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Who Was the Fed Soc Heckler?:
During Attorney General Mukasey's speech at the Federalist Society annual banquet last Thursday, an older gentleman seated in the middle of the room stood up and yelled at the top of his lungs, "TYRANT! YOU ARE A TYRANT!" Some in the crowd told the man to sit down, and he eventually did. Soon after, he left the room.

  With word that the Attorney General has recovered from what apparently was just a fainting spell, blogospheric speculation has turned to identifying the heckler. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal was just a few tables away, and he made the case yesterday that the heckler was none other than Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders, who I have previously characterized as "one of the most libertarian state Supreme Court Justices." (For VC coverage of some of Sanders' recent solo opinions, see here and here.)

  At it happens, I was at the same table as Taranto, but I couldn't identify the heckler. At the same time, this post at the WSJ Law Blog this morning seems to be pretty strong evidence that Sanders was in fact the individual in question:
  The Law Blog on Monday caught up with [Justice Sanders]. Sanders didn't confirm that he was the one who shouted at Mukasey, but didn't deny it, either. He said he had "no comment except to say that having reviewed the video of the speech" on the Federalist Society's web site, "it doesn't appear that whatever was said was heard by [Attorney] General Mukasey. I left the dinner before the General unfortunately collapsed." He added that "in my mind a heckler is someone who is making repeated comments audible to the speaker [and] you'll see that that just didn't happen." . . . . When asked why he left the room in the middle of Mukasey's speech, Sanders told us he simply "wanted to go to my [hotel] room."
  Sanders, a Federalist Society member for several years, told the Law Blog: "Their war on terrorism is out of my professional department. We don't hear cases on that. In that respect, I'm a private citizen and I have my views."
  Looking on the bright side, I suppose this means Justice Sanders won't mind if you show up at one of his many speeches and stand and yell at him from the audience. At least if you do not do it "repeatedly."

  Hat tip: How Appealing.
jnet (mail):
You're correct that J. Sanders wouldn't mind if you show up at his speaking engagements and try to debate him from the audience - especially at social issue rallies held in front of a state capitol building. He loves that kind of thing, but it landed him in hot water with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.
11.25.2008 1:53pm
Gino:
That is certainly an interesting development.
11.25.2008 1:59pm
Cornellian (mail):
Bit of a judicial temperament issue, I would say.
11.25.2008 2:02pm
Ak Mike (mail):
What is with this business of referring to attorneys general as "General"? It seems to me that an attorney general is a kind of attorney, not a kind of general (like a sergeant major is a sergeant, not a major), but I have frequently heard this usage. Is it just an affectation, or is there some etymology behind it?
11.25.2008 2:03pm
JonC:
That has to be one of the worst and most transparent non-denial "denials" ever. If I were a Washingtonian, I'd feel embarrassed that this man sits on the state's highest court. Seems like another data point against judicial elections.
11.25.2008 2:05pm
Observer:
Truly appalling.
11.25.2008 2:07pm
hawkins:

If I were a Washingtonian, I'd feel embarrassed that this man sits on the state's highest court. Seems like another data point against judicial elections.


Concern for how the citizens of Washington feel about him would seem to be a data point in favor of judicial elections, no?
11.25.2008 2:08pm
AnonymousFederalist:
The NY FedSoc events always seem to have at least one "that guy" every time. There's some guy in loud plaid pants that goes on monologues during question time.
11.25.2008 2:10pm
Dave D. (mail):
..Certainly this doesn't constitute " good behaviour ", upon which Judge Sanders continued employment should depend. His weasel worded denial is self descriptive of his character.
11.25.2008 2:12pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
What some of our elected (and appointed) officials seem to forget is that you ARE your job, all day, every day. Just like folks in the military, although they seem to "get it" while those who are supposed to be the ones in charge (civilians) don't. Odd, eh?

Heck, military people will be tagged as military for the rest of their lives if they do something wrong. How many times have you heard, "John Doe, a Vietnam vet, is accused of..... blah, blah, blah" in the news? Well, this joker should realize it applies to him, as well. If he doesn't like it, resign!

