This Tuesday I jet-set down to LA to hear Erwin Chemerinsky speak for the LA Intellectual Property Law Association. I wanted to hear Erwin, because he's such a rock star in law school academia. (He's also repping Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson in their civil suit against the government.) He identified several trends in the Supreme Court: 1) The extreme decline in the number of cases the Court takes. It's usually around 100, but the decline began with Rehnquist and has dropped to new lows (68 if I recall) under Roberts. 2) The increase in the length of the opinions. One recent case spread to 160 pages. (How, he asked, was a Con Law editor supposed to edit that into a one-day assignment for students?) 3) The rise of Kennedy in the role of the Court. In some 23 5-4 decisions this term, Kennedy was the majority - the 5th vote - in every single one. A historical first.
I was thrilled to chat with Erwin afterwards, too. He's adorable! Bowl haircut like a little boy, the glasses, infinitely sweet and humble. We watched the end of the All Star game together at the hotel bar. He said he very much misses LA, until he gets on the 405.
I also wanted to do some networking, but it didn't work out as well as I planned because I got a stomach virus a few days before. Nauseous, fevered. (I'm pretty sure I did not hallucinate this odd coincidence: In another part of the hotel, I saw the sign for a conference by the Korean-American Pediatric Association on astroviruses gastroenteritis. AKA, the stomach flu.) Being a bit strong-willed I insisted on going anyway.
They seated me at a table with a law firm whose name I immediately forgot in my fevered state. But nevermind; although my image of networking is always of Spiderman shooting a random streamer of webbing, I think the process is more like that of a traditional spider: the slow building of a web, where over time the repeated exposure to the same people connects you.