You can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a Supreme Court Justice in the media spotlight:
A-List legal blogs are red hot on a new book, Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court,. In addition, interviews have come from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice John Paul Stevens (ABC News) Justice Antonin “Get Over It” Scalia (Iona College), Justices Ginsburg (CBS 60 Minutes), Justice Alito, (Palm Beach Bar Association) and Justice Breyer (Fox News Sunday). Whew.
There is also a PBS special coming up next week.
According to Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy, “These days it feels like news when Supreme Court Justices aren’t giving on-the-record interviews to reporters.”
All of which leads to constitutional debate since many judges prefer to talk of judicial philosophy instead of individual cases: Some feel the constitution should be interpreted based on the current times and circumstances while others assert that it must be strictly interpreted as written.
This debate being played out now in various media brings up an ancient quote:
Rigorous law is often rigorous injustice.
–Terence (185 B.C – 159 B.C.)
Roman playwright and poet
Having now posted several times on the efforts by Gov. Spitzer to reform New York’s courts, it is time to turn to a single quote on the meaning of it all:
“But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal-there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United State or the humblest J.P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, p. 218 (1960)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1961
From the Trial by Jury Department:
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
— Thomas Jefferson
“The jury system has come to stand for all we mean by English justice. The scrutiny of 12 honest jurors provides defendants and plaintiffs alike a safeguard from arbitrary perversion of the law.”
— Winston Churchill
The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, United States Supreme Court Justice
Since the subject of today’s post below was the right to die, and a physician risking prosectution to help, I thought this should be today’s quote:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others,
or strikes out against injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
– Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968, American Attorney General, Senator)
When laws become inequitable, there is much to fear:
People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have must to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
–Edmund Burke (1729-1797) British political writer.