May 15, 2010
40-Year US War on Drugs Has Met None of Its Goals"After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what?" See the AP story, AP IMPACT: US drug war has met none of its goals. Hat tip to Sentencing Law & Policy blog. [JH]
Round-Up of Practitioner Law Blogs
Broward DUI Lawyer Blog
Provides insight on DUI cases, news and reports in Florida. Published by the Law Offices of Carlos A. Canet.
In Your Defense: An Orange County Criminal Justice Blog
Discusses criminal law cases, reports and opinions in California. Published by Brian Gurwitz.
Maine Employment Lawyer Blog
Provides opinion on employment law news, legislation and reports in Maine. Published by Peter Thompson & Associates.
South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog
Examines injury laws cases, news and reports in Florida. Published by the Hollander Law Firm.
San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog
Reports on family law opinions, news and matters in California. Published by Thomas M. Huguenor.
San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
Reviews injury law reports, news and cases in California. Published by The Rubinstein Law Group.
May 14, 2010
Kindle Doesn't Cut It As A Classroom Device
The preliminary results are in from a test at the University of Virginia's Darden Business School: 75% to 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom device but 90% would recommend it as a personal reading device. None of the news stories went beyond this basic statement, but I can imagine reasons why the survey came out the way it did. Most personal reading is linear. Most classroom use is not. In law school, at least, it's jumping from parts of the book to others depending on the lesson and what what the instructor wants to emphasize. I have to believe that the situation is the same in a business school setting where there are more graphics, charts, and formulas.
While we're on the subject, the idea of porting textbooks to electronic devices seems simple enough if you treat the content as words on an electronic page. Why not create textbooks that are designed for electronic devices. Bring in multimedia. Why just have the text of Palsgraf v. Long Island when a short movie could illustrate it. Why not have alternative scenarios and ask if they would fall under the negligence standard? Sure, something like that would make a textbook more expensive, but it would also make it more interesting, especially to our digital natives. Then again, there are ways to make cheap little recreations. YouTube is full of them, I'm told. The approach would obviously not work for all subjects. A securities class wouldn't necessarily benefit from from a video of a banker shoveling documents in a briefcase before heading off to the Caymans, or that of an SEC staffer checking out an adult site while working, but there are subjects where it would be appropriate. How about a short scenario of contract negotiations and an exercise asking whether there was a meeting of the minds? Let's see if we can do more than port words. [MG]
Friday Fun: Printing from the iPad (and Other iPad Functionalities)
Hat tip to PC World's JR Raphael who writes in The Apple iPad Printing Secret, "The good folks at The Form Group, an Ohio-based visual design firm, have come up with a fantastic workaround that lets you print directly from your iPad. No major modifications are needed, and you'll be up and running in minutes." Here's the how-to!
After trying to print, here's a iPad use for copy-capable "devices." Hat tip to The LIS Kid. [JH]
AltLaw Shuts Down But Remains an Open Access Success Story
In November 2009, the AltLaw team announced that it would be shutting down its website and search service explaining that "[e]verything we have done or planned to do with AltLaw, Google [SLOJ] has does better. What else would you expect? Search is their core business; they have hundreds of brilliant engineers, a vast computing infrastructure, and billions of dollars invested in it."
... we -- a small academic group within Columbia Law School -- were never really equipped to handle the challenges of building and maintaining a state-of-the-art search engine. When we started out, three years ago, our goal was to make primary legal research freely available to the public. In that, we have succeeded: primary legal research is freely available to the public, not only from Google, but from several start-ups and non-profits.
On May 3, 2010, AltLaw officially closed, joining PreCYdent which closed last year. In describing the LAW.GOV project last October, Carl Malmud wrote "[t]here have been a series of piecemeal successes which have demonstrated that there is a demand and a need for more legal information to be more broadly available." Despite their closures, AltLaw and PreCYdent were proof of concept successes for the open access movement. See It's Time for Law.Gov. [JH]
Recent Legal Research Textbooks for Introductory and Advanced Legal Research Instruction: Time for Next Year's Adoption Review
On RIPS Law Librarian, Jason Sowards recommends Mark Osbeck's Impeccable Research: A Concise Guide to Mastering Legal Research Skills (West 2010) as a supplementary text for introductory legal research or advanced legal research courses. "It would also be a great reference on research strategies for new attorneys. This would be a reference book that I would encourage students not to sell back to the bookstore at the end of the semester."