I agree with you, I fully expect a judge to keep his opinions to himself, except in a courtroom where it is his/her job to render opinions. He is "never" a "civilian." Not anymore, anyway....... He signed that away when he accepted the appointment. My "opinion." :) :)
11.25.2008 2:14pm
c1:
The "tyrant" outburst was the second time that Sanders yelled something that night. He bellowed a word or two a few minutes earlier at the end of an applause line. The crowd noise drowned out whatever he said.

After the "tyrant" line, Sanders appeared very bewildered for about two minutes, as though he was not sure what had happened. He then appeared to become agitated before leaving the room. Whether his agitation was with himself, I cannot say.

The Justice might have had one too many drinks that night.
11.25.2008 2:20pm
titus32:
What a coward.
11.25.2008 2:24pm
Joe Hiegel:

What is with this business of referring to attorneys general as "General"?

You are not the only one is who irked by this usage, which, as you observe, follows from the understanding of the adjective as a noun; OK, for one, rightly questioned the practice here (a pretty good thread, one that anyone interested in the issue would do well to read).
11.25.2008 2:25pm
Kellen Kooistra:
Well, while I can't condone Justice Sanders' outburst during the speech, I would like to mention that his opinions are probably the most well reasoned, logically consistent of any of our current Justices. And I say that as someone who frequently disagrees with him. He is an extremely valuable member of the court and it would be a shame if his extra curricular activities got him in hot water with the electorate, causing him to lose his seat.
11.25.2008 2:29pm
R Nebblesworth:
You "should" never use quotation "marks" for "emphasis", in my "opinion".
11.25.2008 2:33pm
OKY:
Maybe this is a dumb question, but is the Attorney General a tyrant? Tyrant-esque? Or not?
11.25.2008 2:36pm
LA Denizen:
@R Nebblesworth:

You'll see he's quoting the original speech.
11.25.2008 2:37pm
MisterBigTop:
Justice Sander's denial is really pathetic, as is The Olympian's coverage of this incident. He says that he wasn't in the room when the AG collapsed, but he issues a no comment on the question of heckling. What does The Olympian write? It has an article and a blog post, one with the title, "State Justice says he wasn't at Mukasey's Speech" and the other with the title, "Justice Sanders says he didn't heckle A.G. during speech." Um, what? That's not what he said at all. He's playing word games. Hopefully that paper will do the right thing and change its articles to better fit reality.
11.25.2008 2:47pm
guest:
What he should have said:

Yeah, I did it, it was rude and I shouldn't have, I felt especially bad about it when I learned afterwards that he collapsed, I just want to apologize to AG Mukasey and wish him a speedy recovery, etc.

It's like people caught in these situations have a giant brain fog that keeeps them from saying/doing the right thing.
11.25.2008 2:49pm
R Nebblesworth:
Well, I "guess" I'm a "huge" "idiot".
11.25.2008 2:50pm
therut (mail):
Shameful and childish. Much like our society today.
11.25.2008 2:51pm
MisterBigTop:
To add to my previoius post, The Olympian's coverage made no mention of his dodging the question by playing word games over heckling. They simply said that he denied being there when he collapsed and issued the equivalent of a no comment on the question of heckling. From that, they got the two headlines I posted. Poor journalism on The Olympian's part.
11.25.2008 2:59pm
MisterBigTop:
Also, while I don't agree with everything Mukasey supports, if he were a real tyrant in the sense that Sanders apparently means, then the Justice would have been silenced and punished for his outburst by now.
11.25.2008 3:01pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
There are so many definitions for "general" one wonders a bit. Could the title simply be intended to mean:
across-the-board, all-around, all-embracing, all-inclusive, catholic, comprehensive, extensive, far-reaching, generic, global, inclusive, infinite, limitless, miscellaneous, overall, panoramic, sweeping, taken as a whole, total, ubiquitous, unconfined, universal, unlimited, or worldwide?

And have nothing whatsoever to do with a quasi-military rank?
11.25.2008 3:08pm
Michael B (mail):
Interesting though not surprising, almost predictable.
11.25.2008 3:10pm
Sk (mail):
A judge should be better than that blah blah blah.

If you give a speech at a university today, and you are either conservative or controversial, you can expect to be heckled at least during part of the speech.

If you are invited to testify before congress, and are conservative, military, or controversial in some way, you can expect the proceedings to be disrupted.

These two are so commonplace as to be expected-if, at colleges, you aren't heckled in some way, it would be evidence of passivity or indifference on the part of the student body.

