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Pot, Meet Kettle? or A Challenge to Those With Perfect Comma Skills

After National Review posted a PDFof Miers' response to Senate Judiciary questions, Professors Bainbridge, Fleischer, Hurt and Lindgren let fire with all barrels at the quality of the writing, taking particular glee in the (mis)use of commas. Given that most law students spend a good part of at least one year bent over drafts of law review articles submitted in 'final' form, I'm sure I'm not the only law student who saw the irony in this particular barrage of criticism.

Me, I say let he who is without sin cast the first stone here. Certainly no one submits a law review article with the expectation that it will be used to judge their fitness for the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, law review articles are still professional writing, and they are usually written in conditions distinctly more conducive to error-free drafting. For instance, very few essays (not to say articles) are written in around a week's worth of time, they are generally on a topic of the author's choosing, and they often benefit from the dedicated ditch-digging of a research assistant.

Here's a challenge to those profs (or anyone else, for that matter) who wish to judge such work: tomorrow, post a draft of the last law review article you sent off for publication, preferably before a research assistant went through it. Post it against a blueline of the next two rounds of commentary received from the staff editors and highlight the grammar and spelling errors. Or even better, hand the draft over to someone with an incentive to show the same generousity of spirit--say, someone to whom you gave a bad mark on an exam--and let them publish a piece on your blog highlighting all the errors of grammar, spelling or citation.

I wouldn't relish doing that, but I went through enough blue pencils last year to suspect that very few people, even distinguished academics, would take that challenge.


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I've seen two of Professor Fleischer's articles in early stages. He is the exception rather than the rule, but both manuscripts I saw were impressively clean. This includes the one that he raced to finish so we could review it before the volume closed.
Thank you! The ivory tower response to Miers's poor writing was getting tiresome. As I've said before, the best measure of her writing would be a couple of briefs she's authored. Oddly, no one has bothered to pull any of those up.

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