July 11, 2014

"I care deeply about federal judicial transparency, I don’t see much of that and if I quit [blogging] there would be even less of it..."

"... and none of it from federal district judges. The implicit assumption of the thoughtful lawyer who wrote me is that mystery and mythology are better for the legal profession and the judiciary than transparency, particularly when the transparency revealed is raw. I profoundly disagree."

Writes Federal District Judge Richard Kopf, who has decided to reject the advice that he stop blogging.

We talked his contemplation of quitting here — which came, you may remember, after he blogged that the Supreme Court should "stfu" — and the new post links to that post of mine, which he characterized as "critical."

29 comments:

Basil said...

He should not quit blogging. He sounds like the typical left wing childish bloggers like garage. What he should do is stop being a federal judge. If he does not resign, the Supreme Court should sanction him and he should be impeached.

Interesting legal question-was a senior status federal judge be impeached?

Moose said...

I'd really like it if people in positions of authority would perhaps realize their influence is much greater than other peoples an act that way.

Emil Blatz said...

Having a life appointment is a sweet thing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I don't think he should stop blogging. I think he should retire from judging. Not because he said stfu, or because he is shining a light on the federal judiciary, but because he is a poor thinker and is badly biased.

Bob Ellison said...

The man doesn't know a comma from a semicolon. Perfect for a federal judge.

tola'at sfarim said...

he doth protest to much
the issue was with him being an ass. not the blogging itself

Richard Dolan said...

There is nothing inherently problematic about a judge's blogging. Posner did it for quite some time with Becker, and their back-and-forth, usually framed in terms of economics rather than law, was always worth a read. Transparency, too, is a worthy goal for a blogger, and essential when it comes to governmental affairs. Without it, there is no reason to trust that what any given gov'tal actor is doing conforms to what it should be doing.

But 'transparency' is not served by idiotic comments that the SCOTUS should 'stfu.' Nor is much gained by silly generalities trying to fit the SCOTUS into some political framework of left/right. Prof Tribe (a well know lefty prof at HLS) took a shot at an MSNBC talking head last week who was making that pitch, and noted that nothing is accomplished by reducing a very complex dynamic at the SCOTUS to a preposterous political caricature.

If Judge Kopf is focused on transparency in the judiciary, the fact is that the main guarantor of 'transparency' in the conduct of judicial affairs is that judges must explain their decisions, typically by writing an opinion setting forth their reasons. When the SCOTUS acts on the merits in any case today, it almost always explains its reasons (as do any dissenters) in a detailed written opinion. That was not always the situation, as the Court in the past has sometimes decided an appeal with a single word "affirmed"), and Justice Douglas (to give but one example) was famous for dissenting in tax cases but not writing an opinion to say why. Over time, the courts have moved in the direction of greater transparency, not less, and in that are probably unique among governmental actors.

Judicial opinions are, of course, fair game for criticism. And there is a long history of framing those critiques in terms of the judges' biases, prejudices, cultural assumptions and the like - not just from today's academic Crits, but from judges themselves (Jerome Frank's Courts on Trial comes to mind, for instance).

If that's what Judge Kopf has in mind, fine and dandy. But if his contribution will continue in the "Scotus should stfu" vein, he would be better off taking his own advice and stfu.

DKWalser said...

Blogging by a federal judge, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. It's the manner in which the blogging is done that makes it good or bad.

In this case, it's Koph's intemperate tone that's the problem. He may want to let his hair down -- using the profanity he might with a close friend over drinks at a bar. That kind of "transparency" is not apt to be beneficial. Offering candid comments on the kinds of issues that must be considered in reaching a conclusion is apt to be beneficial.

MadisonMan said...

STFU in the context of his original blog post was okay, I guess, given that he wants the SCOTUS to stop taking on so many controversial cases.

But would he say the same thing if the cases were decided in ways that aligned with his own way of thinking? That is what he should be blogging about -- his biases and how they color his views on law and blogging.

Could he be cruelly neutral?

FWIW, I didn't find the althouse post on his STFU critical so much as gently mocking.

Phil 3:14 said...

Theodoric of York: [ steps toward the camera ] Wait a minute. Perhaps she's right. Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly folow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a "scientific method". Maybe this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning: the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation. Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance! [ thinks for a minute ] Naaaaaahhh!

lgv said...

Nice comment Emil...

There is this presumption that a judge will be of a certain temperament, being both fair and analytical in judging issues. By posting to his blog, Kopf simply shows the world that is he is none of that.

It is no different than physicians, professors, and business leaders. We this preconceived notion of their aptitude and temperament. Reality is much different. Sometimes it is better to not let the world know. Kind of like a good sausage, eh?

Danno said...

Judge Kopf is quite obviously a Dummkopf. STFU is not a reasoned opinion that you might expect from a judge.

averagejoe said...

