November 16, 2007

"Hnh, Biden stomps some dirt on Robert Bork's grave."

"He wants SCOTUS judges who've lived life, not who 'want an intellectual feast.'"

Writes Dave Wiegel, live-blogging the debate last night at 9:56.

Biden was alluding to what turned out to be the worst answer Robert Bork gave at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee (which Joe Biden chaired at the time, 20 years ago):
ALAN K. SIMPSON, Republican of Wyoming: And now I have one final question. Why do you want to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court?

BORK: Senator, I guess the answer to that is that I have spent my life in the intellectual pursuits in the law. And since I've been a judge, I particularly like the courtroom. I like the courtroom as an advocate and I like the courtroom as a judge. And I enjoy the give-and-take and the intellectual effort involved. It is just a life and that's of course the Court that has the most interesting cases and issues and I think it would be an intellectual feast just to be there and to read the briefs and discuss things with counsel and discuss things with my colleagues. That's the first answer.

The second answer is, I would like to leave a reputation as a judge who understood constitutional governance and contributed his bit to maintaining it in the ways I have described before this committee. Our constitutional structure is the most important thing this nation has and I would like to help maintain it and to be remembered for that.
It was 20 years ago, that Biden led the fight that defeated Robert Bork. I note that, last night, Biden railed against law professors:
I have taken on those justices who, in fact, show no balance — they are ideologues. We have enough ideologues. We have enough professors on the bench. I want someone who ran for dog catcher. I want someone — literally, not a joke. When Hillary's husband asked me for his advice when he was appointing people, I wanted to go to people and so did he — we couldn't. Four people turned it down. We wanted to get someone who, in fact, knew what it was to live life.
So... we got stuck with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Who are the 4 people who turned it down? According to Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine," Mario Cuomo, George Mitchell, Richard Riley, Bruce Babbitt all said no, and Clinton finally — on the suggestion of Attorney General Janet Reno — turned to Ginsburg.

Someone ought to ask Joe Biden if he meant to say that Ginsburg and Breyer don't know knew what it is to live life. And why is he so sure that politicians like Mario Cuomo, George Mitchell, Richard Riley, Bruce Babbitt do? Because he's one?

Now, it may be a perfectly good idea to put a great lawyer with political experience on the Supreme Court, but Biden goes beyond that and disrespects two fine Supreme Court justices — Ginsburg and Breyer.


Bob said...

Biden's looking for Chance the Gardener, obviously.

Bork's Grave? Metaphor, right? I had to check Wikipedia just now to check that Bork was still around.


Wurly said...
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John Kindley said...

Four people turned down nominations to the U.S. SUPREME COURT?! I salivate when I think of all the damage I could do to the government were I appointed. People certainly would have cause to second-guess their respect for the Court and government in general when they saw the opinions I was writing.

ricpic said...

Biden's hostility to Bork's delight in the play of intellect, reveals Biden, for all his surface gloss, to be lumpen to the core.

Pogo said...

Maybe Biden prefers a black justice, someone like Obama, whom you may recall Biden described as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy". Obama has probably lived life, too.

Or maybe it's those immigrants Biden wants, you know, like he said how "You CANNOT go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts without an Indian accent."

Maybe to have lived, one needs to nominate older men who lust after young co-eds, like when Joe said "I've learned now, any advice I give...when you become parents, whatever school you want your child to go to, don't mention it. And so I had been pushing Princeton, and this magnificently attractive, intellectually and physically, beautiful young girl, was a sophomore, was showing us around, and I figured we've got a lock now. My son is going to really be interested, and I know Senators aren't supposed to say things like that, but if he hadn't been interested, I would have been worried. "

Man, that's livin'.

Simon said...

Words fail.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah in case you missed the debate, Biden reminded viewers he has been in the Senate for 35 years. Now that is living heh.

Roger said...

As long as Joe Biden remains in the senate, we can rely on him to use up all of his alloted time for questions in his introductory remarks--the senate has to include the biggest buch of clowns since ringling brothers.

Rosy Reviewer said...
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Zeb Quinn said...

...but Biden goes beyond that and disrespects two fine Supreme Court justices — Ginsburg and Breyer.

That's supposed to be funny, right?

John Kindley said...

"People certainly would have cause to second-guess their respect for the Court and government in general when they saw the opinions I was writing."

