Saturday, July 20, 2002

Thanks to Glenn for the mention. He had several posts about my previously-short-lived blog back in October; it created quite a little controversy at the time. I found his old posts via Google's cache of the archive, but if you go directly to his old archives at, your browser is redirected within a few seconds to his new URL. So I thought I would take the liberty of reprinting what Glenn said back then, just for old time's sake. :)
THE BUCK STOPS FOR GOOD? Stuart Buck has a blog entitled The Buck Stops Here. I like it, read it, and have a link to it (on your left). He's also law clerk to a federal judge in DC. Now he has an item on his page saying that "people" at his workplace object and say that it looks like partisan political activity.

I think this is ridiculous. (Is that petty tyrant and judicial character assassin Ralph Mecham behind this?) When I was a law clerk for a federal judge, I wrote opeds and letters to the editor and no one objected. Lots of law clerks do the same, and write law review articles, etc. Since when is this sort of thing "partisan political activity"? It should be obvious (even without the prominent disclaimer) that Buck isn't speaking for his employer, whom he never even identifies by name anyway. And it's not as if he's talking about cases he's working on. Heck, a lot of his stuff isn't even about the law. So what's the beef here? * * *

Then there was this:
THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY isn't doing very well in its "defenders of freedom" role. First it was Ralph Mecham's sleazy Internet spy campaign. Now it's Stuart Buck's website being shut down. Free cruise-ship travel from interest groups for judges: OK. Opinion writing by law clerks: verboten! Yeah, that makes sense. And we rely on these guys to protect our freedom?
And finally this:
THE PENDING DEMISE OF STUART BUCK'S WEBPAGE due to judicial fiat has made me wonder (well, actually it was an email about the demise of Stuart Buck's webpage from Professor Brannon Denning that started me wondering). Judges for years have been telling us how "independent" they are from their law clerks. This is one reason why the law clerk hiring process has avoided any significant outside scrutiny.

Yet the judges of the DC Circuit apparently feel that their independence is so questionable that they must silence a law clerk's weblog for fear that his musings might, somehow, reflect on them.

But if law clerks are so influential, surely the process of choosing them -- now pretty much based on the whim of the judges -- deserves more attention, and perhaps accountability. Perhaps they should be subject to Senate confirmation? Or perhaps they should be professionalized via a standardized merit selection process?

I've always opposed this sort of thing. But, then, I didn't realize that law clerks' opinions were so earthshaking in their impact.


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