SCOTUS Map: Summer 2017

Supreme Court justices’ speaking engagements typically make headlines for what happens inside, not outside, the venue. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s keynote speech yesterday at The Fund for American Studies’ Defending Freedom Luncheon proved an exception to the rule, sparking protests in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington. While dozens of protestors carried signs questioning […]

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Supreme Court justices’ speaking engagements typically make headlines for what happens inside, not outside, the venue. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s keynote speech yesterday at The Fund for American Studies’ Defending Freedom Luncheon proved an exception to the rule, sparking protests in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington. While dozens of protestors carried signs questioning Gorsuch’s impartiality and objecting to his appearance at the property – which is owned by the president who nominated him to the Supreme Court and is the subject of multiple lawsuits that may wind up before the court – Gorsuch spoke in the hotel ballroom about civility and free speech. Josh Gerstein of POLITICO quotes Gorsuch as saying, “Those with whom we disagree vehemently still have the best interests of the country at heart. We have to learn not only to tolerate different points of view, but to cherish the din of democracy.” Additional coverage comes from USA Today, the New York Times and The Hill.

In addition to Gorsuch, seven other justices were active yesterday: Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan traveled to New York to honor Senior Judge Ralph Winter, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, with the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award. Justice Samuel Alito was the featured speaker at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Red Mass Dinner, while Justice Stephen Breyer discussed his life and career at The Connecticut Forum in Hartford in what The Connecticut Mirror described as a “careful conversation.” Asked what he had to say about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, Breyer said, “Nothing.” Asked whether he was a feminist, he responded, “I don’t know what that is.”

On September 27, Chief Justice John Roberts was in Mississippi to help celebrate the bicentennial of the state. The chief justice presided over a moot court competition between University of Mississippi and Mississippi College students before delivering remarks at a banquet that evening. Coverage of Roberts’ visit comes from Mississippi Public Broadcasting and The Clarion-Ledger.

On the same day, Ginsburg made an appearance at a special session of the 2nd Circuit concluding the commemoration of the circuit’s 125th anniversary. While in her hometown of New York, Ginsburg – who is far less cautious than Breyer when it comes to public comments – sat for a candid conversation with Charlie Rose at the 92nd Street Y, where she stated that she had “no doubt” sexism had been a “major factor” in the 2016 presidential campaign. The justice said she was “encouraged by the number of people, especially young people, who are expressing themselves in opposition.” Coverage comes from CBS News. Full video of the event can be streamed online.

On September 23, Breyer gave a talk titled “An Apology for The Law,” hosted by the Nexus Instituut in the Netherlands. A brief recap (in Dutch) is available here. On the same day, Ginsburg attended a performance of “The Merchant of Venice” at Montclair State University and participated in a roundtable discussion of the Shakespeare play afterward. has a summary of the event, and video of the discussion can be found on YouTube.

In recent years, Sotomayor has taken on an increasingly large role in promoting iCivics, a nonprofit founded by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and dedicated to teaching students, through interactive games, about how government works. On September 21, Sotomayor gave a wide-ranging talk at the organization’s Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit in Washington. Of the devastation that Hurricane Maria wreaked in Puerto Rico, where Sotomayor has family, the justice said, “The island is suffering a great tragedy right now. Myself personally and the rest of my family, we are exceedingly concerned. We ask for your prayers.” Coverage comes from TIME and CNN.

While Sotomayor was in Washington, Gorsuch was in the Bluegrass State with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Gorsuch appeared at both the University of Kentucky (as part of the John G. Heyburn II Initiative for Excellence in the Federal Judiciary) and the University of Louisville (as part of the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series).

Ginsburg was a surprise speaker at the Sixth & I Synagogue’s Rosh Hashanah Services on September 20. Jessica Gresko of the Associated Press covered the event. On the same day, Ginsburg addressed 1L students at Georgetown Law, the full video for which is available via C-SPAN. Coverage of this talk comes from the school.

On September 19, retired Justice David Souter shared the stage with Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit as part of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society’s King Lecture Series.

Thomas attended the Eagle Forum’s Eagle Council XLVI on September 16, where he watched his wife Ginni Thomas receive the Eagle Award before sharing the stage with her for a conversation.

On September 15, Kennedy participated in a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California conference on civil discourse. Kennedy noted several entities in which civility is paramount: courts, legislatures and universities. However, he remarked:

My assumption had always been that universities are part of the solution, not the problem, and I’m concerned that that may no longer be true. There was a statement made by a student—I wasn’t following the controversy, but it was some college in the East, some controversy—I don’t know what it was about. But the student said, the university belongs to the students. That has to be wrong. The university belongs, number one, to our heritage—to the heritage of free speech. The answer to a wrong or an insulting or an immoral idea is more speech, not less. For faculties and universities to be indifferent can be, actually, to be complicit. Indifference can be poisonous, so far as free speech is concerned. The universities must step up to the plate and insist that there is a place for peaceful, thoughtful, constructive, convincing, strong, robust disagreement, but not interruption.

The event was held at the Robert T. Matsui Courthouse, in a library and learning center named after Kennedy. News coverage comes from Bob Egelko for the San Francisco Chronicle. The news channel KCRA3 posted video of Kennedy’s speech online.

While Kennedy was in Sacramento, Ginsburg delivered closing remarks for a Howard University School of Law symposium on the legacy of Pauli Murray, an activist whose legal theories had a deep influence on Ginsburg’s own work as an ACLU lawyer bringing sex discrimination cases before the Supreme Court.

