Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Second Draft of History


For books about the Supreme Court and constitutional law there must be a bottomless market, to judge from the quantity of them extruded by the publishing industry every year.  (Good news for me, I guess, if I ever finish the one I’m working on.)  Most of those written by professors of law, political science, and history are turgid, unreadable tomes, usually concocting some half-baked theory of justice that the Supreme Court, in the authors’ view, ought to be vigorously enforcing, or is scandalously failing to enforce.  Sometimes I feel positively buried under these.


Then there is the work of the beat reporters.  If, as they like to say, their work for the daily press is the first draft of history, then their books, Woodwardesque in prose style, presume to be the second draft—meaning for the most part a more polished but no less superficial approach to the subject.  Jan Crawford Greenburg, lately of ABC News—whose blog Kathryn notes just below—will join the ranks of breathless chroniclers of the high drama of cert petitions with her book Supreme Conflict, out later this week.  Today she gives us a sample of it in the Washington Post, which includes this priceless little gem.  Speaking of the worries of “conservative groups” where the nomination of Harriet Miers was concerned, Greenburg has them wondering, “How could she stand up to the liberal intellectual heavyweights on the court, such as Stephen G. Breyer?”


A show of hands, please.  Can anyone find me just one person even a little right of center who has ever thought to describe Justice Breyer as an “intellectual heavyweight”?  Welterweight, even?  Anyone?  Hello?

Tags: Franck


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