July 20, 2011

"Victoria Nourse really has very little connection to the state of Wisconsin, and nobody in the legal community in Wisconsin knows anything about her."

Said Senator Ron Johnson, who is blocking Obama's nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Apparently, the University of Wisconsin Law School doesn't count as "the legal community in Wisconsin." That says something. Let's talk about what.


AllenS said...

It all depends on what the legal definition of "the legal community in Wisconsin" is, is.

Dose of Sanity said...

I looked for your name on the letter calling for immediate hearings on her nomination.

Were you asked?

Ann Althouse said...

"Were you asked?"

Not that I noticed. I sometimes miss email, and I am on vacation and out of the building this summer.

Dose of Sanity said...

That's too bad, you could have put

Ann Althouse
Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin
Number 1 Law Blog.

Do you have any idea why Johnson is putting up a fight over this? I don't see him earning any points here..

Lucius said...

The editorial has that kind of content-free bluster of a high school civics essay.

This Nourse may be perfectly qualified; but is the moral really that 'qualified nominees' should *always* be seated?

I suspect nobody really wants to stand by that, logical and temperate-sounding as it may seem.

We just don't play in that world. When the shoe's on the other foot, this Good Governance type patter will dry up awful quick.

Dose of Sanity said...

(Also, be glad you are away from the building...no AC this week because of the water cooler problem. They barely have enough for the hospital and animals, I guess)

Harry said...

I identifies a problem for the academy, but, ironically, a problem that isn't relevant here. The academy disfavors writing on (to steal a phrase from ATL) "icky" state laws. Law professors are expected to write articles on federal and national issues to show how important they are and to place articles in better journals. This leads to a disconnect between the state law school and the state. The professor could be teaching and writing anywhere.

But this problem is irrelevant for a nominee to a federal court, who should be most knowledgeable about federal laws and issues.

Dose of Sanity said...

@ Lucius - Of course not always - but why resist her? An article I read yesterday mentioned Johnson's reason as "not being consulted by the white house" and using his "blue slip".

Seems silly to me, on account of her nomination months prior to his election/swearing in.

MadisonMan said...

I suspect he's objecting because he was told to.

Anti-Obama, all the time.

garage mahal said...

There was good reason why not one major newspaper in the state endorsed this moron.

chickelit said...

Shouldn't nominees ideally have some trial experience? That's the arena they'll adjudicate. Or is that considered not relevant? It seems to me there's a bit of anti-academic bias here--good or bad.

Lucius said...

@Dose of Sanity: It may well be he's just fishing for cheap brownie points with the conservative base.

Or maybe other powers think they can successfully dunk this nominee with some dirt on the horizon, or just scorch some earth because they can.

I certainly don't advocate it as a default setting in our democracy. But then, I always think of the John Tower nomination. So maybe Nourse is being singled out as a good pick to give the White House a bloody nose.

Anyway, I'm just struck by how suspiciously clean ho-hum the editorial is. It certainly doesn't give much of a clue about her record, does it?

Dose of Sanity said...

@ Garage - even when the JS endorsed Walker, they still endorsed Feingold. Their attack on Johnson was pretty rough.

Carol_Herman said...

Obama probably picked a communist broad. What if this Nourse character is no better than kagan, or sotomayor? Wouldn't holding up the appointment be appropriate?

Yeah. Even if Orin Hatch gave her his "Good housekeeping seal of approval." I think you should really STOP before you confirm.

Odds favor this woman NOT being competent! Thugh I'm sure SUMI is jealous.

Anonymous said...

"Seems silly to me, on account of her nomination months prior to his election/swearing in."

That nomination ended when that session of Congress ended.

I don't know if he's doing this because he was snubbed by Obama. I don't know if he's doing this because she's a flaming left-winger. I don't care, either. Take a look at what the Democrats in the Senate did to Bush's nominees from 2003 - 2007 (when they were in the minority). How many Bush nominees did Senator Obama vote to filibuster? How many "blue slips" did Senator Obama support?

Life is an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. The best tactic for that is "tit for tat". The Democrats changed the rules in 2003. If they don't like it when those rules are used against them, that's a good thing. They can either stop warping the rules whenever they don't get their way, or they can continue getting the favor returned.

Ann Althouse said...

I try to stay out of politics.

roesch-voltaire said...

What do you expect from Johnson; this suits his level of state knowledge and ideological bent.

Sal said...

Her biography mentions Wisconsin only once - her current employer. Other than that, she's all over the place. She's definitely not a cheesehead.

Dose of Sanity said...

