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Law Professors Opposing Supreme Court Nominations:
In 2005, 160 law professors penned a letter to Senators Specter and Leahy stating their opposition to John Roberts' confirmation. The letter concluded, "On the existing record, we do not believe that Judge Roberts warrants a lifetime seat on our nation's highest court, and we urge the Senate to withhold its consent to his confirmation."

  In 2006, over 500 law professors signed a similar letter opposing Samuel Alito's confirmation. It concluded, "Based on his fifteen-year record on the bench, we believe that Judge Alito would reshape the law in ways that make our country less equal and less free. We urge you to reject the nomination of Judge Alito nomination to the Supreme Court."

  Any guesses as to whether there will be a similar letter this time, and how many law professors will sign it?
J. Aldridge:
Did they oppose Miguel Estrada by chance?
5.26.2009 6:45pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
1. Yes
2. 47
5.26.2009 6:45pm
wm13:
Very few law professors will sign such a letter this time, because most law professors are partisan ideologues.

The more interesting question is how many law professors who signed those prior letters will write or say that the Senate should not consider Judge Sotomayer's political opinions in evaluating her fitness for the Supreme Court. Those are the ones who are not just partisan ideologues, but unprincipled hacks. There are a lot of them, too.
5.26.2009 6:47pm
Terrivus:
Yes. It will read:

"We object to the nomination of this safe, reliably liberal, but generally undistinguished pick. You could have shot for the moon; instead you made a politically driven choice designed to appeal to certain electoral groups. You implied you wanted to nominate someone who could go toe-to-toe intellectually with the court's conservatives and be able to forge a consensus that would win over Justice Kennedy; instead you nominated someone with a reputation for mediocrity in her opinions and nastiness from the bench. Instead of swinging for the fences, you laid down a bunt. But don't worry, we've still got your back. Who else would we vote for?"
5.26.2009 6:47pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
No law professor my law school would sign it. All they see is that she is a Latina. Thus, she is fully qualified.
5.26.2009 6:48pm
Mikey NTH (mail):
There will not be such a letter, because no law professor will expose him or her self to the academic tumbrel and guillotine. The victim groups of academe will not suffer such a letter without dire consequences being directed to any signatory.
5.26.2009 6:53pm
Calderon:
My first thought was to say "of course not," but that's probably wrong. There have been at least some letter writing / signing campaigns against certain Obama policies (Cato had one for econ professors). I also seem to recall a letter during the presidential campaign that was signed by a number of conservative law professors, though I can't remember exactly what the letter said (I believe it may have been about Supreme Court appointments) and my meager Google skills have failed me.

However, since there are of course far fewer conservative law professors than liberal ones, the number of signatories will be proportionately smaller. There may also be some reluctance by potential signatories of being seens as racist and/or sexist, which they will undoubtedly be accused of regardless of what the letter says.

Thus, my bottom line answers to Orin's questions are "yes" with 50 signatories.
5.26.2009 6:53pm
cboldt (mail):
1. No
2. moot
5.26.2009 6:56pm
CCD:
There may be some, but it will be dramatically less than those who wrote against Roberts and Alito. Why? Because though faculties at law schools seem to have a somewhat higher percentage of conservative professors than in other branches of academia, they are still a minority by far. And, conservative professionals generally tend to be more deferential to the constitutional system of selecting and confirming USSCT justices than liberal professionals are. Conservative professionals don't tend to convince themselves that the world will come to an end if a Democratic president selects justices who lean to the left. They can live with the fact that it is a reality and have some sense of fair play. Roberts and Alito had nothing in their past that compares to the purported political red flags in Sotomayor's history, but these 660 law professors still thought there was a need to write a letter opposing them.
5.26.2009 6:57pm
Xenocles (www):
Isn't this blog full of law professors?
5.26.2009 6:57pm
glangston (mail):
No little irony here in Obama's dis of Janice Brown, a sharecropper's daughter who seemed to work as hard as anyone for their success. She really changed, from a self-professed Maoist to something else, so it's really not about change, or race or diversity.

"
It is social Darwinism, a view of America that says there is not a problem that cannot be solved by making sure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It requires no sacrifice on the part of those of us who have won life's lottery and does not consider who our parents were or the education received or the right breaks that came at the right time.