From the book description:
This book stresses a systematic, problem-solving approach to legal research. It sets out a clear, step-by-step research strategy that guides students through the research process. The book also includes a section on tips for avoiding common research pitfalls, a troubleshooting guide for helping students overcome the occasional problems that may crop up in their legal research projects, and a summary of the various primary and secondary sources of law and their use. This book serves as a reference guide for law students and young lawyers, as well as an innovative classroom text on legal research.
Perhaps Osbeck's "Impeccable Research" would be a good supplement to Olson's Principles of Legal Research (West 2009) for introductory legal research instruction.
The text provides encyclopedic yet concise coverage of research methods and resources using both free and commercial Web sites as well as printed publications. An introductory survey of research strategies is followed by chapters on the sources of U.S. law created by each branch of government, discussion of major secondary sources, and an overview of international and comparative law. Sample illustrations are included, and an appendix lists nearly 500 major treatises and looseleaf services by subject.
ALR instructors may want to turn to Murray and DeSanctis' Legal Research Methods (West 2009) as their primary text. From the blurb:
This book focuses on legal research tools and the theory and practice of legal research, written from a practitioner's perspective. It discusses planning for and performing research and provides criteria for determining when you are finished with your research. It includes sample research plans for tight budgets in terms of time or expense and uses a process-oriented methodology designed to maximize research results in the most economical way.
Grab your free review copies from West for possible adoption for the 2010-2011 academic year if you haven't already done so. Worst case scenario, you can add the copies to the law library collection; one less invoice to pay.
Gavin's Real World Research Skills. One non-West title well worth considering as a supplementary text for introductory legal research or advanced legal research courses is Peggy Garvin's Real World Research Skills: An Introduction to Factual, International, Judicial, Legislative, and Regulatory Research, 2d ed., (Capitol Net, 2009). Gavin's work compiles basic advice, techniques, reference information, and resources to help working professionals. So getting her book into the hands of Google generation law school students before they become practitioners would be a real plus. Of all the titles cited in this post, it may be the one that law school students don't try to sell in the used book market. [JH]
Reference/Government Documents Librarian, Elon Univ. School of LawResponsibilities: The Reference Government Documents Librarian reports to the Associate Dean for Library and Information Services. She/he will provide high-quality reference services to students, faculty and members of the practicing bar as well as participating in the teaching of Legal Research to the students. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: providing extensive general reference and research assistance to law students and faculty; develops and teaches online and traditional legal research instructional programs; supervises the government documents material; authors research guides for the library’s web site; provides general reference, backup to the circulation department on as necessary and other duties as assigned.
Qualifications: J.D. (ABA-accredited) and M.L.S. (ALA-accredited) required. Provide general reference and research assistance to law students and faculty: Develops and teaches online and traditional legal research instructional programs; supervise the government documents material; knowledge of Westlaw/Lexis and other legal research databases.
Application Deadline: Tuesday, May 24, 2010.
If interested, apply at the Office of Human Resources, 314 W. Haggard Avenue, Elon, NC, or send cover letter, resume and list of three references (including phone numbers) to: Office of Human Resources, 2070 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244, electronic submissions to hr(at)elon.edu
May 13, 2010
Using an iPad in Jury Trials: Legal Skills Profs and Law Firm Tech Specialists Take NoteIn iPad at Trial, Maclitigator explains how an attorney used an iPad as "the primary means of getting information in front of a jury" in his openings and closings, display admitted documents and display deposition transcripts during cross-examination during a recent four day trial. Hat tip to iPhoneJD. [JH]
Time for Casebook Writers to Unite: Rethinking Author Contracts Because the eBook is Coming
Some snips from UCLA law prof Stephen Bainbridge's blog post:
Change is coming. The major law school casebook publishers are working on game changers like eBooks and textbook rentals, while trying to do so unilaterally within the confines of standard form contracts designed for the 19th Century.
Textbook pricing is out of whack. Our students are paying outrageous prices. I am willing to consider how we can fairly take steps to reduce that financial impact, but not at the expense of gutting my royalty income.
