Editor’s note: This is a modified version of Michael Greve’s comments he delivered on a panel called “Public Interest Litigation in the Modern Era” at the Federalist Society’s 2017 Annual Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C.
I used to be in the public interest litigation business, back in the premodern era. My comments here briefly summarize an outsider’s observations on what I think has changed in public interest law and what its role should be in the future of conservative-libertarian politics.
I’ve just returned from my annual vacation on my beloved island of Foehr; and as in earlier years Brother Reinsch has invited my random thoughts on what’s up with Krautland. Some bad stuff happened while I was there but frankly, it’s been a relief to spend a few weeks in a functioning, tolerably well-governed country. On the eve of the federal elections on September 24, the Germans are calm, confident, and contented. And basically, I think, they’re right.
Father Arne Panula breathed his last this past Wednesday, at the all-too-young age of 71. May the Good Lord protect him. Father Arne directed the Catholic Information Center in Washington. He was my spiritual advisor, and lots of much better people sought and benefitted from his counsel. (One day I showed up for my monthly consultation... and who should waltz out of Father Arne’s office, but one of my priests from St. Mary’s in Alexandria.) With no visible effort, he turned the CIC into a spiritual, intellectual, and social haven for a ton of folks, many of us in politics and…
The President’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord has caused international hyperventilation, and a minor rift in the Greve family. We all agree on three propositions: The U.S. should never agree to an international instrument that is called an “accord”: too French. A je suis d’accord that purports to save the planet by saying, vee all civilized nations may do what we may want to do by, say, 2030 or maybe later and if we don’t you can’t make us; and which then admits that even full compliance with its targets won’t make one whit of difference to…
Along with Michael Rappaport, I participated in Michael McConnell’s “Big Fix” conference, held at Stanford Law School this past week. “Should We Amend the Constitution?” was the subtitle of the fun event. You can talk me into that, provided law profs don’t get to vote. A dismaying number of amendment proposals aimed to Europeanize the U.S. Constitution (for example, by importing the European and Canadian courts’ “proportionality” tests into our ConLaw, which I had thought could not get any worse). Others sought to make the republic yet more “democratic”—an endeavor that for n reasons, some ably stated by Brother Rappaport, merits firm resistance and, in the event of success, a bulk purchase of OxyContin.
The questions surrounding the administrative state and its law are really big. They are institutional and constitutional, and they demand rigorous thought and engagement outside the Chevron box.