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Court Recorder

Publication Date: 
January 04, 2008
The Recorder
Dan Levine

Professor Michele Landis Dauber has volunteered to interview Judge Reinhardt--she clerked for him 10 years ago--for an oral history project. The Recorder writes that the project so far includes about 150 interviews:

Dauber hopes to go beyond just giving a flavor of what it's like to be a judge. The professor wants to explore the Ninth Circuit as an institution, at a time that it went from a sleepy court far removed from the segregation battles of the South to becoming a lightning rod in American politics.

Starting with Reinhardt, Dauber hopes to explore a thesis via interviews with other appointees from late in Jimmy Carter's administration: that the judges who became such a target for American conservatives in the 1980s and 1990s actually weren't bomb throwers at all. They were establishment lawyers who understood the law from a certain point of view.

What happened was the ground shifted under them, Dauber said. And that thrust the Ninth Circuit into this spotlight, not because these people were radical but because the political economy of the country was really moving.

The professor would also like to interview Reagan appointees for their perspective on the circuit at the time it became such a controversial institution, much more so than other appeals courts.

People in Maine know about the Ninth Circuit. That's weird, Dauber said. No one in California knows anything about the First Circuit.