Individual authors have little bargaining power. Collectively, we would wield considerable bargaining power, but there are huge obstacles to collective action on our part. As a result, we are all subject to huge pressure to accept unilateral changes imposed by the publisher even if the outdated form contract we signed 20 years ago doesn't remotely cover the situation.
We need to find ways for collective action. Blogs can get the word out. Individual authors can contact their publishers. Yet, I'd also like to see some sort of national collective action. Perhaps the AALS could schedule a conference between leading authors and the major publishers. Maybe we need a quasi-union, like the Author's Guild. Heck, maybe we need a real union, like the Writer's Guild.
Rethinking Author Contracts for the Digital World. Casebook authors may want to check out a recent podcast from Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book. The podcast features attorney Sara Pearl and literary agent John Silbersack, both of the Trident Media Group, as they discuss contract clauses and rights negotiations between publishers and authors in the digital age. Here's the podcast and transcript. [JH]
The App-Driven Internet
In Advantage Apple, Alan Kohler takes notice of potentially paradigm shifting changes that OS4, Apple's new iPhone operating system, may set into motion. OS4 will contain iAd, an an advertising platform that will allow app developers to put ads into their applications. Kohler writes
iAd is a direct assault on Google, or rather it completes the assault that began with the invention of the iPhone and continues with the iPad. Apps are simply a better and more reliable way to get content than the internet browsers on which Google relies.
If iAd will work on Apple iPads and presumption is that it will, "publishers will be able to replicate and then enhance their traditional business model – charging for the content and putting advertising with it – on two devices, one large and one small," writes Kohler. Correctly observing that "it turn[s] out to be very difficult for a content vendor to make a living selling material of any value in a browser on the Internet, distributed by Google" Kohler ads the "app store is now becoming much more analogous to the print distribution system" for content providers.
Good apps are expensive to make, it’s true, but they’re a lot cheaper than buying a printing press. ... And at least prices won’t have to be zero as they do with Google, and the publishing market will be able to find a new equilibrium that will support decent content.
As noted on LLB in Open Access in a Closed Universe: Thomson Reuter, Reed Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer and the Monetization Opportunities of Distribution Channels in the Legal Information Marketplace, one can expect an app-driven Internet will become be a lucrative distribution channel for legal publishers to market their products, perhaps even on an standing order or a subscription basis.
Apple is taking a big risk, however, in making it a closed system. The new OS4 tightens controls so application developers can use no third party tools and software – mainly designed to prevent them using Adobe’s Flash system. ... Jobs is once again betting that his fully integrated product design will prevail against an open platform.
That's just the sort of music legal publishers want to hear. It's not necessarily bad in and of itself. As previous mentioned in the above-linked LLB post:
While we might hope for the day when .txt is the new .mpg, when eText is DRM-free, it's more realistic to consider as something viable in the future semi-open access under a licensing model that allows law libraries to provide some form of limited duration eBook access to their user population.
Is the app-driven Internet the next stage in the trend where the ownership model is swapped for the licensing model? Wait and see...
Related LLB posts:
- Is the iPad Setting the Stage for the Wider Adoption of the Touch-Screen Interface?
- The Window of Opportunity for UI Development is Open: Who Will Create the Better Mouse-Trap for Using Secondary Legal Resources Online?
May 12, 2010
Google Redesigns Search Results Page Display
Last week, Google updated its search engine results page display by adding options in a left sidebar designed to help narrow one's search results. See the Official Google Blog post; Google-produced video below. Some don't like it. In Google Gives Its Search Results a Facelift, NYT Bits blogger Brad Stone complains about the redesign as "adding some visual clutter at the expense of offering users tools to help focus their query." But have most Google users even noticed?
In Google: to Universal Search and back again, Pandia Search News notes that protests have been plentiful "but seriously, what Google has done is a good thing. ... Google is torn between two opposing philosophies: (1) simplicity and (2) guidance." Click on the image, left, produced by Pandia Search News for before and after redesign screen shots. [JH]
Cost Saving Estimate by Going With Only One Very Expensive Legal Search Vendor31% of law firm librarians report law firms have or intended to move to single vendor for online legal research in 2009 compared to 12% in 2008 according to American Lawyer's 2009 law library survey. See Lexis or Westlaw No Longer a Blasphemous Question at BigLaw Firms (Sept. 9, 2009). About the single vendor issue, Toby Brown writes on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog that the "rising pressure from clients not to pass on these types of costs is making this decision more of a real option." His very conservative estimate is a law firm can save approximately 25%. "[A] decision to go to a single primary law access service will include a bit of work, but could lead to significant savings." See Toby Brown's post for details. [JH]
How Do You Intend to Turn Strategy Into Tactics? 2010-2013 AALL Strategic Directions Statement Adopted
In a message dated May 6, 2010, AALL President Catherine Lemann announced that our association's Executive Board adopted AALL's 2010-2013 Strategic Directions statement at its April 9-10 board meeting. Lemann adds that an overview of the Association's new strategy will be presented to the membership at the 2010 Annual Meeting during the Business Meeting to be held July 12.
