Tribe's Travails:

NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru thinks Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe of "falsifying as fact what was, in truth, fantasy" -- what Tribe himself has called the "cardinal sin" of scholarship. SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein thinks Ponnuru has overstated the case. Goldstein further surmises that Ponnuru's article is evidence that "the battle lines for the next Supreme Court nomination are being drawn in frighteningly personal terms." As Tribe may be called upon to critique a conservative Bush nominee, Goldstein suggests, the Right is seeking to discredit him now. A SCOTUSBlog commenter has what I think is a more plausible explanation: "the basic dynamic of journalists on one side of the political spectrum being overly critical of intellectuals on the other side is pretty common." NRO and its ideological compatriots go after folks like Tribe, while liberal periodicals go after [insert name of prominent neoconservative here].

This isn't the first attack on Tribe. Back when there were a spate of stories about plagiarism at Harvard (see, e.g. here), The Weekly Standard's J. Bottum leveled this charge against Tribe as well. Prof. Tribe admitted a "failure to attribute some of the material The Weekly Standard identified," but many commentators thought the initial allegation was itself overblown. For myself, I think the Ogletree case was worse.

Smackdown Over Tribe:

Ramesh Ponnuru and Tom Goldstein continue to duke it out over whether Larry Tribe presented a fictional account of his argument in the Richmond Newspapers case. There's even a new blog (well, kinda) for the exchange.

Here's the rundown:

For those wanting even more, here's a link to Tribe's brief in Richmond Newspapers and here's a link to his allegedly fictional Green Bag article.

On whether there is any connection between Ponnuru's attack on Tribe and looming Supreme Court confirmation battles, a reader e-mail prompts me to offer this thought: There is no doubt that some on the Right have it out for Tribe due to his role in scuttling the 1987 nomination of then-Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. That fight was extremely bitter, and some on the Right have never forgiven those who, in their view, were instrumental in defeating Bork's nomination.

In a related vein, I have often heard that one reason Walter Dellinger was never confirmed by the Senate as Solicitor General -- and served his time as "acting" SG -- was because his role in opposing Bork. I cannot verify the claim, but it would be further evidence that the scars from prior nomination battles run deep.

Ponnuru v. Goldstein - Part Tres:

The smackdown continues. The latest entries:

The entire exchange and supporting documentation will soon be available here, or at

For what it's worth, I thought the initial Ponnuru piece on Tribe cam up a bit short. Even accepting everything at face value, it hardly seemed like scholarly misconduct. At most it demonstrated that that Tribe engaged in a bit of puffery, so it hardly seemed worth all the space in National Review.

Without engaging in an extensive side-by-side comparison of all the documents and rejoinders, I think that Goldstein showed Ponnuru engaged in some slight misrepresentations of his own, but I don't think Tribe comes off scot-free either. I think a fair-minded reader could still conclude that Tribe exaggerated some points in his initial essay. Again, however, this hardly amounts to academic fraud.

Tribe Responds:

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe has written this response to Ramesh Ponnuru's article charging Tribe with "falsifying as fact what was, in truth, fantasy." Tom Goldstein also had some final thoughts on the controversy here, and my co-conspirator Erik Jaffe weighed in here.

Meanwhile, IU professor Eric Rasmusen defends the original Ponnuru piece here. As loyal VC readers may recall, Rasumusen himself is no stranger to controversy (See, e.g., here and here).

Ponnuru v. Tribe - The Final Chapter

National Review Online has posted Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe's response to Ramesh Ponnuru's attack on him, along with Ponnuru's rejoinder.