If you attend a musical performance, you probably have a 50% likelihood of being lectured on your political views.

If you attend a professional lecture, you have a similar likelihood (I once went to a medical lecture by a visiting doctor at a medical college, and was told how to vote on immigration during the introduction).

The judge may have been wrong, but he wasn't uniquely, or shockingly, wrong. He was obeying the cultural norm of our times. I'm frankly kind of glad an old conservative (or libertarian) guy in a stodgy profession has the cahunas to act like he really cares. About the only profession that still has an old-fashioned sense of dignity is the military, and I wish they'd grow a pair as well.

Sk
11.25.2008 3:18pm
Happyshooter:
A good question on Titles.

If the Attorney General is an Attorney, and the Surgeon General is a Surgeon...Why is the Major General a general and not a Major?
11.25.2008 3:19pm
Just John:
Kellen Kooistra: Could you clarify why, if his opinions are well reasoned and logically consistent, do you disagree with them? Do you disagree with the law in his cases but agree that, as long as they are the law, he is right to uphold them? Or something else? (Not being snide, just interested!)

Not to be cavalier either, but this whole situation (happily resolved, it turns out) could be easily translated into a political thriller, where a hapless judge is talked into shouting at a speaker in order to distract from an assassin with a blowdart.
11.25.2008 3:19pm
AntonK (mail):
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds.]
11.25.2008 3:28pm
Melancton Smith:
Decorum issues aside, the dog in question's spots are plain for all to see.
11.25.2008 3:28pm
MisterBigTop:
"The judge may have been wrong, but he wasn't uniquely, or shockingly, wrong. He was obeying the cultural norm of our times. I'm frankly kind of glad an old conservative (or libertarian) guy in a stodgy profession has the cahunas to act like he really cares. About the only profession that still has an old-fashioned sense of dignity is the military, and I wish they'd grow a pair as well. "

Yes, please, let's end all "sense of dignity" and have nothing but shouting and heckling. It's real courageous to shout down speakers when you will suffer no retaliation. *snicker*

When the punks do it during conservative speeches at universities, it's disgusting because it's a sign that they can't stand to hear the words of anyone that they don't already agree with, but it's at least excusable because they're young and have no sense of having to live in the real world which is not some utopia of leftist groupthink. When a sitting judge does it, he has no such excuse, and it's a sign that he's a little off his rocker.
11.25.2008 3:31pm
Jospeh P. Blow (mail):
Happyshooter,

Because general in Attorney and Surgeon General is an adjective referring to the area of expertise whereas the general in Major General is a noun and the major is the adjective referring to the type of general. I think.
11.25.2008 3:32pm
Rod Blaine (mail):
> Justice Richard B Sanders, ... previously characterized as "one of the most libertarian state Supreme Court Justices."

Taranto at WSJ noted that Saunders seems to hold very strongly anti-abortion views. Which is not inherently inconsistent with libertarian principle (vide Paul and Hentoff) - especially for libertarians whose lodestar is "opposition to non-defensive violence", as opposed to libertarians whose lodestar is "opposition to governmental coercion" - but is certainly a minority position within Actually Existing Libertarianism. Intriguing.
11.25.2008 3:34pm
Anon21:
Dave D:
..Certainly this doesn't constitute " good behaviour ", upon which Judge Sanders continued employment should depend. His weasel worded denial is self descriptive of his character.

He is not a federal judge, and neither the phrase "good behaviour" nor any variants on it appear in Washington's state constitution. If Sanders is opposed for re-election, his opponent will be free to bring this incident to voters' attention.
11.25.2008 3:34pm
Freer:
Attorney General and Surgeon General are military in origen and therefore like the Major General, all are Generals.
11.25.2008 3:35pm
JonC:

About the only profession that still has an old-fashioned sense of dignity is the military, and I wish they'd grow a pair as well.


I'm chuckling thinking about the probable response of anyone who's ever actually served in the military being told to their face that they haven't "grown a pair" because they don't heckle in public in a regular basis.
11.25.2008 3:36pm
Frater Plotter:
The term "attorney general" is not military in origin. It does not refer to a general (officer) who is an attorney. It is, rather, a perfectly ordinary noun phrase ... in French. "Attorney" is the noun and "general" the adjective.

