Sunday, October 31, 2010

Larry Tribe is the smartest man alive

When Justice Souter retired, Larry Tribe, the famous Harvard law professor, wrote a letter to President Obama (his former student) urging him to nominate Elena Kagan.  The letter has now been leaked to Ed Whelan.  It is a very interesting letter.  One aspect that struck me was Tribe's apparent confidence that he could easily judge the relative intelligence of the front-runners. 
  • On Sonia Sotomayor, the eventual nominee:  "Bluntly put, she's not as smart as she thinks she is."
  • On Judge Diane Wood:  "More powerful intellectually than Sonia Sotomayor or any of the others mentioned as plausible prospects at the moment with the sole exception of Kagan, who is even smarter."
I guess when you're a professor at Harvard law school you get pretty confident in your ability to separate the brilliant from the merely very smart.  But, boy, what an ego!


  1. Tribe was once parodied in a law student musical production as -- tongue firmly in cheek -- "the smartest man alive." Audio and lyrics here:

  2. Some would say that your observation should not be limited to law professors at Harvard.


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