The New Yorker Profiles “The Conservative Who Wants to Bring Down the Supreme Court.”
The New Yorker has published a profile of Jonathan Mitchell, author of Texas’ SB 8 abortion law. The article, written by Jeannie Suk-Gersen, is revealing and paints a very fair portrait of the now-infamous legal thinker and litigator. It is definitely worth a read.
A few portions of the article discuss Mitchell’s efforts to become a tenured law professor, and they are quite interesting.
Adam Mortara, who describes himself as Mitchell’s “best intellectual buddy and law friend,” was his classmate at Chicago, where, Mortara recalled, Mitchell’s dream was to join the faculty. In their third year, they both took Federal Courts with David Strauss, a leading proponent of “living constitutionalism,” the idea that constitutional meaning evolves along with changing social values. Led by Scalia, conservatives had for decades railed against living constitutionalism as an undisciplined approach that allowed unelected judges to impose their preferences on the populace under the guise of constitutional interpretation. But both Mitchell and Mortara told me that they consider Strauss one of their deepest influences. Strauss showed through his rigorous scholarship that originalism did not constrain judges to the extent that it claimed to, nor was it even the original method for interpreting the Constitution. Mitchell would later suggest in print that some of Scalia’s opinions “were too quick to find an original meaning in cases where the historical evidence is at best conflicting or unclear.” Rather than heartily embrace originalism, as many conservatives did, the duo gravitated toward suspicion of strong judicial review under any method.
As the article notes, Mitchell was briefly a tenure-track professor at George Mason (before it had become the Scalia Law School), but left to serve as the Texas Solicitor General. When he sought to return to academia, however, he had a difficult time.
Mitchell went on the academic job market again but received very little interest. (Strauss, his former pr
Article from Reason.com