April 15, 2011

Justice Breyer on "the tweeter": "I get requests. Can we follow you... That's very nice. Somebody would like to follow me. It's quite flattering."

He doesn't think it's a good idea. But he doesn't know how to turn it off... the "tweeter." (The tweeter? Cue Tina Turner.)



"Judges wear black robes so that they will resist the temptation to publicize themselves, because we really speak for the law. And that is to be anonymous."

This is why I wouldn't want to be a judge. They're supposed to submerge their individuality and self-expression. They're supposed to become neutral expositors of The Law.  Of course, they don't, not entirely, and everyone wants to figure out what they really are like, underneath that judge costume. But we only want to know because we need to understand and predict their opinions, and not because we'd be interested in their opinions if they didn't have the judicial power.

Oh, maybe for some of them we would, but as long as they are judges, engaged in the pretense of anonymity, they don't display much or any interestingness apart from the wielding of power.

Would you want to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield? It's nothing you've created, and if you weren't sitting there, in that seat of power, someone else would be, and then they would be all that you now are. What difference then does it make whether it's you or someone else?

23 comments:

EDH said...

"...everyone wants to figure out what they really are like, underneath that judge costume..."

Here Comes the Judge

While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist. According to the below complaint filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General, Donald D. Thompson, 57, was caught in the act by a clerk, trial witnesses, and his longtime court reporter (these unsettling first-hand accounts will make you wonder what's going on under other black robes). Visitors to Thompson's Creek County courtroom reported hearing a "swooshing" sound coming from the bench, a noise the court reporter said "sounded like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up." Thompson, the complaint charges, even pumped himself up during an August 2003 murder trial. The AG's petition quotes Thompson (pictured above) as admitting that the pump was "under the bench" during the murder case (and at other times), but he denied using the item, which was supposedly a "gag gift from a friend."

Smilin' Jack said...

"Judges wear black robes so that they will resist the temptation to publicize themselves, because we really speak for the law. And that is to be anonymous."

This is why I wouldn't want to be a judge. They're supposed to submerge their individuality and self-expression.


You could still express yourself with some garish gold stripes, like Rehnquist.

Carol_Herman said...

Most are incompetent. The great lawyers become far richer, by practicing the law, and preventing government from fighting unfairly.

As to the black robes, they looked best on a sketch on on TV so long ago ... "Here come da' judge."

Then there are the intellectual few who WOW you. Like the guy who decided Kitzmiller.

I guess one the Okahoma judge was "exposed" ... he couldn't be kicked upstairs, huh?

Some gag gift, huh?

ark said...

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

--George Orwell, 1984

Carol_Herman said...

Ah, yes. Our current crop of 9.

Name one opinion that Breyer signed that was worth the cost of the paper?

David Souter? He will always have Kelo.

Anthony Kennedy? Man, is he pissed off! He thought he had arrived at the Chief's chair, when Rehnquist died. To find that he got overlooked.

Though Anthony Kennedy is one of Sandra Day O'Connor's best students! Rehnquist kept losing to her, because her votes where kinetically "free floating."

When O'Connor saw that her vote made five, IF the other 4 would grant to her the "LEAD" ... where she wrote the opinion ... then she could shift her philosophy either way.

LEMON wasn't hers. But it was the invention of the FORK, and it's PRONGS, that made what she could do so unsettling.

Anthony Kennedy meanwhile has too much time on his hands, because he drags in European laws from across the Atlantic. He's a PUTZ.

Was the Oklahoma judge shaving and oiling his private parts while on the bench? Didn't the can of shaving cream make s sound?

Why does no one follow the trail to discover how this idiot became a judge in the first place? Was he formerly a "union organizer?"

traditionalguy said...

A Judge is valuable because of his/her faithfulness to the law.Law's function is to establish peace by judging wrong doers before a war breaks out ( See, the drug dealers wars that occur because they cannot use courts of justice to enforce commercial contracts). That is why the partisan attitude of "By any means necessary" causes a court to lose voluntary submission to its authority. We see more and more Obama's Stalinist dream which is a harangue by a condemning officer followed by a political opponent being taken outside and shoot. We have all seen Obama's attitude towards the captive Supreme Court Justices at the state of the Union speech and recently towards the captive House GOP leaders at his budget speech. It makes sense that the murderous Marxist heart of Obama loves using drones firing hellfire missiles the way his Kenyan Grandfather loved to use Mau Mau "neckties"on opponents.

Peano said...

This is why I wouldn't want to be a judge.

Thank God! Justice should be blind, not blonde.

ricpic said...

No power, no interest: spoken like a true lib.

Richard Dolan said...

"Would you want to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield?"

"Interesting" in the way Ann is using it here is essentially an aesthetic idea, and is an uncomfortable fit when the topic is "power." Power incites envy, causes fear, often corrupts and frequently destroys those who lust after it, Macbeth being the classic case in point. We may want to learn about those who wield it (making powerful people "interesting" in that sense but not in the sense Ann means), but mostly to understand what they did and why they did it. Ann's contrast -- interesting "individuality and self-expression" that is creative vs. boring " pretense of anonymity" that isn't -- seems out of place when the context is power.

