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September 17, 2003

The Perfect Storm

Yes indeedy, the cliched title for this entry is now perfectly justified by the fact that GW just cancelled all classes for tomorrow. Thank you, hurricane Isabel!

Sure, I'll pay for my day off later, but right now, I couldn't be happier. I'm up to my eyeballs in personal jurisdiction issues (in rem v. quasi-in rem v. in personam—oy vey!),*
and I could really use a bit of time to digest theories of contract and to apply the public necessity doctrine to NAFTA (Ch. 11, I believe).

And don't worry, I don't know what I'm talking about either. But I did learn today that one of my professors clerked for Scalia, and another clerked for both Thomas and Kennedy. Should I be concerned about this? Other than the question of how it's possible for one person to clerk for two Justices, I just wonder how well clerking for a particular Justice predicts a person's political/ideological leanings. I'm acquainted socially with a former Scalia clerk and he's a nice guy but he's frighteningly conservative (after Lawrence v. Texas came out last summer this guy fumed that Scalia's dissent hadn't been vehement enough), which leads me to believe the Justices often choose people of like mind for their clerks. Is that true, or would that be a mistaken or foolish belief?

At any rate, I don't have to worry about it for another day. Instead, perhaps I'll be flabbergasted for a little while by the pResident's recent attempt to pretend he's been telling the truth all along. Then I'll be horrified that the airlines plan to treat Americans like terrorists, and perhaps I'll top it off with an orgy of speculation about what Wesley Clark is going to do to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Maybe I can even catch up on my Ditzy Genius, Liable, So Sue Me, Cooped Up, and all the other great blogs that I've been unable to read with any regularity amid all the rest of the life's fun.

After all that, maybe I'll even do some homework!


* "You give me that juris-my-diction crap, you can shove it up your ass!" 10 points** to the first commenter to identify the source of that quotation.

** Speaking of points, the way Westlaw and Lexis play their stupid point games really gets on my nerves. But what's worse is the way law students fawn over these services; they act like being able to do legal research online is some sort of holy grail. I wonder what we'll think when we have to start paying for the pleasure of accessing public information through West and Lexis. I wonder how we'll feel if we stop to think that the cost of legal services is way out of the reach of vast numbers of Americans, at least in part because legal research is so damned costly. Gee, why isn't there a publicly-financed legal research service to rival West and Lexis so that anyone could do legal research at any public library anywhere in the U.S.? It's all about the points, baby, the points.

Posted September 17, 2003 08:56 PM | law school

Haven't a clue on the quote. In my notes though I always term Scalia and Thomas as the "asshole contingent" For example: Crim Law - Staples v US - why can't statute banning automatic weapons use strict liability instead of a mens rea element? Answer: Because the asshole contingent likes guns. Silly, but it makes the day go by...

Posted by: sue at September 17, 2003 09:15 PM

in personam - suit against the person
in rem - suit against the property
quasi in rem - suit against the person but collects against the value of the property...

Heck, as a fellow 1L, I'm probably wrong but that's what I think I'm supposed to be getting... someone can always correct me if I'm wrong =)!


Posted by: ADB at September 17, 2003 09:48 PM

And of course I know the quote - it's from the Matrix (part 1) when the cops were trying to get Trinity.

Agent Smith says in that same conversation: No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead.


Posted by: DG at September 17, 2003 10:32 PM

I wouldn't be too fast to draw any conclusions about ideology based on clerkships. If any of the Justices had offered me a clerkship, I would've accepted right away (because that's my price for selling my soul, I guess). I was a (little) bit pickier about what Circuit judges to apply to, but even there, I ended clerking for a judge appointed by a Democrat and one appointed by a Republican.

But even if there were a strong correlation between one's views and the views of a Justice one clerked for, should you necessarily be concerned? If your profs are conscientious, I would think not.

Posted by: Tung Yin at September 18, 2003 08:25 AM

Right on re: legal research. I expect (and hope!) the technology will catch up soon and take away the monopolies these companies have established.

Posted by: Scheherazade at September 18, 2003 08:30 AM

ADB: Thanks. That juris-my-diction crap is getting clearer.

And of course DG is the winner. DG rocks!

Prof. Yin: Thanks for the inside perspective; that's kind of what I thought. I guess I was concerned because even a conscientious teacher must choose what to emphasize and what to obscure. Scalia is a polarizing figure, and frankly I think his acolytes are polarized; therefore, if someone who clerked for Scalia could be assumed to be an acolyte, I guess I'd be concerned about that person's ability to choose and teach a balanced curriculum. However, I'm sure the professor in question is smart, professional, and aware of the ethical dimensions of teaching, and I'm sure that I'll still be getting a great education from him.

Scheherazade: Thanks, and I hope so, too. love your new blog!

Posted by: ambimb at September 23, 2003 07:35 AM

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