Today, at a time when American families are facing more risk and greater insecurity than they have in recent history, at a time when they have fewer resources and a weaker safety net to protect them against those insecurities, people of all backgrounds in America want a nation where we share life's risks and rewards with each other. And when they make laws that will spread this opportunity to all who are willing to work for it, they expect our judges to uphold those laws, not tear them down because of their political predilections. Republican, Democrat, or anyone in between. Those are the types of judges the American people deserve. Justice Brown is not one of those judges. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against this nomination.
5.26.2009 7:01pm
Cardozo'd (www):
So some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world will oppose the conservative judges and not oppose the liberal ones...and yet, somehow that doesn't inform, it's a sign of "bias"...absurdity I tell you.

go ahead and start bashing law professors now.
5.26.2009 7:09pm
therut (mail):
No need to bash their actions speak loudly aganist them.
5.26.2009 7:15pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Serious inquiry for Orin:

While I generally consider such letters silly, are there strong reasons to object, or why the legal academic community can be expected to object, to Sotomayor's nomination? I had not previously seen the letter about Roberts, but it strikes me as articulate and reasoned, with a lot of supporting evidence from Roberts' record, even if one disagrees with what the writers consider important reasons. If someone (you, Prof. Kerr?) can write one of similar depth about Sotomayor, why not do so? It would certainly be more interesting than the soundbites interest groups are already throwing around or what passes for analysis on (say) Bench Memos on the National Review site.

Of course, if you're just making the point that law professors tend liberal (though pretty conservative compared with most academics in my experience), point made.

Note: I actually think the enemy combatants case and Roberts' views on law enforcement as set forth in the letter were good, principled reason to oppose his nomination--they encapsulate his unduly restrained view of the role of the judiciary, and one I think the Senate ought to reject in future nominees. If Sotomayor swings too far in the other direction, by all means, let's get it out in the open.
5.26.2009 7:15pm
J. Aldridge:
Biden once said, "Say the administration sends up Bork and, after our investigations, he looks a lot like Scalia. I'd have to vote for him, and if the [special-interest] groups tear me apart, that's the medicine I'll have to take."
5.26.2009 7:16pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
If you're looking for a standard bearer....
5.26.2009 7:16pm
Officious Intermeddler:
So some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world will oppose the conservative judges and not oppose the liberal ones...and yet, somehow that doesn't inform, it's a sign of "bias"...absurdity I tell you.


What's absurd is this idea that "some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world" are somehow unsusceptible to political tribalism.
5.26.2009 7:17pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Conservative professionals don't tend to convince themselves that the world will come to an end if a Democratic president selects justices who lean to the left. They can live with the fact that it is a reality and have some sense of fair play.

Let's see what happens when Kennedy or Scalia step down with a Democrat in the White House.
5.26.2009 7:20pm
OrinKerr:
Leo wins the thread, I think.
5.26.2009 7:26pm
RPT (mail):
John Yoo is in his world of "excellence". It will be interesting to hear from John Eastman as well.
5.26.2009 7:27pm
Terrivus:
"some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world"

Please. Here are the minimum qualifications to be a law professor: three years in law school and the ability to write articles that generally aren't read.

Also: "in the world"? Reality check, please.

Finally, look at the signatories on those letters. I haven't even heard of some of the schools where they teach. For the most part, that isn't a "who's who," it's a "who cares."
5.26.2009 7:32pm
Steve:
Even David Bernstein had better things to do than write this post.
5.26.2009 7:54pm
Jay C (mail):
1. Yes.
2. Some (probably <100)

And probably with the same effect as with the prior letter-writing campaigns (what are Judges Roberts' and Alito's present jobs, again??).
5.26.2009 8:13pm
Splunge:
1) Yes, but we may not hear about it. Disturbs the usual Historic Occasion narrative.

2) Not too many, and not the brightest. The New Left has been careful to make clear that it takes names, has a long memory, and no compunction about retribution.

If I was a law professor, I'd certainly STFU. Who needs a Supreme Court justice keeping an eye out for the chance to stick it to you, or your students, any time over the next 30 years at which the convenient opportunity arises? Brr.
5.26.2009 8:21pm
Anderson (mail):
Any guesses as to whether there will be a similar letter this time

I doubt it, absent any indication that Sotomayor plans to "reshape the law in ways that make our country less equal and less free."

... And yes, Leo wins the thread. The notion that John Yoo feels qualified to pronounce on anyone else's legal credentials -- well, ugh. OPR can't come out with that report soon enough.
5.26.2009 8:27pm
OrinKerr:
Even David Bernstein had better things to do than write this post.

?
5.26.2009 8:30pm
Steve P. (mail):
Even David Bernstein had better things to do than write this post.

This seems like a perfectly valid point for Prof Kerr to make, regardless of your political leanings.
5.26.2009 8:55pm
Hoosier:
That many law profs signed letters against Roberts and Alito?

I suspect that it doesn't matter.
5.26.2009 9:11pm
Officious Intermeddler:
I doubt it, absent any indication that Sotomayor plans to "reshape the law in ways that make our country less equal and less free."


The living constitutionalist jurisprudence of empathy by definition reshapes the law in ways that makes the country less equal and less free.

The reason there will be no letter is not because of the legal academy's fealty to freedom and equality, but because the legal academy simply doesn't care about the loss of freedom and equality in service of the advancement of liberal policy objectives.
5.26.2009 9:13pm
Steve:
My point, Prof. Kerr, is that this post falls squarely within a well-established Bernstein template. In fact he might even hold the copyright.
5.26.2009 9:16pm
byomtov (mail):
Any guesses as to whether there will be a similar letter this time, and how many law professors will sign it?

