On Friday, John Paul Stevens, the oldest justice on the Supreme Court and the leader of its liberal wing, announced he would retire this summer. The news immediately fueled speculation that President Barack Obama might nominate his friend and former University of Chicago colleague Cass Sunstein to the vacant seat. Sunstein is currently serving as Obama’s regulatory czar.
Eric Posner, a colleague, told Slate that Sunstein is “the most important legal scholar of his generation.” That’s the problem: as a uniquely prolific and creative legal scholar, Sunstein comes with a lot of baggage. In 2009, Jonathan Stein reported on a big business front group’s effort to paint Sunstein as a “radical animal-rights activist.” We’re republishing that piece today. If Sunstein was getting this kind of flak when he was a nominee for an obscure regulatory position, imagine the controversy if he was nominated to the nation’s highest court. Anyway, read Jonathan’s piece.