While we wait around for the Supreme Court to dispense its annual dose of summer wisdom, here’s a random observation. In my research, I’m often struck by the excellence of Justice Sutherland’s opinions. Though people can (and most do) disagree with his assumptions, Sutherland’s writings are models of clarity and rhetorical power. Consider some examples:
1. Adkins provides the best discussion of the “liberty of contract” doctrine that you see in the United States Reports.
2. Carter Coal is a tour-de-force for those who support a more limited reading of the Commerce Clause.
3. Powell is one of the Court’s most powerful civil rights cases.
4. Grosjean is one the finest discussions of freedom of the press.
5. Sutherland’s dissent in Blaisdell is the most persuasive defense of originalism that you see in an opinion.