I’ve got an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal (also, conveniently, featured on the Journal’s mostly-free companion site OpinionJournal.com), pointing out that retiring Justice O’Connor was remarkably outspoken in criticizing the evils of excessive litigation, and suggesting that President Bush may wish to pick a successor who shares these concerns. I also discuss some very revealing comments made by the Senate minority leader last week: as OpinionJournal.com sums up the implications, “Harry Reid may be willing to give up Roe v. Wade to get a trial lawyer on the Supreme Court”. (Walter Olson, “The Next Sandra Day”, OpinionJournal.com, Jul. 7; same article at subscriber-only WSJ site).
I’ve got a review in Sunday’s New York Post of Ken Foskett’s new biography “Judging Thomas”. (“Thomas’s Trials and Triumph”, Dec. 19). In his more than readable book Foskett concentrates on the remarkable life story of Clarence Thomas and makes next to no effort to evaluate his jurisprudence; but (contra Sen. Harry Reid) it’s not hard these days to find legal analysts who, while disagreeing with much of what Thomas stands for, acknowledge that he represents that viewpoint with much skill on the Court. For a sampling of such views, see David J. Garrow, “Saving Thomas”, The New Republic, Oct. 19, and, among bloggers, Gabe (“Unlearned Hand”) (Dec. 6) and Dispatches from the Culture Wars (Dec. 7). Also see Stephen B. Presser, “Touting Thomas”, Legal Affairs, Jan.-Feb. (more generally favorable view).
New Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is sounding conciliatory toward the Republican majority on some issues, but not on litigation reform, where he’s hinting at a Daschle-like line of hard-core resistance. Reid appears to have plenty of friends in the Litigation Lobby: OpenSecrets.org reports that of his top seven contributors, five are casino companies that operate in his home state of Nevada, while the other two are plaintiffs’ law firms SimmonsCooper (Madison County, Ill.) and Baron & Budd (Dallas) (more). The increasingly invaluable Madison County Record has more, quoting unnamed sources who tell it that Reid “has long been a regular on the SimmonsCooper corporate jet”. (“Follow the Leader: East Alton Clout”, Nov. 21). Update Dec. 7: more on Madison County Record.