Perhaps an equally, if not more, important meeting would be to attend the "Meet the Candidates" session on July 13. One question to ask candidates might be "how do you intend to do to turn strategy into tactics, if elected?" A strategy without tactics is nothing more than an empty promise to the membership. See AALL's Draft Strategic Directions Statement for 2010-2013: Good Job as Long as It Does Not End Here.
Compared to last year, at least this year's slate of candidates offers a better chance to elect officers and board members representing a broader range of institutional affiliations to direct our association. It's going to take an executive board that represents the entire spectrum of institutional members to turn AALL into an agent of change for all of us. See Taking the Proverbial Bull by the Horns: AALL as an Agent of Change. [JH]
The Power of Open Data to Find Problems in Complicated Environments, and Possibly Even to Prevent Them from Emerging: How Open Data Saved Canada $3.2 Billion
David Eaves reports in Case Study: How Open Data Saved Canada $3.2 Billion that open data helped expose one of the biggest tax frauds in Canada’s history. He observes "[e]ssentially from before 2005-2007 dozens of charities were operating illegally. Had the data about their charitable receipts been available for the public's routine review, someone in the public might have taken notice and raised a fuss earlier."
In the computer world there is something called Linus' Law, which states: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs (problems) are shallow." The same could be said about many public policy or corruption issues. For many data sets, citizens should not have to make a request. Nor should we have to answer questions about why we want the data. It should be downloadable in its entirety. Not trapped behind some unhelpful search engine. When data is made readily available in machine readable formats, more eyes can look at it. This means that someone on the ground, in the community ... who knows the sector, is more likely to spot something a public servant in another city might not see because they don't have the right context or bandwidth. And if that public servant is not allowed to talk about the issue, then they can share this information with their fellow citizens.
This is the power of open data: The power to find problems in complicated environments, and possibly even to prevent them from emerging.
The case study illustrates Eaves' three laws of open government data:
- If it can’t be spidered or indexed, it doesn’t exist.
- If it isn’t available in open and machine readable format, it can’t engage.
- If a legal framework doesn’t allow it to be repurposed, it doesn’t empower.
May 11, 2010
Party Hard at an Elite Law School
The top ranked party law school according this very important law school ranking study is the University of Arizona. TaxProf Blog has done a great service to law school applicants by cross referencing the party law school ranking to the U.S. News Law School ranking here to provide very useful information to law school applicants who want to attend a highly ranked school by both. By the party-hard-at-a-top-ranked US News metric, the best schools appear to be UC-Berkeley, Michigan and Harvard. Sorry Yale. Looks like the best thing to do is acquire residency status in California or Michigan for a 2-fer.
Of course, once the party is over, the job search begins. See TaxProf Blog's Did 16 Law Schools Commit Rankings Malpractice? about employment data supplied by law schools and employment data assumptions made by US News for the the 74 schools that did not supply U.S. News with the percentage of the class employed at graduation. [JH]
Kagan SCOTUS Nomination Round-Up
Hat tip to the Resource Shelf for Fast Facts About Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan; Including Appearances on C-SPAN.
NPR stories include Kagan's Positions On Hot-Button Issues In Spotlight, Kagan Likely To Be Pressed On Writings, Experience, and Having Judged Not, How Will Kagan Be Judged?("If Elena Kagan is confirmed, she will become the first Supreme Court justice in four decades to ascend to the high court with no previous judicial experience.")
Update: The Georgetown Law Library has updated its Supreme Court Nominations Guide to include materials on Kagan. Hat tip to Sara Sampson, Head of Reference, Georgetown Law Library. In her list-serv announcement, Sara adds that the Georgetown Law Library's reference department will be keeping the guide up to date as more materials become available. See also the Law Library of Congress Kagan resources page. [JH]
Internet Filtering: Censorship or Collection Development?