An "attorney general" is an attorney employed to handle all of his client's legal affairs, as opposed to an attorney special or particular, who is employed for a specific case. See, e.g., this article by William Safire.

A military general was originally a "captain-general", or the captain of a whole army. As above, "general" was an adjective, but became a noun when the "captain-" part was dropped.

In both cases, the adjective "general" denotes broad authority: the captain-general has authority over all the King's soldiers, and the attorney-general has authority over all the King's legal affairs.
11.25.2008 3:47pm
Litigator-London:
Both titles in the US usage were inherited from the English practice where the two chief law officers were and still are HM Attorney-General and HM Solicitor-General (incidentally both usually members of the bar rather than solicitors). Both positions go to members of either house who are also qualified lawyers. The Solicitor-General is simply the Attorney-General's deputy. Both concern themselves primarily with giving legal advice to the cabinet when asked and superintending the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and other prosecutors (i.e, the prosecution side of the criminal justice system).

There used to be a tradition that the Attorney-General always led for the Crown when a murderer was prosecuted, that tradition is happily no longer with us as quite a number of them were not particularly good on their feet.

UK Government civil litigation is handled by the Treasury Solicitor although some of the bigger departments have their own solicitor's department.

In Court the Judge addresses the AG as "Mr Attorney" (i.e we drop the "general" part of the title of the office while SCOTUS seems to adopt the converse practice.
11.25.2008 3:51pm
SamT:
General, in the military, comes from the fact that they are an officer over all forces(calvary, artillary, infantry). Whereas, General in this sense, comes from the fact that they are the chief legal officer of the state.

Either way, "General," is a proper reference. BTW, The Postmaster General is also a General.
11.25.2008 4:01pm
whit:
justice sanders is the most "anti-police" justice i have ever seen.

i read at least a summary of every WA supreme court case and sanders is incredibly predictable. he sells himself as a libertarian, but i think that's a stretch.

i cannot remember ANY decision he has ever made that was not anti-state/police and pro-defendant when it comes to search/seizure, miranda, etc.

in that respect, he is very reliable.

very predictable.
11.25.2008 4:04pm
Reg Dunlop:
SamT you are correct, as is affirmed at 1:07 of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nKlzQo3Wqo

I was not at the same table as Taranto; having RSVPd only the day before I was so far in the back that Sanders was almost out of breath by the time he stomped by.

A shameful performance.
11.25.2008 4:09pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
JonC: "...I'm chuckling thinking about the probable response of anyone who's ever actually served in the military being told to their face that they haven't "grown a pair" because they don't heckle in public in a regular basis...."

I was going to avoid it, but since you mentioned it..... I suppose he thinks that we should heckle the Commander-in-Chief if we don't like what he says, right? Let's see..... what's that called? Can we say "insubordination?" Sure we can! Grow a pair, indeed.
11.25.2008 4:13pm
MCM (mail):
FWIW: I think that's exactly his point. People in the military have a strongly cultivated sense of respect for, and obedience to, "authority".
11.25.2008 4:17pm
krs:
The irony is that Mukasey's speech was criticizing people who level generic epithets at the Bush administration and expect to be taken seriously. From the speech:

For example, earlier this year, the head of a legal organization that prides itself on what it calls its "nonpartisan approach to the law" gave a speech condemning what he called "the oppressive, relentless, and lawless attack by our own government on the rule of law and our liberty." According to this person, we live now in a -- "time of repression" where the "word 'Patriot' names a statute that stifles liberty," and where we face "assaults by our government on constitutional rights, the Separation of Powers, and the Geneva Conventions." You can practically hear the rumble of tanks in the background.
It is interesting -- and telling -- that even in the published, written version of these remarks by a lawyer, the references and footnotes are not to statutory texts, the Constitution, treaties, or laws. Instead, the author relied on such authorities as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books. This style of criticism can be called many things -- provocative perhaps, or evidence that the author could be regarded by some as well-read -- but what it cannot be called is a reasoned legal critique.

I don't recall at exactly what point Mukasey was interrupted, but I seem to recall it was somewhere around that part, as if to prove Mukasey's point.

I'm not against dissent, and I don't think Judge Sanders deserves any sanction other than general ridicule or scorn. The reaction from the crowd was appropriate--no violence, no restraint, just admonitions to sit down and shut up.

But it seems clear that the heckler was him.

