Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The Easy Rider: A fun profile in Legal Affairs of Alex Kozinski, the prankster, charmer, monster mind, and full-throttle oddball of the 9th Circuit:
There's also nothing conservative about Kozinski in the stuffed-shirt sense; he's a troublemaker. The judge is zany and bawdy, a high-pitched giggler and an anything-goes storyteller. Kozinski takes his law clerks paintballing and snowboarding. (E-mails from his personal account are addressed from “The Easy Rider,” a reference to his snow boarder identity.) He has written video game reviews for The Wall Street Journal and an account of a Malibu pajama and lingerie party for the online magazine Slate. Six pet chickens have the run of his property in the beachfront community of Palos Verdes, where he lives with his wife and three sons. When Kozinski gives surplus eggs as gifts, he names which chicken (Veronica or Heckle) laid each one. At one oral argument in September, after listening to the Drug Enforcement Agency argue for a ban on the use of hemp seed and oil in food products, Kozinski leaned forward solicitously. “Before you sit down, can you tell me how you're going to save the poppyseed bagel?” he asked the government's lawyer, to the delight of the Vote Hemp deadheads in the audience.
The article doesn't duck the controversy, either, taking on the judge's famed arrogance, his often vituperative opinions, and his occasional bipolar swings from iconoclast to venerator of precedent. Mostly, though, he simply comes across as a character, even at the cost of the famous "next step":
Kozinski hasn't succeeded in getting himself to the Supreme Court, though he was frequently mentioned as a likely nominee in the early 1990s. According to former clerks and conservative court-watchers, his name is not on anyone's short list now for several reasons: He doesn't have friends in the right places; he has written too many off-the-wall articles; he's not regarded as reliably right-wing; and he has pissed off the wrong people in the Bush Administration. Whatever the explanation, Kozinski hasn't tried to tame himself in hopes of getting a nomination. "You might wonder with some of the moderates, whether they're being cautious because they have ambitions," said Reinhardt. "I don't think Alex has ever let that affect either his judicial decisions or his personal life."
Link via Hit & Run.

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