Will Chief Justice Burger's Official Biography Ever Arrive?

Twenty-five years ago, the official biographer was paid $600,000. Timothy Flanigan is in no hurry.

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Chief Justice Burger may be the least influential member of the Burger Court. In modern-day discussions about constitutional law, he barely registers. Justice Blackmun wrote Roe. Justice Powell wrote the Bakke concurrence. Justice Rehnquist led the federalism revolution. Justice Stevens led the Court's liberal wing for decades. Justice O'Connor was the first female Justice. Indeed, the members of the Burger Court that preceded Burger–Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, and Marshall–still feature prominently in any study of constitutional law. The most significant Burger decision in our casebook was INS v. Chadha, and we have since removed it. Perhaps Burger has a bigger influence in Criminal Procedure. But for Constitutional Law, I spend very little time talking about Chief Justice Burger. Maybe Burger's only modern-day relevance is his short essay about the Second Amendment in Parade Magazine.

For these reasons, I was unaware that Chief Justice Burger did not have an official biography. Tony Mauro explains why.

Shortly after Burger died in 1995, three of his law clerks met to discuss an official biography: Ken Starr, Mike Luttig, and Tim Flanigan. According to Flanigan, "no one was really interested in doing a biography of the chief justice, at least that we could find, and it came, 'Well, should one of us do it?'" At the time, Starr was busy with the Clinton investigation, and Luttig was a busy federal judge. According to Flanigan, "They both kind of looked at me and said, 'Well, you're just practicing law, Tim. Why don't you do the biography?'"

According to the New York Times, the Federalist Society "administered the financing for the project." The benefactor was Dwight Opperman. By 2001, the Federalist Society paid more than $600,000 "for researchers, expenses and a salary for Mr. Flanigan." That amount was equivalent to Flanigan's salary from the New York law firm he left to work on the project. At that point, the book was apparently 2/3 complete. But "Flanigan . . . put it aside to work" as deputy White House counsel.

Two decades later, Tony Mauro reports, the book remains unfinished. According to Flanigan, he has only covered the first forty years of Burger's life. "I've written about his early life, his family background. I have rough drafts about his rise in politics and civic affairs and his legal practice in Minnesota, taken up to about 1947 or so." I eagerly await the discussion of 1948-1953, when Burger worked on the Minnesota Governor's interracial commission. I'm not sure how this book could have been deemed 2/3 complete.

What is the cause for the delay? Flanigan, who is 67, plans to return to the project when he retires. He told Mauro, "I am very much looking forward to picking up the writing again, as soon as my current career phase is over."

$600,000 is an obscene amount of money for a book project about a fairly non-influential Justice. My goodness. In the span of a decade, Joan Biskupic wrote four excellent biographies about significant Supreme Court justices. And, I suspect, she did not have a team of researchers who were paid that much money. Writing a book is an arduous project. You must have the commitment and passion to write, write, and write every day.  And you must love the project, even when you hate it. Joan talked about her writing process in a recent SCOTUSBlog podcast. (No, I did not listen to the podcast, but I used Otter to transcribe it):

Howe: Yeah, so you've written four books. And that is a lot for somebody with a full time job, even with, you know, even with book leaves, it's still a lot, because I'm sure you were working on the books, even on both sides of the book leaves.

Biskupic: You know, you're right, and probably what at first of all, I've always had a very high energy level, and, you know, going to law school at night, gets you into a mindset of your day becomes just a long day, you come home, you make dinner, you eat with your family, then you go up to this very crowded room of books and papers and everything else and have at it. And then you do it on weekends. And I actually enjoyed it  so much. And that's the thing I say to people, when people ask about going to law school, or they ask about writing a book, and I said it, it will always be hanging over your head. So you really have to love doing it.

I second everything Joan said. She is a tenacious reporter and a committed author. It is no surprise she puts out so many high-quality biographies. Flanigan is obviously not up to the task. It is impossible to start a book, stop for twenty years–the length of the entire Afghanistan campaign–and complete the project. There are many articles I start and stop. After about six months, I have to abandon the project altogether. It is no longer in my mind. I have many, many half-written, half-baked articles that will never see the light of day. If only someone paid me $600,000 to write them!