Ah, a lot of people seem to think this is a Dem v. Repub or Obama vs. Senate thing..

It should be noted that senators from both sides of the isle want this nomination, but Senator Johnson is the ONLY one stopping it.

Read the letter from 75+ law professors who served under both republican and democrat administrations. Pretty well sums it up.

Dose of Sanity said...

@ MarkG - She's not going to be sitting on a wisconsin-only court.

Sal said...

@ MarkG - She's not going to be sitting on a wisconsin-only court

Does the 7th Circuit include the east and west coasts? If so, then she is a local gal.

MadisonMan said...

no AC this week because of the water cooler problem.

It was pretty brutal late Monday. It's supposed to be better today, but I'm working at home, where there's also no a/c, but I have lots of fans and it's still reasonably cool in the house.

MadisonMan said...

Carol_Herman, I find your post a fascinating example of Write it, Believe it, It's True!!

How about some corroborating evidence?

The (ahem) bar for competence in a judge is not high. Is she breathing? Can she wear black robes? Can she read? That's enough.

Dose of Sanity said...

@ MadisonMan,

Don't bother with Carol, I think she's crazy. Not "tea party crazy", but "Barack Obama is really an alien" crazy.

Her posts are nonsensical and she can't make coherent thoughts.

Save time, I went down that road once.

wv: Stiff. Drink? Yes please.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Carol Herman said:

"Obama probably picked a communist broad."

Sounds likea good possibility- she went to Law School in Berkley, CA.

madAsHell said...

That's a nice picture on her CV.

She either has a bad case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, or she's an angry lesbian.

Here's some of the titles:

The Lost History of Governance and Equality

Can a A New World Order Yield A New Legal Theory?

Toward A Representational Theory of the Executive

Misunderstanding Congress: Statutory Interpretation, the Supermajoritarian Difficulty, and the Separation of Powers

The last title is usually abbreviated as WTF.

She will be an activist judge. She believes her thinking is superior to others. She has a background similar to Owe-bama.

She was probably over-gratified during potty training.

Trooper York said...

You should oppose anything Obama does on general purposes.

It can't be good.

Tim Lundquist said...

I am a recent graduate of UW Law, and was fortunate enough to take two classes from Prof. Nourse in the spring of 2011. She was a great teacher and lecturer, and her scholarship is apparently well regarded.

As to whether anybody in the WI legal community knows anything about her, I had never seen her or heard of her until the law school announced that she had been nominated to the Court of Appeals by the President.

I understand she had been away for some time as a visiting professor at different law schools, and maybe she had a more active presence at the law school before I matriculated.

Titus said...

Does she have nice tits?

Big Mike said...

@madAsHell, I beg to disagree -- that's the most tacked-on smile I've ever seen on a person.

If she was a mathematician being proposed for a high position that would look like an awfully thin CV. But I don't know what the standard is for a law school professor being proposed for a federal judgeship.

At any rate, "Trooper's Rule" has to apply.

traditionalguy said...

Senator Johnson is sending a message to the Madison Libs that their game is over.

Superdad said...

The principle is simple. Senators have always had the privilege of the blue slip on judicial nominees. They get used quite often for various reasons. Johnson's reasons are just as good as any others. So unless you are advocating for an end to the blue slip there really is no good argument against what Johnson has done. This women is tangentially connected to Wisconsin at best.

And to the good professors question - No law school faculty are not part of the legal community. Those of us that are practicing don't see you, we don't read what you right and you are largely irrelevant to our practices. I don't mean to offend but you are in the academic community not the legal community and there is a difference.

Sal said...

The more times I read her bio, the less impressed I am. It looks like she lives in a bubble.

Wouldn't it be nice if important judges had some life experience other than butterflying around legal academia?

I'm glad Johnson is opposing her.

chickelit said...

Superdad wrote: Those of us that are practicing don't see you, we don't read what you right and you are largely irrelevant to our practices.

Write on!

Ron said...

I've hit my red line on things Wisconsin.....What's the up on Montana? South Carolina? Vermont? Let's chat about those instead.

ndspinelli said...

Is the UW campus part of Wi.? I always thought it was like the Vatican.

traditionalguy said...

Nourse is a part of the network of legal revolutionary groups fighting the traditions of the legal system from within.

That is how and why she got picked for every job that she has had in Law Schools.

She helps raise the US News law school ratings because she is a leading edge Marxist and a woman too.

Johnson is a businessman who like Reagan knows who his enemy is from experience. It is the Marxists dressed up as scholars.

