Via Slate, a bombshell story: One or more Supreme Court justices are talking to reporters about Justice Neil Gorsuch*, the man who sits in a stolen seat.
(Nina) Totenberg, a renowned court reporter who is friendly with several justices, noted that Gorsuch “ticks off some members of the court—and I don’t think it’s just the liberals.” Without exposing her sources—“you talk to former law clerks, you talk to friends, you talk to some of the justices”—Totenberg then dropped a bombshell:
My surmise, from what I’m hearing, is that Justice [Elena] Kagan really has taken [Gorsuch] on in conference. And that it’s a pretty tough battle and it’s going to get tougher. And she is about as tough as they come, and I am not sure he’s as tough—or dare I say it, maybe not as smart. I always thought he was very smart, but he has a tin ear somehow, and he doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the conversation.
Why is Totenberg’s reporting here so extraordinary? Because it’s astonishing that any reporter would hear details from conference, let alone score some genuinely juicy scuttlebutt. Conference is famously sacrosanct: It’s where the justices gather to cast their votes in the cases of the week, with each explaining his or her reasoning in order of seniority. Nobody else is allowed to attend. If rumors leak about a justice’s behavior in conference—and they basically never do—it is almost certainly a justice who leaked them. And when justices leak—which again, happens very rarely—they do so on purpose. The fact that we know about the “battle” in conference between Gorsuch and Kagan suggests that someone on the court wants us to know.
I'm hearing the same thing from a source who covers the Court: Namely, that Gorsuch is an arrogant asshole who's pissing off pretty much everyone except Clarence Thomas.
That is good news for America. If you'll recall, Gorsuch is the replacement for Antonin Scalia after his death. But for all his flaws, Scalia had cordial and even close relations with the other justices, which helped him build coalitions to support his rulings.
Gorsuch? Unlikely. The Federalist Society-bred lawyers are obnoxious to begin with (they're so much smarter than anyone else -- just ask them), but Gorsuch takes things to a new level. And he doesn't seem to have any scruples, just hard ideology.
Unless he mellows as he ages, he's unlikely to build a new conservative consensus on the court for much of anything -- except their growing dislike of the new guy.
That's good news for America.