That is, they'd be in crayon and very short (just like Althouse likes em), and I wouldn't waste my time or the reader's by relying on anachronisms such as precedent or constitutional provisions.

Richard Fagin said...

The last Supreme Court Justice that had considerable political experience was a law and order-type Republican governor of California. Look how that one turned out. No wonder Sen. Biden wants that kind of person on the bench.

RC said...

When he says someone who ran as dog catcher. the only person I thought of was Dennis Rader. Maybe that's just me, though.

John Kindley said...

"That is, they'd be in crayon and very short (just like Althouse likes em)"

Just to clarify, in case anybody misunderstood, that wasn't intended as a slam on Ann. She's often expressed the thought that judicial opinions are too long and verbose. I don't think she'd appreciate them being written in crayon.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

A politician denigrating lawyers and professors- talk about the pot calling the kettle(s) black!

cubanbob said...

Biden is reason enough to kick Delaware out of the union. To call him an idiot is to insult idiots. Speaking of life experiences has that plagiarizer ever had an honest job?

jeff said...

It looks like he graduated law school in '68 and was elected to public office on '70 and the Senate in '72. So he got a solid 2 years of "living life" in.

Hey now. Dennis Rader was in animal control enforcement. Just ask him.

Luckyoldson said...

There' nothing like a free wheeling, thoroughly "objective" overview of Joe Biden.

Is Sean Hannity joining in later?

How about Ann Coulter?

Hey, maybe even Bork...oh, wait...he's dead, isn't he?

Hoot, hoot...

Luckyoldson said...

Are you implying Senators don't "live life?"

Like you wouldn't trade in a second...

jeff said...

"To call him an idiot is to insult idiots."

I don't know I would agree with that. I don't think he is quite as smart as he thinks he is, probably from being in the Senate 35 years where everyone defers to you, but he's a pretty sharp guy. Just wrong a lot.

T Mack said...

"but Biden goes beyond that and disrespects two fine Supreme Court justices — Ginsburg and Breyer."

Both those justices said the McCain/Feingold act was constitutional. They're WRONG.
Both said Kelso was constitutional.
They're WRONG. Ginsburg says we should look to foreign law when interperting the constitution. Not only is she wrong, that should've gotten her impeached and disbarred.
You Althouse, with your praise of two senile hacks, who obviously never understood the law, epitomizes what is wrong with the law profession today. Your to isolated in your schools, and courts and seminars, so much so, that you forget about real life.
The US Supreme Court needs a non-lawyer desperately as a judge.
You Althouse, along with Hewiit and Lessig, have had your heads up your legal anuses for far to long.

Luckyoldson said...

t mack says: "Your to isolated in your schools, and courts and seminars, so much so, that you forget about real life."

That's a keeper.

Wurly said...
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John said...

TMack is right Beyer and Ginsburg are bloody awful judges. I am not sure that life experience helps much either. Earl Warren was a former governor and made a mess of the court. Sandra Day O'Conner is a wonderful woman and had lots real world experience. Yet, her body of work on the court consists of an large number of muddled baby splitting opinions that stand for little other than the premise that O'Conner wanted one side or another to prevail in that case. I can't imagine a Supreme Court Justice who had a more significant and accomplished career in private life than Thurgood Marshall, but it is difficult to argue he was in anyway a great Supreme Court Justice.

If there is one complaint that I would make about the Court it is that it is dominated by the ConLaw priesthood. We spend too much time arguing about a few divisive issues of Constitutional Law and forget that the Court is also the ultimate arbiter of federal law. For every Kelo or Roe v. Wade, there are 100s of cases decided by the court relating to civil procedure, anti-trust law, intellectual property law or any other area of federal law that have consequences to the economy and country at large much more significant than the odd abortion case. Why not have a judge who is an expert and experienced practitioner of intellectual property law? Or criminal law? Lets not get rid of the Geeks, lets just cut down on the ConLaw Geeks.

Blake said...

So...I guess Bork is with all those dead Mandelas?

Joshua said...

Both said Kelso was constitutional.

I'm no Ashton Kutcher fan, but I'm pretty sure he's not unconstitutional.

Joshua said...

Also, Robert Bork is alive and well and filing frivolous lawsuits.

Tort reform for thee but not for me!

Trooper York said...

Kelso is just not talented, but he is constitutional. He is also an animal trainer as he was one of the first in Hollywood to domesticate the cougar.

jeff said...