Sal said...

She used to work with/for Vice President Goofball. Is that why she was nominated? Is she really Biden's pick?

chickelit said...

Shouldn't the bench have a balance of practicing vs. teaching lawyers?

It's analogous to whether the American Academy of Sciences should be all academicians or should be tempered with scientists from industry.

This part of a larger fight happening in American politics with POTUS being Academician-in-Chief

I'm Full of Soup said...

ND Spinelli said:

"Is the UW campus part of Wi.? I always thought it was like the Vatican."

Heh and I bet the UW dweeb profs [present company excluded] have less sex than they do at the Vatican.

wv= spuede [what we do here]

Calypso Facto said...

Apparently, the University of Wisconsin Law School doesn't count as "the legal community in Wisconsin."

UW Madison and Wisconsin are indeed two completely different worlds.

sorepaw said...

Hmm... says on her page that Prof. Nourse drafted the Federal Violence against Women Act.

Part of which was later declared unconstitutional, right? (Nor that her web page would get into that.)

I'll bet her nomination was Joe Biden's idea.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Prof. Nourse worked for Joe Biden on the Senate Judiciarly Committee. If so, she must be something of an expert on stonewalling federal judiciary appointments.

Because the modern history of politicizing federal judicial appointments goes directly and inexorably to the Senate Judiciary Dems: Biden, Leahy, Kennedy, Durbin and Schumer. They OWN it.

My guess is that Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, and some other Judiciary Republicans told Sen. Johnson to do this, because they were there, when Senate Democrats disgracefully and malicously blocked the nomination of Miguel Estrada and too many others to list.

The old saying, used by Obama and practiced by his fellow Chicago machine pols -- "You don't bring a knife to a gun fight."

So please don't bother too much with what is so admirable about Prof. Nourse. Unless you are willing to talk about Miguel Estrada.

Chip S. said...

There seems to be this reflexive notion that eminent legal scholars make good judges. Is that true? I'm glad that Posner's on the bench, but I'm also glad that Tribe isn't. I presume that the lefties here feel just the opposite. So does any of this come down to anything more than choosing sides in the ongoing political struggle?

More generally, has anyone ever done a study of judges to see if there are any observable correlates (e.g., rank of school attended, trial experience) with subsequent performance (as measured by, say, the number of reversals or complaints to the bar association)?

If not, why not?

Calypso Facto said...

Heh and I bet the UW dweeb profs [present company excluded] have less sex than they do at the Vatican.

Actually, from those I know of quite the opposite. The profs are very busy screwing each other and their students. Gay and straight hook-ups, dating, marital infidelity, divorce and all the inherent intrigue are commonplace. As libidinous a culture as I've ever seen.

Mike said...

Meh--Order of the Coif at Boalt (and I was also Order of the Coif at Boalt long ago) and a District Court clerkship? Color me not impressed.

What you have here is someone who was staff counsel in Congress to Democrat politicians, and then had a middling good academic career.

Now one can argue whether or not connection with the non academic legal community in Wisconsin is a prerequisite for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. And your mileage may vary on that point. I don't see Ms. Nourse as a judicial titan for the ages. But she's at least "good enough".

And Ron Johnson has said "no". But then I've watched Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein hold up perfectly good judicial appointments in California. As long as we have these Neros (or in Boxer's case Zeros) on the Potomac things like this are going to happen.

sorepaw said...

*Not* that her web page would get into that...

A little payback to Joe Biden. Makes sense.

edutcher said...

Not knowing that much about the procedure, I wouldn't have thought connection to a region would have anything to do with being appointed to one of the Circus Courts. You're dealing with Federal issues, pretty much.

Dose of Sanity said...

Ah, a lot of people seem to think this is a Dem v. Repub or Obama vs. Senate thing..

Dose of Salts leaves out one important conflict - Lefty vs Conservative.

Couldn't possibly be that.

After all, Professor Nourse worked for Joe Biden.

It should be noted that senators from both sides of the isle want this nomination, but Senator Johnson is the ONLY one stopping it.

Cute. Both sides of the aisle?

As in "reaching across the aisle to my friends in the Democrat Party"?

Demos and RINOs?

Dose of Sanity said...

@ Edu


Superdad said...

Chicken Little - I wish there was a like button. Nicely played.

Thorley Winston said...

Apparently, the University of Wisconsin Law School doesn't count as "the legal community in Wisconsin." That says something. Let's talk about what.