The actual quotes from him say only that he wasn't there when Mukasey collapsed (which was several minutes after the interruption), not that he wasn't at the speech at the beginning or that he wasn't the one who stood up and heckled.
11.25.2008 4:31pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
MCM: Of course they (we) do, you are absolutely right. That would be especially true of insubordinate behavior, like heckling the pres while on active duty. Moreover, we are sworn to "..... obey the orders of the president of the united states and ....." Heckling him would be disrespectful in the extreme which is, in and of itself, a direct violation of an order. :) :)

Actually, I like to think that we have learned how to express ourselves in a way that doesn't require heckling. I think the poster in question would be surprised at how candid conversations can be between our political leaders and those men and women in uniform (under the proper circumstances, of course). I had a couple of those candid discussions with a certain VP who was the Secretary of Defense towards the end of my career. No, that didn't end my career, it was just great timing :) Actually, despite the fact that he likely didn't want to hear what I (and others) said, the discussion was amazingly cordial, as one would hopefully expect.
11.25.2008 4:31pm
krs:
Better excerpt here:

I focus on these types of criticisms not because they are so extraordinary, but because they are unfortunately so typical of people who substitute their policy views for any serious legal analysis and who would turn a good-faith legal disagreement into a battle over the purported existence or non-existence of the rule of law. The irony, of course, is that the law requires a serious analysis of text, precedent, and history, and it does not serve the rule of law to substitute a smug sense of outrage for that kind of analysis.
11.25.2008 4:32pm
Waldensian (mail):

Shameful and childish. Much like our society today.

Except for the thousands and thousands of young (and not so young!) volunteers overseas right now fighting vicious enemies at their society's request, you mean.

I think people who broadly and reflexively trash "today's society" are unpatriotic and un-American. Not to mention utterly unoriginal.
11.25.2008 4:33pm
FredM:
"It does not refer to a general (officer) who is an attorney."

No. It refers to an Attorney who is a General.
11.25.2008 4:39pm
Anderson (mail):
What is with this business of referring to attorneys general as "General"?

Better than "tyrant," anyway.

I've been disappointed with Mukasey, but of all the Bushies to call a "tyrant," he's pretty far down the list. "Lackey" would've been a better term, if one were going to heckle in the first place (which I am not a fan of).
11.25.2008 4:50pm
Jonathan F.:
Attorney General and Surgeon General are military in origen and therefore like the Major General, all are Generals.
Actually, the Surgeon General of the United States is a vice admiral.
Either way, "General," is a proper reference. BTW, The Postmaster General is also a General.
As usual, Seinfeld has this one covered: "In addition to being a postmaster, I'm a general. And we both know it's the job of a general to by God get things done. So maybe you can understand why I get a little irritated when somebody calls me away from my golf."
No. It refers to an Attorney who is a General.
Fixed that for you.
11.25.2008 4:58pm
CJColucci:
Why is the Major General a general and not a Major?

And why does a Lieutenant General outrank a Major General when a Major outranks a Lieutenant?
11.25.2008 5:09pm
Crust (mail):
krs, it looks like Mukasey was being disingenuous when he said:
It is interesting -- and telling -- that even in the published, written version of these remarks by a lawyer, the references and footnotes are not to statutory texts, the Constitution, treaties, or laws. Instead, the author relied on such authorities as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books.
The speech in question was given by Michael Traynor to the American Law Institute. The transcript has no references or footnotes of any kind. The phrases "Times", "Post" and "New York Review" do not appear anywhere in the transcript.
11.25.2008 5:17pm
FredM:
''No. It refers to an Attorney who is General.
Fixed that for you.''

So, you call him general, too.
11.25.2008 5:28pm
Lewis Maskell (mail):
And why does a Lieutenant General outrank a Major General when a Major outranks a Lieutenant?

As I understand it the rank was originally Sergeant-Major General, but that the sergeant was eventually dropped.
11.25.2008 5:34pm
microtherion (mail):
It's good to see Prof. Kerr take such a principled stand on civility. I'm sure that if someone ever were to fart at a waterboarding, the world could count on him to condemn this outrage in no uncertain terms.

{OK Comments: ?]
11.25.2008 5:41pm
AJS (mail) (www):
I can report that Justice Sanders did confirm that he was indeed the heckler at the Mukasey speech, even if only through hearsay evidence.