No guesses. So far, the opposition seems to be led by the noted conservative intellectuals Inhofe and Limbaugh, neither of whom is a law professor.
5.26.2009 9:17pm
Hoosier:
Bernstein bad!

FIRE BAD!
5.26.2009 9:23pm
geokstr (mail):

Cardozo'd:
So some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world will oppose the conservative judges and not oppose the liberal ones...and yet, somehow that doesn't inform, it's a sign of "bias"...absurdity I tell you.

go ahead and start bashing law professors now.

Just another version of the all-and-only-liberals-are-intelligent fantasy.
5.26.2009 9:33pm
CJColucci:
I'm having trouble seeing the point, and I don't think it's my fault. A bunch of law professors opposed Roberts and Alito. Under all the verbiage, it was clear enough to everyone that what they objected to was the likely course of rulings they expected from them. They weren't fooling anyone about that, and I doubt they were trying to. It seems likely that they do not find the likely course of rulings they expect from Sotomayor equally objectionable. So why should they write a letter opposing her nomination if, in fact, they don't oppose it?
5.26.2009 9:52pm
OrinKerr:
My point, Prof. Kerr, is that this post falls squarely within a well-established Bernstein template. In fact he might even hold the copyright.

Um, why?

CJColucci,

My question was whether some law professors would write such a letter, not whether the specific group that opposed Roberts and/or Alito would do so.
5.26.2009 10:01pm
BGates:
a view of America that says there is not a problem that cannot be solved by making sure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

Says the man working to impoverish everybody. Remind me why Captain Class Warfare is hailed as a uniter, not a divider?
5.26.2009 10:06pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
The Bernstein bashing is really old, Steve. Grow up.
5.26.2009 10:10pm
Steve:
What bashing? I'm just saying that Prof. Bernstein writes a lot of posts about how the academy is overwhelmingly liberal, generally in a tone that suggests this is somehow a revelation.

Apparently just mentioning the man's name is "bashing." Sorry about that.
5.26.2009 10:14pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Remind me why Captain Class Warfare is hailed as a uniter, not a divider?

The man who cut taxes for members of his class, thus turning a surplus into a deficit, and who caused the national debt to start ramping upwards again after eight years of decrease, gave himself that name.

Class warfare is constant, but one class realizes it only when they lose a battle or two.
5.26.2009 10:18pm
Desiderius:
"Bernstein bad!

FIRE BAD!"

Yay! Hoosier's back!

Hoosier good!

FIRE GOOD!
5.26.2009 10:34pm
Desiderius:
TT,

"Class warfare is constant, but one class realizes it only when they lose a battle or two."

Please. Negative sum games are so 19th Century.
5.26.2009 10:35pm
Desiderius:
Steve,

Based on the evidence of your response, you've significantly raised the average IQ of the group that usually makes that observation, so there's that.
5.26.2009 10:37pm
Fugle:
I am interested to know, should a letter be written, how many untenured law professors signed each letter. I suspect that opposing Roberts or Alito may have been a career enhancing move; I cannot say the same this time around.
5.26.2009 10:41pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yeah of course you weren't. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
5.26.2009 10:48pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Negative sum games are so 19th Century.

Post 1980, the business cycle has been replaced by the bubble cycle, giving us the illusion of prosperity until the inevitable crash comes, and our assets deflate. Read this fairly prescient article from two years ago: "
The Bubble Economy."
5.26.2009 11:15pm
Blue:
Desiderius, if there is a purer example of zero sum games than the composition of the US Supreme Court, it doesn't jump immediately to mind.
5.26.2009 11:29pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Apparently just mentioning the man's name is "bashing."

Only if you use appropriate HTML.
5.27.2009 12:13am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Seems like the law professors opposed Alito and Roberts because of their prior decisions and views of the law. That is fair game for anyone.
5.27.2009 1:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world will oppose the conservative judges
Some of the most highly respected and educated people in the world? Did you look at the list of signatories? They weren't exactly the leading lights of the legal academy.
5.27.2009 5:25am
Hoosier:
Desiderius

Thanks for the shout-out.

Yeah, I'm back--I think. Really, really bad problems with The Olde Epilepsee have kept me down. But new meds seem to be working.

Look upon me, all ye who disagree with me, and despair.
5.27.2009 6:16am
Stephen Clark (mail):
I signed the Alito letter but not the Roberts letter, and I will not be signing any letter opposing Sotomayor. So what?
5.27.2009 9:53am
MarkField (mail):

FIRE BAD!


Tree pretty.
5.27.2009 10:51am
markm (mail):

Anderson (mail):

Any guesses as to whether there will be a similar letter this time

I doubt it, absent any indication that Sotomayor plans to "reshape the law in ways that make our country less equal and less free."

Didden v. Village of Port Chester
5.27.2009 1:23pm

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