When it comes to Elena Kagan's nomination for the Supreme Court, Glenn Greenwald and Lawrence Lessig are diametrically opposed. The Salon blogger has been Kagan's most vocal opponent, while the Harvard Law professor has repeatedly endorsed her as a stellar replacement for Justice Stevens.
Though the pair did not directly debate Kagan's merits, sparks flew when Rachel Maddow interviewed them back-to-back. After Greenwald voiced his many concerns with Kagan's record, Lessig slammed him for questioning Kagan's lack of a record.
The hyperbole in what Glenn is saying here is something we really have to check. He said right at the top of your show that there's a complete blank slate here. That every substantive legal question she has left unanswered.
That is just absurd. She has written three extraordinarily important pieces mapping out a theory of the First Amendment.
Lessig took a second shot at Greenwald when defending Kagan's written position on executive power, claiming he was "flat-out wrong" because the article was written before September 11th and therefore didn't focus on U.S. detention policy.
That last argument drew an immediate and fiery response from Greenwald on his Salon blog. "It's totally false," he fumed. "I've never said, believed or even hinted at any such thing -- let alone "repeatedly asserted" it. Lessig just made that up out of thin air and, knowing nobody was there to dispute it, unleashed it on national television." Using a series of links to prove he never associated the article in question with detention policy, Greenwald charged Lessig with deliberately misconstruing his words.
This isn't the most significant falsehood in the world, but when someone like Larry Lessig launches such an obvious, concerted falsehood about you on television and you have no opportunity then to correct it, you feel compelled to respond.
Trying to discredit those who [criticize Kagan] is how party appartchiks function, and that's fine. But making things up and spouting clear falsehoods definitely isn't.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.