Tony's piece also sheds light on Burger's decision to restrict his papers for "10 years after the last Justice who served with Warren E. Burger on the Supreme Court has passed away, or 2026, whichever comes later." It will be later. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is still alive. At the earliest, the papers will not be open till 2031. At present, only one person has access to the papers. You guessed it. Tim Flanigan. And he hasn't looked at them in a decade! Oh, and the William and Mary law library spent $6 million to house Burger's papers. What a staggering amount of money for documents very few people will ever visit Williamsburg to read. Is there anything in the Burger papers that are not in the Blackmun and Marshall papers?

I doubt the New Hampshire Historical Society will spend nearly that amount on Justice Souter's papers, which will become available 50 years after his death! When those papers are finally available–circa 2090 or so–I may be one of the few attorneys who lived through Souter's service on the Supreme Court. (He stepped down after I graduated law school in 2009, but before I got my bar results). At that point, perhaps Gerard Magliocca's granddaughter will write a biography about an obscure and forgotten justice.

You may discern a bit of anger in this post. Indeed. So much time and effort was wasted because none of Burger's clerks actually wanted to write the book. They could have contracted with an actual author to complete the project. But instead, Flanigan drew the short straw and blew through $600,000 with nothing to show for it. That money could have been used for so many more worthwhile causes.

The Federalist Society should try to claw back whatever money it paid Flanigan.

NEXT: Alan Rozenshtein, "Silicon Valley’s Speech: Technology Giants and the Deregulatory First Amendment"

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  1. Agreed on all counts. I write a little bit and have been published, although not in a long time. You can’t let projects linger like this. I’m stunned that they didn’t just hire a writer, especially with that kind of money. There are hundreds of writers that would be happy to produce quality work for far less money than that.

    I know that you get heat from the commentariat here, Josh. One of the things I appreciate about you is that you like to write. I’m not knowledgable enough to agree or disagree on most of what the folks here produce, but it’s clear that writing and sharing your knowledge and opinions brings you pleasure and, I hope, joy. I am sure that passion carries over into your work as a teacher and that your students benefit by it.

    1. A lot of what Josh writes about is completely beyond my interest in any real sense, but everything he writes shows a fascination with his subject, enthusiasm, and a joy for the law itself, such that I at least skim almost everything he writes here just for that reason. I know nothing of horses, they don’t interest me; but I spent a half hour or so once watching a farrier just because he was so obviously skilled in what he did.

      1. but everything he writes shows a fascination with his subject,

        i.e, himself.

      2. a joy for the law itself

        Blackman writes about men, not law.

        And it’s not with joy, it’s with constant resentment that they’re not Blackman enough.

  2. But that short essay in Parade was very telling. The individual rights view of the 2A is, indeed, a “fraud” perpetrated by the gun industry.

    1. Right, because the 2A is the only part of the Constitution which grants a right to the government, as opposed to individuals. Those pesky framers, they were so worried that absent the second amendment, the government would not be able to arm its army and navy.

      1. “the 2A is the only part of the Constitution which grants a right to the government”

        It is the only part of the Bill of Rights that includes a preamble that explains why the right is protected. That reason, that was true in 1789, is not true now, and has not been true since at least the end of WWII.

        1. The preamble gives a reason why the Federal government is prohibited from interfering with the right. It does not purport to give the Federal government the power to extinguish the right on any grounds whatsoever. If you think it no longer necessary feel free to attempt to pass an Amendment. Or we could choose to remove the preamble.

    2. In the case of that essay, the only fraud was Burger’s.

      You can argue as Burger did that the right is no longer needed or appropriate, but that doesn’t repeal it. His isn’t an argument for what the 2nd amendment means, it’s an argument in favor of ignoring it.

      1. I think it’s a semi-plausible argument that the framers were as concerned about the federal government not encroaching on states rights as they were about individual rights, so the idea that the Second Amendment protects the right of states to maintain their militias isn’t completely far-fetched.

        But I do think it’s far-fetched to act as if nothing has changed since 1789 and conditions are the same now as they were then.

        1. But if you read the public debates concerning this amendment at the time it was proposed, the goal of the 2nd amendment was to preserve the state militias by making sure an armed public would be available from which they could be raised. That’s why the right was guaranteed to the people, not the militia: The militia are drawn from the people, and if you don’t have a people armed and familiar with arms, you can’t speedily raise a militia.

          Now, prior to the 14th amendment, you can certainly argue that the 2nd amendment only protected this right of the people against federal action, indeed this would be the default assumption. But, again, reading the debates over the 14th amendment, incorporation of this right against state governments was explicitly intended.

