Suits & Sentences wonders how the possibility of getting nominated to the Supreme Court -- that is, the awareness that one is a viable future nominee -- might affect current judging. It stands to reason that a potential nominee might at least be tempted to trim or shape opinions, though the measurement of this might be difficult.
Take Judge Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, an attractive candidate by any measure. She was a consensus contender for the last opening, won by now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and she can count the tree rings on the current court as well as anyone. So does Judge Wood take her opinion-writing now as a kind of anticipated try-out?
On Wednesday, Judge Wood offered two majority opinions for the 7th Circuit. In one, a sad case involving the death of a child, she begins with the kind of bracingly direct statement not always found in a judicial opinion:
"Jason Walsh suffered from autism."
Bottom line, beyond the nice declarative sentence: the unanimous decision was to overturn a trial judge and let the Walsh family's medical malpractice complaint proceed. So she defends the little guy, the victim!
In the other case, pitting the Iron Workers of Western Pennsylvania Pension Plan against the Guidant Corp., Judge Wood ruled against the workers who were claiming they had been defrauded. Again, the decision seems very clearly written -- but the decision was for the corporation. So she defends business!