Sunday, February 11, 2007

Holmes Jr.

Mark criticized my previous post. Like most statements of opinion, I had greatly overstated mine on Justice Holmes, and now I back up to a more modest stance.

Again, I don't like Justice Holmes, because:

1. He has a shit-eating style of writing. Purple prose alternates with over-cute snark.

2. He's inconsistent, but ignores the inconsistency. This shows up in conflicts between opinions of unbridled allegiance to legislative supremacy against utterly countermajoritarian dissents, among other places.

Now as to one, that's primarily a matter of taste--perhaps--and so may not represent anything objectively worthwhile.

As to number two, that's a real criticism, and carries weight, but as Mark could easily point out--if you're looking for consistency, there's no huge supply among Supreme Court Justices. Not even St. Thomas is above backtracking. So perhaps lumping on Holmes alone on this count is unfair.

Now for the critical caveat--I've not studied the Justice in depth, simply read a few of the more famous dissents. Perhaps I'd find some deep-seated worth if I did so, perhaps I'd hate him all the more, but regardless, expertise makes a respectable opinion, and I have none.

Now, on the subject, here's Mencken on Holmes, typically irreverent and hilarious.

Also, Holmes's father's best poem.

1 comment:

Wild Pegasus said...

Like most Justices, he was incredibly full of himself. Also, like most of the justices, he started with the result he wanted, and picked the appropriate level of snark for anyone who disagreed with him.

Although his cattiness is annoying, I have a lot more vitrol for Cardozo's opinions. Give it a rest already.

- Josh