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SCOTUS in da House!

I'm actually terribly bad at remembering names, so I had to call Bob and ask him if he remembered the name of the Supreme Court argument that we actually went and heard in person, but he couldn't remember either.

Probably because I woke him up; I am so sorry, love.  I feel awful about that.

So, I looked it up. You may not think prisoner's access to legal research is that important, but one of the basic tenets of our system of justice is that everyone get access to the help they need. Whether the petitioners were receiving adequate assistance was the question.

I remember so much about the day, but the arguments are only a vague memory - though I do remember thinking the lawyer for the ADOC wasn't really gaining any points with the Justices. Bob pointed out to me that the Justices tend to ask questions that lead the lawyers in the direction they want to go, but the ADOC guy was oblivious, which didn't go over well.

It's oddly unsatisfying to watch, this process; they each get 15 minutes to argue their side, and no decision is made for months (the previous court had found that aid was inadequate; the SCOTUS reversed that decision - read the summary). The courtroom is like a theatre, the impression aided by the stage-like feel of the Justices' seating arrangements. No cameras are allowed, but I brought my sketchbook (though I have no memory of sketching anything - I should go back through my sketch books and see if I can find any evidence).

It's fun, though; and for a little while, I could name every Justice on the Court. Kennedy used to be one of the ones I liked, but his insulting and misogynistic write-up of the decision on partial-birth abortion (I'm not talking about the outcome, but his insulting implication that women were too dumb to actually know what they were doing, and needed "counsellng") kind of turned me off, and Ginsburg is my heroine (her dissenting opinion was razor-sharp). Souter is the mysterious one, Scalia and Thomas were Rhenquist's lap-dogs, and Rhenquist was the crazy one who tried to redesign the SCOTUS Chief Justice robes to look more "imposing" (if you can call massive armbands of gold imposing. I also bet there's an early draft of his designs that includes gold braid and massive epaulets). Then there's Stevens, Breyer (the one I can never remember), and my other heroine, O'Connor. That was in '95.

Now, it's this lot. I don't think Scalia's ever recovered from not being chosen to succeed Rhenquist as Chief Justice. I bet he'd have approved the epaulets. Really big ones. Awesome:

(I love MSPaint.)

I also remember on that day the huge number of Cleveland Browns fans protesting the fact that their team was being moved to Baltimore, and going to become the Ravens. Lots of signs, lots of orange and brown (icky colours!), and lots of outrage.

You crazy Americans and your mixed-up priorities - I saw more protestors that day than I've seen over major US issues.

Not that my country's any better, mind you.

So, that's the SCOTUS argument I saw in person - I'd still have to say one of the (several) SCOTUS decisions that I deeply disagree with is Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co (this being the real criteria of the Sarah Palin question - she was asked which SCOTUS decisions she disagreed with - and Roe v. Wade was the only one she could come up with.  I think in view of the fact that she's female, she'd be interested in equal pay for all women, but since she's VP to McCain, who supported the decision, saying it would be "bad for businesses" to have given Ms. Ledbetter the pay she deserved, maybe she's pretending she doesn't know about  that one).


( 27 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
( A day with the SCOTUS (which is really fun to say: SCOTUSSCOTUSSCOTUS... )

And sounds every so slightly dirty... ;)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:08 pm (UTC)
Anything sounds dirty if you say it right. *eyebrow waggle*
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
Say no more! Say no more!
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, and if you want to design a new justicial robe for SCOTUS (*snerk*), I have an excellent source for epaulettes in real gold bullion. Of course the price will be insane, but they can use them as their life's savings when the banks fail. ;)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
A lawyer friend of my acquaintance swears that the time she visited SCOTUS, that Clarence Thomas was twirling around in his swivel chair like a bored five-year-old, staring at the ceiling.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Probably *was* bored.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thomas is the only current Justice who *never* asks questions during oral argument.

As each party (and all the "me, too's" (legally referred to as amicus) file 50-page maximum briefs (an oxymoron if ever there was one), oral is the opportunity for the Justices to play with each sides arguments. ""What's the outfall of your arguement?"; "Wouldn't your position result in X?"; How far is this clown willing to go?"

At least Thomas wasn't asleep, as Justice Marshall was the first time I watched oral argument at SCOTUS.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
Hee. Oh, SCOTUS, never change.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
I meant he really, truly probably was. Not in a disrespectful way, necessarily.

One lawyer once disclosed that one of the worst things that can happen to an attorney in litigation is to cause the judge to be bored. (This particular guy specialized in Domestic Relations law and cited a time when he produced for Hizzoner's consideration a bunch of...ah...racy diaries---almost anything's fair game in DR law practice, you can do all sorts of stuff you can't do in criminal law or even in other civil arenas. As I recall these were proof in that spouse's own hand of infidelity, this taking place in one of the few states which at that time did not have a no-fault divorce law. At one point, after it was all over but the alimony, I think, the judge leaned over the bench and whispered, beaming, "Those diaries were great, [name.] Better than a porn flick!")
I think it's possible that the routine, the necessary procedural *steps,* if you will, may be found tedious no matter the level of the entity performing them or listening to them.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
True, dat.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
"because Palin is 'a total hotty'."

That statement killed my appetite, probably for the rest of the day. I mean, a naked Sarah Palin is less horrific than a naked Karl Rove, but still...
Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
Shortly after Palin was announced as the candidate, I happened to see an ad for some miracle weight loss product. The celebrity hawker was none other than Marie Osmond. The resemblence between the she and Palin was remarkable. And scary.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
One can only hope that there will be some big upset in the Steelers' line-up on election day and he will forget to vote.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
A member of my household is arguing in the Supreme court on a case on Tuesday.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
Awesome! What on?
Oct. 2nd, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'll have to ask...something involving AZ is all I know. I'll ping american_knight who is flying out to see him do it.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
I found the case on the docket...

