May 5, 2015

Hazing Justice Kagan.

In The American Prospect's long article about Justice Kagan, here's how she describes the role of the "Junior Justice" (i.e., the Supreme Court Justice with the least seniority) in the conferences (where only the Justices are present):
"So somebody has to do two things. The first is that somebody has to take notes, so you can then go out and tell people what just happened, and I take notes. That’s the Junior Justice’s job. The other thing is that you have to answer the door when there’s a knock on the door. Literally, if there is a knock on the door and I don’t hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. They just all stare at me until I figure out, ‘Oh, I guess somebody knocked on the door.’ These two jobs, the note-taking and the door-opening—you can see how they can get in the way of each other, right? You might say, what do people knock on the door for? Why does anybody knock on the door? Knock, knock—I’m not going to name names—‘Justice X forgot his glasses.’ Knock, knock, ‘Justice Y forgot her coffee.’ There I am, hopping up and down. I think that’s a form of hazing, don’t you?"
IN THE COMMENTS: First, some people aren't picking up the good humor in Kagan's storytelling. But more importantly, Michael Arndorfer says: "You blogged this in November. Only also tagging it as bullying." What? This is a new article. Is the new article passing along an old quote of Kagan's? I found the post from last November: "Hazing and hunting on the Supreme Court." It has a very similar, but not exactly similar quote (from People Magazine):
"I take notes as the Junior Justice … and answer the door when there's a knock. Literally, if there's a knock on the door and I don't hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. They'll all just stare at me. You might ask, Who comes to the door? Well, it's knock, knock, 'Justice X forgot his glasses.' And knock, knock, 'Justice Y forgot her coffee.' There I am hopping up and down. That's a form of hazing, right?"
2 questions: 1. Did The American Prospect lift the quote from People (and change it) or does Kagan keep retelling the story? Answer: The latter, probably. It's a better explanation of all the little differences. 2. Should I be ashamed of myself for not noticing I'd already blogged this or proud of the consistency of my taste in bloggability and method of blogging? Answer: Both!

ADDED: My answer to Question 1 failed to account for the quirks of transcriptions from recorded speech to text. This is a topic about which Janet Malcolm wrote in the important book "The Journalist and the Murderer" (the best book about journalism that I've ever read):

Before the invention of the tape recorder, no quotation could be verbatim... and many journalists continue to work without benefit of this double-edged technological aid, doing their work of editing or paraphrasing on the spot, as they scribble in their notebooks...

When we read a quotation in a newspaper story or in a text... we assume it to be a rendering of what the speaker actually—not probably—said. The idea of a reporter inventing rather than reporting speech is a repugnant, even sinister, one. Because so much of our knowledge of the world derives from what we read in the press, we naturally become nervous whenever the question of misquotation is raised. Fidelity to the subject’s thought and to his characteristic way of expressing himself is the sine qua non of journalistic quotation—one under which all stylistic considerations are subsumed. Fortunately for reader and subject alike, the relatively minor task of translating tape-recorderese into English and the major responsibility of trustworthy quotation are in no way inimical; in fact, as I have proposed (and over and over again have discovered for myself), they are fundamentally and decisively complementary.

40 comments:

Gahrie said...

She obviously never played on any team sports.

TreeJoe said...

A form of hazing? Or a pretty standard rite of passage that will pass on after her initial juniority passes?

It's pretty crude for her to share this complaint.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Masculinity is hard.

robinintn said...

Oh, good lord. Bring on the fainting couch.

TosaGuy said...

Surely, these microaggressions cannot stand!

Xmas said...

Was Roberts confirmed before or after Alito?

:)

Before Alito and Roberts, how long was it between a new justice? I'm trying to remember if anyone was replaced during the Clinton years.

Curious George said...

"Gahrie said...
She obviously never played on any team sports."

She played softball.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Xmas said...

Justice Breyer was the note-taker and door opener for 11 years. Poor guy.

Psota said...

This a very old tradition dating back who knows how long. Every book I've read about the Supreme Court has mentioned it. I believe Breyer was "junior justice" for over a decade and that he took it in good-natured stride.

Tank said...

Looking at that part of the article, she does not seem to be complaining about it.

I already knew about both items, which seem like no big deal. Yes, seems like a minor, fun sort of hazing.

Tank said...

Also, she was responding to a question about whether there was hazing.

Michael Arndorfer said...

You blogged this in November. Only also tagging it as bullying.

traditionalguy said...

She don't get no respect. She occupies the Rodney Dangerfield seat on the Court.

But she has only RBG to blame for that.

Coupe said...

That's hilarious! No really, that's classic comedy.

Todd said...

