05 June 2006

A Single-Minded Approach to Blawg Review

Marty Schwimmer hosts the sixtieth edition of Blawg Review at The Trademark Blog. As many regular readers of the carnival know, the ever-mysterious Blawg Review editor encourages each week's host(s) to make that week's edition his/her/their own -- to present it "without restrictions on personal creativity". Blawg Review #60 may be the most personal and idiosyncratic issue yet; as the host describes it:
[I]nstead of scouring law blogs for the best interesting legal tid-bits over the past week, I will apply a different set of criteria.

I will judge blogs on whether they answer the question that interests me the most as a lawyer:

Is this Administration acting lawfully?

While he singles out the excellent Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization blogs for particular praise, Schwimmer concludes that most legal bloggers' answers to legal issues associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against terrorism more generally are disinterested shrugs:
As far as I can tell, there are virtually no practitioners writing regularly on these issues. Which is too bad, because a lot of this writing is by professors for professors and not easily accessible to a wide audience.

This is an opportunity for the blawgosphere to assume a leadership position. It can be more than a compendium of firm brochures. Practitioner blogs can provide cool-headed legal analysis of issues such as the Niger Documents, Plame Affair, Torture Memos, NSA issues and Signing Statements, to a broader audience than the prof blogs can reach.

I think he may be overstating the situation to make his point (consider, for example, practitioner Lyle Denniston's outstanding early analysis of the Hamdan decision at SCOTUSblog) and I tend to disagree with his assertion that discussion of these issues in academic blogs is not easily or widely-accessible (to mention just one recent example, Professor Orin Kerr's posts concerning the legality of the NSA wiretaps [see here and here] were appreciated for their timeliness and cogency far beyond the academic blawgosphere [Technorati links for both posts are here and here]). I also disagree with him that it's "poison for a practitioner to discuss politics"; many legal issues, and none more so than these which Schwimmer calls "more important than pretty much any other question", are intensely political in nature and discussions by politically-identified practitioners writing on political blogs (the three attorney-bloggers at the Power Line blog come to mind) can be quite informative despite their partisanship.

Still, Schwimmer's "call to arms" for the legal end of the blogosphere to take a more active part in discussing these prominent issues is a valid one. The fruits of that call to arms will certainly by reflected in Blawg Review in coming editions, but I for one hope that the focus will not be exclusively or even primarily on them; the breadth of topics addressed in legal blogging is a strength rather than a weakness.

The Blonde Justice blog hosts next week's edition.


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