Walking down the front steps of the Supreme Court on the day my co-counsel (Alan Gura and Bob Levy) and I won the Heller gun case. It's not every day you get to help revive one-tenth of the Bill of Rights.
5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
MasterChef Junior, a cooking competition for kids. My wife Nicki and I enjoy cooking together and watching cooking shows. It is incredibly humbling to see how talented these kids are. We're expecting our first child, a boy, on November 1. We wouldn't be sad if he turned out to be a prodigy in the kitchen.
6. What’s the best present you ever received as a child?
Honestly, it was a mooring line -- a big, thick rope -- that my dad brought home from Maine, where his younger brother was a boat captain. My parents hung the rope from a tree outside our house, and I spent hours climbing, swinging, and doing tricks on it. Sometimes the simplest presents are the best.
7. What’s the best present you ever gave?
We had a "white elephant" gift exchange at the office Christmas party. Whichever one of my coworkers ended up with my present could pick a famous author and I would write a short story in the style of that author with the coworker as the hero. It turned out to be IJ's head of communications, John Kramer, and he chose Hemingway. Here's the last paragraph of the story: "Kramer smiled and turned and walked out the front door of the saloon into the street. To kill or die. Like a man. In the rain."
8. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
I remember my dad telling me when I was about 11 that the only thing wrong with a depressed and dysfunctional friend of his is that he seemed to think of himself as a victim of forces beyond his control -- as if the world were out to get him and there was nothing he could do about it. The implicit point was "Don't ever think of yourself that way." Boy, was that good advice.
9. Who would be on the perfect "Red Eye" panel?
My wife Nicki, because she's pretty, cool, and topical; my friend Bob Levy, who is chairman of the Cato Institute and with whom I clerked after law school, because he is brilliant and wickedly funny; and my Institute for Justice colleague Dick Komer because he has no internal editor -- none whatsoever.
10. What books are on your reading list?
Actually, I was just reading my own book, "Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution's Promise of Limited Government," because I'm being interviewed about it later today and I've never read the final version. (Sorry for the shameless plug!) Also on the list: "Jury Nullification" (yes, please), by Clay S. Conrad; and "American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment," by Gerard N. Magliocca. John Bingham was the principal author of the Fourteenth Amendment, the most important amendment to the Constitution and perhaps the most misunderstood. I want to know everything about it.
11. What would you like tomorrow's headline to say?
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GIVES UP, DECIDES TO EXERCISE ONLY CONSTITUTIONALLY AUTHORIZED POWERS
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
I'm actually on the other side of that issue. I sue bureaucrats and try to undo the handiwork of legislators who enact unconstitutional laws. I decided to do that after I clerked for a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., right out of law school. I never once saw a government lawyer take responsibility for anything the government did, no matter how awful. Instead, the government's position in court tends to be like that of a three-year-old child: "Nothing bad happened. If something bad happened, we didn't do it. If we did do it, it wasn't our fault -- it was some guy who works for us but for whom we have no responsibility. Also, citizens have no standing to be in court, and we're not liable for anything. Nyah, nyah!" The greatest threat to the future of America is unaccountable government, bar none. My colleagues at the Institute for Justice and I are fighting to hold the government accountable when it violates people's rights. Best. Job. Ever.
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