The natural intuition is to think that federalism works in normal times and then gets in the way of prompt, effective responses to crises.
Dear Scalia Law School Graduates:
I’ve wiped down my keyboard. My beloved wife has upgraded her perfume from Chanel to Clorox. And my household adheres to the President’s dietary prescriptions: lightbulbs for dinner, with a side of bleach. So, this is safe to read.
And that is only one of my many uplifting messages to you on the occasion of your graduation.
You’ve made it through law school and so escaped me at last. As my kids will swear and affirm, that is worth celebrating.
There won’t be a live Commencement—but who ever needed all the speeches, or vice deans in funny costumes? Go with Groucho Marx: No matter what it is and who commenced it/I’m against it.
There may not be a bar exam as planned. But prospective employers will be flexible. And if you can’t be barred you can’t be dis-barred, either. So, yes: Professional Ethics really was a waste of time.
Your chosen profession will rock. Bankruptcy, anyone? Check. Unwinding deals with firms in countries that export disease? Check. Yes, the Congress is contemplating liability protections for COVID-related matters, thus threatening to decimate the plaintiffs’ bar and the defense bar alike. But no law is an obstacle for a serious lawyer—just an opportunity to turn on the clock and litigate around the rules. You should know that by now, and we have trained you well.
If your first job won’t be quite as remunerative as you thought it might be: think of all the money you’ll be saving consumption-wise. You may have wanted to travel the world and, e.g., observe baggy-clothed women with face coverings rummage empty shelves for rice. That used to require an expensive ticket to Absurdistan. Now, your local supermarket will yield the same experience.
Finally, life wasn’t much better when I was roughly your age and at a comparable career stage, so quit kvetching.
Actually, that was a joke.
I didn’t study nearly as hard as any of you but spent most of my time at the local hockey club. (Field hockey—a serious men’s sport in many parts of the world. If you can’t quite envision it, think dismounted polo.) My buddies there had a garage band called Channel 5—good enough, eventually, to produce what was then called a record (it’s a round, black vinyl thing) and to go on a tour, called “Painted Nights.” It involved in excess of ten individuals, gallons of beer consumed and spilled, and nightlong hugs and kisses among friends and strangers. These events were known as “concerts.”
Jan Krueger (the guy at the keyboards, who wrote all the Channel 5 songs) always thought the song a bit maudlin. But we’re all in a maudlin mood and I want you to be sentimental, and then conscientious, about the right thing: preserve your friendships. Cherish and cultivate them. All else will pass. Semper Procedere.