I attended a Federalist Society leadership dinner following the events of the last day of the convention. Justice Sanders and another Washington Supreme Court justice were seated at my table. I did not speak to Justice Sanders during the course of the evening. After all the others at our table had left, I spoke with one of the gentlemen seated next to Sanders throughout the dinner. After we talked about other matters, this gentleman told me that one of the first things he had brought up at the beginning of his conversation with Sanders was the issue of the heckler, to which Sanders reportedly replied, "That was me." As I understand it, the subject was dropped at that point.

Again, I did not hear this conversation myself. I wonder if it is cloaked with sufficient indicia of reliability...
11.25.2008 5:42pm
Michael B (mail):
If anyone has a link to a Sanders piece that illuminates his views on the judiciary, Libertarianism, tyranny, Mukasey's purported role in the support of "tyranny," government in general, etc., it might prove interesting. I looked.

As a Supreme and one given to heckling, one might hope he'd simply volunteer such a piece for the sake of transparency and being willing to submit to a thoroughgoing vetting.
11.25.2008 5:50pm
M:
I wonder what people will heckle a real tyrant with when one shows up? I think some folks have defined that word down a bit. No matter. Heckling won't be allowed then anyway.
11.25.2008 5:53pm
Dave N (mail):
Again, I did not hear this conversation myself. I wonder if it is cloaked with sufficient indicia of reliability...
Not for a court of law. Certainly for a blog post.
11.25.2008 5:54pm
Anderson (mail):
Anyone interested in the side issue of whether Mukasey was telling the truth in his speech, as opposed to the more interesting issue of the heckler's identity, may wish to check out Scott Horton's analysis.

To be sure, Mukasey is characterizing events he wasn't present during; but he doesn't seem to have been very curious about finding out what happened.
11.25.2008 6:15pm
KenB (mail):
ForWhatItsWorth says: "military people will be tagged as military for the rest of their lives if they do something wrong"

Absolutely, and especially if you were in the Marine Corps. That some malefactor may have once been in the Corps always seems relevant to the press.
11.25.2008 6:29pm
Jonathan F.:
So, you call him general, too.
Well played!
11.25.2008 6:34pm
Bleepless:
Some background on Richard Don't-Call-Me-Dick Sanders:
The first time he rose above the law school background noise was in the lounge when he started waving his Youth for Wallace membership card and denouncing LBJ as a Communist. The second was his answer to a fellow 2L about the ideal American government: a dictatorship headed by Ayn Rand. Humor? Perhaps. With Sanders, it frequently has been difficult to tell.
While predictable, his judicial opinions at least have been arguable, relying more upon ambiguities than upon ex nihilo invention.
11.25.2008 6:43pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
To KenB, Semper Fi :)
11.25.2008 6:49pm
Kazinski:
Why were they serving alcohol if they expected people to behave like they are in church?

Sanders is quite libertarian, and while I disagree with him about Mukasey, I still will vote for him when he comes up for re-election again. In Washington, Sander's strong pro-gun stance makes him popular east of the Cascades, and calling any Bush cabinet officer a tyrant will earn him lots of votes west of the Cascades.
11.25.2008 6:56pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Anon21, thank's for the tip. Washington State judges do not serve, as federal judges do, under a requirement of good behaviour. I looked it up. Justice Sanders may retain his job despite his jerkdom.
11.25.2008 7:09pm
OrinKerr:
Kazinski comments: "Why were they serving alcohol if they expected people to behave like they are in church? "

This question seems to assume (a) that Sanders did what he did because he was drunk, (b) the Federalist Society is to blame for him being drunk, and (c) the only time people don't act like this is at church. I guess I have more of a sense of individual responsibility than that, but maybe I am alone in having that view.
11.25.2008 7:46pm
Kazinski:
Michelle Malkin says on her site that Sanders (who she knows personally) confirmed to the Seattle times that he was the heckler:


In the initial days after the event, Sanders, when questioned by other reporters, danced around whether he was the person who shouted at Mukasey. He wouldn't confirm it, nor would he deny it.

But on Tuesday, Sanders told The Seattle Times that he'd simply reached the point where he couldn't remain silent.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine there would be any mention of this in the press," he said. "But here we are."

The state's Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to be "dignified" toward those they deal with "in their official capacity."

