sense of humor.

Seven Machos said...


The Jerk said...

OMG he's left of Scalia! Begin the two minutes hate!

jjv said...

Part of liberalism is now never offending any non-traditional group or individual. Another part is denying you're a liberal. This makes for boring speeches.

That said, I love the Scalia/Breyer show and I think Breyer is the most thoughtful liberal on the Court and the one trying hardest to find a legitimate reason for illigitimate decsions.

A Menken Moment said...

I'll echo Cedarford. Anybody who has seen the Breyer-Scalia colloquies knows that the "choose your favorite foreign judicial decision" approach cannot face a serious critique. From where I was sitting, Breyer seemed positively to wither under Scalia's righteous scorn. 'Twas a humbling experience, sure to instill circumspection.

Fitz said...

Breyer and O’Conner were on Charlie Rose the other night with the latest “o-my –god, I cant believe people are upset over our opinions, This is a threat to judicial independence!” line of defense to judicial activism.

Breyer has this classic of his, it’s a seven point (or is it six) format for judging/making legal opinions. The first five could come from Scalia, original intent, textualism, precedent, ect… the last two however are so broad …effects & outcomes (or something) as to eviscerate any meaning from the first five.