Glenn Greenwald PWNS Tom Goldstein and SCOTUSBlog

April 18th, 2010

Tom Goldstein has been an ardent defender of the candidacy of Elena Kagan. Goldstein wrote a sharp piece, criticizing Ed Whelan on the right, and Glenn Greenwald on the left, for attacking Kagan. Whelan responds, calling Goldstein an “Objective Centrist Poseur.”

And Glenn Greenwald calls Tom out here. Definitely worth quoting from.

As a result, is it really surprising that he [Goldstein] invariably takes the lead role in vocally defending the honor, integrity and qualifications of every single Supreme Court nominee while attacking their critics?  What could possibly be better for Goldstein’s career as a Supreme Court litigator than being the dutiful defender of every one of the Justices during their nomination process, while relentlessly smearing their critics?   SCOTUSblog is an excellent resource for reading about Court proceedings and decisions.  But this conflict of interest between Goldstein’s legal practice and his purported role as objective analyst of Supreme Court nominees is so glaring that it ought to disqualify him as being some sort of authoritative source on these individuals.  Of course he’s going to say that each nominee is special and honorable and that all critics are misguided extremists.  Why would he ever say anything else?  Why would he ever criticize a potential Supreme Court nominee on whose good graces his career success depends?

Goldstein’s steadfast defense of Kagan is particularly questionable given his prior relationship to her, which he has failed to disclose, at least in his recent pieces on her.  When Goldstein was attempting to build his small firm into one that could sustain an exclusive Supreme Court practice, he received vital assistance in terms of credibility and support from then-Dean Kagan, who created a program at Harvard to enable law students to work on Goldstein’s cases for free.  He was also hired during Dean Kagan’s tenure to teach litigation at Harvard despite no prior connections to that school (his law degree is from American University).  These aren’t the world’s largest conflicts, but they should be disclosed, and they do suggest he’s something other than an objective defender of Elena Kagan.  Either way, if he wants to defend Kagan, he should do more than spew Broderian platitudes at everyone who raises substantive questions about her nomination and fitness for the Court.

On SCOTUSBlog’s “Our Policies” page, they note:

SCOTUSblog is an impartial, journalistic entity.  We exist to provide readers with objective information.  We always clearly identify the limited commentary we publish.

We also attempt to avoid any appearance of bias or favoritism, including towards the clients of the attorneys who work on the blog.  If at all possible, we avoid publishing pieces favoring one side of a case; we will instead have pieces with contrasting views.

Just saying.