Constitutional Faces: Paul Clement

March 11th, 2012

WaPo has a lengthy profile about Clement. There is one interesting bit about how he feels–constitutional issues aside–about PPACA:

It is his posture toward every major issue he argues, including the health-care law. Friends and relatives have occasionally told him stories about their own struggles with the health-care system, some indicating that they didn’t share his view of the new law.

Asked whether such discussions have ever affected his perspective on the case, he says, “No . . . The reality is it really is a case about constitutional law and what the federal government can do. It doesn’t have that much to do with the underlying issue.”

He pauses. “I don’t mean to say that to trivialize it,” he says. “Obviously, you run into people who run into very difficult situations with respect to getting the health care they need.”

“On a human level, you say to them, ‘I totally understand where you’re coming from,’ ” he explains. “But, on the other hand, you also have to understand that, you know, it’s also really important to have this adversarial system of justice. . . . [If] you take a snapshot of my legal position in this particular case or that case and associate it with the policy issue, well, you know, depending on the case, you’re going to think, ‘Wow, you’re really a crazy conservative’ or ‘You’re a crazy liberal.’ ”

 And Bruce Ackerman thinks Clement is like Bork because of all the hot-button issues he takes!

Bruce Ackerman, a Yale Law School professor, sees parallels between Clement and an able but controversial jurist from the ’80s whom the Senate spurned in a confirmation vote.

“Clement is a very well-qualified person, but so was Robert Bork,” Ackerman says, referring to Ronald Reagan’s rejected choice for the high court. Clement “is a person with a high profile that has been heightened by his role in all these cases. Imagine if the decision in the health care case is a 5-4, either way. So Mr. Clement would be at the forefront of a decision that, either way, emphasizes the supreme importance of the next Supreme Court appointment; that dramatizes how one vote would make the difference. . . . It is very much like the Bork matter.”

 Clement isn’t worried.

Is Clement at all concerned about how his association with the health-care case, the DOMA fight and other controversies might affect his future?

“Not really . . .” he says. “I suppose one could try to stay out of the fray and try to take the most innocuous set of cases possible. But boy, that would be boring.”

Boring? You mean, like Kagan?