Like most lawyers, and many other Americans, I find the U.S. Supreme Court both fascinating and mysterious. Books, Crooks & Counselors discusses the high court’s operations in the “Trial & Error” chapter, and explores the more personal side of judging in the chapter “Thinking Like a Judge.” The newest justice, Elena Kagan, touched on both topics, and how the judges go about making a decision, in a recent speech at Marquette University, reported by Alan Borsuk on the Marquette University Law School blog. Definitely worth a look.
Of particular interest is the care and time given to what are admittedly lesser cases–and the reasons why they sometimes require more debate than the more significant decisions. I also appreciated her comments on the role of oral argument, and on passion.
Justice Scalia may think he’s the first judge with an antelope head in his chambers. He’s not. In the mid 1980s, I was in the offices of a Pierce County, Washington Superior Court judge in Tacoma. A beautiful pronghorn mount hung above the judge’s desk, sporting a pair of Groucho Marx glasses. Nice touch, don’t you think?
I was sure that what the justices had in common with a pronghorm would have to do with careful footing. I didn’t consider the mounted option at all.
Oh, I like that, Peg! Another option: a favorite watering hole. (We always see pronghorn at a particular watering spot when we drive by the National Bison Range, not far from here.)
I always enjoy hearing – Marcia somebody or other, maybe – speak on what’s happening at the Supreme Court on the PBS News Hour. She’s very informative and interesting. I’ve been a little upset with some of their decisions, though.
Oh, yes, Marcia Coyle from the National Law Journal. She’s a goddess. (Dare I say I spotted a factual mistake she made? In PPL v. Montana, involving whether power companies owe the state rent for dams located in certain rivers, the interviewer asked where rents had gone before the state made its claims, and she said to the federal government. My firm represented a small power company that settled, and the fact is no rent had been paid at all. I still love her, though!)
Anyone who would shoot and display a pronghorn can be expected to have poor judgment and little sense of compassion on the job. They are one of our most beautiful mammals. I am not anti-hunting (I recognize that hunters carried the bucket for conservation for many decades), but pronghorn bring out the bunny-hugger in me.