In the years since I’ve moved to corporate development, I can’t say that I’ve ever really missed being a lawyer. That said, I can’t shake some of the things that interested (or annoyed) me about being a lawyer. With my recent missives about over-lawyered term sheets, and having caught part of the Alito hearings while working out today, I’m just going to plunge into a week of lawyer-related posts.
First of all, Alito – watching his hearing today, the thought I kept coming back to was: “What the hell was Bush thinking in appointing Harriet Miers?” Look, I’m a Democrat, but I can’t find anything wrong with Alito. He’s a lawyer’s lawyer, and he comes off as being unstintingly reasonable, unflappable and very, very smart. He seems to be committed to following the law (including the principle of stare decisis), and not likely to be a conservative activist in the mold of Thomas or Scalia. The best the Dems can seem to come up with against the guy is a mistake he made in not recusing himself from a case and a couple of strategy memos he wrote while serving as a government staff attorney. I think the more senior and cagy Dems on the Judiciary Committee decided to give Alito a pass, realizing that they can’t stop his nomination and it would be self-defeating to try. I watched a good chunk of Dianne Feinstein’s questions, and they were awfully soft.
An aside: I don’t usually watch TV news, but I watched the Alito hearing on Fox news. I’ve heard, of course, how blatant Fox is with its conservative bias, and I was not disappointed – throughout the hearing a box would appear explaining legal terms used by Alito or the Senators. At one point, Fox offered this definition of judicial activism: “A judge who finds laws not written in the Constitution.” This definition, of course, only includes activism of the liberal kind. This was made doubly amusing by the fact that at the same time as the box appeared both Alito and his questioner, Republican Senator Mike DeWine, made frequent use of the more cogent definition of judicial activism – “a judge who substitutes his own opinions for that of the law.”