Bench Memos

Nevada Law Profs (and Others) vs. Rule of Law—Part 2

Now let’s look at UNLV law school dean Daniel W. Hamilton’s letter objecting to Nevada state bar president Alan J. Lefebvre’s column:

1. Hamilton states that Lefebvre’s column “was at odds with the best traditions of tolerance and respect for dissenting views that characterize the legal profession and the Nevada bar.” Hamilton says that he is “certain [Lefebvre] did not intentionally denigrate anyone, but the words of the column speak for themselves and require a response.” (Emphasis added.)

The only sense that I can make of Hamilton’s letter is that he thinks that Lefebvre’s criticism of the state attorney general’s failure to defend state marriage laws somehow amounts to intolerant denigration of gays and lesbians. That is an extraordinary charge. Even though Hamilton himself refers only to the “likelihood” that state marriage laws are unenforceable, he evidently thinks that it’s rude for anyone to argue that it’s the duty of state attorneys general to defend such laws.

Hamilton likewise evidently thinks it’s “denigrat[ing]” for anyone not to support the radical redefinition of marriage.

So much for his own “tolerance and respect for dissenting views.”

2. Hamilton nakedly (and wrongly) asserts that the state attorney general’s decision not to defend Nevada’s laws was “well-reasoned.” But he doesn’t bother to confront Lefebvre’s arguments.

3. Hamilton thinks it significant that the Supreme Court, in the Prop 8 case, didn’t “question the prerogative of state officials to exercise [the] discretion” not to defend state laws. But the case didn’t present that question. The Supreme Court doesn’t have general supervisory authority over state attorneys general, so there was no reason for the Court to address the matter.

This fellow is the dean of a law school (even a fourth-tier one)?!?

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