He should blog more about the lawyer babes with the tight skirts and ample bosoms, and throw in some pics too, maybe some up-skirt POV, that stuff really goes viral. He can call the blog "Wolf Whistles from the Bench". Don't worry, he's a democrat party member so no #WarOnWomen accusations will ensue, the boot-lick progressive media will blackout and whitewash criticism, and as a defender of abortions, NOW will offer him their full-throated support.

MayBee said...

You go, Judge Richard Kopf.
Let your blog flag fly. Nobody can stop you from livin' your life out loud.

tim maguire said...

MadisonMan, I sort of agree. Today's follow-up post led me to visit the judge's blog and the find the "stfu" post. It wasn't quite so bad as it sounds when you pull that term out and let it stand alone. He is making a valid point that the Supreme Court should be more careful with issues that divide the nation (that's one of the complaints against Roe v. Wade--it short circuited a vital public debate and prevented that debate from resolving itself; leading to decades of resentment that has no clear outlet).

But that's as far as my "sort of" goes. A federal judge needs to maintain decorum and dignity. Judge Kopf, with his too cute by half, "as the kids say, stfu" showed poor judgment, less dignity, and no decorum.

David said...

Pardon me Judge for thinking that you knew all along that this was your conclusion, and you were just setting us up.

But transparency is good. Now I know for sure that you are a publicity seeking bullshit artist.

Good luck to the litigants in your court.

Smilin' Jack said...

The implicit assumption of the thoughtful lawyer who wrote me is that mystery and mythology are better for the legal profession and the judiciary than transparency, particularly when the transparency revealed is raw. I profoundly disagree.

Transparency isn't revealed, it reveals. And aside from poor writing skills, this judge has poor judgment. Mystery and mythology are certainly better for the legal profession and the judiciary than transparency. For a thousand years the Catholic Church ruled the world, but then the Bible was translated and common people started seeing what was really in it....

The Crack Emcee said...

Fuck 'em if they can't take a post.

*ducks*

Fritz said...

What a scheisskopf.

Alex said...

Judge to Supreme Court: 'STFU'

Here's a sample of comments that agree with Judge Kopf:

kennethnewman • a day ago
HOW REFRESHING!!!! A federal judge with a mouth. WOW!!!! Yes, its true that a court filled with Catholic raised men , plus one southern Baptist? , voted and wrote an opinion that screwed woman out of their choice of whether to have various birth control options available. What's worse, is that this court seems to just be taking the country back into the 18th century.

Alex said...

The upshot for liberals is this:

The next time a GOP President gets in and gets a SCOTUS appointment, the pressure will be on to not appoint a white, male Catholic.

CWJ said...

"Fuck 'em if they can't take a post.

*ducks*"

Then is surprised when nothing really happens.

This is just my prediction. We'll find out when the next batch of comments come through moderation?

hombre said...

Egomania much, Judge?

mccullough said...

His writing is boring, like Nebraska.

James H said...

I do have some concerns as someone as provocative as the Judge he is going to write while having cancer and from what I understand doing some chemo treatments

I wish I I could find this article again by a writer that commented on the NRO John Derbyshire firing. The writer of that article , like Derbyshire at his firing , had at one time battled cancer and had done chemo.

He mentioned how after going through chemo one would just become in a way detached from work. In his case it seemed like his internal censor was not at times operating.

I have seen that in other cases too with loved ones going through chemo.

Maybe the Judge will not have that problem but his STFU post has me wondering.

Again

gbarto said...

I like it when the general public has the chance to find out people in positions of authority are just as likely to be idiots as anyone else. Whether it's government, generically, or the judiciary specifically, thinking that anyone ought be mistaken as more uniquely qualified to set the terms of our lives than us, ourselves, is the kind of thinking that we need to be prodded to reexamine.

Mark said...

I love how people criticize him for poor thinking by throwing out petty insults and angry comments. Does a lovely job at showing who is actually the lazy thinkers here.

Often the only redeeming part of this blog is Althouse, as few comments use a quarter of the intellect or thoughtfulness she puts in. Perhaps he is referring to the drivel in the comments ....

richard mcenroe said...

"I love how people criticize him for poor thinking by throwing out petty insults and angry comments.

You can't blame them for being upset. That sort of thing is virtually unheard of on the Internet...

richard mcenroe said...

Went for Jury Duty once.
The Court officer is interviewing the pool, giving those who want out their chance to pitch their excuse.

One oldtimer stood up and said, "I need to be excused because I'm legally blind, completely deaf in one ear, I'm partially deaf in the other, and I suffer from narcolepsy."

The Court officer allowed as he might have a case. I piped up, "forget jury duty, this man is judge material!"

When the laughter died down, the Court officer said, "Wait, why am I laughing? I work for these people!"