September 14 was a busy day for the justices. Breyer discussed the judiciary and the Constitution at a constitutional law class at Yale Law School. Two justices made appearances in South Carolina: Alito encouraged the audience at the dedication of the new University of South Carolina School of Law building to “think like a lawyer” because it is “good for our society at large,” while Sotomayor participated in a Q&A session with students at Clemson University. The State and the Free Times covered Alito’s speech. Independent Mail has coverage of Sotomayor’s Clemson appearance, and video of the Sotomayor event is available online.

“I think there has not been a better time to be a woman in the legal profession, because no doors are closed,” Ginsburg remarked at the The American Dream Reconsidered conference held by Roosevelt University on September 11. However, she added, “I won’t say there’s no discrimination. That would be a stretch.” Coverage comes from the Chicago Sun-Times. While in the Windy City, the justice also presented the Martin D. Ginsburg Award at Cedille Records’ Seventh Annual Soiree Cedille.

The previous week, Kagan talked about the value of compromise at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the September 8 appearance, Kagan recalled that after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the eight-member Supreme Court made “a very serious effort to try and find common ground, even where we thought we couldn’t.” Even though the court is no longer short-handed, Kagan stated that she is “actually hopeful that the effects of it will continue now that we have a nine-person court, in the sense that all of us will remember not to stop the conversation too soon.” The Wisconsin State Journal covered the talk, which is also available on YouTube.

Thomas participated in a conversation at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, on September 7. On the subject of free speech and college campuses, Thomas said, “I think that we are going to have some very—and I don’t want to get too far on this—I think we’re going to have people who are picking and choosing who gets protection, and that’s precisely what the First Amendment was to avoid.” Coverage comes from the Waco Tribune-Herald. Video is available online.

On August 31, Kagan returned to Harvard Law School, where she served as dean, and gave incoming students advice. “If you’re going to have to choose between having a great brief and making a great oral argument, you should always choose to write the great brief,” Kagan noted. “That’s where the justices really learn about a case and in the course of reading briefs, that’s where you’re thinking through the issue the most.” Harvard Law Today has a report on the talk. The event was also recorded and posted online.

Ginsburg always makes time for opera-related events during the summer recess, and this year was no exception. On August 25, she participated in the Santa Fe Opera and The Lensic’s Justice at the Opera program. On August 13, she joined in a Q&A session following the performance of the opera “Scalia/Ginsburg” at the Glimmerglass Festival.

A couple of weeks earlier, Ginsburg headlined two events at the Aspen Institute in Colorado, speaking about her friendship with Scalia as part of the McCloskey Speaker Series on August 1 and delivering the keynote speech at the 2017 Resnick Aspen Action Forum on July 30. Aspen Times covered her McCloskey speech, which readers can watch via the Aspen Institute’s YouTube page. The institute itself published a summary of the Resnick Aspen Action Forum talk, at which Ginsburg previewed the upcoming Supreme Court term, suggesting that Gill v. Whitford (on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering) is October Term 2017’s most important case thus far. Video of that talk is available online.

Many of the justices traveled abroad in July. Sotomayor spent the end of the month in South Africa, where she spoke at the Judicial Institute for Africa on July 27 and delivered the Rabinowitz Lecture at the University of Cape Town on July 28.

Roberts traded in summer temperatures for cooler climes when he traveled to New Zealand and Australia. From July 24 to 26, he co-taught The United States Supreme Court in Historical Perspective at the Victoria University of Wellington. In a conversation with professor Mark Hickford, Roberts stated, “Judges are not politicians, and they shouldn’t be scrutinized as if they were. You’re not electing a representative, so you’re not entitled to know what their views on political issues are.” The Associated Press covered this event, and the university posted video to its YouTube account.

Before his Wellington trip, the chief justice delivered a July 20 public lecture at the University of Melbourne, where his recollections of his years in appellate advocacy doubled as advice for answering questions at oral argument:

You have to have in mind the particular points that you think will help decide the case, and try to return to those in the course of the questioning. And you do have to try to be nimble enough to try and appreciate where the question is coming from—why one of the justices is asking that question. And you have to be prepared to sort of move on from them if you don’t think they’re going to be helpful to your case. You can answer quickly and then turn your attention to another justice. They don’t always let you off the hook, but you know, when you get that many questions, you can’t really be expected to have the same number of answers. Fortunately, they will interrupt each other and you’re allowed to move on.

It can be dangerous, though. I do remember one exchange when Justice Stevens was on the Court. He’d asked me a question, and I was preparing to answer it, and one of the other justices interrupted—which happens—with another question. So I tried to answer that one, and then I thought, this would endear me to Justice Stevens—and I said, Justice Stevens, I didn’t have an opportunity to answer your question. And he was beaming, he was smiling—it was great—and I’m smiling back, and I suddenly realized I don’t remember what the question was. I just kind of mumbled something and he had a very confused look on his face.”

Video of this conversation is available via Melbourne Law School’s YouTube.

Other international engagements in July included Ginsburg’s keynote speech at the World Justice Forum V in the Netherlands (for which video has been posted), her course on OT 2016’s rulings at the Consortium for Innovative Legal Education’s Malta Study Abroad Program, Alito’s guest lecturer stint at Loyola Law’s Rome Program, and Kennedy’s return to the McGeorge School of Law’s summer program in Salzburg, Austria.