That question, more or less, came before the Washington Supreme Court. Public libraries in that state may filter results without running afoul of the Washington State Constitution’s equivalent of the First Amendment:
SECTION 5 FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.
The Court describes the Washington Constitution provision as offering greater speech protections in some circumstances compared to the Federal Constitution. The case started when three individuals and a gun rights organization sued the North Central Regional Library District (NCRL), a public library, because the NCRL blocked Internet access to some sites that are constitutionally protected speech. NCRL filters access to the Internet guided by two stated policies, one covering collection development and the second an acceptable use policy. NCRL added filters to library computers to meet their policy objectives as well as their obligations under the Child Internet Protection Act. The Court noted 76 categories of information that NCRLs filters block. These include adult oriented entertainment sites, hacking sites, IM, gambling sites, spyware sites, and others. Site blocking applied to all patrons regardless of age.
The blocked site specifically mentioned by the Court in its opinion is www.womenandguns.com. The site content is consistent with views held by Second Amendment enthusiasts and could not be mistaken for anything but protected speech. There is evidence by the plaintiff in the record that false positives for the filters range between 11% and 23%. (The library shows smaller figures.) The plaintiffs argue that under these circumstances the filters are overly broad for their purpose and as such, unconstitutional. The Court noted that the women and guns site is not currently blocked nor had NCRL contended that it should be blocked.
The Washington Court first decided that prior restraint law should not apply to the situation, citing U.S. v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003), for the proposition that prior restraint jurisprudence should not extend to collection development decisions. The Court likens the filtering policy to a standard as to what the library will and will not add to the collection. It cites this provision from A.L.A. in support:
“A library’s need to exercise judgment in making collection decisions depends on its traditional role in identifying suitable and worthwhile material; it is no less entitled to play that role when it collects material from the Internet than when it collects material from any other source.”
Because the amount of content available on the Internet is so vast, it is impossible for a library to review it. As such, it is permissible to ban content by category, especially if the idea is to view the action as adding to the collection rather than removing material from it. The Court then states that a library is under no obligation to make available any or all protected speech simply because it exists, and that principle extends to the Internet. Even further, the Court notes that should the library have unlimited space and money, it still would not be obligated to make all protected speech available.
As to the high number of false positives, the Court noted that patrons could request unblocking of specific URLs. The methodology is a bit cumbersome as it requires a patron to send an email and the page is reviewed against the two policies and CIPA. Unblocking occurs after the review provided it is a false positive. The response time could be within a few hours or a few days. The application of the process as a whole, in spite of its limitations, does not make it overbroad and unconstitutional.
The Court also rejected the notion that the filters effectively reduced available Internet content to that safe for children. It’s a collection development issue:
Most importantly, just as a public library has discretion to make content-based decisions about which magazines and books to include in its collection, it has discretion to make decisions about Internet content. A public library can decide that it will not include pornography and other adult materials in its collection in accord with its mission and policies and, as explained, no unconstitutionality necessarily results. It can make the same choices about Internet access.
So, what to make of all this? I actually think the decision is a good one, if for no other reason that it gives a public library (albeit confined to one state) the discretion over what materials it collects and what materials it does not collect. It is easy to argue that the Internet is self contained and by its nature, one has access to all of it if one has access at all. The Washington Supreme Court’s reliance on A.L.A.is not necessarily misplaced in making the assumption that selecting online content is a collection development issue if it is viewpoint neutral and not arbitrary. Filtering is not exactly a science. Web content is fluid, and while it would be desirable to filter no more material than necessary, filters will always lean to more than less. In this case, the Court noted the reporting system for unblocking otherwise constitutional speech. A report may not be resolved on the spot, but it is resolvable within a reasonable amount of time.
I think a decision to the contrary would unnecessarily complicate collection development for print materials just on the principle that public libraries would have a legal obligation to make available all or as much protected speech as possible. That may not be a practical approach, and courts may say as much. However, saying that won’t stop someone from suing because the library didn’t buy their book or a book that supports their ideas. I realize that some public library patrons rely on free Internet access at a library. This should not mean that a library should duplicate whatever access that person could have at home. The opinion neither requires libraries to offer maximum Internet content nor stop them from doing so subject to the requirements of CIPA. From my perspective, the fact that public libraries have that discretion and can still meet their mission is a good thing.
