My court is bigger than your court

Posted: Dec 14, 2000 12:00 AM
Few methods of becoming a trusted TV legal "expert" are as guaranteed as being consistently wrong in your legal analysis. Smugness in your wrong predictions is especially valued.

In the week before the real Supreme Court vacated the Florida kangaroo court's original crack-pot interpretation of "seven days" in Florida election law to mean "19 days," there was a lot of both. You would think that one week of wrong predictions about whether the U.S. Supreme Court would even deign to hear the case might have humbled the "experts." Alas, no.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, finally emerging from his shell, explained the Supreme Court's decision to take the case this way: "The Supreme Court saw Jim Baker trashing a state supreme court, saying, in effect, that it's OK to defy the law of the highest court of the state, and I think there's some justices who said, 'We have to protect the judiciary here ... and we have to affirm in the Supreme Court.'"


On Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor," another Harvard law professor, Martha A. Field, explained the "main principle" -- as she put it -- of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling by saying, "(T)he U.S. Supreme Court will not interpret the meaning of state law." The learned professor remarked dismissively, "I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court has a lot to say about this."

So there you have it. Except -- oops -- "Vacated!"

Professor Field was not only completely wrong, but also rather snippy about anyone having the audacity to disagree with her uniformly incorrect statements of the law. She scoffed at the little people in the Florida Legislature who seemed to believe they have some role in determining the manner in which presidential electors are chosen -- "insofar as (the Florida Legislature is) suggesting that their decision would trump a decision of the Florida Supreme Court, they're pretty far out of line."

In point of fact, what the U.S. Supreme Court found "pretty far out of line" was the Florida Supreme Court's delusion (shared by professor Field) that it could trump the Florida Legislature in determining the manner in which presidential electors are appointed. So out of line that it vacated the ruling of the Supreme Court of Florida (SCOFLA).

Students at Harvard Law School intent on learning the law, as opposed to the political belief system of the Democratic Party, would be well advised to take some sort of legal correspondence course.

And not just Harvard. Nat Stern, a law professor at Florida State University, was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times saying the case was simple -- "a fairly ordinary matter" -- and that Bush would lose since the SCOFLA was just doing its job.

Constitutional law professor Martin Redish of Northwestern University said, "I'd be flabbergasted if the Supreme Court actually accepted the Bush argument."

In an article for American Lawyer Media, Vikram David Amar, constitutional law professor at Hastings College, referred to the "creative -- and dare I say extraordinary" -- argument of the Bush lawyers that the SCOFLA had changed the law by "interpreting" seven days to mean "19 days."

A unanimous U.S Supreme Court didn't find the argument all that "creative." It noted rather blandly that "a legislative wish to take advantage of the 'safe harbor' (by enforcing a seven-day deadline) would counsel against any construction of the Election Code that Congress might deem to be a change in the law."

Blowhard liberal law professors can never stick to just being wrong. They are compelled by some invisible force to be both wrong and arrogant. Law professorships finally allow women a chance to say vicious things without being hit.

Law professor Lis Wiehl of the University of Washington adopted the unusually insane Alan Dershowitz theory of the Supreme Court taking the case to express its deep and profound respect for the SCOFLA. Professor Wiehl said: "And I think that's why the Supreme Court decided to take this, is not because they thought there was something wrong with the decision, but that they're going to uphold the (Florida) Supreme Court decision."

Professor Wiehl was absolutely indignant with fellow panelist Joe DiGenova on "Rivera Live" for questioning the great and inscrutable wisdom of the SCOFLA. "When he -- when he talked about the Florida court's actions being questionable, I'm -- I'm so tired of that."

The tired professor Wiehl exasperatedly continued: "If you look at the Florida Supreme Court opinion, what you'll see is that they took two conflicting statutes and they did what courts all over the country do every day. They interpreted two statutes, and they chose to go with the statute that was the more recent statute and the one that is more particularized. That is just common, everyday, judicial interpretation."