Amy Coney Barrett was my rather amazing law school classmate.

At one time we both had the same grade in Constitution Law, for just a few moments.

At the University of Notre Dame Law School, each class year is divided into two sections to take the mandatory Introduction to Constitutional Law course.  My section was taught by Professor John Garvey, now the President of Catholic University, and the other section was taught by Professor William Kelley, former White House Deputy Counsel. In each class, one student is given the American Jurisprudence (“Amjur“) award for the top student. I won the award for my section and Amy Coney Barrett won the award for the other section.

Needless to say, she’s done a bit more in the field of Constitutional law since then…

Notre Dame Law School

So yes, to the people who have asked me, Amy Coney Barrett was my classmate at Notre Dame. I must admit though, we didn’t know each other that well and did not hang in the same social groups, though given the small and collegial size of Notre Dame Law, everyone ‘knew’ everyone in some regards. Our first year, due to the way they structure classes, I think we only had one class together, but as both of us continued our studies, and focused more on Constitutional law, we did share some additional classes in the First Amendment and Natural Law (taught by Oxford professor John Finnis). 

So what were my impressions of Amy Coney Barrett?

Judge Amy Coney Barrett

First, to be blunt–flat out the smartest, most academic student I have ever encountered during my career or ever heard of in any academic setting. She was simply a level above everyone else in her class, and her questions and discussions with professors revealed a deep understanding of the subject matter beyond whatever the rest of the students had ‘crammed’ into their heads a few hours before class. She wasn’t one who talked for the sake of talking, as was the case with many in law school. She was at a professorial level while still just a student. I recall one day with Professor Finnis in Natural Law where she was going back and forth with him on one point and I said to myself “maybe she should be teaching this class and I definitely shouldn’t even be here as I have no clue what they are talking about.”

Her depth of understanding was not just in the field of Constitutional law, as was made obvious with the aforementioned Amjur award. While I managed to win one, and only one, during my three years of law school and a ‘strong’ student might win a handful or so, Amy Coney Barrett basically won them all. Honestly, she must have over a dozen or two “top student” awards in a setting where you only had 30-odd classes. Her depth of knowledge and organization applied to all the classes she took.

The second observation I would make is that Amy Coney Barrett was just an all-around nice person. She was nice to me in our few interactions outside the class, chatting or a friendly hello, and she was nice to other classmates that she encountered. She wasn’t political that I could tell—there were no rampant partisanship arguments in class that often occur in controversial subject matter and I don’t think I heard of her participating in things like College Republicans or College Democrats. She was just the type of person who was pleasant to all, even those she didn’t know that well (like me). I recall after winning the Conlaw award I ran into her in the hallway. She offered congratulations and I thanked her, then asking her in sort of a sheepish way “so what are we supposed to do now that we won the award?” She suggested sending a thank you note to the professor and letting them know you appreciated their class and the award as it was the “polite thing to do”. 

At our graduation, Justice Anthony Scalia spoke to the graduates and I think this might have been one of the first times the two of them met (she later went on to clerk for Scalia, where she made quite an impression on the justices and other clerks). Since graduation we haven’t been in touch much, save for the random Facebook likes on each other’s photos now and then (although she deactivated Facebook though a few years ago). I stopped by the law school on our cross country drive a few years ago and said hello to a few former professors, but she was out of the office that day so we didn’t get a chance to catch up.

From what I’ve read, both the observations I formed in law school remain true today. She has been widely published as a professor and is a favorite amongst students who named her the top professor on three different occasions. Her personal behavior remains noteworthy, with this anecdote shared by a fellow professor (though politically opposite) who supports her nomination.

“A few years ago, a blind student matriculated as a first-year law student at Notre Dame. Upon arrival, she encountered delays in getting the technological support she needed to carry out her studies. After only a few days in Barrett’s class, the student asked her for advice. Barrett’s response was “This is no longer your problem. It is my problem.” Barrett followed up with the university administration herself, got the student what she needed, and then mentored her for three years. That student just completed her service as the first blind female Supreme Court clerk in U.S. history.” (read more from this Clerk, Laura Wold, who published her own moving reflections of Amy Coney Barrett)

That sounds like her.

Professor Garvey kind of summed up Amy Coney Barrett in a one-sentence recommendation letter he wrote to Anthony Scalia.

“Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.”

So in the end I would have to say she is eminently qualified and personable. It’s kind of neat to personally say at one time (a very very short, brief, fleeting moment) I had the same grade as a Supreme Court Justice in Constitutional Law, but it’s also sort of reassuring to know that she is the one being nominated after her decades of hard work and innate understanding of the law and Constitution.

Best of luck with the battles ahead.

Being a lawyer again for a few days listening to CLE online

Illinois changed the requirements since I graduated from law school (over a decade ago) such that I now have to have a certain number of CLE courses (Continuing Legal Education) courses. When you are in a firm, they have a person who hounds you basically to make sure you keep up with your state’s requirements.