          Indeed, look at what Justice Taney, prior to the 14th amendment, had to say of “privileges and immunities”:

          “More especially, it cannot be believed that the large slaveholding States regarded them as included in the word citizens, or would have consented to a Constitution which might compel them to receive them in that character from another State. For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

          The right to keep and bear arms was understood even by the 14th amendment’s foes to be among the “privileges and immunities” which the 14th amendment guaranteed to citizens against the states’ infringement.

          1. Brett, that may be, I haven’t read the public debates over the Second Amendment so I’ll take your word for it that that’s what they say. But I don’t think that helps you any, because having an armed public was the method for constituting the militia, and is separate from the existence of the militia. We no longer need an armed public for the militia because we now have the state and national guards.

            1. Having a pool of citizens who are self-trained, armed, and ready for an unforeseen eventuality has not been eclipsed by the existence of the national guard. The individual states had their own organized militias going back to the founding. That didn’t obsolete the unorganized militia envisioned by the 2nd Amendment and neither does the existence of the current organized militias.

              1. I was responding to Brett’s specific argument about the rationale behind the Second Amendment, and pointing out that that specific rationale — we need an armed public to make up the state militia — no longer applies.

                On the broader issue of militias generally, one of my biggest concerns is that “unforeseen eventuality” is largely in the eye of the beholder. The historical reality is that it’s mostly been things like the Ku Klux Klan organizing racial violence against blacks, vigilantes, lynching parties, and the like. All the members of which were absolutely convinced that they were faced with the unforeseen eventuality of the government failing to adequately protect them from their black and non-conforming neighbors. But the reality is that only rarely have armed mobs been the good guys.

                What happens if the gang bangers from South Chicago decide to form a militia against what they consider police oppression of blacks, and launch a war on the police? Or if some militiamen decide that passing single payer health care is an unforeseen eventuality? Or if you have competing militias with opposite ideas about it; maybe one of them thinks not having single payer health care calls for a violent response?

                I get the concerns about tyrannical government, I really do, but the number of ways in which your unorganized militias could turn into a complete disaster are legion.

                1. So what? The amendment doesn’t say that the right is contingent on the militia being needed. It asserts that the militia is needed, and then declares the right may not be infringed.

                  The command that the right not be infringed stands even if you personally think the Constitution is wrong about the militia being necessary. Your opinion doesn’t amend the Constitution, nobody’s opinion does that.

                  In fact, the reason the amendment guarantees the right, is that it was thought a future government might want to discontinue the militia system, and an armed public would make discontinuing it more difficult.

                  Keep in mind rights aren’t guaranteed by the Constitution out of the expectation that the government will always want the right thing, always think the right a good idea. They’re guaranteed to render the government’s opinion that the right isn’t worth protecting legally meaningless.

                  1. My concern isn’t whether the militia is needed; it’s that armed mobs are rarely the good guys. Most of the militia groups I’m seeing on the news strike me as outright fascist.

                    If “unnecessary” were the only issue I might shrug my shoulders and say “so what”?

                    1. “Most of the militia groups I’m seeing on the news strike me as outright fascist.”

                      Well, duh: Think you’d be seeing them on the news otherwise? They’re not exactly going to make the national news when they help with disaster relief, you know.

                    2. ” They’re not exactly going to make the national news when they help with disaster relief, you know.”

                      Not on the channels Brett likes, anyway.

                    3. Do militia groups actually help with disaster relief?

                2. “What happens if the gang bangers from South Chicago decide to form a militia against what they consider police oppression of blacks, and launch a war on the police? ”

                  “Clause 15. The Congress shall have Power * * * To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.

                  Clause 16. The Congress shall have Power * * * To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

                  Then the state appoints their officers, and if they refuse those officers’ orders they get put on trial for violating Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

                  1. Oh, and you think South Chicago gang bangers will pay attention? You’re funny.

                    1. No, I think South Chicago gang bangers don’t care about the law, and that you’re being silly pretending that they’d bother with a specious legal excuse for violating it.

                      Why the hell would they declare themselves a “militia”? It doesn’t gain them anything, (Because the right to keep and bear arms belongs to citizens, not militia members.) and legally obligates them if taken seriously.

                    2. The same reason the right wing militias bother with it. What do they gain by calling themselves a militia that they don’t already have by virtue of having the right to keep and bear arms? The veneer of legitimacy, that’s what.

                    3. Ironically, the militia movement was in a sense a creation of the gun control movement. Specifically their claims that the 2nd amendment only protected the militia…

                      Doesn’t change the fact that gang bangers aren’t much concerned with the law.

