I’m clearing out the blog’s inbox. Here’s what I wanted to pass along:

The U.S. Supreme Court turns down the Laura Schubert cert petition

The order list is here. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has this short article.

Law Review Article About Westbrook v. Penrey

The Texas Supreme Court’s decision Westbrook v. Penrey has been written up in another law review article.

The article was written by Roberg Joseph Renaud and Lael Daniel Weinberger and is titled “Spheres of Sovereignty: Church Autonomy Doctrine and the Theological Heritage of the Separation of Church and State.”

Texas’s Newest “Same-Sex Divorce” Case

I’m sure you’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere, but a Texas court is again being asked to decide whether it can “divorce” a same-sex couple when Texas law would not permit that couple to marry.

I’ll be curious to see how the parties frame this one as it moves along.

To take one possibility: It might be odd to find out that Texas law really prohibits divorces in all cases where Texas law would not have permitted the marriage. (What about a couple with a bride who was too young for Texas but qualified in, say, Ohio?)

The NYT discusses judicial pay raises

All this seems a little out of place in an era of tight budgets, but Adam Liptak’s column a couple of weeks back in the New York Times does have some interesting thoughts about judicial pay hikes.

The piece, titled How Much Should Judges Make?, discusses two recent research papers that conclude that the quality of judging doesn’t vary based on salary.

Liptak quotes Prof. Frank Cross of UT Law School, a critic of this view:

Frank B. Cross, a law professor at the University of Texas and a sophisticated empiricist, said the new studies went off the rails. “I love these economic tools,” Professor Cross said. “But we don’t have a good measure of judicial quality.”

“Given the anecdotal evidence, economic logic and the great importance of a quality judiciary,” he wrote in a reply to Professor Baker, “the case for a judicial pay raise is reasonably strong.”

Sounds fair enough. The studies I have seen try to pin down judicial “quality” with things like quantity of opinions, quantity of citations, quantity of other states’ law cited, quantity of times the opinion is cited by sister courts, etc.

These are measures of quantity, but not necessarily “quality.” That is easy to understand; the analytical tool used in these studies is econometric and feeds on numbers. (( My suspicion is that this choice of numbers had a special degree of verisimilitude for the professors doing the study because they echo what “matters” in the tenure process. ))

But seasoned observers know that the longest judicial opinions are often the least useful (and least well-reasoned), the longest briefs are often the least persuasive, the most densely cited argument passage that brings in authorities from around the country is often — perhaps always — a sign that there is no clear authority on point.