August 29, 2005
Russia Will Not Meddle in Germany's Political Process - President
SOCHI, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not intend to interfere in the internal political process under way in Germany but considered it senseless to break off negotiations over the upcoming elections.
"We are not meddling and will not do so in the future," Putin said. "However, suspending contacts because of elections is senseless and stupid."
Asked to comment on reports that his trip to Germany was an attempt to influence the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections there, Putin said: "Thinking constantly about what other people say can do your head in."
However, since I first emailed myself that article from RIA-Novosti's website, it has been updated to this less entertaining piece that indicates the context in which Putin spoke: his upcoming trip to Germany is not a baby-kissing trip designed to help Schroeder at the polls.
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See Q. 14 in Article III Groupie's interview below: There is indeed a connection between Judge Posner and Eminem: those walking by the Judge's office at LBQ 611 during the 2003-2004 school year may have noticed the unmistakable sounds of the Marshall Mathers LP emanating from behind the door.
Now, that would have been during hours the Judge wasn't in, but who can fault him for hiring a head research assistant with such incisive musical taste?
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Last week I posted the first half of an interview with Article III Groupie of Underneath Their Robes. Read on for the second half, where we discuss important questions about a showdown between judges Posner and Kozinski, the color pink, and the similarities between Eminem and Posner.
11: You have contended in the past that State judges are "ghetto" (notwithstanding your encomiums to then-state-justice Janice Brown). But state supreme courts enjoy a great deal more procedural and substantive autonomy than federal appellate courts, so what gives?
Some of my thoughts in response to this question are reflected in my response to question #2, supra, and the UTR post referenced in your question. To expand a little, I suppose another reason for my fed courts snobbery is that federal law is national in scope. The difference between a federal judge and a state court judge is not unlike the difference between a Dan Rather or Peter Jennings and a local news anchor. A state supreme court justice may enjoy a great deal of autonomy in shaping the law of that state, independent of federal law; but her field of influence is limited. In contrast, because of the nature of federal law, a single federal district judge can make a decision with nationwide implications.
Also, and with all due respect to the many extremely impressive jurists on the state court bench, state court judges as a group are generally less high-powered and well-credentialed than their federal court counterparts. This may be a function of the selection process. In states with elected judiciaries (which is most of them), judges are more like elected officials -- i.e., political hacks, good at raising money and kissing babies, but not necessarily at writing brilliant opinions.
(Of course, there are exceptions to the general rule that the resumes of state judges aren't as glittering as those of federal judges. For example, as noted here by CrimProf Blog, 60 percent of the Arizona Supreme Court's members clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court.)
In contrast to the state court benches, the federal judiciary contains some of the greatest minds that our profession has to offer. Federal judges are our brilliant Platonic guardians. It is only fitting that we should submit to their rule (unless, of course, they are crazy judicial activists abusing their Article III powers).
12: In your trendspotting feature you have chronicled the way the Ninth Circuit has replaced the Second Circuit as the hottest Circuit Court which has in turn replaced the D.C. Circuit. But predicting trends is as important as spotting them. What will be the new Ninth Circuit?
I'm going to go out on a limb here, steering clerk of the coastal courts that hog the limelight, and put my money on the Sixth Circuit. It's going to be a very interesting court to watch in the next few years.
First, the Sixth Circuit is in the process of being reshaped by an influx of relatively new, well-regarded judges -- including Judge Jeffrey Sutton, the #3 Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary, and one of the Elect (OT 1991/Scalia). These judges are going to shake up the dynamics of the court and will make for some enjoyable personality clashes.
Second, as shown by the phenomenal success of "Desperate Housewives," America has an insatiable appetite for melodrama, cattiness, and infighting. And the Sixth Circuit has all of these things in abundance. I'm planning to issue a special "Bench-Slapped" expose focusing on what's going down at the Sixth Circuit. (If anyone out there has good dirt, please email me!)
13: There's been some talk on Crescat before about the possibility of theme songs for attorneys (e.g., question #13 here, and Question #14 here). Let's talk judicial theme songs. What theme song would be appropriate for judicial super-hottie Judge Kozinski?
"Here Comes the Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze, which topped the charts back in December 1994. This dynamic and infectious hit dance song is a perfect fit for the delightfully flamboyant Judge Kozinski, who has a real sense of showmanship.
Also, "Hotstepper" was featured in the soundtrack of Pret-a-Porter, the brilliant Robert Altman's (unfortunately disappointing) film about the fashion industry. Can't you just picture the #1 Superhottie, clad in a flowing black robe, strutting down the catwalk to this song's driving beat?
14: For Hedgehog/Judge Richard Posner?
Without a doubt, "The Real Slim Shady," by Eminem. Yes, THAT Eminem...
Now, I know what you're thinking, Will: "I've been Richard Posner's research assistant. I know Richard Posner. Richard Posner is a friend of mine. And Eminem, my dear A3G, is no Richard Posner."
To be sure, the superficial similarities between Eminem and Judge Posner are less than overwhelming, and "Slim Shady" may be a somewhat counterintuitive song choice. But let's take a closer look, shall we?
As noted in this amazing profile of Judge Posner, by New Yorker hottie Larissa MacFarquhar, Judge Posner likes to describe himself as follows: "I have exactly the same personality as my cat. I am cold, furtive, callous, snobbish, selfish, and playful, but with a streak of cruelty." In addition, as reflected in his blogging and his writing, Judge Posner is a genius provocateur -- an intellectual individualist, unbound by conventional wisdom, with a definite contrarian streak.
