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One of the most suspenseful 10-day periods in American legal history culminated Monday night in Trump naming Justice Brett Kavanaugh as his pick for the Supreme Court. Of course, justices have retired before, and presidents nominated their successors. But for the Supreme Court’s “swing vote” to hang up his robes in a politically fraught time as this, and then for the White House to announce that a successor would be named on particular day at a particular time? That’s gold, Jerry, gold!
In due course, contenders emerged — a short list of appealing personalities that ranged in background about as much as federal judges could. There was the son of Indian immigrants who was born in Toledo and made a name for himself in Kentucky (Amul Thapar); a brilliant law professor and mother of seven from Indiana (Amy Coney Barrett); an introverted Michigan judge who preferred the solitude of his wilderness cabin to the stifling Washington swamp (Ray Kethledge); a Pittsburgher who was the first in his family to graduate college and put himself through law school by driving a taxi (Tom Hardiman); and of course the boyish D.C. insider with the strong opinions on the separation of powers (Brett Kavanaugh), the only Ivy Leaguer in the bunch who seemed to have been preparing for this moment his entire life.
Clerks - Surrogates - Law - Publicists - Champions
Clerks and other surrogates (the law’s publicists) advocated for their champions in a way I’d never seen before—or at least this was the first time anyone thought they needed to send me their “publicity materials.” The daily deluge of case summaries, legal memoranda, and other lobbying efforts became overwhelming and sometimes annoying. Then came the wave of op-eds praising this or that judge’s originalism, his or her capacity to be a political benefit or to see the law exactly like Justice Scalia,...
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