Inside the Supreme Court

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?