It’s a neat idea, but honestly, it’s rare you get a CLE course that is that interesting. I have a few I downloaded that started out as interesting topics, but the professors giving the lectures are pretty scholarly or dull. But it’s a requirement, and given my desire to wait to the last minute for basically everything I’m stuck having to do about 20 hours in the next 96 hours. Thank god they are mp3s as I can put them on in the car and listen during the commute (which will be about 8-10 hours worth of the listening over the next couple days as I have quite a bit of driving to do).


Officer shot Arlington VA

Was watching the SCAN-DC list tonight explode with a police officer shot. Cops were on the scene in moments and they chased the guy upto the 14th Street Bridge in DC. There is live audio from the scanner buffs in Virginia (who record pretty much everything that goes on in the DC area).

Apparently the police officer was protected by his bullet proof vest, but the suspect was apparently killed in the incident. The original lookout was for an Asian male in a Lexus SUV with Washington state tags.

If you listen to the audio advance to about 11:50 for the first call. Goes on from there.


Mayor Cheye Calvo dogs were legitimate targets

Police were justified when they shot and killed two dogs during a July drug raid at the home of Mayor Cheye Calvo according to an internal review by the police.

“They had a legitimate court order to be there,” he said. “Unfortunately we had to engage the animals, but that engagement was justified.”

…a scientific examination of the carcasses of the two dogs (was) conducted by a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Agriculture at the request of Mayor Cheye Calvo. The necropsy concluded one dog was shot four times and the other twice, including once in the dog’s back legs.

Mayor Calvo isn’t buying it. Not only was he not interviewed for his witness statements of the shooting but he feels the dogs were not threatening, as proved by the fact the dog was shot in the back.


New Orleans looters go directly to jail

Mayor Nagin has decided that anyone caught looting will be sent to the Louisiana State Penitentary in Angola, one of the most notorious prisons in the country.

“You will not get a pass this time. Anyone caught looting in New Orleans will go directly to the Big House in the general population. You will go directly to Angola Prison and God bless you if you go there.”

Waiting for the ACLU to go bonkers on that.


License plate readers to be installed around Washington, DC

If you drive in DC, your license plate will be read by automated cameras and license plate readers, coming very soon. DC Parking control has been using these things for years to get tows and boots on scofflaws, but now the DCPD is going to start using them to look for terrorists.

The new project is much broader, installing cameras on about 160 police vehicles and at 40 fixed sites, such as airports or highway entrances, officials say. It appears to be one of the most extensive license reading systems in the nation, according to privacy experts.


The crack math ace lacking grace and bombing the place wants to save face by getting his shack back

Sorry, I just was feeling a bit poetic about the Unibomber demanding to get his one room shack back from the FBI, which has put it ‘on loan’ with the Newseum in Washington, DC. Maybe he just wants a cut of the entrance fee royalty charged by the Newseum ($20 or so).


Bin Laden Salim Haman driver to serve 5 years, and then be classified as 'enemy combatant' and held indefinitely.

Ok, so what’s the point?

They had a trial, he was found guilty, but now the Pentagon is saying even after he serves his ‘debt to society’ he will considered an enemy combatant and sent to some place like Guantanamo indefinitely.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said after the verdict Wednesday that Hamdan was now a “convicted war criminal” and that he was “no longer considered an enemy combatant.”

But on Thursday, Whitman said Hamdan’s status would revert to “enemy combatant” when his sentence is completed.

As an enemy combatant, Hamdan can be held indefinitely by the United States, although he would be eligible to appeal to an administrative review board to determine whether his status as an enemy combatant should continue.

So what the hell was the point of the trial????????????????


Verizon's FIOS finally coming to Washington DC

Despite being surrounded by some of the first communities in the country to get FIOS, and a relatively dense population core crying out for FIOS to be rolled out in the District proper, Verizon was dragging their feet for the last few years about rolling out the high speed service to DC residents. Well that wait is no more.

The District and Verizon Communications have reached an agreement to bring the company’s FiOS high-speed Internet service to the city.

Eric Richardson, director of D.C. Office of Cable Television, said the agreement requires approval by the mayor’s office and the D.C. Council, a process he said could be completed by the end of the year. Richardson said negotiations took nine months, less time than it has taken the District to work out previous cable franchise agreements.

As FIOS is a tv delivery platform, it often runs afoul of monopolistic cable tv agreements that cities have established with ‘cable’ companies. Whether or not these rollouts are done within the franchise agreements that exist (likely) or the result of total deregulation of the cable / Internet providing rules (ha) is yet to be established, but it doesn’t seem likely Verizon is going in anyplace where they don’t have a few regulatory barriers to entry in place already to prevent competitors.