Has she been actively teaching at the University of Wisconsin Law School during that time or is she just affiliated with them? I’m honestly asking because when I looked at her CV, it seems that during the time she was listed as being with the law school, most of the work she noted was done elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Just checking dates on the CV she has listed on her UW webpage -- she would have been at Ground Zero, working for Joe Biden on the Judiciary Committee at the time of the confirmation hearings on Justice Clarence Thomas.

If I were Ron Johnson, I wouldn't hold up her nomination. I'd schedule her confirmation hearing, put her under oath and cross-examine her about the Thomas confirmation and the illegal release of Thomas' FBI investigative file. My guess is that at some point, Prof. Nourse might actually have to decline to answer on Fifth Amendment grounds.

Dose of Sanity said...

@ Thomas

Yes, she has. In fact, some previous commentators mentioned they have taken courses with her.

Jeremy said...

Just another cog in the wheel of the "Party Of NO."

Anonymous said...

It's too close to November 2012 to confirm any federal judges.

Anonymous said...


One commentor mentioned taking a class from her. In 2011. From her CV:

2005-present Burrus-Bascom Professorship, University of Wisconsin
2010 Visiting Prof., Georgetown University
2008-09 LQC Lamar Professor of Law, Emory University

So 2008 - 2010 she wasn't at WI. She was first appointed 2010 or before, when she wasn't at WI. Now that she's waiting to get on the court, she appaently came abck to WI to kill time and teach some classes there.

Doesn't sound like much of a "connection to WI" to me.

edutcher said...

Jeremy said...

Just another cog in the wheel of the "Party Of NO."

As opposed to the Party of Destroy America and Its Constitution?

bagoh20 said...

I would vote for anybody from the Party of No, if there was such a thing.

No more money, no more taxes, no more regulations, no more government hiring, no more incentives, no more subsidies, no more departments, no more taxes, no more debt, no more bullshit, no, no, no!

It's telling that in the current fiscal situation, lefties think it's bad to say no, and it's great to throw out elected officials trying restrain the fiscal stupidity. It tells you all you need to know about who will not fix things, and how we got here.

Thorley Winston said...

I just found a copy of her judicial questionnaire. It says that she was employed by the University of Wisconsin Law School from 1993 to Present. Also at various times during that same time period she was employed by the Georgetown University Law Centre (2010 to present), Emory University Law School (2008 to 2010), New York University School of Law (2003 spring semester), Yale Law School (2002 fall semester), and the University of Maryland Law School (1996 to 1997) as a Visiting Professor of Law.

It also states under her bar memberships that she was a member of the New York City Bar Association and American Bar Association but never a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association.

She was admitted to practice in New York (and is still admitted to practice there) as well as the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fifth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits but was never admitted to practice in Wisconsin or the Seventh Circuit.

I do so see some connections to Wisconsin in terms of being affiliated with the law school (although it seems to be peppered with affiliations at other law schools primarily on the east coast) but she doesn’t appear to have any connection to the Wisconsin legal community while her roots are pretty much in New York (which she appears to have kept to a certain extent).

james conrad said...

LOL @ I try to stay out of politics.

Well,the fact is, the third branch of govt is up to its eyeballs in politics.

Anonymous said...

Thorley -- Good link. It might be easier to figure out when she HAS been working and residing in Wisconsin, as opposed to when she's been working and residing outside of the 7th Circuit altogether.

That she has never been admitted to the Bar in Wisconsin, nor admitted to practice before the 7th Circuit is not technically disqualifying for an appellate judge who will revie cases from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

But this comments thread is a pretty stark comeuppance for the sneering tone of the MJS editorial. Senator Johnson's quote, which the MJS ridiculed, is probably more true than the misleading and naive MJS editorial.

Sal said...

To her credit, we know that she's set foot inside the state of Wisconsin. Not sure about Illinois or Indiana though. She's probably been to O'Hare.

Joe said...

Why would it matter if an appelate judge has a connection to Wisconsin? Does the official costume for the 7th circuit involve cheese?

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

This statement is highly plausible and describes the ordinary situation.

Our local bar activities and local conferences barely interact with the two local Top 25 law schools.

Full time law professors and practicing attorneys (includingthose who teach) are completely differenct animals. The former are generic academics and less like attorneys.

David said...

It means that she has little connection to the practicing lawyers of the state, at least in Senator Johnson's opinion. Her background is academic. It's part of the trend that high level academia is the crucial qualification for appellate judicial work. I happen to think that is foolish, and that judges are more likely to be competent if they have a fair amount of non academic experience, not all of which must be legal experience.