                    4. “Ironically, the militia movement was in a sense a creation of the gun control movement.”

                      From outside, it looks a lot like a bunch of wannabes who like to dress up and play soldier.

                    5. @Pollock: From the outside you look like a jackass, because you are one..

                      It’s already been pointed out to you that your opinion that the right to bear arms is no longer necessary is insufficient to repeal the amendment.

                      That some South Chicagoans might declare themselves a militia is neither here no there. The right to bear arms is not restricted to militias, so what do you imagine they would gain thereby that is any proper concern to anyone else?

        2. “But I do think it’s far-fetched to act as if nothing has changed since 1789 and conditions are the same now as they were then.”

          The argument is that assertions of “changed conditions” don’t repeal explicit constitutional guarantees and clauses. You think changed conditions mean the 2nd amendment is a bad idea?

          Then make that argument, and try to get it repealed. Until it’s repealed, it’s a binding part of the Constitution, as much as any other part.

          1. We’ve been over this ground before. I’m not required to play by unfair rules.

            1. Yeah, and “Any part of the Constitution I disagree with is repealed by implication even if other people like it” is a pretty unfair rule.

              Cry me a river, I don’t like the 16th amendment, either, but I don’t go around pretending that renders it void.

              1. It’s not that I disagree with it; it’s that it lacks legitimacy by virtue of being anti-democratic. You can’t put together a system that locks out your opponents and then expect them to pretend it’s legitimate.

                1. How exactly does the 2nd amendment lock anybody out?

                  Or are you saying that Article V lacks legitimacy because the amendments you want aren’t popular enough to be ratified?

                  Anyway, I’m not asking you to “pretend” anything. I’m asking officers of the government, every one of which swore an oath to uphold the Constitution in order to assume office, to not violate those oaths.

                  You think the Constitution shouldn’t be upheld, don’t seek public office.

                  1. “How exactly does the 2nd amendment lock anybody out?”

                    The part where it doesn’t include “if you cannot afford a firearm, one will be provided for you” excludes poor people, in much the same way that the 1A only protects the freedom of the press for those people who can afford a press.

                  2. Nah, you’re still assuming that people should play by unfair rules. Again, the issue isn’t specific constitutional provisions that I disagree with; the issue is that structurally, the document lacks legitimacy because of the anti-democratic manner in which it was adopted and the anti-democratic structures it imposes. Because it is structurally illegitimate, there is no duty to uphold it.

                    Give us a truly democratic Constitution, then we’ll talk. Until then, expect further guerilla warfare.

                    1. No, I’m dismissing your complaint about the rules being unfair as unserious. Because you’d replace the Constitution with something with even less democratic legitimacy, you’d toss the rule of law to get rid of the parts of the Constitution you don’t like.

                      Seriously, you want to start doing away with explicit constitutional rights, demonstrate that you have the support for it, by repealing them.

                      Look at how concealed carry reform spread across the nation, starting in Florida, and now almost all states have embraced it.

                      State constitutions are typically much easier to amend than the federal constitution. Most have 2nd amendment analogs. How many of those have been repealed? (Spoiler: None.)

                      You don’t have democratic backing for repealing this right. You’ve got elite backing, the political elites who punch over their weight in government decision making. But the public aren’t on your side.

                      Prove me wrong, and use article V to repeal the 2nd amendment. Until you try, I’m going to conclude you know you don’t have popular support.

                    2. You don’t actually know what I would replace the Constitution with because I haven’t said. The Bill of Rights would remain pretty much intact; it’s the anti-democratic structural parts that need to go. And for that, there probably is popular support.

                    3. “I’m dismissing your complaint about the rules being unfair as unserious.”

                      Seems fair. You, also, are dismissed as unserious.

                2. “It’s not that I disagree with it; it’s that it lacks legitimacy by virtue of being anti-democratic.”

                  You wrote before, “…the idea that the Second Amendment protects the right of states to maintain their militias isn’t completely far-fetched.” Which is total nonsense, because what the text protects from the Feds, by its plain language, is the right of the People to bear arms, not the rights of the States to form militias. But it is anyway too late for you to be saying AFTER YOU’VE PURPORTED TO INTERPRET IT that the meaning of the 2A is of no interest because it’s illegitimate. That ship has sailed. You’ve made your bogus claim — now you need to defend it or stand revealed as the grease-dipped weasel you are.

            2. You haven’t identified any unfair rules, crybaby.

              Demanding that you defend your nonsense from the observation that it is completely gobsmacking nonsense on penalty or revealing yourself to be a complete fraud isn’t the imposition of an unfair rule.

