Rethinking Fairness: Principled Legal Realism and Federal Jurisdiction
15 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2010
Date Written: January 1, 2003
In celebrating Judge Jon 0. Newman's three decades on the federal bench, and in reflecting particularly on the past and future of federal court jurisdiction, this symposium reminds us of elements of character, time, and skill required to perform with the "special competence normally expected of federal judges."' We do so in honor of an exceptional federal judge, however, whose special qualities as a judge, author, and teacher palpably exceed normal expectations. By focusing briefly on what Judge Newman has said and done about federal jurisdiction, we can begin to discern a model for principled legal realism. This model contrasts sharply with the incurious and overly binary approach of the current Court to such matters. Yet it has important implications-specific and general-for what we ought to expect from federal judges, even if they will not approach Newman's extraordinary blending of analytic vigor, clarity, and a balanced, keenly practical sense of the implications of any judicial decision, or of no decision at all.
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