Wednesday, October 03, 2007



Less of "a nut" than Thomas?

Forget for a moment that most people know him for The Run of His Life, a book about O.J. Simpson, and for his incisive CNN legal analysis of cases involving Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton's blow job, and, lately, Republican Britney Spears' poignant battle against both sanity and reality. As we were solemnly informed at a lecture at the L.A. Public Library last night, 47 year old Jeffrey Toobin graduated from Columbia and then magna cum laude from Harvard Law. He was in L.A. to promote his new book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. I could tell almost immediately from all the gratuitous O.J. references that this was going to be an entertaining evening even if it wasn't going to tax too many brain cells-- although Sunday's NY Times did treat his book as a serious work by a serious... semi-scholar.

When asked, basically, to compared himself with Justice Clarence Thomas, specifically on Thomas' contempt for stare decisis, Scalia said, "I'm an originalist but I'm not a nut." Toobin made it clear than, at least in this instance, the second most right-wing extremist on the Court thinks the first most right-wing extremist is a nut. "Thomas is well to the right of Scalia who many think is the most conservative justice since the 1930's... He's a very angry man... He thinks the New Deal is unconstitutional [and] he doesn't care about precedence." Good start for a library chat. And it got better as the hour whizzed by.

Toobin explained that judges in the Roberts/Alito Federalist Society mold have clear and unbending motives and that there is no wishy-washiness about them. They want to reverse Roe v Wade and ban choice; they want to greatly expand executive branch power at the expense of the legislative branch who they see as nothing but a bunch of clowns; they want to end the government push for racial integration; they want to speed up executions; and they want to make the public sphere a more welcome place for religion. He emphasized that the presidential election of 2008 would determine if the far right gets its wish on this, although many think they already have.

Henry Weinstein one of the L.A. Times' most respected and admired journalists, who was in the audience, asked Toobin to explain why he thinks whoever wins the presidency can be expected to nominate an ideologue, which Toobin had stated he is absolutely certain of. Toobin launched into a diatribe about the extremism of Republicans that rang utterly true. But he didn't say a word about the Democrats so I followed up with a question of my own to elicit an answer to the second half of Weinstein's question.

That's when Toobin, who dismissed my concerns that the Democrats are far more wishy-washy than the Republicans and are clueless about how to fight ideological battles-- he poo-poo-ed my mention of Dianne Feinstein's support for KKK-nut Leslie Southwick, for example-- laid a scoop on the audience.

Toobin, like myself, feels Hillary will probably be the next president of the United States. He said he is certain and willing to take bets that her first Supreme Court appointment would be... Barack Obama.

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At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could you end the post there?!?


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