April 10, 2013

When Sandra Day O'Connor lit into Walter Dellinger in Clinton v. Jones.

Reading the case again today (for conlaw class), I went back to what is, for me, one of the best snippets in Supreme Court oral argument. O'Connor is withering, and I think you can hear Dellinger — arguing that civil suits against the President must be delayed until after he's out of office — losing in 3 minutes of real time.

I love the way the other female Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes in — after Scalia's I like rules! outburst — and echoes O'Connor — using a somewhat kinder, gentler tone — but essentially saying — as I hear it — this is destroying you.

15 comments:

MadisonMan said...

That is very cool software that highlights the words being spoken as you hear them.

Patrick said...

I agree with Madison Man about the software.

jacksonjay said...


Black Justice Thomas was silent as usual!

paul a'barge said...

...I love the way the other female Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes in ...

Yeah. I'll just bet that rings the bell in your belfry. Doesn't it?

Ann Althouse said...

Here's what I notice: The woman brings up child custody, in a fervent voice. That's the hypothetical that gets her. And then the other woman reinforces that point. I do see that as the female perspective on the Court.

Ann Althouse said...

And it's interesting to think of a U.S. President having a spouse that turned so far against him that she (or he) would be dragging him into family court.

Of course, even if you don't drag your spouse into court, the threat that you could is huge. Surely a President and his aides and lawyers would figure out how to control this rogue spouse, but if no legal action were possible, the settlement path would look very different (even assuming settlement would occur).

Mary Beth said...

Well, we have a first lady who claims to be a single, working mother, so, maybe we're on the way there.

jacksonjay said...


So, Latina Wisdom should be a consideration in the selection process!

And since half of the population is female, "the other female Justice", was speaking truth about a Court with nine female justices!

C Stanley said...

Could have ended up more than a hypothetical with a President Edwards.

vnjagvet said...

Losing 9-0 is a real skunking. That doesn't happen very often when the sitting Solicitor General argues a case.

Geoff Matthews said...

Pierre Trudeau went through a divorce while the PM of Canada.
Sarkozy went through a divorce when he was elected president of France.
So, don't elect a francophone and you won't have to worry about it.

tiger said...

Professor? Why are USSC arguments limited to 1 hour?

Marc Lowenstein said...

Seeing child custody as a woman's issue is profoundly sexist. I'm a male (human-ish) person who struggles with the aftermath of a difficult child custody struggle that, yes, took up a huge amount of time. Are you implying that me don't care about it or care less about it?

Had I been President at the time (perish the thought) it would have been a huge drain on my time, but, you know what? I think it's a good thing that all elected officials live with the consequences of the laws and legal procedures of the land, especially ones that suck up vast amounts of time.

Marc Lowenstein said...

haha . . .grammar . .

Mark O said...

Poor Wally. He did so love Clinton.