July saw an abundance of events back in the United States as well. Ginsburg exhorted attendees at the Utah State Bar Summer Convention in Sun Valley, Idaho, to “[d]o something outside of yourselves. Something that will make a difference.” The Salt Lake Tribune covered the July 28 appearance. The justice touched on similar themes when she delivered the keynote at the Washington Council of Lawyers’ Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Forum on July 24. “I can say that in my life as a lawyer, I gained greater satisfaction from things I wasn’t paid to do than what I got a paycheck for.” GW Today has a summary of the event. While in Washington, Ginsburg also took part in a post-show conversation following the July 22 performance of the play “The Originalist” and discussed the October 2016 term at a July 21 Duke Law DC Summer Institute event. Video of the latter is available online.

On July 17, Gorsuch spoke about civic education at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in San Francisco. Coverage comes from Mark Walsh of Education Week.

Sotomayor talked to participants in the Bronx Children Museum’s Dream Big program at the Betances Community Center on July 13.

Kagan spoke at the Aspen Institute on July 10 as part of the Sandra Day O’Connor Conversation Series, where she discussed O’Connor’s impact on her career. At her own confirmation hearing, Kagan recalled, “You’re allowed to speak for five minutes and to thank the people you ought to thank. Two of the people whom I thanked were Justice O’Connor and Justice Ginsburg, because that generation of women lawyers … made all the difference in the world to people one generation on.” Kagan reminded the audience that they “had to make their careers up from scratch. They kind of had to figure out how to create these brilliant careers even when the institutions of the legal profession were saying, no, we’re really not ready for women. In doing that, those two women made such an incredible difference.” Video is available online. The National Law Journal has a summary of Kagan’s speech.

Finally, no summer report would be complete without mention of the justices’ public Fourth of July celebrations. This year, Breyer read from the Declaration of Independence in Plainfield, New Hampshire, while Gorsuch returned home to Colorado and rode in the Niwot Fourth of July parade. The Valley News has a summary and video of Breyer’s appearance. Coverage of Gorsuch’s appearance – which, like his speech yesterday at the Trump International Hotel, was not free of protest – comes from FOX31 Denver and Daily Camera News.

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SCOTUS Map: May and June 2017 (and OT2016 Review)

Justice Stephen Breyer delivered remarks at the Cambridge Public Library’s Democracy Day activities on May 20, where he urged students to “work part of the time in something beyond yourself—in government, politics, library commission, art museum, school. Part of us is part of the community. I can’t tell you to do it, but I can […]

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The justices’ OT2016 events.

Justice Stephen Breyer delivered remarks at the Cambridge Public Library’s Democracy Day activities on May 20, where he urged students to “work part of the time in something beyond yourself—in government, politics, library commission, art museum, school. Part of us is part of the community. I can’t tell you to do it, but I can tell you, I’ve spent a lot of time with [the Constitution], and it foresees that you will participate in public life in some way or another. And Adams, and Hamilton, and Madison, and the others, I’m pretty sure, would have said, ‘If you don’t participate, it won’t work.’” Video of Breyer’s talk is online.

On May 22, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the Burton Award for the Book of the Year in Law for her work, “My Own Words.”

The following day, Ginsburg spoke at the American Law Institute’s 2017 Annual Dinner, where she explained the reasoning behind the justices’ oral dissents. Reading a summary of a dissent from the bench means that “not only did the Court get it wrong, but it was an egregious error,” Ginsburg said. “That’s why I read the Lilly Ledbetter dissent from the bench. When one writes that kind of dissent, there is an immediate object in mind, and that is Congress.” Asked which Supreme Court case she would turn into an opera, Ginsburg responded: “I can think of one—Anna Nicole Smith’s case.” As the audience burst into laughter, she added a caveat: “But there is an opera already. It played in London.” ALI has posted video to Vimeo.

The topic of opera came up again in Ginsburg’s Aspen Wye Fellows Discussion on May 24. Discussing her role in the Washington National Opera’s “Daughter of the Regiment,” Ginsburg recalled: “I was the Duchess of Krakenthorp for opening night. There was only one problem about that. It was the Saturday following the election, and I wrote my own lines, and they were all about valorous women.” The justice recounted the discrimination she faced seeking employment after law school as a young mother. “Getting the first job was hard for women of my vintage, but once you got the first job, you did it at least as well as the men, and so the next step was not as hard.” Her former colleague, the retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, had experienced similar difficulties, Ginsburg continued. “But life is strange. You never know—you may think that something not good has happened, like not being able to get a job. And it turns out to be remarkably lucky. Sandra said, ‘Where would the two of us be if there had been no discrimination? Well, today we’d be retired partners from a large law firm.’” The Star Democrat has a summary of Ginsburg’s remarks. Video of the talk is available online.

