A well-known law professor and popular liberal commentator are locked in a pitched battle -- playing out on their blogs and on the airwaves -- over President Barack Obama's choice of Elena Kagan to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.
In separate appearances last night on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig took Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald to task for his opposition to Kagan, the current U.S. Solicitor General. Lessig took particular exception to Greenwald's contention that Kagan lacks a clear judicial 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," Lessig told Maddow Monday night. "That is just absurd."
Greenwald fought back on his blog Tuesday, asserting that on MSNBC Lessig had twisted Greenwald's previous writings on Kagan and spewed outright falsehoods. Greenwald accused Lessig of "trying to discredit" him and compared the Harvard professor to a "party apparatchik."
Greenwald said Lessig was "making things up and spouting clear falsehoods"
The intellectual ping-pong match continued with a follow-up post by Lessig Tuesday afternoon further explaining his position:
My claim against Glenn is that he is fudging a critical distinction to the end of painting Kagan as some kind of Bush-Cheney monster. The distinction is between lawyers like Kagan who believe the president has broad power to control the executive branch because Congress (directly or indirectly) gave him that power and others like Cheney who believe the president has broad power to control the executive branch because the Constitution (directly or indirectly) gave him that power. The critical word here is "broad": Everyone agrees that there is a core of executive authority that the constitution has vested in the President exclusively. The debate is how broadly that core extends.
The feud between Lessig and Greenwald began in April when Greenwald penned a Salon blog laying out the case against Kagan. About a week later Lessig wrote his own piece published on the Huffington post entitled "A Case For Kagan."
Watch Greenwald's MSNBC appearance:
Watch Lessig's MSNBC appearance: