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TRACK RECORD Won three of seven cases argued in last five terms. Three others were losses, and one a draw. Lifetime record: 19 wins, 9 losses, one draw. BACKGROUND Age: 58. Born in China, raised in San Francisco, Calif., graduated Harvard College and Law School. Clerked for Justice Potter Stewart, teaching at Harvard ever since. Author of “American Constitutional Law,” the most frequently cited legal text of the last half-century. SNAPSHOT A Tribe oral argument is, to borrow a phrase from his ideological opposite Robert Bork, an “intellectual feast” — full of history, subtlety, wit, and well-turned phrases that roll off his tongue with dazzling frequency. A Tribe trademark: citing details of a justice’s own writings when that justice asks him a question. No one is better able to parry a tough question from the bench than Tribe. But a dazzling performance does not always carry the day. One reason his recent win-loss record is not great is that he is willing to take cases with little chance of success. In Honda, v. Oberg, a 1994 punitive damages case, Tribe seemed to outshine Mayer, Brown & Platt veteran Andrew Frey. But Tribe lost the case 7 to 2 — a fact that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg later pointed out in a speech criticizing the press for predicting outcomes based on oral argument performance. Tribe has been on the losing side of several hard-to-win landmark cases — attacking Georgia’s sodomy law in Bowers v. Hardwick, and attacking state laws against assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill. ” I didn’t think I had any chance at all to get a majority to declare there is a right to assisted suicide,” Tribe says now. “ But I was hoping to get a consensus that in considering this liberty you don’t just look at the Bill of Rights, and we got that. So it was a success.” Tribe didn’t help himself that day when he committed the faux pas that has befallen other top advocates, including Walter Dellinger and the late Bruce Ennis: He addressed Justice Ginsburg as “Justice O’Connor.” QUOTABLE QUOTE “When you are arguing before the Supreme Court, you can’t afford not to think of some obscure part of the case. You can’t use panache to cover up some uncertainty about the substance of the case. One can be too clever by half. The Court is too smart for that.”

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