Now, back to Mr. Marshall Mathers and "The Real Slim Shady." While Judge Posner may not exhibit the anger of Eminem, "Slim Shady" certainly captures the personality traits referenced by the cat-like Judge Posner. And it's a song all about self-assertion and creation, by a brilliant provocateur who is no slave to conventional thinking. Viewed in this light, what song could be more appropriate for Judge Richard Posner, a.k.a. The Giant Hedgehog?
15: In an ultimate judicial showdown, who would win-- Alex Kozinski
or Richard Posner?
Oh, you can't ask me that question! That's like forcing a teenybopper to choose her favorite boy-band member!
On a more serious note, it's worth noting that some scholars have tried to develop "objective" standards for measuring judicial effectiveness or competence. For example, Stephen J. Choi and G. Mitu Gulati have written a paper that asks, Who Would Win a Tournament of Judges? It seems to me, however, that "success" as a judge doesn't lend itself particularly well to measurable criteria. This is especially true when evaluating judges like Kozinski and Posner, iconic figures within the law who transcend ordinary measures of competence.
With respect to Kozinski v. Posner, suffice it to say that they are two of the greatest judges that the federal judiciary has to offer. They are not just brilliant, as everyone knows; they are also fabulous and fair-minded, hilarious and hard-working, witty and wise. The contributions that they and their colleagues make to the good of our republic, each and every day, explain why the federal judiciary is so deeply respected -- not just in the United States, but around the world.
16: I've promised not to ask you any questions ferreting out your identity, but why did you decide to blog anonymously in the first place?
The law is a fairly conservative profession, and being known as a legal gossip-monger would not be good for my professional advancement. It also wouldn't help me in my lifelong ambition to become an Article III judge. Issuing snarky commentary about sitting federal judges won't put me on a fast track to the federal bench.
As the Roberts nomination demonstrates, in this day and age, pretty much anything you have ever written -- even down to course papers you wrote back in college -- can become grist for the confirmation mill. Granted, Judge Roberts is up for a SCOTUS spot, and I just want a "mere" district or circuit court judgeship. But the point remains that when it comes to joining the Article III bench, the less you've said or written, the safer you are.
While I completely understand the need to scrutinize federal judicial nominees closely -- after all, to me they're the most important people in the world -- I am concerned about whether all this scrutiny could lead to a chilling effect. Will young minds be afraid to write brilliant law review articles, or even to crack the occasional joke in a dry legal memorandum, out of a fear that years later, when they're up for a judgeship, these hoary documents will be dug up, misconstrued, and used against them?
17: What's in it for you? You devote a lot of time and presumably energy to profiling The Elect and the federal judiciary. For this, you receive neither fame nor money. Why do it?
I find myself in a strage situation. Although I'm anonymous, I do have a certain amount of "fame," as witnessed by the lovely news coverage collected in the left-hand corner of my blog. Even if I'm not associated with my blog by name, I still derive much satisfaction from the media attention and recognition that UTR has received.
Even though I can only respond to a fraction of what I receive, I also love to receive email from my readers, especially "important" readers, such as federal judges, prominent law professors, and top legal affairs reporters. (Of course, I use scare quotes because all my readers are important.) Reader response is a form of personal validation for me.
As you can tell from my endless moaning about the Elect, I suffer a great deal of "status anxiety." The attention that I have received in my capacity as a blogger has allayed my anxiety somewhat. If people like Judge Kozinski and Judge Posner are willing to correspond with me, I can't be that worthless and stupid a human being, right?
Finally, even though I'd love to be paid to blog (or to get a book deal out of it), I like to think of blogging as its own reward. Sure, I spent a lot of time blogging -- but boy is it fun! In this sense, blogging is just like any other hobby, sport, or interest. Just because blogging is relatively new doesn't make it less legitimate or worthwhile. And the sense of community that develops in the blogosphere -- through interactions like this interview, for example -- is also very rewarding.
18: Given the demands of your day job, where do you find the time to blog?
One of the toughest parts about blogging is juggling it along with all of the other things that I need to do and want to do in my life. These include my day job, spending time with friends and family, exercising, seeing movies, reading books, and eating exceptionally yummy foods. Balancing all of this can get pretty downright stressful!
I have been making an effort to sleep less; I aspire to the six
hours a night that Judge Posner regularly gets. Also, I do a lot of my blogging on the weekends. Sometimes I'll start up a bunch of posts over the weekend and save them in "draft" form. Then, during the week, I'll put some quick finishing touches on them and then publish. (Because I'm not as tied to the news cycle and current events as many
other bloggers -- with posts that are longer than average, almost like short magazine pieces, and based on tidbits of gossip received at various points in time -- I can get away with this strategy. It would be much harder to do this sort of blogging "prep" work if I were rigidly tied to breaking news.)
19: Does your blog really have to be so pink?
Back when I started UTR, the pink-and-green color scheme was the prettiest of the default templates offered by Typepad, so I went with it. I think that I could now change it if I wanted to, but I'm used to it by this point, and I also see it as a tradmark of my blog. Plus, pink is the quintessential feminine color -- and I enjoy being a girl!
20: There is something of an obsession with books over here at Crescat. So, when not reading cutting-edge opinions by your favorite judicial divas, what books do you read?
I tend to focus on fiction, more specifically, what the publishing marketplace calls "literary fiction" (yes, it sounds snobby, but it's a helpful label, since you know what I'm talking about). Some of my favorite books from the past few years include Atonement, by Ian McEwan; Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides; and I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe (which I blogged about briefly here). Currently I'm reading In the Shadow of the Law, by Kermit Roosevelt (which I blogged about here) . If it's by a Supreme Court clerk, it's gotta be good!
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