The Supreme Court Breakfast Table

Blowin' in the Wind
An email conversation about the news of the day.
June 23 2008 1:01 PM

The Supreme Court Breakfast Table


Dear Walter and Cliff and Jack:

It's almost impossible to explain what happens at the Supreme Court when the press corps discovers that this last Monday of the term—a day ripe with the promise of guns and oil slicks and capital punishment—swirls down the tubes in the span of 20 minutes of boring decisions. Three opinions were handed down this morning—Sprint Communications v. APCC Services, Greenlaw v. United States, and  Rothgery v. Gillespie County—each of which we will read as fast as we can. So disappointing were these results that half the press corps promptly took off the rest of the day to get pedicures. And there's this poor guy I know named Walter Dellinger, who now has three cases that he has argued all coming down later this week ... what does that feel like, Walter?

Dahlia Lithwick Dahlia Lithwick

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.


Nevertheless, and through the fog of despair at the utter lameness of this morning's catch, I would be remiss not to point out this glorious bright spot: Chief Justice Roberts, dissenting in Sprint Communications,reminds us this morning what happens when you put a hip guy into a square job. The case is an insanely technical dispute over whether a group of "aggregators," who have been assigned the legal claims of pay-phone operators that are suing long-distance carriers, have standing to bring suit in federal court. I know, I know—tell me when your heart starts up again. In any event, the chief justice, dissenting from Justice Stephen Breyer's majority opinion finding that there is standing, writes as follows:

The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing. "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." Bob Dylan, "Like A Rolling Stone," on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records, 1965).

Smell like a reader contest to you??? Yup. So while we Breakfasters toil away on today's opinions, we invite readers to submit entries for Dylan lyrics that sum up any case or dissent from the 2007 Supreme Court term. We'll post our favorites. Send mail to I guess in anticipation of the D.C. guns case, I'll offer up this line from "Knockin' on Heaven's Door":

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore.





The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer


Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.


Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.