Bench Memos

What’s Eating Andy Schlafly?

I confess that I have been a bit mystified by Andy Schlafly’s unrelenting, intemperate and ill-informed attacks on some of the distinguished jurists on President Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.  By all accounts, Schlafly is a smart guy who knows something about the law. He did, after all, attend Harvard Law School (and, he’ll remind us, was on the law review). So what, then, if not ignorance, can explain his incessant attacks on the well-qualified, conservative judges Trump identified as potential nominees?

As I see it, unless we are to conclude that Schafly is, in fact, an illiterate noob, we must ascribe some method to his madness, some purpose for his perfidy.  And what would that purpose be? I have concluded that Schlafly has a favorite on Trump’s list — albeit not one of those recently identified as on Trump’s short list — and has decided to engage in a scorched earth campaign against any and all rivals to his preferred nominee, even if this requires distorting the truth or embracing the sort of ends-justify-the-means argumentation that is antithetical to constitutional conservatism. Schlafly’s attacks distort the records of distinguished jurists and misrepresent the obligations of an intermediate appellate court judge. Fortunately, folks like Ed Whelan have called out Schlafly’s bowdlerized bile for what it is. As a consequence, I hope that the reputation permanently harmed is Schalfly’s own.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.


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