Did she stay in her comfortable bubble and not engage with the dirt diggers of day to day lawyering? If so, she may regret that now.

David said...

Shorter answer: The lady would have preferred to be at Harvard or Yale and it shows?

David said...

"What you have here is someone who was staff counsel in Congress to Democrat politicians, and then had a middling good academic career."


Trooper York said...

Republicans should show the same level of deference and ocmity in treating the Presidents nominees that he did when deliberating on the nominees of President Bush.

Which is none at all.

chickelit said...

@Troop: Those hearings have become like a bad comity show.

A. Shmendrik said...

Nourse, I don't know.

But how about Gary Milholin? The guy has been in Washington running this Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, and occasionally lectures in Madison. I think he has Emeritus status on the UW Law faculty. Perhaps he was in Madison a lot before my time (1988-1994) but I sure missed him. He may be a prince of a gentleman, a great scholar and a fantastic bowler, but methinks his recent conection to Wisconsin (other than nominal status on the UW Law School faculty) is not great. Would that be a legitimate consideration if he were nominated to the Federal bench for Wisconsin?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Johnson is wary of anyone who has worked for Vice President Bite Me and who has a classic left wing paper trail. Could be.

SunnyJ said...

Senator Johnson has delivered the message on the floor of the Senate that the "disgusting" process of closed door meetings and crony decision making by Obama, Dems and Repubs will not be tolerated. And, until a time when they open the process, as promised by Obama, to transparency/TV hearings and open debate the people can hear...he will not go along with any appointments this President offers. He is doing everything he can to bring transparency to the decision making process and back so all of the people can hear and give comment to their reps. The appointments are as secretive as anything, as well as the issue with the lying that has been done before the conressional committees.

It's a big issue, investigations are ongoing...it involves the "Fast and Furious" issue, Judge Kagens involvement with Obamacare, and many more agencies and issues.

No open discussion, no debate, no transparency...no vote to approve.

sorepaw said...

Just another cog in the wheel of the "Party Of NO."

I'll bet Jeremy is thrilled that Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are making sure that the US Senate passes virtually no legislation this session.

And that the Senate has passed no budget for 2 years and counting.

This is how they're making sure that those awful bills coming out of the House have no chance of being enacted in law.

But no, this will never make Democrats the Party of No.

Jeremy must reserve that label for Republicans.

Titus said...

Does she like the Friday Night Fish Fry?

If not, not a real Wisconsinite.

Is she overly obese?

If not, not a real Wisconsinite.

How about her tits? What are those things like?

I want them really really big.

Skookum John said...

I am in favor of utter disregard for compromise, civility, or collegiality on federal judicial appointments. No Republican Senate, or even any Democratic Senate when there are 41 Republicans, should agree to confirm even low-level appointments by a Democratic president whenever a filibuster can be maintained.

The Democrats are in no position to complain about any of this, having invented scorched-earth tactics with Bork and Thomas.

foxlets14 said...

She's a lefty and shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a Federal court. Good for Senator Johnson!

Anonymous said...

she's at Wisconsin? How's her scholarship? What's she like as a person to work with?

Francisco D said...


The reason major WI newspapers did not endorse Ron Johnson is because he is not a leftie idealogue, like you(and right thing people like them).

Did you not understand this? My best guess is that you are either: (a) an idiot liberal or, (b) a paid hack. Option C is that you are a graduate student avoiding the dissertation work. (Was there 30 years ago during the Churchillian metamorphasis).

Mike said...

Someone wrote:

It should be noted that senators from both sides of the isle want this nomination, but Senator Johnson is the ONLY one stopping it.

Well folks, all it takes is one. And there are a plethora of judicial appointments over the years that have been held up by some Senator who is the ONLY one stopping. So deal with it and quit whining.

Ken said...

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, BetaOffer.com

Anonymous said...

Hey, Ken. Have it in 'ya.

sean said...

Mostly, I agree with what superdad said. (About the only commenter to have addressed Prof. Althouse's question.) In my experience, tax professors (I used to practice tax law full-time) are a bit of an exception: they are often at the same conferences as practitioners, they often have professional friendships with practitioners, etc.

I would guess (I could be wrong) that both Prof. Althouse and Prof. Nourse have not recently attended a conference with a significant number of practicing lawyers, and that neither has any friends who practice law in Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...

Woudn't it be interesting if Jeremy, Garbage, Ro-Vo, or the editors of the Journal-Sentinel were scheduled for cardiac surgery ... and found out that the surgeon had published several well-regarded overview articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the subject but had never actually performed the operation?