I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Never Tell You to STFU*.

An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of Plan B, as they say.
An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of Plan B, as they say.

Avid Blogger/Federal Judge Kopf of Nebraska has caused what polite people call “quite the stir” and the rest of us call a “shit storm,” after a post last week on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, in which he told SCOTUS to “STFU.” If you don’t know what that means…welcome to the internet, I guess? There are online dictionaries out there on the google machine, should you need one.

Kopf is not exactly known for being a wallflower, in the blogging world or in the courtroom, but I can’t recall his blog ever making national news to this extent before.

After he received a letter from someone he admires expressing  OMG! Please stop already  a heartfelt desire for Kopf to hear him with open ears and gently reproaching him, he has decided to go easy on the blogging while he sorts it all out and invited input from others:

While I will make up my own mind, advice (anonymous or otherwise), particularly from experienced lawyers and judges, would be welcome. Some things are more important than others.

So, here is my input.

Dear Judge Kopf,

I am not a particularly experienced judge or lawyer. I am a fairly new lawyer, just ending my fourth year of practice. I am also a law blogger (or “blawger” as today’s obsession with portmanteaus dictates). A fairly irreverent one, at that. Like you, I think it’s important that everyday people see the judicial branch for the collection of imperfect humanity that it is. And, like you, I believe in a frank assessment of this best of all possible judicial systems.

I am not a new reader of your blog. I have been a sometime reader for a while. Even when I disagree with you, I have enjoyed your frankness and enthusiasm. Even when I am shocked by you, I love that your writing is fodder for conversation, not for the dusty bedside drawer.

Those familiar with my blog know that I have no problem with speaking freely. I am blunt and I have even been known to publicly chastise judges in my state for doing things that I deemed below the dignity of the robe (not exactly the safest possible practice, but it really does mean that much to me).

In short, I feel as the hip hop artist Kanye West once sang, “I hear your lyrics, I feel your spirit….

I read the anonymous letter that you posted from a trusted colleague, who urges you to stop blogging. I disagree that you should stop blogging; however, I would urge you to practice safe blogging methods and not to tell the Supreme Court to “stfu,” as the kids say. Blogging truthers (“bluthers”), like you and I, must be careful when exposing the soft underbelly of the Rule of Law that we do not give the appearance of being dismissive. Being dismissive is very different from being in disagreement. Disagreement says, “I’ve listened to you and you are wrong.” Being dismissive says, “Be quiet, honey, the menfolk are talking.”

We can express our sentiment that SCOTUS is currently behaving as a field team of Don Quixotes, tilting at windmills, while we, the ever suffering Sancho Panzas, roll our eyes to the heavens and pray that the Good Lord show them the light. But, we must still listen to the things the Quixotes say, when or if they decide to say them.

There is a wave of anti-government dissent sweeping this country right now. People who feel that the power of the government, and particularly the federal government, should be declared impotent. Let’s not fan that fire. 

I think, from my rather small volume of experience, that most litigants can handle a ruling against them from a judge, if that judge has listened and carefully considered their perspective. I do not think that most people can handle being summarily dismissed. Similarly, judges want litigants to fully consider the opinion rendered against them without simply dismissing it as unfair. 

I know that your point about the Hobby Lobby ruling was simply that SCOTUS, like the employees of Hobby Lobby, should practice abstinence when possible, but that is not the message in the headlines. In blogging and bedroom activities, one can be expected to anticipate the reasonable consequences of one’s actions, no?

Saying “stfu” is not only discourteous, it appears dismissive. Much like another child, that’s something that we simply can’t afford right now. 

I hope that you will continue blogging. I hope that you will continue to be interesting. And I hope that you will set an example of how to come back from an emergency blogging screw up, because I may need it someday. 



*Unless you are Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. You can both STFU, because you have lost the privilege to be listened to. That’s on you, though.