        3. Krychek: So I take it that if Texas starts purchasing late-model Chinese fighters and ballistic missiles to arm its State Guard, you’ll be here defending their right to do so, and insisting that was the original intent of the 2nd Amendment.

          1. No, because I’m not an originalist.

            1. Then don’t give us idiotically wrong parodies of originalist arguments like this one: “I think it’s a semi-plausible argument that the framers were as concerned about the federal government not encroaching on states rights as they were about individual rights, so the idea that the Second Amendment protects the right of states to maintain their militias isn’t completely far-fetched.” “I don’t care” is an absurd, self-discrediting response to “You’re wrong because it says the opposite.”

    3. “gun industry”

      Tens of millions of people, not “Big Gun”, pushed for a re-examining of the 2A.

      1. The gun control movement is so used to using astroturf, that the idea that opposition to gun control could be genuine doesn’t typically occur to them.

      2. Actually most Americans believed that the 2A did create an individual right. An example of widespread ignorance. However among judges and scholars Burger was expressing the nearly universal view.

        1. It was only a widespread view for a short slice of history. A legal fad, as it were. You’d be hard put to produce any evidence it wasn’t thought to be an individual right, prior to the mid 20th century, when the advent of federal gun control laws created a need for rationalizing their constitutionality.

        2. “However among judges and scholars Burger was expressing the nearly universal view.”

          Same kind of people were declaring no so long ago that Trump had colluded with Russia. Their credulousness and ignorance and lemming-like behavior hasn’t dissipated with the subsequent changes of the guard.

  3. This post should be read in Contracts. This is the justification for the unilateral contract. Once paid, why on earth why I do any of the hard work I promised? Try retrieving it in Contract enforcement. You won’t. That is why Contract law is in utter failure.

    Compare to the ratings on eBay. You win the one cent bid on a CD. I will send it because 3 strikes and I am out of the $billion market. Short of expulsion, the failure to keep a promise will suppress future bids, as my higher risk is factored in. eBay enforces promises down to one cent.

    Dumbass lawyer Contract law enforces shit. All Contract law has to be redone, lawyer dumbasses. You stink.

    1. What does this have to do with contracts?

      Contract to pay upon delivery or in milestones.

  4. “$600,000 is an obscene amount of money for a book project about a fairly non-influential Justice.”

    It’s an obscene amount of money to take for a book project, and then not promptly devote yourself to producing a book.

  5. Somebody’s jealous of somebody else’s payday.

    1. Somebody’s jealous of somebody else’s blogging.

      1. I do not understand the evocation of jealousy in this context.

        Precisely how many people, in your judgment, should be jealous of a South Texas law professor; the chief polemicist of a White, male blog; a particularly wounded and whiny culture war casualty; a frequent (largely unpaid) traveler to poorly attended presentations for fledgling clingers; and the readily mocked flouter of accuracy in Today In Supreme Court History?

        1. Without invading your privacy, but still without a doubt, you need to be replaced by a diverse. Diversity is what makes us stronger.

        2. “I do not understand….”

          I guess jealousy is for you is like water for a fish.

          I only come here rarely, but you’re always here, posing.

          Apart from jealously of EV and 10-year-old hurt feelings you haven’t tried to get a life, why?

      2. “Somebody’s jealous of somebody else’s blogging.”

        You should get over that.

    2. A $600,000 advance for a book that you don’t have finish within a quarter century?

      Goodness, what’s to be jealous about?

      1. Not a $600,000 advance. the researchers who did the research got paid out of the $600,000 before the author sees a dime.

        1. “Not a $600,000 advance. the researchers who did the research got paid out of the $600,000 before the author sees a dime.”

          Reading comprehension: FAIL!

          “By 2001, the Federalist Society paid more than $600,000 ‘for researchers, expenses and a salary for Mr. Flanigan.'”

      2. “A $600,000 advance for a book that you don’t have finish within a quarter century?”

        Do you not understand what an advance is or how it works? Hint: If the people paying out the money for book advances weren’t getting anything for their money, do you think they’d be paying out any money?

        The Trump candidacy shone light on the practice of paying people for exclusive access to their stories, and then publishing those stories never.

        1. “If the people paying out the money for book advances weren’t getting anything for their money, do you think they’d be paying out any money?”

          Just b/c they’re not getting a book doesn’t mean they’re not getting anything.

