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Monday, July 24, 2006 

Wild Bill

Sorry for the rare posting lately. I've been lacking both the time and the material for blog posts. Since the Supreme Court is on vacation, I have lost my biggest source of blog worthy material. I've been looking for interesting appeals court decisions (and have found some), but they are few and far between.

Anyway, this book review has been making its way around legal blogs lately. Judge Richard Posner reviews Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas by Bruce Allen Murphy. I first saw it on Orin Kerr's blog, and have since seen it on Volokh as well.

I had known his court opinions and legal work earlier, but I was first introduced to Justice Douglas while reading The Brethren. He seemed like a rather vile, angry old man. He had considerable contempt for his own law clerks, who were some of the brightest legal minds in the country. Douglas' pricky personality goes much further. Posner quotes portions of Murphy's book, discussing the laundry list of lies that Douglas told about his own life and background. These include everything from claiming to be a WWI veteran (he was not) to claiming that he cured himself of polio through the force of his own will (he never had the disease). There's much more in the article, too much for me to reproduce here.

I've walked past Murphy's book many times in the library. I guess I never had any desire to read a biography about someone who I don't respect. Now, I'm intrigued. I plan on picking this up in the near future. I'm sure it will do nothing but infuriate me more that this man was on the Court for so long.

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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