I was a student of Harold Koh's about 20 years ago. We have not kept in close touch since, although I do see him at the occasional conference or alumni event.
The Harold Koh I knew was a pretty cautious and conservative guy. He generally took the conservative view in his national security law class, and tended to praise the people who expressed right-wing views (e.g. on judicial inability to interfere with the executive), much more than the left. If he harbored many views even a hair to the left of center, he kept them well hidden while tearing into the paper of mine he supervised. I admired him as a serious, disciplined scholar, and have tried to model one or two of my habits on what I saw of his.
Watching him from a distance, it has seemed that he has gradually become a bit more liberal politically as the country has been in the grip of a kleptocratic gang masquerading as conservatives, and has been particularly forceful on traditional issues such as being against torture and for decency. Really radical stuff. And he's certainly been a tremendous Dean for Yale Law School.
Thus it's shocking to learn about The Scary Prospect of Harold Koh as Potential SCOTUS Nominee from none less than ProfessorBainbridge.com®.
“There can be no doubt,” writes ProfessorBainbridge.com®, “but that Koh would be a liberal activist of a stripe we haven't seen since Brennan and Marshall. The personal policy preferences of elite left-liberal salons would rule, rather than the rule of law.”
Now, I'm as unwilling as the next guy to have the country run by any salon, even SALON®. But really, Harold Koh as a wild liberal activist? I don't think so. Much as I like him.
Is there anything sillier than the use of phrases such as “elite left-liberal salons”? So sad that a significant minority in the country believe stuff like this.
Where are these places? I know I am not the first to make this comment but come on!
“Please, Br’er Fox, do whatever you like but DON’T fling me into that briar patch.”
I haven’t read this book yet but the reviews make Koh sound pretty liberal. Iagree with you that he isn’t, but the days in which standing up to governmental abuses of power were things conservatives did seem to be long gone.