Speaking of "Conservative Jurisprudence"

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 22 2008 12:07 AM

Speaking of "Conservative Jurisprudence"

[Adam White]

Justice Clarence Thomas is the featured interview in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal .  He's interviewed by David Rivkin and Lee Casey, a pair of prominent lawyers who do a fair share of writing on the side .  (Our editor, Phil, is no stranger to Rivkin; they appeared together on NPR back in 2005, at the height of the laws-of-war debates.)

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The article is intended for a general audience, and as such it offers little material unfamiliar to regular Court-watchers.  (Except for the fact that he uses a Cornhuskers screen-saver not because he has any affiliation with the school but, rather, because "he's just a fan.")  Nevertheless, I enjoyed his reflections on oral argument:

And why doesn't he ask questions at oral argument, a question oft-posed by critics insinuating that he is intellectually lazy or worse? Mr. Thomas chuckles wryly and observes that oral advocacy was much more important in the Court's early days. Today, cases are thoroughly briefed by the time they reach the Supreme Court, and there is just too little time to have a meaningful conversation with the lawyers. "This is my 17th term and I haven't found it necessary to ask a bunch of questions. I would be doing it to satisfy other people, not to do my job. Most of the answers are in the briefs. This isn't Perry Mason."

Those wondering how, precisely, to write a brief that will please Justice Thomas should consult LawProse.org , which boasts a fascinating series of video interviews with the respective Justices on the subject of brief-writing.

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