On June 2, Marshall alumni Breyer and Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared jointly at the 2017 Harvard Marshall Forum and Association of Marshall Scholars Annual Meeting, where they discussed the rule of law. Gorsuch called it a “blessing,” noting how remarkable it is that the “government can lose, in its own courts, and accept the judgment of those courts without an army to back up the judgments.” Gorsuch acknowledged that while “there is a lot of skepticism about the rule of law,” his lived experience has shown him that it is alive and well in this country. “I see it day in and day out in the trenches – the adversarial process of lawyers coming to court and shaking hands before and after, the judges shaking hands as we do, before we ascend to the bench. That’s how we resolve differences in this society.” Breyer agreed, pointing to the aftermath of Bush v. Gore. “It was wrong in my opinion, OK, but people followed it. They did not go out and throw stones or shoot other people.” According to Harvard Law Today, the two justices also reminisced about their time as Marshall scholars. Gorsuch recalled meeting his wife while studying at Oxford, to which Breyer added: “I, too, have married a British woman, and she’s beautiful, but it’s not the same one.” The Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Associated Press also covered the event.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the 2017 commencement speech at the Cardigan Mountain School, a sixth- to ninth-grade New Hampshire boys’ boarding school from which his son was graduating. Skipping the usual graduation-season platitudes, the chief justice told the young men:

From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

Video of the full speech is available on the Cardigan Mountain School’s YouTube page.

Breyer sat for a conversation on the first night of the American Constitution Society’s 2017 National Convention. There, he explained the development of his views on the death penalty, despite not having encountered many such cases as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit:

What happens after you’re there for a while is, you begin to get—and I think it happened with [John Paul] Stevens, I think it happened with Lewis Powell, and I think it happened with Harry Blackmun—you get the feeling, like I said in the [Glossip v. Gross] opinion, that this is random. Now, it’s one thing to say it, and it’s another thing to sit there over a long period of time and begin to think, yes, it is. There is a problem here, there is really a problem.

So then I thought, OK, I can say that, but what do I add, really, to what other justices have already said? Arthur Goldberg wrote an opinion years ago and I thought, well, I could say I agree with him, and people would say, that’s very interesting, that’s nice and fine. Or I could try and do something that would in fact be useful to others. And therefore, we spent considerable time—I’d say a year and a half—and over a long period of time gathering the information, trying to organize it, trying to work out the thinking, and trying to say, look—I’m not going to say it’s unconstitutional, either, but I’m going to say, we ought to consider it. Because that’s what I think. And in my opinion, you don’t decide a major thing without hearing argument, so I wanted to make that point, too. I said, well, look at the facts, look at the figures, look at the situation.

GWU Law News covered the ACS event, and video is posted online.

On June 9, Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke to students and presided over arguments at the Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program, now in its 20th year. The mock trial was held on the same day and in the same venue, the Bronx County Courthouse, as the Bronx County Women’s Bar Annual Installation Reception, where Sotomayor was the honored guest. Coverage of the mock trial comes from the Bronx Free Press and Fox 5 NY.

Sotomayor received the 2017 Achievement Award at the American Association of University Women’s National Convention Banquet in Washington on June 16. The AAUW has a short recap of the night’s festivities.

Ginsburg and Breyer served on a panel of judges at The Shakespeare Theatre Company Bard Association’s 2017 Annual Dinner and Mock Trial on June 19, hearing a fictitious case based on the Weird Sisters in Macbeth. According to Molly Runkle, who covered the proceedings for this blog, the advocates made many lighthearted references to current events, including lines about “drain[ing] the bog,” “the greatest witch hunt,” and the Sisters “appear[ing] out of nowhere, like Sean Spicer from the bushes.”

Ginsburg participated in another Bard-based mock trial on June 21, presiding over the Justice for Shylock appeal that the Law Library of Congress held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Venice Ghetto. The role of Shylock was performed by Edward Gero, who also portrays Justice Antonin Scalia in “The Originalist.” Coverage comes from DC Metro Theater Arts. The Library of Congress has posted video of the program on YouTube.

On June 26, Ginsburg discussed her book, “My Own Words,” at the Cornell Club of Washington.

Closing out the month, Justice Elena Kagan spoke at the ABA Deans Workshop in Washington on June 30, where the topic was the future of legal education. On the same day, Roberts made headlines in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when he told the audience at a District of Columbia Circuit judicial conference that pop-culture references can be an effective way of making a point. However, Roberts noted, this approach may not work in every situation — “[t]here is a real danger if you do it at oral argument, and that is that Justice Breyer may have no idea what you are talking about.” (To be fair, this term Breyer became the first Supreme Court justice to make a Kim Kardashian reference at oral argument.) Coverage comes from Lancaster Online and the Associated Press.

This term, SCOTUS Map recorded 119 appearances by the nine active and three retired justices. The breakdown of events (by month and by justice) is set out in the chart below:

November 2016 and February 2017 were the busiest months for the justices:

This term, Sotomayor dethroned Breyer as the most active justice, logging 33 appearances (ten more than she had recorded in OT2015). Sotomayor was also the only justice to participate in at least one event in every month of OT2016, notching seven appearances in April 2017 alone. Ginsburg was the second-most active justice of the term, with 24 events in total. Breyer was third with 19 appearances, followed closely by Alito with 17.

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SCOTUS Map: April and May 2017

On April 21, Justice Stephen Breyer took part in a conversation called “Judges as Diplomats in Advancing the Rule of Law,” organized by the Luxembourg Forum at American University. A brief recap comes from the American University School of Public Affairs News. Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at the April 25 reception for the Legal Services […]

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Who doesn’t want to take a quick break in the middle of work and go to Italy?

