« Northwestern University Law Review Spring Article Selection and Call for Symposium Proposals | Main | AALS is returning in person in San Diego 2023! »

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Crazy if Wrong, Crazier if Right

I found only thing startling about this story reporting that a former clerk to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson "embarked on a Wikipedia editing spree over the past week, bolstering the page of his former boss while altering the pages of her competitors in an apparent attempt to invite liberal skepticism, according to a statement from his fellow clerks." It certainly wasn't the act itself (for which no sensible or charitable person would hold the judge responsible). It was this bit: "The most recent changes to Jackson's page appear to be an attempt at swaying left-leaning opinion in her favor. On Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, user H2rty made significant changes to the body of Jackson’s page, cutting a reference to Jackson’s position on an advisory board of 'a Baptist school.'” It takes a remarkable level of youthful hubris and immurement in some kind of epistemic bubble to confidently conclude that deleting a reference to a judge's service to a Baptist religious organization would improve her chances at nomination, let alone confirmation in a divided Senate or wider electoral benefits. Worse still is the possibility that the judgment was accurate insofar as it reflected a prediction of the views, not of left-leaning or liberal public opinion, but of left-leaning or liberal interest groups. I don't think even that is correct, although if it were it would reflect badly on the political acumen of those groups and suggest the dangers of being generously well-funded by a few wealthy private donors instead of having to appeal broadly to the public for financial support.

I think of it mostly as youthful error. But the episode may also serve the same function that law professor listservs do: offering a powerful reminder that some kinds of brilliance are almost directly disproportionate to any kind of skill at reading or predicting politics and may be better as a guide to how to lose elections.  

Posted by Paul Horwitz on February 5, 2022 at 02:53 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


The comments to this entry are closed.