(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Saturday, July 02, 2005

too bad a blog can't become pseudonymous mid-stream
I am, I admit, uncertain about how vigorously to blog about Justice O'Connor's retirement -- about my feelings on her legacy, and about the pros and cons of possible nominees.

On the one hand there is the good and obvious reason to keep my damn mouth shut: the slight possibility that some Justice or Judge would be aware of what I say here, be displeased by it, and therefore be less well-disposed towards me. And the reason to blog is pretty weak, given that it is fanciful to think that I would have any impact by blogging about such things. I do not flatter myself with thoughts that I would be an important part of any movement, in regard to the upcoming confirmation battle. The battle will be principally fought on terrain where I will have little to add. If the nominee has issued opinions reflecting a hostility to privacy rights, or equality, or other high-profile easily-defined issues, I won't be the first to find those opinions on LEXIS.

But, with some reasonable level of self-editing, I will try to have interesting things to say anyway. Part of the reason is that, paradoxically perhaps, I have more respect for high-level federal judges with whom I disagree vehemently, than many people do. Here is an example. If you've read Ignatz before, you know that I spent a good bit of energy writing words in opposition to Bill Pryor's nomination to the Eleventh Circuit. And I strongly believe that he knows this, because among other things it was in the Alabama newspapers. So it was with some irony that, mere days after the "compromise" that led to his confirmation, I appeared before a panel of the Eleventh Circuit that included him. I knew that he would be on the panel, and my client had the option of calling in a substitute for me. But I believed, and told my friends who raised their eyebrows at me, that this history would not make a difference to the case. I still believe that he will, quite often, issue decisions with which I disagree vehemently. Some of them will be in cases that I brief and argue. But I don't believe that it will be about me. And the oral argument before him gave me no reason to change my mind on that.

So, if there is any judge who may happen to become aware of some criticism I have made, take this as a compliment if you will: the reason I am willing to be a small part of public discourse is that I trust your integrity, even when I strongly disagree with your views.

posted by sam 10:54 AM 0 comments


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