The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Just How Bad was that New York Times Piece on Supreme Court Justices Teaching at Scalia Law?


This bad:

The documents show how Scalia Law has offered the justices a safe space in a polarized Washington — an academic cocoon filled with friends and former clerks, where their legal views are celebrated, they are given top pay and treated to teaching trips abroad, and their personal needs are anticipated, from lunch orders to, in Justice Gorsuch's case, house hunting.

Hmm, that sounds strange. I read this and was pretty confident that my law school does not, in fact, provide house hunting services to judges.

Not surprisingly, then, it turns out we don't. Forty paragraphs later:

As Judge Gorsuch moved to the top of the list for the court seat, he convened a war room of confidants to lobby for his nomination and help frame a confirmation strategy. Among them was Jamil N. Jaffer, a Scalia Law professor and founder of its new National Security Institute. Mr. Jaffer had clerked for the judge on the appeals court and counted him as a friend and mentor.

After the Supreme Court confirmation, Mr. Jaffer acted as the Gorsuches' unofficial relocation consultant, meeting with a real estate agent and touring at least one equestrian estate in Virginia. "Thanks, Jaffer ????," the justice's wife, Louise Gorsuch, wrote after he sent an aerial video of the property. The justice followed up by asking Mr. Jaffer to arrange a tour for his wife.

I laughed when I got to that. Either the Times reporters are too dumb to distinguish between "Scalia Law, catering to the justices' personal needs, helped Gorsuch with househunting" and "a friend of Gorsuch on the faculty of Scalia Law helped Gorsuch with househunting," or they are outright dishonest. I'm guessing it's a bit of both, but mostly the latter, given that they waited forty paragraphs to elaborate on the original claim.

For more on the story, see Josh Blackman's post from yesterday.