Bench Memos

On Noxious Knuckleheads

It is, I suppose, an occupational risk of blogging that vandals in the blogosphere might distort one’s arguments and attack one’s integrity. This past weekend an anonymous blogger hiding behind the moniker “blue slip” mugged me. I don’t intend to make a practice of responding to noxious knuckleheads, but I’ll make an exception here.

After taking some potshots at Ramesh, Blue Slip attacks Bench Memos as “beyond dishonest”. As the sole support for his attack, he cites a recent post in which I stated that “no conceivable nominee will have the record of extremism that nominee Ginsburg had, but will instead surely display a much more sound understanding of the role of judging in a constitutional republic.”

There are a number of unintentionally amusing aspects to Blue Slip’s attack. For starters, Blue Slip writes for a blog “focused only on full disclosure,” yet his blog discloses neither his name nor anything else about him. Second, while his own credentials are a mystery, Blue Slip thinks it clever argumentation to assert that his points “may be above” me and are “probably all over [my] head.”

Third, Blue Slip makes no effort to understand my point. The hyperlink in my statement of course contained my supporting evidence, yet Blue Slip does not address, and evidently did not even read, that evidence.

The broader point that I have sought to establish through several posts is that, notwithstanding Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s reputation as a moderate, she had at the time of her nomination (and has manifested on the Court since her appointment) a record that is in many respects strikingly extremist. Yet she was promptly confirmed by the Senate, with overwhelming Republican support. That history therefore provides helpful context for assessing Senate Democrats’ treatment of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

I have never maintained that Ginsburg’s record was uniformly extremist. There are certain areas, like criminal law, where the political label of “moderate” or at least “moderate liberal” more or less fits. But these areas should not obscure her extremism on “culture war” issues nor her unconstrained view of the role of a judge.

Blue Slip’s basic argument is that Ginsburg is “conservative” compared to “true judicial liberals” like Justices Brennan and Marshall. The utter irrelevance of his argument can perhaps most readily be captured by an analogy: Let’s say that I stated that Illinois is closer to the Mississippi River than California is. Blue Slip’s rebuttal is that Hawaii is even farther away than California.

Blue Slip’s closing suggestion that my criticism of Ginsburg is somehow anti-Semitic would be laughable if it were not so contemptible.

Poor comprehension, laziness, arrogance, name-calling. Quite a combination. No wonder Blue Slip hides behind his anonymity.

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