Well, now trooper. Let's not go crazy. I think the cougar domesticated Kelso. Although I would agree on the constitutionality part. I think the Kelso part was written on the back next to the treasure map.

jeff said...

Joshua, hard to say if that was frivolous or not. It doesn't say how high the dais was. Of course it also doesn't say why he couldn't just ask for a step stool. I does look like he was actually injured though. Still, he is a big boy and could have requested steps.

M. Simon said...

As for Ginsburg. Give me Thomas any day.

A man who actually understands that words have meaning (he can read) and that the purpose of the Constitution was to limit the power of government.

Gel said...

The Constitution expressly authorizes Congress to enact copyright laws. Copyright law expressly protects characters. Kelso is a character. Kelso is expressly protected by copyright law, which is allowed by the constitution.

M. Simon said...

Wasn't it Bork who called the IXth Amendment an ink blot?

Talk about a man who can't read.

John Kindley said...

". . . the purpose of the Constitution was to limit the power of government."

Alas, I'm afraid that in the actual historical context of the Articles of Confederation the purpose of the Constitution was in fact not to limit but to expand the power of government, and to bend it to the will and financial interests of the politically connected. Albert Jay Nock's classic book "Our Enemy, the State" has the lowdown.

There's nothing especially admirable about the Constitution. As the great nineteenth century legal scholar Lysander Spooner put it, at the very end of his "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority", "But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain --- that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist." And that was before the Sixteenth Amendment came along.

Now the Declaration of Independence, on the other hand, that was something.

raf said...

So, Biden supported Harriet Meiers, then?

Bruce Lagasse said...

"The last Supreme Court Justice that had considerable political experience was a law and order-type Republican governor of California."

So dedicated to law and order, in fact, that he led the effort to force tens of thousands of American citizens off their land and put them behind barbed wire. I suppose it's ironic that one of the major opponents of the Nisei relocation was J. Edgar Hoover.

Luckyoldson said...

M. Simon said..."Give me Thomas any day."


How soon can you move his ass off the court?

Will be be staying with you?

Luckyoldson said...

Speaking of lawyers, judges, the constitution, etc., here's something should make anybody associated proud as punch:

Most Attorneys General, upon stepping down, move to private-sector legal work. Some take on faculty positions at respected law schools.

And then there’s Alberto Gonzales, arguably the worst Attorney General in U.S. history.

Since resigning in disgrace, Gonzales has retained a high-powered DC criminal-defense lawyer to represent him. Given that the U.S. Inspector General may recommend criminal charges against Gonzales, it was probably a good move.

It’s reached the point at which Gonzales’ friends have had to create a legal defense fund for the embattled former AG.

Richard Fagin said...

Thanks, Bruce. I thought no one noticed.

Beldar said...

I respect all of the current members of the Court, even those with whom I regularly disagree (Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter) and those with whom my disagreement varies according to which side of their constitutional bed they've arisen on any given day (Hon. Anthony "Sweet Mysteries of Life" Kennedy).

But like the blind hog who's nosed across an acorn anyway, Biden was right in suggesting that the Court badly needs more real-world experience, and it can certainly afford to reduce its reliance on law professors.

Given the percentage of civil cases (governmental and non-) that make up the Court's docket, it would be nice -- it would be peachy, actually -- if at least one Justice on the Court actually had a substantial amount of civil trial experience on behalf of private litigants, either as a trial lawyer or, better still, a trial lawyer and then as a district court judge. By "trial lawyer," I don't mean "plaintiff's personal injury contingent fee lawyer," I mean a "lawyer who actually and regularly has tried cases to a verdict before judges and juries."

Ralph said...

And so I had been pushing Princeton
When I toured Princeton in 1977, the female student guide actually told the black prospective student also on the tour, "You may not be comfortable here." She claimed there were still white racists (male of course) in the student body. My first realization of PC thinking.
Could that have gotten the school sued?

M. Simon said...

John K.,

I must take some issue with your point.

The Articles of Confederation didn't last because the Federal Government had too little power.

The Constitution was an effort to expand government power so it could accomplish things like National Defense and yet an effort was also made to limit the powers of government.

It was an expansion and yet also a limitation.


So was Thomas wrong on Raich? Kelo? Did he express himself in those decisions in a way that was hard for you to follow? If so my condolences.

Eccentric Basket Gifts said...

OR, maybe you're just totally wrong about what he meant. What, are you a mind reader too?