Supreme Court Breakfast Table

Bow Ties, Long Summaries and the Ultimate Nerd Sandwich
An email conversation about the news of the day.
June 28 2010 2:47 PM

Supreme Court Breakfast Table


Dear Walter and Paul:

I am on skates today between decisions this morning at the high court and the Kagan hearing which has just begun—a state of affairs that I referred to yesterday as a "nerd sandwich." Just a few preliminary notes on this morning's court session: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance despite the death of her husband last night. The lawyers and press corps in attendance were aflutter with bow ties in tribute to Justice John Paul Stevens' signature style. The chief justice read a letter praising Stevens for having served for one-sixth of the court's lifetime, for his rigor and integrity and genuine collegiality. Stevens responded, as  Tony Mauro notes, with a letter of his own that he prefaced with the comment that "when he joined the Court in 1975, a letter like his could have been addressed to 'Dear Brethren.' But with two women on the Court, Stevens decided 'Dear Colleagues' would be appropriate." Then he thanked his colleagues and said: "If I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job. I wish you all the best."

Dahlia Lithwick Dahlia Lithwick

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


The drama surrounding Ginsburg's loss, Stevens' last day, and the Kagan hearings about to open wasn't all of it though. There were a lot of strong opinions and passionate dissents today. Justice Breyer read aloud from his dissent in the Chicago guns case and in the Public Co. Accounting Oversight Board case. Justice Stevens read from his concurrence in Bilski, scolding the court for its "timid disposition" of the case.

I was struck by the length of Justice Alito's summary of his opinion in McDonald and equally struck by the fact that he pointedly argued that this was the view of the Second Amendment necessary to protect the newly freed slaves. Justice Breyer's dissent was equally lengthy, as was his summary of his dissent.

More on all this later as I try to absorb the Kagan hearing and McDonald at the same time.





The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
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.