Federal district judges frequently get no respect at the Supreme Court. Or at least that was true prior to the arrival of Justice Sotomayor who served for many years as a federal district judge before her elevation to the Supreme Court.
With great pleasure, I read the oral argument transcript in Sekhar v. United States, 12-357, where the distinguished advocate Paul Clement gets smacked around for being a smart ass when referring to a federal district judge who sat by designation on the Second Circuit. I enjoyed the refined ass whipping Clement received as well as his fawning response. Perhaps you will too.
MR. CLEMENT: Well, a couple of things, Justice Sotomayor. I went back to the Tropiano case, because it is sort of the pro genitor of this whole line of Second Circuit cases, and I noticed two things.
One, I noticed it was written by a district [judge] sitting by designation. So, I mean, I – I don’t mean anything by that other than this is not Marbury.
Second, I would say that the second thing I noticed is that the debt –
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Oh, I think when I sat as a district court judge, I would have been insulted by that.
MR. CLEMENT: Well, it’s not – it’s a good thing you’re no longer sitting in that capacity, Your Honor –
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Okay. It’s really –
MR. CLEMENT: — because I – I certainly mean you no offense. You could write Marbury here.
Arguments Transcript, Supreme Court of the United States, 2012 Term Cases, #12-357, Sekhar v. United States, argued April 23, 2013, p. 60-61.