On April 21, Justice Stephen Breyer took part in a conversation called “Judges as Diplomats in Advancing the Rule of Law,” organized by the Luxembourg Forum at American University. A brief recap comes from the American University School of Public Affairs News.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at the April 25 reception for the Legal Services Corporation’s Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. The following day, Justice Elena Kagan also praised LSC’s work in her remarks at the American Bar Association’s 2017 ABA Grassroots Advocacy Award ceremony. “You are doing the Lord’s work,” ABA News quotes Kagan as saying. “This is so important—the Legal Services Corporation—so many people depend on it, and depend on there being adequate funding for it.”

April 27, the day after the last of the term’s oral arguments, saw a flurry of activity from the justices, with at least four different appearances around Washington. Chief Justice John Roberts attended a Georgetown Law reception where Jeffrey Minear, the chief justice’s counselor, was honored. Roberts drew laughs for opening his speech with a reminder to the audience to “please turn off your cell phones” – a reference to Breyer’s phone unexpectedly ringing in the courtroom during the penultimate day of arguments. Mark Walsh has a summary of the festivities.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was also at Georgetown that day, speaking at the Marver H. Bernstein Symposium. Ginsburg’s talk touched on a wide range of topics, including the civility (or incivility) of Supreme Court confirmation hearings, unconscious bias against women, the living Constitution, and the strategic use of dissents. “I do not take every opportunity to dissent,” Ginsburg said, according to the Georgetown Hoya. “I do try to save them for when it counts, when it really matters. I keep on my desk the unpublished opinions of Justice Brandeis. His view was, his voice would be all the more compelling if he only dissented when it really mattered.” Additional coverage comes from The Hill. Video of the event is available online.

Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito was 10 minutes away at the Capital Hilton, headlining an American Bar Association Section of International Law luncheon. Alito described how dissents often have the effect of sharpening a justice’s writing: “If you write an opinion and you know you have to answer to a dissent, it makes you more careful” than when authoring a unanimous opinion. ABA News reports that Alito got in a jab at media coverage of the justices: “There is an awful lot of silliness that is written about the court.”

Speaking of media coverage, Sotomayor, who once spoke positively of her experience with cameras in the courtroom, said at the opening of a Library of Congress exhibition (“Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration”) that she is now hesitant about the idea of bringing cameras to the Supreme Court. The Washington Post covered the opening.

With the eight-member Supreme Court now a thing of the past, Kagan – who is no longer the junior justice and quite happy about that, Ginsburg surmisedtook a walk down memory lane at the Seventh Circuit Bar Association Annual Meeting in Indianapolis on May 1. She stated that one result of working on a short-handed bench was that justices had to dig deeper and refine their reasoning, listening and persuasion skills in order to break 4-4 ties and reach consensus. According to The Indiana Lawyer, Kagan believes the Supreme Court did “pretty darn well” given the circumstances. She sees the court’s experience as applicable to politics in general:

I think the courts do model behavior. They teach people about reasoned decision-making and they teach people about collegiality. And when they’re working at their best, they also teach people about bridging differences and reaching agreement in places where you might not expect to find it.

Also on May 1, Ginsburg presided over a re-enactment of Goesaert v. Cleary at the Supreme Court. In that 1948 ruling, the Supreme Court held that a Michigan statute barring most women from being licensed as bartenders did not violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Ginsburg noted after the argument that the opinion had affirmed “the prerogative of legislatures to draw a sharp line between the sexes,” and recalled that when she studied the case as a law student in the 1950s, neither the professor nor the casebook mentioned “the blatant gender-based discrimination infecting the Michigan law.” Andrew Hamm covered the event for this blog.

Sometimes a justice travels a long way to speak to an audience, and at other times the audience travels to the justice. On May 2, Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke to Sacramento business leaders and lawmakers who had come from Kennedy’s hometown in California to Washington as part of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s “Capitol-to-Capitol” program. Attendees of the event, which was closed to the media, told Fox 40 that Kennedy’s speech touched on civility and the preservation of democracy, among other things.

Sotomayor spent some time overseas at the University of Macerata in Italy, participating in a May 3 conversation with students and a May 4 panel highlighting the experiences of female Supreme Court and constitutional court justices around the world.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the keynote speech at the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Law Day on May 5. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, part of Thomas’ address focused on the irony that he sees in some young people and law students’ attitudes toward principles of limited government. “Some recoil or react as if something is being taken away. Yet in the very next breath they might express concern about the government’s overreaching under the Patriot Act, for example, or interference with their reproductive rights.” Thomas called this a “glib, simplistic” viewpoint: “They want the government to do what they want it to do, and refrain from doing what they don’t want it to do.”

Every spring, the New York City Bar Association hosts the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law, with Ginsburg providing the introductory remarks for that year’s speaker. On May 8, Ginsburg introduced Patricia Bell-Scott, author of a book about Eleanor Roosevelt and the legal scholar, activist and Episcopal priest Pauli Murray. Ginsburg credited Murray’s law review article “Jane Crow and the Law” with giving Ginsburg a “road map” for the equal citizenship stature arguments she made in 1971’s Reed v. Reed, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s application of the equal protection clause to sex discrimination. A transcript and a video of the justice’s speech are available via the New York City Bar Association.

