Farewell, Hercules and the Umpire!

I blogged about Richard G. Kopf’s Hercules and the Umpire, a couple of years ago, when I first discovered it. Its author is a senior (in Canada, we would say “supernumerary” ― but I think “senior” sounds better) federal district judge in the District of Nebraska. I wrote, at the time, that Judge Kopf “is a very intellectually curious person. He is also intelligent, humble, and forthright. In a word, he is wise.” Since then, there have, alas, been moments when his humility and wisdom seemed less certain, but then, occasional bloopers are a blogger’s occupational hazard. Judge Kopf accepted it, as did his court’s Chief Judge ― but not, it would seem, “court employees,” who apparently found Hercules and the Umpire a source of embarrassment. And so, out of deference for their feelings, Judge Kopf has decided to “pull the plug,” as he put it, on his blog.

It’s a real loss for the blogosphere, and for all those interested in the living, breathing, law. Judge Kopf was often irreverent, and sometimes rude. But an embarrassment? I wish he hadn’t published some of his posts. But his whole blog? To me, he has, for the most part, been a source of intellectual stimulation and, sometimes, of entertainment. I’m not sure that Judge Kopf has succeeded in finding out, as he said he wanted, whether the Ronald Dworkin’s Hercules or John Roberts’s (unnamed) umpire was the better role model for a trial judge. Perhaps that’s because it’s not an either/or affair. What his detractors might be telling us is that they expect judges to be poker-faced demigods. Yet as I wrote last year for the National Magazine’s blog, it is not at all obvious that such mythical creatures will be better than human beings at instilling and preserving public confidence in the administration of justice.

In any case, I would like to thank Judge Kopf for his posts. Being his devoted reader was an interesting, if sometimes a rocky, ride. All the best, Judge!

Author: Leonid Sirota

Law nerd. I teach public law at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. I studied law at McGill, clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, and did graduate work at the NYU School of Law. I then taught in New Zealand before taking up my current position at Reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: