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What About Political Blogs? Explaining an Inconsistency

One of the most difficult decisions in making my Taxonomy of Legal Blogs was whether to include certain political blogs. Obviously the fields of law and politics overlap extensively, and there are numerous blogs which cover both topics. My rule of thumb was that I would not consider a blog to be a “legal blog” if less than 1/3 of the posts were about legal matters. If a blog was both legal and political, but not focused too much on the latter, I usually included it in this category: General Blogs – Law and Culture, Economics, Politics, etc. To have included blogs in my taxonomy which were far more political than legal would have changed the nature of what I was trying to accomplish.


However, in compiling my Collection of Law Review Articles Citing Legal Blogs I was more lenient. I included blogs which were cited by articles even though they were omitted from my taxonomy. Examples are Instapundit (cited 9 times), Leiter Reports (cited 6 times), and The Right Coast (cited twice), which are obviously very different in style, content, and political persuasion. These three blogs are not included in my taxonomy, despite receiving law review citations, because they are primarily political blogs and not legal ones. My criteria for including blogs in the taxonomy and in the collection of law review articles were different.


Each of these three blogs deserves a further word. 


1. I did not include Leiter Reports, which is a philosophical blog as well as a political one, in my taxonomy. Several of the citations to Leiter Reports in the law review articles concern law school rankings. The more recent blog Leiter’s Law School Reports, part of the Law Professor Blog Network, is now the location of Prof. Leiter’s commentary on rankings and other academic matters. Leiter’s Law School Reports is included in my taxonomy in the categories Legal Academia and Law Professor Blogs.


2. Some readers will no doubt be surprised that Instapundit is not included in my taxonomy. But Instapundit rarely focuses on legal matters. Instead it mainly links to alternative news sources and gives brief commentary on politics and current events. Prof. Reynolds sometimes writes about space law or nanotechnology law, but only occasionally. I have great respect for Prof. Reynolds, and even blogged about his interview on C-Span here (Richard Nixon makes an appearance). But Instapundit is for the most part a political blog by a law professor, not a legal blog. The judge in this case thought so as well.


3. The Right Coast has one particular post that should be pointed out: A voice, crying in the wilderness, and then just crying. Tom Smith writes about the low number of law review articles that are cited by other articles or by court decisions. Readers who are interested in similar topics can also go to the posts on 3L Epiphany about Blogs and Law Reviews. Unlike many law review articles, 3L Epiphany has been cited in four academic papers after only three months.


One more detail concerning the law review article collection is worth mentioning. When counting citations, I only looked at the name of the blog which was cited in the law review article. I did not take into consideration whether the blog post was from a guest blogger. In a few cases an article may have cited to a post by a guest blogger, one who normally posted at a different blog, but that didn’t matter. I listed the article under the name of the blog cited. Similarly, I did not include guest bloggers when figuring out the numbers in the Group Blogs category in my taxonomy.

April 25, 2006 in Taxonomy Omissions | Permalink


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