On May 11, retired Justice John Paul Stevens made an appearance at the Galt Ocean Mile Reading Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to discuss his two books, “Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir” and “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

Religious organizations played host to a couple of the justices in mid-May. Alito delivered the commencement speech at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington on May 12, where he also received the Saint Dominic Medal. Five days later, Alito spoke at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary’s graduation ceremony in Philadelphia, where he warned the audience that Americans’ “strong respect for religious liberty” has “started to change.” According to, Alito read from his 2015 dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, saying: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

Breyer promoted his book, “The Court and the World,” at a May 12 Sutton Place Synagogue event organized by the New York Board of Rabbis and the Interfaith Center of New York. The next day, he discussed the Constitution and Brown v. Board of Education at the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church’s 10th Annual Thurgood Marshall Law Day. Coverage of the latter event comes from the Episcopal News Service, which describes Breyer “clutching a biography of Marshall stuffed with leaves of paper scrawled with handwritten notes.” Of Brown’s legacy, Breyer said: “Of course it helped America by producing integration, but it helped America in other ways, too, that are just as important.” YouTube user Andy Jean has uploaded a video of Breyer’s talk (which begins at the 1:18:13 mark).

On May 18, Alito participated in a Q&A session at the Capitol Hill Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s 2017 Supreme Court Luncheon.

Looking ahead to the rest of May:

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SCOTUS Map: March and April 2017

Justice Sonia Sotomayor mingled with the crowd and dispensed advice to Stanford University students on March 10. “Figure out first how to be a generally informed citizen before specializing in anything else,” Sotomayor told them. “It might lead you to find an interest you can’t imagine. It will make you good company for others. If […]

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor mingled with the crowd and dispensed advice to Stanford University students on March 10. “Figure out first how to be a generally informed citizen before specializing in anything else,” Sotomayor told them. “It might lead you to find an interest you can’t imagine. It will make you good company for others. If you tell interesting stories about interesting things, people will gravitate to you.” At the end of the talk, Sotomayor received a T-shirt bearing the words “Fear The Nerds” on the front and “#NerdUp” on the back. “I grew up being a nerd. Take pride in being nerds,” she remarked. Coverage of the event comes from Mercury News and Stanford University News. A brief video clip is available on abc7news’ website. C-SPAN will air the full program at 8 p.m. EDT today.

While Sotomayor was in Palo Alto, Chief Justice John Roberts was in New York to participate in a panel hosted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The subject of the panel was Judge Henry Friendly, for whom Roberts clerked after graduating from law school. Roberts shared the stage with 2nd Circuit Judge Jon Newman and six fellow Friendly clerks, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Roberts and Garland remembered Friendly as an “intellectual giant” and a “big-picture judge” who always walked his clerks through his reasoning process, even in the most mundane of cases. Garland — who worked for Friendly the year before Roberts did — joked at one point that he didn’t know how he had obtained his own clerkship, but he did know how Roberts got his, as Garland had called Harvard Law School on Friendly’s behalf to find the best student.

Roberts presided over a March 15 mock trial based on events in Mark Twain’s novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Adam Liptak of the New York Times covered the proceedings, which were organized by the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis but took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington.

On the same night, Justice Samuel Alito served as the featured speaker for a St. Paul Inside the Walls Advocati Christi event in New Jersey. According to the Associated Press, Alito spoke about both the history of discrimination that Catholics encountered in this country and his own personal experience of growing up Catholic. He recalled watching John F. Kennedy become the first Catholic president in 1960, when Alito was 10 years old: “I felt it had lifted me up from the status of second-class American.” Alito warned the audience, however, that today “a wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs.” The following week, Alito traveled to Pennsylvania to deliver a lecture about the Constitution at the Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia.

Sotomayor spoke on the subject of civic engagement at the Aspen Institute on March 24. Asked about what people can do to “reignite civic spirit in America,” Sotomayor responded: “We are never going to reach equality in America — as Latinos, as blacks, as anything — until we achieve equality in education.” Sotomayor stressed the importance of teaching children to be active participants in their communities and promoted iCivics, an organization that retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded (and for which Sotomayor serves as a board member) to provide civic education through games and other interactive tools. Video of the event is posted on YouTube.

On March 30, Justice Clarence Thomas addressed students at the 70th Annual Horatio Alger Awards and National Scholars Conference in Washington. A brief recap is available at the organization’s Facebook page.

On April 1, Sotomayor returned to Princeton University, where she received her undergraduate degree, for the “¡Adelante Tigres! Celebrating Latino Alumni at Princeton University” conference. The justice was candid about the insecurities she faced, both when she was a new student at Princeton and when she was nominated to the Supreme Court. Of the former, Sotomayor stated, “I had no idea about the prestige of Princeton or how I would be perceived here. I had no idea of the world I’d thrust myself into — I was a fish out of water.” Of the battle that surrounded her 2009 nomination, she recalled, “There were reports that I wasn’t smart enough, and there were reports that I was abrasive and not nice. Lots of negative stuff was said about me. And it was incredibly, incredibly painful. It hurt … And I actually, seriously thought about pulling out of the process.” Sotomayor credited her friends and her community with helping her press forward in both situations. Coverage comes from The Times of Trenton,, Princeton Alumni Weekly and The Daily Princetonian.

A couple of days later, Sotomayor arrived in upstate New York for a whirlwind tour, visiting three Albany-area schools and attending a portrait unveiling at the New York Court of Appeals. On April 3, Albany Law School honored Sotomayor with the Kate Stoneman Award, which is presented to those in the legal profession who have demonstrated a commitment to seeking change and equal opportunities for women. According to The Daily Gazette, Sotomayor described her efforts at making her writing accessible to a wide audience: “Most people don’t read our decisions. But I want to make sure that anyone who picks up one of mine, if you take the legal notes out, you don’t need more than a fifth-grade education to follow what I’m saying.”

