A pretty interesting recent development in the Scooter Libby case is the filing of an amicus brief by a number of famous constitutional law professors putting forth the view that the appointment of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is a constitutional "close question." As this WaPo story says, it would be an argument for letting Libby remain out of jail while the issue is resolved.
Fine. Except that Judge Reggie Walton, to whom the brief was presented, wrote a scathingly sarcastic footnote in response (while accepting the brief):
It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.What's going on here? So asks Professor Volokh, who deems the footnote "odd," and claims that it "makes no sense." He provides a fine analysis of why Judge Walton's remarks are wrong-headed.
You might also want to check Tom Maguire's discussion; he also considers the footnote "odd," and while the brief was accepted, notes that the judge did so "ungraciously." And here too, you'll get an actual, decent, analysis of the arguments involved.
In comparison, Andrew Sullivan provides a dozen-word post deeming Judge Walton's note to be "pretty hilarious snark."
I detect a rather large difference in blogvalue there.
It's true that Andrew Sullivan does not have Eugene Volokh's legal training, nor does he have Tom Maguire's diligence in studying the issues in the Libby case. On the other hand, you don't really need to be a legal eagle to suspect that—just maybe—a court order might not be the most appropriate place in the world to work out one's petty resentments, especially if you're supposed to be a fair-minded judge. Nor do you need to have paid very close attention to think that briefs filed by names like Bork, Dershowitz, and Barnett—just maybe—could raise some actually important legal issues.
That might have occurred to the Andrew Sullivan of a few years ago; but today's version prefers to mindlessly echo and applaud snark, as long as it's directed at the targets he's chosen to despise.