"But we only want to know because we need to understand and predict their opinions, and not because we'd be interested in their opinions if they didn't have the judicial power." Well, yes, that's mostly why we care about what powerful people think, and why we lose "interest" once the power is gone. But the exceptions do more than prove the rule here -- Lincoln and Churchill have long gone from the scene, but both remain "interesting" in Ann's sense. Of those still in power, Scalia is such a lively writer that many would still be "interested" in what he has to say (and how he chose to say it) even if he resigned tomorrow. But (like Licoln and Churchill) he's the exception. For example, I doubt that many cared what Blackmun or Berger had to say (and even less, how they said it) once they left office.

What's strange about this post is its straw-man quality. The world has a long, long list of once powerful, now happily forgotten non-entities. Guys like Denny Hastert, Jim Wright, David Souter and the like (to focus only on the recently departed among the formerly powerful) were just relentlessly gray even when they occupied center stage, and were quickly out of mind as soon as they stepped off. Fine.

But how does that truism lead to Ann's coda: "What difference then does it make whether it's you or someone else?"

rmblam said...

Those that know something something had a good chuckle over this story recently.

"A Waukesha County Circuit judge is facing criminal charges after she allegedly tracked down and jumped on her ex-boyfriend’s car in Caledonia."

http://brookfield-wi.patch.com/articles/waukesha-judge-faces-disorderly-conduct-charge-in-caledonia

Oligonicella said...

"This is why I wouldn't want to be a judge. They're supposed to submerge their individuality and self-expression. They're supposed to become neutral expositors of The Law."

So, not empathetic?

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Justice Breyer on "the tweeter": "I get requests. Can we follow you... That's very nice. Somebody would like to follow me. It's quite flattering."

Spoken like someone that is truly in touch with their inner-self...and maybe a bit too much.

Phil 3:14 said...

the tweeter

The latest in the internets faux pas

(If you don't believe me use the Google and search it.)

Peano said...

Would you want to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield? It's nothing you've created, and if you weren't sitting there, in that seat of power, someone else would be, and then they would be all that you now are. What difference then does it make whether it's you or someone else?

What an incredible lack of insight for a law professor to reveal. Blonde to the bone.

Ann Althouse said...

"What an incredible lack of insight for a law professor to reveal."

Prove your insight by explaining exactly why. You answer should show your comprehension of the point you think lacks insight.

J said...

They should be held to the same standards that like social scientists are---and make use of large sample sets of cases, offer statistical estimates, confidence intervals, etc, and be held liable for their assessments regarding the likely consequences of their decision, etc.

Bada bing--the old Tory windbags, terminated, as per Jefferson's dream.

Scrutineer said...

You could still express yourself with some garish gold stripes, like Rehnquist.

Or choose a nice hat.

Triangle Man said...

What an incredible lack of insight for a law professor to reveal. Blonde to the bone.

@Peano, you aren't very perceptive are you?

Triangle Man said...

You could still express yourself with some garish gold stripes, like Rehnquist.

Powdered wigs anyone?

Peano said...

Prove your insight by explaining exactly why. You answer should show your comprehension of the point you think lacks insight.

You say that a judge is interesting “largely or solely because of the power you wield.” You apparently find nothing interesting about the manner in which judges wield their power. Nothing interesting in the way they analyze cases and apply the laws. Nothing interesting in a good judge’s introspective ability to recognize his own moral leanings and resist substituting them for what the law requires. Nothing interesting, let alone admirable, in the character, the intellectual honesty, the restraint, and often the courage, to wield power responsibly and capably. To say that such traits in a judge are “nothing you've created” strikes me as almost willfully narrow-minded.

Ann Althouse said...

Peano, obviously, I study the work of the judges. I wasn't talking about whether they are not interesting to observe. My question, the question you quoted, is: "Would you want to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield?" That is, what is it like to *be* the judge. You've simply missed the perspective of the question. It's about the experience of life, subjectively, for the person in the seat of power. You haven't begun to engage with that. You may have other questions that you'd like to explore, but you can't pronounce my question stupid when you have not attempted to think in response to it.

Peano said...

My question, the question you quoted, is: "Would you want to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield?" That is, what is it like to *be* the judge. You've simply missed the perspective of the question.

In supposing that to *be* a judge is to be interesting largely or solely because of the power you wield, your question missed the perspective of what it is really like to *be* the judge. Which is to say, it overlooked all of the kinds of traits I mentioned, and posited the experience as one of merely wielding power.

“The experience of life, subjectively, for the person in the seat of power” cannot be reduced to the subjective experience of wielding power and nothing more. In wielding power, one would necessarily do so as a complete person with a particular character and a host of attendant strengths, weaknesses, virtues, vices, etc.--all of which would be integral to the experience of wielding power. In overlooking all of that, your question was indeed, if I may use your word, stupid.

It is as stupid as asking whether one would like to be a physician and thus be interesting largely or solely because you wield the authority to dispense medication and perform medical procedures. You could not possibly limit the position to those aspects and have any idea what it is like to *be* a physician.

J said...

Sad when a corporate moderate like Breyer is as close to the tradition of Jefferson that the current SC gang features.

Maybe they should twitter like "polygraph test"--administer one to Don Scalia re Gore-Bush 2000 FL. When he fails arrest him, and all who agreed with him.