Tips for Legal Commentators: How to Talk to the Press

Sometimes, legal commentators (law professors and whatnot) are ambushed by the press asking for commentary on a case just handed down.  What to say?   Sometimes one just doesn’t know.   Here then, by way of suggestion, is a list of plausible takes, ready for use in a pinch:

The unresolved problem:

“Yes, it is a tough issue.  We can expect that it will end up in the Supreme Court sooner or later.”

The unexpected decision:

“Well,  I don’t think anyone really expected this.   People are going to look at the opinion very closely to see what it means for them.”

The interminable/incomprehensible highly bureaucratic opinion:

“More than anything, what this decision does is put everyone on their toes.  I think there are going to be a lot of lawyers’ phones ringing this coming week.”

What can proponents of X do now?

“Well, it’s really a challenge.  They’ll have to  look at their options and  reconsider their strategies in light of this new reality.  It’s going to be a process and we shouldn’t expect anything too soon.”

 When you really are totally out of your depth:

“There are always at least two sides to a case, but I’m glad to see the Court stepped up to decide the issue.”

Self-aggrandizing:

“Well, actually, it’s been my view for a while now that the Court would decide the case this way.”

 When you want to diss the court:

“It’s not so much that it is a bad decision.  It’s just that one doesn’t get the sense that the court fully understood the stakes or the arguments here.”

When you want to make the other losing side feel bad:

“I’m surprised they took it this far.   They really didn’t have much of a chance to begin with, but their strategy—well, now that was a real surprise.”

When you want to make the other losing side feel good:

“They put up one hell of a fight.  And frankly, I admire them for it.   I disagree with their position, of course.   But given that position, they did about as well as one could.”

This entry was posted in Random Jurisprudence, The BAT Cave and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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