Sotomayor did double duty on April 4, appearing at Russell Sage College in the morning and the University of Albany in the evening. The Troy Record covered the Russell Sage College appearance, where the justice emphasized the need for after-school programs: “When I am asked what we can do to change the lives of so many kids in our neighborhoods, I say, keep them busy after school.” WNYT has additional coverage and short videos from the event. The Legislative Gazette has a rundown of the University of Albany talk, and the university posted a brief video clip on its Twitter account.

New Haven was next on Sotomayor’s schedule. On April 6, she discussed her experiences with public interest work at the 20th Anniversary Liman Colloquium at Yale Law School. The following day, she attended another portrait unveiling – this time, her own. Yale Law School has a summary of the festivities.

All of the justices gathered in Washington on April 10 for the swearing-in of their newest colleague, Justice Neil Gorsuch. Roberts administered the constitutional oath of office to Gorsuch in a private ceremony in the justices’ conference room, which was followed by a second ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, with Justice Anthony Kennedy – for whom Gorsuch once clerked – presiding over the judicial oath. Coverage comes from SCOTUSblog, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and CBS News.

Later that afternoon, Allegheny College honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia with its Prize for Civility in Public Life. (Scalia’s family accepted the award on his behalf at the ceremony.) “At my workplace, collegiality really matters,” Ginsburg told the audience. “We could not do the important work the Constitution assigns to the Court unless we genuinely respect each other.” SCOTUSblog and the Meadville Tribune posted recaps of her speech. Video of Ginsburg discussing her famous friendship with Scalia and her hope that members of Congress will restore “harmonious work ways” is available online.

At the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on April 11, Roberts offered up a sanguine vision of an apolitical court, stating that “[t]he new justice is not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a member of the Supreme Court.” However, Roberts acknowledged, “It’s hard for people to understand that when they see the process that leads up to it … That’s very unfortunate, because we in the judiciary do not do our business in a partisan, ideological manner.” Roberts noted that since Scalia’s death, “the Supreme Court has been quietly going about its business of deciding the cases before it, according to the Constitution, in a completely nonpartisan way.” The Albany Times Union and the Washington Post covered Roberts’ talk. The school posted full video on its YouTube account.

Also on April 11, Alito adjudicated the inaugural Judge Leonard I. Garth competition, which presented a hypothetical First Amendment case before competing teams from Rutgers Law School’s Newark and Camden campuses. In his first year out of law school, Alito clerked for the moot court competition’s namesake.

On April 13, Justice Stephen Breyer gave the keynote address at the 43rd Annual Wolfgang Friedmann Conference at Columbia Law School. Breyer talked about his latest book, “The Court and the World.”

Next Thursday, Alito will be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the 2017 Third Circuit Judicial Conference, where he will present the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award and participate in a fireside chat.

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SCOTUS Map: February and March 2017

February saw a majority of the Supreme Court justices escape Washington for warmer weather. On February 6, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life at Stanford University, where she encouraged students to “do something outside yourself.” “Something to repair tears in your community,” Ginsburg elaborated. “Something to make life a […]

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February saw a majority of the Supreme Court justices escape Washington for warmer weather.

On February 6, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life at Stanford University, where she encouraged students to “do something outside yourself.” “Something to repair tears in your community,” Ginsburg elaborated. “Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself, but for one’s community.” Full video of the event is accessible at Stanford’s YouTube page.

Ginsburg next traveled to Hawaii, where she served as the US Supreme Court Jurist-in-Residence at the University of Hawai’i at M­ānoa William S. Richardson School of Law from February 8-12. A short video of her visit is available online.

While in the Aloha State, the justice also took time to speak with local high school students participating in a “Courts in the Community” program. According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, one of the students asked Ginsburg about immigration, to which she replied: “I think of the US as a place that welcomes people from abroad who want to work and who are yearning to be free. It’s disheartening to see that there are some people who don’t agree with that view who think our borders should be closed. But it’s not the first time in U.S. history that has happened.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands to take part in the territory’s celebration of the Transfer Day Centennial. On February 8 and 9, she participated in two events hosted by the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands – one held on the island of St. Thomas, and one on St. Croix. Sotomayor received an honorary doctor of laws degree and spoke at a student convocation at the University of the Virgin Islands on February 9. “There is more than one way to fight discrimination,” she told the audience. “Discrimination exists for different reasons, is expressed in different ways, and therefore needs to be addressed in different ways.” The Virgin Islands Consortium provides a summary of the event.

Meanwhile, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Samuel Alito spent some time in Southern California. Kennedy spoke at an Association of Business Trial Lawyers event on February 9. Alito gave the keynote speech at the Chapman Law Review’s Annual Symposium on February 10. A brief summary and pictures are posted on Chapman University’s website.

Two justices accepted awards on February 11: Alito received the Statesmanship Award at the Claremont Institute’s 2017 Annual Dinner in honor of Sir Winston S. Churchill, while Justice Stephen Breyer was honored with the Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society’s Benjamin Nathan Cardozo Memorial Award in Sarasota, Florida. There, Breyer kept his remarks vague and apolitical, answering a question about President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban by saying, “I’m interested and I’ve read some of the things, some of the papers involved.” The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that Breyer was also asked for his reaction to Trump’s comments about the judiciary, to which he responded, “I have no thoughts that I would express.”