Asked if his outburst might violate that code, Sanders said: "Well, it's so open-ended and vague, maybe someone would think that it could apply. I don't know. I think it's a free-speech activity. In my mind this had nothing to do with my role as a judge."
11.25.2008 7:48pm
Kazinski:
Orin:
The answer is C:

the only time people I don't act like this is at church.

And I don't go to church. I don't know about Sanders church going habits. But let me tell you, the Justices on Washington's Supreme court certainly can drink:

Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge was arrested on charges of drunken driving and hit-and-run Friday after leaving the scene of an accident about a mile from her home in the Magnolia neighborhood, according to the Seattle Police Department.

At 10:30, about an hour after the crash, the jurist's blood alcohol level was tested at .219 and .227 at a precinct office of the Seattle Police. Moss said officers did a background check on Bridge and confirmed it was her first drinking and driving offense before letting her go.
11.25.2008 7:57pm
twv (mail) (www):
It interests me that on matters of vital concern, and diverging opinion, most people here think it OK to interrupt a speech with applause, but deem it a great breach of etiquette to shout "Tyrant."

The shouter, in this case, no more interrupted the speech than the applauders did.

Had the shouter continued at length, then he could be said to be heckling, and disruptive. But one outburst, or two, is no more disruptive than applause is.

It is possible that we live in "too nice" a time. And, from what I can tell, Mukasey's speech could be characterized as a very clever cover for tyrannical practice. He belittled opponents' attacks on Bush admin civil liberties practices, on questions of how they go about making the attacks. Interesting. But Sanders apparently saw it as cover, and was appalled at the audience going along. So he made his little protest.

I probably wouldn't have done the same. I would have gone home and written a blog post dissecting the speech. But few would have read it. Justice Sanders at least got his opinion out to more people.

For my part, I do not applaud speakers during speeches. I consider this a vile, herdish behavior that diminishes the intellectual appraisal of the speech's content. It turns it into a kind of groupthink exercise that itself justifies outbursts like "boo" and "hiss," not to mention more Sandersian epithets.
11.25.2008 10:18pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Kazinski comments: "Why were they serving alcohol if they expected people to behave like they are in church? "


This question seems to assume (a) that Sanders did what he did because he was drunk, (b) the Federalist Society is to blame for him being drunk, and (c) the only time people don't act like this is at church. I guess I have more of a sense of individual responsibility than that, but maybe I am alone in having that view.


You're not alone, I've been to a number of professional and company-sponsored events where alcohol was served and people are expected to conduct themselves as adults and if they chose to drink, to drink in moderation. Even if they don't, inebriation is neither a defense nor an excuse for anything that they say or do.
11.26.2008 1:13pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It interests me that on matters of vital concern, and diverging opinion, most people here think it OK to interrupt a speech with applause, but deem it a great breach of etiquette to shout "Tyrant."


Yeah it's almost like most people think that when you're attending an event with an invited guest speaker, that there's a difference between polite applause and yelling epitaphs at him from the audience.

I think it's called "manners."
11.26.2008 1:17pm
Dave2 (mail):
Yelling "epitaphs"?
11.26.2008 1:42pm
twv (mail) (www):
So, you'd be polite to a Marxist defending the liquidation of the kulaks? A defender of sharia law as it could apply to the U.S.? Interesting.

If manners allows a crowd of Americans to consistently sanction the undermining of the rule of law, then perhaps manners should sometimes be abridged. Some things are more important than politeness.

I'm not saying I would have done it. I'm not saying that the AG is a tyrant. But, considering what the Bush admin has been allowed to get away with, I am more than open to a few shouts of opposition. The road to hell being paved with good intentions, and manners being the most obvious expression of good intentions in everyday life, perhaps we should see that manners -- in the sense of "always being polite" -- is no sure standard.
11.26.2008 3:26pm
Bill McGonigle (www):
I think Justice Sanders knows something I don't know; perhaps it's worth looking into.

If he had to get a little captain in him to let us know, so be it. Or maybe that's an excellent excuse.
11.26.2008 5:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
thorley:

yelling epitaphs at him


Depending on things we might learn in the future, it's possible that Mukasey (and others) could indeed end up with epitaphs not too different from the epithet issued by Sanders.
11.27.2008 6:12pm

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