I spent a rather frustrating session yesterday on Ann Althouse's blog trying to wade through learned legal opinion on the Alito nomination. You may, if you wish to revel in the intricacies of law refer to it; but as a lay person in the law, I simply wanted to know whether the posters there considered Alito in the mainstream or out of the mainstream--Several contributors were helpful and they earned my undying appreciation; others were a bit snarkier and their attitudes suggest why many lawyers are held in low esteem--but you can read the exchanges yourself.
Last night as I was conducting search and destroy operations on my few remaining grey cells, I kept wondering if there was some sort of metric for determining a judge's location in the mainstream. Clearly, of course, this whole measurement begs the question about where if at all the mainstream is--but lets assume that there is one somewhere.
It seemed to me that one measure would be the number and character of that jurist's dissents from majority opinions; a second measure would be which of that jurist's opinions were overturned by higher courts whether in dissent or in majority. Does this particular formulation make sense? Clearly, after wading through the swamp yesterday, someone needs to translate the legal scholastic disputations into plain enough language a lay person can use.