Clearly the stress of that position is too much for her. She should do what is in the best interests of her physical and mental well-being and resign her position.

No job is worth your health, right?

SGT Ted said...

You can always count on a woman complaining about doing things that are considered ordinary and part of the job by a man.

mccullough said...

Nobody's going to remember their coffee or glasses if they don't have to get off their ass and get it themself.

furious_a said...

The other, other thing you have to do is go find a left-handed gavel for the Chief Justice.

Kzookitty said...

Somebody forgot their coffee? You mean making and serving the coffee's not part of her job? I hope she at least remembered the donuts on her way in to work.

kzookitty

Larvell said...

I stopped reading the article after it described the Court as five "conservatives" and four "moderate liberals."

The Drill SGT said...

TreeJoe said...
A form of hazing? Or a pretty standard rite of passage that will pass on after her initial juniority passes?


As somebody who, as a 2LT, was simultaneously the Supply Officer, NBC Officer, Publications Officer, and EEO Officer, and a few other odd jobs, I have little sympathy.

That doesn't even come close to the joy of being the low man on the totem pole in an isolated detachment in Vietnam and being the $hit-burning PFC in Charge, as well as the permanent Mid-0400 radio watch guy.

The Elder said...

I think that a form of whining. Don't you?

Sebastian said...

If only they had told us in the 60s that the victory of feminism would be marked by an interminable whine.

Jason said...

Remember when the Chief Justice was also the Junior Justice? Aaaaaaawkward!

MRG said...

What if the next Justice is a quadriplegic. Oh, the hilarity!

Fernandinande said...

Kagan's comments about potassium chloride "burning" people from the inside revealed a deep ignorance about a subject that she's claiming competence to pass judgment on. Pretty pitiful.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think that a form of whining. Don't you?"

No, I think she thinks it's funny or that she's conveying it in a way that will make us feel that she's lighthearted and great fun.

tim maguire said...

Sounds like Kagan wants Ginsburg to retire soon too.

Sebastian said...

"No, I think she thinks it's funny or that she's conveying it in a way that will make us feel that she's lighthearted and great fun."

And it's great fun to be around such great-fun people.

furious_a said...

The other other other thing the newbie has to do is bring Justice Scalia his dicfor.

David-2 said...

Her unstated complaint: "If only that fossil Ginsberg would finally retire I could let someone else get up to open the damn door. Six years, for Christ's sake!"

Todd said...

One would think that a "wise latina" could lend a sister a hand one in a while...

Laura said...

"She played softball."

On a field, or with reporters?

Mick said...

Marxist Dyke Usurper lover on the SCOTUS??!!! Disgusting.

Todd said...

Every so often I peek behind the "hush" curtain as I forget why I decided to hush Mick.

Every one of his comments is a reminder that I make the right choice...

Theranter said...

"Remember when the Chief Justice was also the Junior Justice? Aaaaaaawkward!"

He didn't think so. It was an honor that came with the job.

"One would think that a "wise latina" could lend a sister a hand one in a while..."

Heh heh. Good one. But she's too busy "giving a wave of her hand" for the officer to bring her a glucose tab when her blood sugar is low. (Yah, I'm a bit bitter--having a child with the same disease it really pissed me off when I read that she did that. May have been a one-time incident, but it royally pissed me off. That and the BS about her "poor" childhood in the "ghetto"--which according to those that were there is not the ghetto. Yup, every kid should be so unlucky. But it was a wise decision to run with that story, bought her a lot of notoriety

David said...

No, I think she thinks it's funny or that she's conveying it in a way that will make us feel that she's lighthearted and great fun.

This group won't. Some Althouse commenters need to lighten up. Or check their preconceptions.

jameswhy said...

I don't understand why you jumped to the conclusion that the American Prospect didn't lift the quote. My editor's sense is that they're the same, but the AP writer, trying to hide the theft, added extra descriptive language.

LibertarianSafetyGuy said...

I've see her speak and I'm guessing it's a good natured joke. I mean, really, she has a lifetime appointment to the smallest club in America. And she, like her predecessors, has to manage a couple of tasks. I can see her telling this story as silly, endearing, and as a reminder that she's a Supreme Court Justice. I wonder if she also has to wake up any of the other justices from naps or to choke anyone...

Brando said...

"Her unstated complaint: "If only that fossil Ginsberg would finally retire I could let someone else get up to open the damn door. Six years, for Christ's sake!""

Think how Breyer must have felt--eleven years as the junior justice! And then the guy coming in is the new Chief, so it's not like you can haze HIM.

What was the longest the Court ever went without adding a new justice? Eleven years seems like it should be the record.