Today, Above the Law (ATL) published a hit piece on Michael Davis, a Colorado attorney and RNLA member who left his law practice to clerk for Justice Gorsuch when he was confirmed. In the second sentence, ATL calls him two curse words we won’t repeat here, claiming that it is “the only conclusion one can draw” about him.
The basis for these outrageous claims is some comments Mr. Davis made to National Law Journal’s Supreme Court Brief about shutting down his law practice in Denver to move to DC and clerk for Gorsuch.
Of course, it is easy to attack an honorable public servant and call him or her names from the safety of a news blog. Liberals may even rejoice to see a Gorsuch clerk's name dragged through the mud. Is this where we want our public discourse to lie, especially among the legal profession where we have high ethical standards of conduct? Those of us who actually know Mr. Davis know that he is both a talented attorney and a warm, genuine person.
Putting aside the venomous statements about Mr. Davis, here are other troubling things that ATL apparently believes:
- Anyone with a small or solo practice cannot enter public service, because doing so requires shutting down their practice;
- Partial-term Supreme Court law clerks "play act as a SCOTUS clerk for a couple of months" (of course, we can assume that this only applies to clerks for conservative justices);
- Supreme Court clerks for conservative justices are a "footnote in forging the anarchic hellscape that Fed Soc kids have wet dreams about";
- Then-Judge Gorsuch ruled that "employees should die rather than betray their employer" (one of liberals' favorite talking points, completely ignoring the facts, controlling statutes, and legal analysis in the case);
- "[C]onstitutionalist, textualist, originalist" are "just buzzwords dumb people use to… well, prove that they’re dumb people to anyone with more than a third grade education"; and
- It is "unmitigated gall" for an attorney to note the reduced salary when moving from private practice to government service.
ATL is looked to by lawyers for insider news on the legal profession, with a side of humor and sarcastic commentary. Snarky gossip, yes; vulgar politically motivated attacks on conscientious public servants more appropriate for a comment on DailyKos, no. ATL's purpose is to take "a behind-the-scenes look at the world of law. The site provides news and insights about the profession’s most colorful personalities and powerful institutions, as well as original commentary on breaking legal developments." ATL's readers are largely lawyers and law students, so even articles criticizing individual attorneys usually have some basis in law or fact, as expected by its discerning readership.
Perhaps the most telling point in the whole piece is that constitutionalist, textualist, and originalist are just buzzwords used by dumb people, not fully formed, mainstream theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation even adopted by Justice Elena Kagan. While the crude personal attacks on Mr. Davis are reprehensible, this point shows that what he is really being attacked for is being a conservative who respects the Constitution.
We thank Mr. Davis for his service to our country, even in the face of such vulgar, inappropriate criticism.