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Bernie Siegan, R.I.P 2
I just wanted to second David's tribute to Bernie Siegan. Unlike him, I had the opportunity to meet Bernie many times over the years, dating back to when I was an unsuccessful candidate for an entry-level teaching job at the University of San Diego. Almost whenever we saw each other, which was every few years, Bernie would rue the day that the San Diego faculty had voted to reject the Appointments Committee recommendation that I be hired.

I, however, would never mention the injustice of his being rejected by Senate Democrats for a seat on the Ninth Circuit after being nominated by President Reagan. Such a memory must have been painful for him, and I could not bring myself ever to bring it up. According to the L.A. Times:
Had he foreseen the negative reaction in Congress and in the press, the University of San Diego law professor later said, he would have turned down the appointment by President Reagan.

"At times, I felt like Public Enemy No. 1," the soft-spoken Siegan told The Times in 1988 after the Senate Judiciary Committee denied his confirmation along party lines.
In addition to his path-breaking work that David ably summarizes, Bernie was one of the sweetest persons I have ever met. With his disposition, it was hard to believe he was a lawyer, much less a former very successful Chicago real estate transactions lawyer before entering academia. I had not known he was ill (nor realized he was 81!), and his passing is a real loss to all those who love liberty, and especially to all classical liberal law professors who followed in his wake. He was a pioneer whose trail-blazing did not leave him unscathed, but who will live on in our memories of him and in his works.
Sally Field:
The highest praise that I find I can ever really offer about any dead friend or colleague is that he or she was among those who accurately perceived my own brilliance.
4.4.2006 1:55pm
Justin (mail):
I'm too young to remember the Siegan rejection, but I think it was mostly based on his positions rather than his qualifications. Furthermore, I don't believe that his positions were (for the most part) misconstrued - while I admire the man's work and wish the best for his family, I don't think he should have been surprised that a Senate whose views were significantly contrary to his, and to President Reagan's, and whose views were (and still are) considered fairly unpopular amongst the general public (which doesn't make them wrong, of course) would fulfill its constitutional obligation to advise and consent by not consenting.
4.4.2006 6:08pm