If Obama wants to appoint a Scalia for the left, he should choose Pam Karlan, a longtime colleague of mine at Virginia who now teaches at Stanford. Pam is (1) brilliant, (2) broadly knowledgeable — Cass Sunstein aside, I can’t think of anyone who knows so much about so many different legal fields — and (3) a spectacularly gifted writer. The last point matters enormously. Robert Jackson served only thirteen years on the Supreme Court, but his opinions remain influential today because of his talent with language. Many judges and justices leave their mark on the law because of their votes. Only a few have influence that lasts beyond their lifespan, and the common thread in those judicial careers is an uncommon ability to capture a complicated argument in a memorable phrase. Henry Friendly, Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Marshall — all had that talent, and many of those phrases survive and shape legal doctrine today. Intellectual horsepower helps, but horsepower alone isn’t enough to produce a lasting impact on the law. David Souter is a perfect example: he may be among the smartest Justices to serve on the Court, but he seems incapable of producing clear, tight opinions. A couple decades hence, few will cite his work.
Pam Karlan and Souter's Seat--Stuntz
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