October 25, 2010

"I was consistently struck by how much the Court did its work in a thoughtful, rational, process..."

"... exchanging written drafts and memos until as much rewriting had been done as was likely or possible."

Says Stephen Wermiel, who was given exclusive access to Justice Brennan's papers.


traditionalguy said...

An attorney trained for many years who then becomes a Justice trained for many tears of a workload does paperwork as an act of artistic creativity. It's not dull at all. And there are no idiot clients to please.

Chip Ahoy said...

Hey, they do that at the FRB too. I too was struck by how many drafts and memos were exchanged back and forth and up and down back and forth, editing a word here, a word there, the whole time I'm thinking, "You know you really should be able to nail this the first time," until finally a memo would be produced that inevitably began,

"In order to improve service ..."

followed by something that reduced service.

chickelit said...

Brennan was a fine and very quotable man: link

Bob Ellison said...

I've long wondered how much Walter F. Murphy's portrayal of the SCOTUS in The Vicar of Christ matches reality.

(book link: http://www.amazon.com/Vicar-Christ-Walter-Murphy/dp/0304304506/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288046371&sr=8-1)

The SCOTUS has an extremely lofty reputation in the popular mind and in texts prepared for college students of government. But these are just normal people, albeit smart ones, on the court.

Politics governs American judisprudence, and we are a little foolish to think otherwise.

David said...

This is why the United States Supreme Court had to overrule the Florida Supreme Count in Bush v. Gore. As the Chief Justice of Florida noted in his dissent, the Florida court majority opinion was outcome oriented, sloppy and inconsistent with some simple equal protection principles. They invited the Supreme Court to intervene, and lost control of the election in their own state as a result.

The work done by the U.S. Supreme Court was impressive given the time and political pressure involved. Their ability to handle this case was due to institutional skills and habits long in the making.

Much current commentary is that Bush v. Gore was a rogue opinion, something like Dred Scott. My guess is that over time it will be seen as one of the Court's finer moments.

Anonymous said...

"...and still reach an absurd result."

David said...

That absurd constitution.

rcocean said...

I love our philosopher Kings that rule us. Who said the USA was ever a Democracy? I love that 5 Ivy league lawyer decide - based on the Constitution (hehe) - whether abortion should be legal, or whether the death penalty is legal, or whether Sally can say a prayer at a school in Numbnut Nebraska.

And I wonder what Grandma O'Conner thought when she decided one day to keep Abortion legal. I often wonder what our Kings and Queens that sat on the SCOTUS thought and what their motivations were as decided what laws the other 300 million of us could pass or not pass.

Based on the Constitution, of course (hehe)