The first argument at the Supreme Court this morning, and what I expected would be the subject of this post, was a potentially historic case, Alleyne v. United States. But near the end of the second argument, as I was finishing my sketches of the first, an unfamiliar voice was heard from the bench. After nearly seven years of remaining silent during arguments Justice Thomas was speaking!
It wasn’t a question for the lawyer at the lectern, more of an aside. And what Thomas actually said is in dispute. Something about the competence of Yale or Harvard Law graduates?
WSJ’s Jess Bravin has the historic story here.
The Supreme Court announced six opinions today. I have sketches of four of those opinions being read by their authors :
Justice Ginsburg had the the opinions in two cases, Bullcoming v. New Mexico and CSX v. McBride.
Justice Thomas, who turned 63 today, had the opinion in PLIVA Inc v. Mensing.
And Justice Kennedy read his opinion in Sorrell v. IMS Health.
It is beyond the capability of this wretched, inkstained courtartist to understand, much less explain the meaning of all these opinions, so I refer the reader to ScotusBlog.
No big stories at the Court this week, but I entertained myself with some quick sketches.
Tuesday looked promising with a made-for-TV case about infidelity, revenge and chemical weapons: Carole Anne Bond was delighted when her best friend became pregnant, but when she learned the her own husband was the father her mood changed.
She mailed defaced photos to her former BFF, and told her “I’m going to make your life a living hell” and “dead people are going to visit you”. Then things got serious. Carole, who worked as a microbiologist, obtained some nasty, and highly toxic, chemicals from work and began to smear them around her victim’s home, including on the mailbox. The U.S. Postal Service investigated and she was charged under a federal statute implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
As usual, the Justices were more interested in the law than in the soap opera, so the arguments focused on whether Ms Bond has standing to bring a 10th Amendment appeal.
The one moment of comic relief came when Justice Alito asked the Justice Dept. lawyer, Michael Dreeben, “Suppose that the petitioner in this case decided to retaliate against her former friend by pouring a bottle of vinegar in the friend’s goldfish bowl?”
The Silent One
Tuesday also marked the five year anniversary of the last time Justice Thomas asked a question during oral arguments. During today’s second case, U.S. v. Tinklenberg, Justice Thomas was intently following the arguments and it seemed to me that he was on the verge of asking a question, but no such luck. I made the sketch below in anticipation.
Brandeis: A Life
Tuesday evening The Supreme Court Historical Society hosted a lecture in the courtroom which I attended with my big-time professional history buff niece Leah. Justice Kagan was there to introduce the speaker, winner of the Erwin Griswold Prize Professor Melvin I. Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life.
Above is a sketch of the courtroom during the lecture, while below Justice Kagan is pictured introducing Professor Urofsky, seated on the right.
A Slip On The Ice?
Is Justice Sotomayor foot-injury prone? Remember the cast she wore as she visited Senators before her confirmation hearings?
This morning as we waited for the Justices to take the bench, a workman came in carrying an ottoman which he placed under the bench by Justice Sotomayor’s seat. A few minutes later the Justice hobbled in with the assistance of two aides from the Marshal’s office.
Dahlia Lithwick’s story on U.S. v. Bond can be found here.