“A Gentleman of the Law: A Tribute to Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain” -Ethan Davis in National Review

by James Wilson Institute on January 26, 2017

In National Review Online, Ethan Davis (Amherst ’05) co-authored a tribute to Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain upon the judge assuming “senior status” in late 2016.  Ethan Davis is a former student of Hadley Arkes’s, and Judge O’Scannlain has been a long-term friend of JWI. Davis, who clerked for O’Scannlain in 2008-09, wrote the piece with another former clerk of Judge O’Scannlain, Daniel Sullivan. Some excerpts:

“Since his appointment by President Ronald Reagan, Judge O’Scannlain has participated in more than 10,000 cases and written hundreds of published decisions, concurrences, and dissents. In vivid prose, those opinions reflect a careful respect for the limited scope of judicial power in a democracy. To give one example, when the Ninth Circuit found a right to physician-assisted suicide, overturning a law passed by the voters of Washington State, Judge O’Scannlain declared in dissent that ‘by promulgating a new constitutional right, one unheard of in over two hundred years of American history, six men and two women — endowed with life tenure and cloaked in the robes of this court — have enacted by judicial fiat what the people . . . declined to do at the polls.’”

“Judge O’Scannlain’s many scholarly opinions do not exhaust his legacy; it also includes the guidance he gave to three decades of law clerks. He taught us grace and humility. He never spoke badly about another judge, including — perhaps especially — his ideological opposites. He treated his clerks and administrative assistants with kindness, helping many of them through difficult times in their lives. He made it a point to attend his clerks’ weddings, and helped us advance our careers years after we had left chambers. And through the example of his character he reminded us of the need to give a respectful audience to all views, even those with which we deeply disagreed. He represents another era, one more civilized than the present.”

Read the whole piece here.