          You think the people paying Hunter Biden are buying paintings?

  6. Find out that he touched a girl inappropriately in high school, and a biography is guaranteed.

  7. Think what that money could have done if spent on a worthy cause – like paying a commenter for his insightful posts.

    1. So, not yours?

      1. Yeah, don’t spend it all in one place, genius.

        1. I’m the best, which is why *I* get the big bucks.

          1. Those wads of bills on the dresser must really be big.

            1. That wad of bills on your dresser aren’t on your dresser, are they? Did you forget to demand payment before performing?

  8. I couldn’t read the linked NYT article because it was behind a paywall, but Prof. Blackman’s post says the Federalist Society “administered the funding for the project,” and the “benefactor was Dwight Opperman.” So I’m guessing Mr. Opperman, a very wealthy businessman who had a long involvement in legal endowments, gave this money specifically to finance the Burger book. He died in 2013, so I’m guessing if anyone is entitled to “claw back money,” it would be his estate, not necessarily FedSoc.

    1. And he may also have donated it for a tax deduction and not actually cared if a book came of it.

      1. Does anybody actually make a charitable donation having no interest at all in whether anything comes of it? It’s not like a $600K donation gets you $600K off your taxes, after all. It’s really only worth $600K if you get a tax deduction AND your charitable aim is accomplished.

        1. Many people donate to charity in response to a client’s (or friend’s) request, or to a funeral-related suggestion, or the like without caring or thinking about whether the recipient makes anything come of it. It occurs regularly, in my experience.

  9. I thought lawyers are used to working with deadlines. Maybe they forgot to give this guy a deadline?

    1. Or maybe they didn’t, and the deadline hasn’t come yet.

  10. “I’m sorry about the delay, sir, your Burger will be ready shortly.”

  11. I have to wonder about the habit of powerful people to hold back their papers for such long periods of time. Periods of 50 or 100 years might have been acceptable when most information was handled manually in books. Today we live in a information society where the velocity of information is rapid and getting faster. I am not sure that information released in 50 years will be worth anything. I would suggest in this day and age a 10 year period after a person’s death, maybe the death of their spouse would be much better.

    1. The information is either useful to somebody, or it isn’t. Waiting doesn’t change that.

      1. Waiting until after you’re dead will mean it will never be useful to YOU.

        As to “Burger’s” papers, a lot of them are work product paid for by taxpayers.

  12. So it appears that the biography, so far is a nothing burger?

    1. I’ve already made a similar pun, you need to ketch up.

        1. I’m glad you mustard to courage to make a comment, even if I didn’t relish it.

          1. This is why you do not make the big bucks for your commentary.

            1. I thought it was because I didn’t echo the CCP line.

              1. No, it’s the stupidity you keep mistaking for cleverness.

      1. Quite a pickle, isn’t it?

        1. He’s just gherkin off.

          1. With relish!

            1. That was T.M.I.

    2. Nothing Burger is the name he deserves.

  13. Many generally successful people have failed at one or more things they’ve attempted in their lives. As they say, success comes from experience, and experience comes from failure.

    One feature successful people have is recognizing when they’ve failed, when it’s time to acknowledge it’s not working, let go, move on, make any amends that need to be made, and focus on something else.

    1. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

    2. The real lesson is to always fail with someone else’s money.

  14. What dog does Blackman have in this fight? Did his book deal get turned down?

    1. Maybe he’s just commenting on something he finds interesting. I don’t own any dogs, yet I occasionally, even at my age, find something of interest.

      1. Maybe he’s just frustrated that nobody’s paying HIM to write part of a book.

  15. Burger an example of a Peter Principle promotion? I remember doing research years ago — so I can’t give you any details — in which the rabbit hole led to a court of appeals decision I started reading. I started thinking that it was an unusually good opinion and only then checked the author and found out it was Burger. That’s a small sample size, obviously, but it is possible that he could have been a well above average appeals court judge even if he turned out to be sort of meh on Scotus.

    1. I think it might just be that he was good, but overshadowed by his contemporaries, so the chief justiceship didn’t really give him a chance to shine because of all the other powerful personalities on the court. Simply wrangling those diverse wills into a cohesive court probably occupied a large amount of his time.

  16. “Not a $600,000 advance. the researchers who did the research got paid out of the $600,000 before the author sees a dime.”

    Reading comprehension: FAIL!

    “By 2001, the Federalist Society paid more than $600,000 ‘for researchers, expenses and a salary for Mr. Flanigan.'”

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