Obama legal adviser confirms he wrote letter trashing Sotomayor, tries to backtrack from criticism

Yesterday, I blogged about the disclosure of a letter from one of President Obama’s top legal advisers, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who very bluntly urged his former student not to nominate eventual Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor to the court. “She’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is,” Tribe had written.

In an article published today, the Wall Street Journal confirmed with Tribe that he did write the letter, revealed first by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan at National Review, and quoted an email from Tribe distancing himself from his criticism of Sotomayor:

In an emailed comment, Mr. Tribe sought to back away from his criticism.

The “reservations I expressed about Justice Sotomayor prior to her appointment were amply refuted by the closer study I was later able to give her record and that have been fully negated by her performance as a justice,” Mr. Tribe said.

In his email Thursday, Mr. Tribe said: “I’ve long held Justices Breyer and Kennedy in the highest regard, both as friends and as jurists, and I certainly regret any contrary implication.”

Jesse Choper, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said Mr. Tribe’s assessment of the court’s internal dynamics was consistent with what other observers of the court have noted.

While Justice Breyer “is trying to occupy a role counter to Scalia,” he lacks the outsize personality that made liberals such as Chief Justice Earl Warren or the late Justice William Brennan so influential, said Mr. Choper, a former clerk to Chief Justice Warren.

Maybe it’s just me but there seems to be an eerie similarity between Choper’s comment and an argument we’ve heard in another context–talk radio.  We’re constantly hearing how liberal talk radio can’t succeed because it is overly intellectual and it takes too long for hosts to articulate their intelligent philosophies to the public, in contrast to the alleged bumper-sticker philosophy of conservative talk radio hosts.

Who’d have know that apparently liberal judges have the same problem? SAT preppers take note: Rush Limbaugh is to Antonin Scalia as Ed Schultz is to Stephen Breyer.

Barack ObamaBeltway ConfidentialSCOTUSUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read