Will the Goals of the Semantic Web Be Achieved by 2020? Results of Pew Internet Survey
For Pew Internet's The Fate of the Semantic Web, almost 900 experts and stakeholders were asked to predict the likely progress toward achieving the goals of the semantic web by 2020. The findings are displayed below:
Asked to think about the likelihood that Berners-Lee and his allies will realize their semantic web vision, "these technology experts and stakeholders were divided and often contentious." Some of the major themes that emerged in the answers to the survey include:
Too many complicated things have to fall into place for the semantic web to be fully realized. The idea is a noble one and gives the technology community something to shoot for. But there is too much variation among people and cultures and economic competitors to allow for such a grand endeavor to come to fruition.
Forget the skeptics. The semantic web will take shape and launch an “age of knowledge.” Early successes will build momentum.
Improvements are inevitable, but they will not unfold the way Tim Berners-Lee and his allies have sketched out. They will be grassroots-driven rather than standards-driven. Data mining, links, analysis of social exchanges will help drive the process of smartening the web without more formal semantic apps.
The timeline of this question is off. The semantic web is shaping up, but it will take longer than the 10 years the question cited.
The semantic web will not really take off until it finds its killer app – something we all find that we need.
The killer app will come when we can ask the internet questions – and that will make things much more efficient. Conversational search will be the key to opening users’ eyes to the potential for the semantic web.
Creating the semantic web is a difficult thing that will depend on machines that can straighten out the massive confusions and complications that humans create.
The track record of proponents of artificial intelligence is just not good enough to justify the hope that machines will learn to understand the human meaning of things.
Human tendencies, preferences, and habits will determine the extent of the success of the semantic web – and probably thwart full realization of the dream. If people take the time to create sites and databases using information standards, then major progress will be made. Yet plenty of factors could, and likely will, stand in the way.
There will be an upstairs-downstairs quality to adoption and use. Elite and specialized users will be able to take advantage of the semantic web in ways that everyday internet users likely will not. Business applications will have more stakeholders than consumer or social apps. Particular activities will be the norm, rather than activities that appear similar throughout the web.
The very essence of the idea of the semantic web continues to evolve, as does every aspect of the Internet; it is difficult to predict what will happen because the aspirations of its proponents are shifting to take account of new realities and current limitations.
There are some applications and activities online that show the promise of the semantic web, among them: TripIt, Xobni, TrueKnowledge, Wolfram|Alpha, Open Calais, Hakia.
Hat tip to beSpacific. [JH]
CourtListener for Daily Updates on Opinions Issued by SCOTUS and Federal Circuit Courts
This site was created by Michael Lissner as part of a masters thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. ... The goal of the site is to create a free and competitive real time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system.
At present, the site has daily information regarding all precedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. Each day, we also have the non-precedential opinions from all of the Circuit courts except the D.C. Circuit. This means that by 5:10pm PST, the database will be updated with the opinions of the day, with custom alerts going out shortly thereafter.
The coverage of our corpus for a given court varies, but it is growing on a daily basis. We are working to integrate the documents from other online sites that provide free public access to court documents.
To see am overview of regular updates, visit the site's coverage page. [JH]
May 10, 2010
Leiter on Campos and Tushnet on SCOTUS Nominee Kagan's Scholarly Record
Here. This Chicago law prof notes:
Kagan did get tenure at Chicago (well before my time) based on rather limited scholarly productivity, and I have the impression it was a close case. Smarts in conversation goes a long way here, as does good teaching, and no doubt the school's lack of tenured women at the time was a non-trivial consideration. On the other hand, as I've noted before, Chicago declined to hire her back with tenure (also before my time) after her stint in the Clinton Administration, since the bar for tenure from the inside is almost always lower than the bar for a lateral appointment with tenure.
Is any of this significant? Not as far as I can see. Justice Scalia was no scholarly heavyweight at the time of his nomination to the Supreme Court (I am trying to be polite about this), and he has turned out to be an important and influential jurist.
Bottom line: It takes more, much more, than a scholarly reputation to garner a SCOTUS nomination. [JH]