Case is Here

The main part of the case is "Whether a police officer may search the passenger compartment of an automobile as a contemporaneous incident of the lawful custodial arrest of the vehicle's recent occupant when the arrestee exited the vehicle voluntarily rather than on police direction."
Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
But the Browns are important!

*looks sheepish*

Being a Clevelander, it was rather all-encompassing at the time. I remember the mayor talking about it all the time... almost like Cleveland had no other problems. *deep, put-upon sigh*

I've gotten to watch the Supreme Court too - on a school trip. I think we were mostly fidgetting through it. Don't remember the arguments at all

Never heard it abbreviated as SCOTUS before. Makes it sound ominous and yet something ridiculous, like one of those bad guys in Mad Max.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
And then there's POTUS - President of the United States.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, swap the letters around to POUTS and I think you get a better description of Shrub on a bad day though...
Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
So'm I a Clevelander. I think a big part of the reason it was so all-encompassing is the way it was done. And the mayor wasn't...unsullied.
In fairness, though, to sports fans everywhere, the real question, it seems to me, isn't whether the priorities are straight---as written that sounded almost as though all those petitioning for the return of the Browns to Cleveland, or at least what was accomplished, the licensing rights (name, colors, doo-dah), were the only people out there who are responsible for appealing to the gov't for redress of wrongs and that they were appealing for the redress of the wrong wrong---the real question is:
Why aren't all those folks who are dissatisfied with what Congress is doing; with those opinions handed down by the US Supreme Court; with their Senators' voting records; with their Congressmen/women's voting records; with the deep pockets of the various lobbies----why aren't they at least as passionate, as committed to their interests which they CLAIM are oh-so-important to them, as a bunch of sports fans who cared enough to get their butts into gear and petition/demonstrate?

I hear a lot of grumbling, but no one saying, "I *wrote* to my Congressman/Senators and expressed _______."
Not that it applies to anyone on this comments section of this LJ, of course.
Okay, that was a bit...facetious. I believe there is no time at which we, the governed without whose consent government is not possible, to paraphrase, can afford indifference.
Those folks in office there on Capitol Hill. They're not indifferent. But they HEAR from lobbies. How often do they hear, in ways which demonstrate to them that we're not just momentarily agitated or honked off, shooting off our mouths in some voice-mail message or firing off an e-mail?

Congressional representatives still use, I believe, as a rule of thumb, the figure 200. They reason that for every person who cares enough about whatever the issue or question is, to compose a letter and put it into hard copy; sign it with his or her own hand (not stamped, or computer-printer generated printed "signature"), put it into an envelope, address it, apply postage, seal it, and drop it into a U.S. Postal Service's collection box; there are **200** more folks who feel just like that, only who are too lazy to write.
But those lazy so-and-so's will *vote,* so Congressmen and Senators will take letters under serious consideration.
Better than petitions, too, since that requires so little effort on the part of the sign-ee.

Sales people going into something like insurance or securities sales often get asked (first-timers, I mean) if they know at least 200 (sometimes 250) people whom they could telephone right now, today, and say to those persons, "Hi; just got into a new business and I'd love to tell you all about it; let's make a date for a coffee/drink/breakfast [whatever!] so I can fill you in a bit---" Okay, not the greatest pitch but not my line of work, either. The number of potential calls to make, the *number,* is the point.
And funeral directors, unless given other information, will print up 250 of those little "In Memoriam" leaflets you pick up at the guest book station, because their surveys show that most of us know about 250 people: relatives, friends, neighbors, business associates, co-workers, who will come to pay their respects.

If it matters to us/you, then so indicate to Capitol Hill, and write your congressional representatives.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
Umm...I missed getting to see the Supreme Court, but my Girl Scout troop did get to go to the Senate gallery and listen for a while (before we had to run to whatever came next on that three-day tour!)

And for a number of people, the Browns really are seriously important. For some of those folks, much needed income (yes, maybe auxiliary) is generated or earned through concessions sales.
If you've never lived on a financial tightrope, it's hard to imagine a few hundred dollars per week or month making all that much difference, but if you ever have, or have had to choose which of three expenses you can meet this month... You can understand where a few of those folks were coming from.
Oct. 6th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC)
You just scolded me with almost as much typing as my original post for an affectionate throw-away joke about a memory I had of the furor over the Cleveland Browns. :)

I don't mind, it's just more passion than I was expecting for a light humour post.
Oct. 6th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
I do apologize most sincerely for the inappropriate verbosity of my comments. That demonstrated appalling lack of consideration for someone else's journal.
"You" was intended more generally than "you," Attack Laurel, personally.
I'm past an age at which I might apologize for passion---if Aunt Reed had had me to contend with instead of Jane Eyre, she's doubtless have simply had a fatal seizure upon our first encounter.
But I ought to have behaved better---I do know better.
Oct. 7th, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
It's okay, really. :) I wasn't offended, just impressed. *evil grin*
Oct. 7th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
*bows deeply*
And I ought to have made the assurance nothing I'd written was intended as scolding.
It is true, though, that if I care at all I care quite a lot---although only rarely "utterly." Always have done. Being past an age at which I feel a need to apologize for caring passionately, I'm also at an age (or beyond it) where many others have long since abandoned caring passionately.
*huge self-critical sigh* "Can is dreadful long-winded, though, I!"

Thanks for your kindness and your gracious understanding.
( 27 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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