Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More critiques of Judge Sotomayor's writing style

We had previously reported on some early critiques of the Supreme Court nominee's writing style here.  The National Law Journal has gathered reactions from several more factions here.  This is an excerpt:

Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones magazine panned Sotomayor's writing style as "an impenetrable legal opus." In The New York Times, Adam Liptak was a shade more diplomatic when he wrote that her opinions are "not always a pleasure to read." Liptak also asserted that her opinions "reveal no larger vision, seldom appeal to history and consistently avoid quotable language."

Indiana University Maurer School of Law -- Bloomington professor William Popkin, author of a 2007 book on the evolution of judicial opinion writing, took a look at some of Sotomayor's decisions at the request of The National Law Journal. His verdict: "Her approach is to touch every base with a legalistic and analytical style. This way of writing will not bring along converts from either the public or the broader legal profession, outside of the area of specialty with which the case deals. Nor will it stand up to [Antonin] Scalia, as [John Paul] Stevens or [Stephen] Breyer do."

Former federal trial judge Paul Cassell said he does not think Sotomayor's methodical approach gives "exceptional guidance" to lower court judges. "Someone with a better style, who can cut through the morass and see the key issue, might offer clearer guidance." Cassell, now a law professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, said he has reviewed Sotomayor's decisions and didn't see "any flashes of light or touches of brilliance."

Read the rest of NLJ's coverage here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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