Thursday, November 27, 2008

DC--NYC Trip Day 3

Arrived a little late to the Convention this morning, but still caught the lion's share of a panel discussion on whether life tenure for judges is a good idea, and if not, what other system is preferable. Amazingly, this subject engenders much animosity among some law professors. University of Pennsylvania Professor Stephen Burbank was especially obnoxious in his advocacy for lifetime tenure. He described those who disagreed with him as engaging in "judicial navel looking" and "tendentious." Those who disagree with life tenure had good arguments, but I ultimately believe they're wrong in their assessment. Next, there was a discussion on judicial independence. On one side, Thomas Wells, President of the ABA, talked about how the Judiciary is under assault from all sides (blah, blah, blah). On the other side, 5th Circuit judge William Pryor talked about how questioning the Judiciary was a healthy part of democracy, and ultimately makes the Judiciary stronger. Unfortunately, the discussion devolved somewhat into how the ABA is a liberal partisan organization, but up to that point it was very interesting.

Lunch inlcuded a panel on civil litigation under the Robert's Court. Could have been interesting, but it wasn't.

The post-lunch talk by Mark Steyn, author of America Alone, the single most enjoyable presentation during the Convention.

Steyn, a Canadian who now lives in New Hampshire, talked about how he was brought before three Canadian Human Rights Councils because a few Canadian Muslims found some passages from his book insulting. (They didn't argue what he wrote was incorrect, just that they didn't like what he said and found it insulting.) It was a laugh riot. Steyn is a gifted story-teller with an insightful mind. The funniest portion of his talk was his description of returning to America after attending the HRC's kangaroo courts (his words, not mine). When the border guard asked Steyn the reason for his visit to Canada, he responded, "I was put on trial for crimes against humanity." The guard looked at Steyn, undoubtedly saw the smirk on his face, and said, "Well, welcome home." Classic.

Last panel of the day was about freedom of speech v. anti-discrimination laws. Interesting, scary but interesting. This was my first time seeing Andrew Koppleman. He's almost as utterly obnoxious and unwittingly uninformed in person as he is in print.

I skipped out on the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecuture by Edith Jones to eat dinner with Dem, Gretchen, and Elliot. We ate at Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House.

Since this was one of Teddy Roosevelt's old haunts, I ordered one of his favorite dishes: calf's liver and onions (his favorite dish was fried chicken). It was quite good, little grainy and minerally, but very enjoyable.

Home it was after the meal.

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