On Valentine’s Day, Kennedy decried the current state of civic discourse while speaking at the California Civic Learning Summit 2.0 in his hometown of Sacramento, calling it “intemperate, irrational, hostile, divisive, insulting, unprincipled.” To avoid being interpreted as singling out certain government officials, the Sacramento Bee writes, Kennedy made sure to clarify that he was not referring to “political dialogue.” “I’m talking about our whole culture of dialogue—reviews of movies, comments on books, advice for young people. We have a duty to show that democracy works through a discourse that’s exciting and admirable, that’s inspiring.”

Also on Valentine’s Day, Alito headlined a Federalist Society “fireside chat” in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There were a few February events that did not take place in warm-weather locales: On February 11, Justice Clarence Thomas gave the keynote address at the Yale Law School Federalist Society’s conference celebrating his 25 years on the Supreme Court. Yale Daily News has a recap of Thomas’ surprise appearance.

Breyer returned to Boston to participate in a February 13 French Cultural Center discussion about courtroom art. In a very Breyer move, the justice spoke in French for the entirety of the event. Photos from the night are available on the French Cultural Center’s Facebook page.

At a February 23 Newseum event in Washington, Ginsburg offered a cautiously optimistic assessment of today’s political climate. “I would say that we are not experiencing the best of times, but there’s hope in seeing how the public is reacting to it.” According to CNN, Ginsburg had this to say about Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit: “I think he is very easy to get along with. He writes very well.” Additional coverage comes from the GW Hatchet.

Looking at the justices’ March events:

  • As part of the Washington National Opera’s “Justice at the Opera” program, Ginsburg provided commentary for selected scenes and arias that were performed by young artists yesterday evening.
  • Sotomayor participated in a March 9 Q&A with law students at the University of California, Berkeley, where she jokingly used the phrase “alternative facts” to describe critics’ comments about her intelligence in the run-up to her 2009 nomination to the court. According to SFGate, Sotomayor told the audience, “I’m not the smartest person in the Supreme Court room.” However, she continued, “I give myself credit for having a vision of how the law affects people.” Further coverage of the event comes from the Associated Press.
  • Sotomayor is set to speak to students at Stanford University today.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts shares the stage with Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and several other federal judges today for a panel on Judge Henry J. Friendly, the appellate judge for whom Roberts and Garland both clerked.
  • On March 15, Alito speaks at an Advocati Christi event for St. Paul Inside the Walls, a Catholic organization in Madison, New Jersey.
  • On March 23, Alito delivers a lecture on the Constitution as part of the Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia’s Liberty Series.

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SCOTUS Map: January and February 2017

Diversity and the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice were two major themes in the justices’ extrajudicial talks this past month. Justice Sonia Sotomayor shared her thoughts about the confirmation process at the 18th Annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture at Arizona State University on January 23. Trying to get nominees to say how […]

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Diversity and the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice were two major themes in the justices’ extrajudicial talks this past month.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor shared her thoughts about the confirmation process at the 18th Annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture at Arizona State University on January 23. Trying to get nominees to say how they would rule on specific issues is not the right approach, Sotomayor said. “Any self-respecting judge who comes in with an agenda that would permit that judge to tell you how they will vote is the kind of person you don’t want as a judge,” she said. Rather, senators should ask whether nominees have ruled in ways that have run contrary to their personal feelings, and whether they have treated others with “respect and dignity.” A summary of Sotomayor’s talk is available at ASU Now.

On January 30, Sotomayor shared the stage with Federal Constitutional Court of Germany judge Susanne Baer at two University of Michigan events. At the first, a lecture titled “The Future University Community,” she discussed the importance of increasing diversity on college campuses. “We are making improvements toward that kind of equality. But we are still far from it. When you look at the number of African Americans at the University of Michigan, there’s a real problem.” Video of both this event and the second lecture, “Social Justice and the Performing Arts,” is available via the University of Michigan’s YouTube page.

Two decades after writing the landmark United States v. Virginia opinion that opened up the Virginia Military Institute to women, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke to students at the school that her ruling changed. Ginsburg knew that the inclusion of female “Keydets” would make the institute “a better place,” she said during the February 1 visit. The justice also shared details about her exercise routine, noting that she does push-ups, weights and “something called a plank” – and that her trainer now works with Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer as well. The Roanoke Times and CNN provide coverage of the public lecture. Footage of Ginsburg’s talk is posted on YouTube.

Shortly after her VMI visit, Ginsburg participated in a private Question and Answer session with students at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she was asked to name the qualities that she believed the next Supreme Court justice should possess. According to The Columns, Ginsburg listed “a readiness to work really hard,” “a willingness to listen to your colleagues” and “a sense of humor.”

While Ginsburg was in Lexington, Virginia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, to take in some basketball, watch the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit with the University of Kentucky’s coach John Calipari, and headline the inaugural John G. Heyburn II Initiative judicial conference and speaker series. Speaking at the University of Kentucky College of Law on February 1, Roberts explained some of the many responsibilities that the chief justice is expected to shoulder, including the chancellorship of the Smithsonian (though Ollie the runaway bobcat “wasn’t my fault,” he noted) and the maintenance of geniality on the court. According to Roberts, the latter task sometimes involves asking the justices to reconsider the use of sharp language in their dissents to skewer their colleagues:

As you all know, some of those harsh things see the light of day. But you should see the ones that didn’t. And that’s when you sort of represent the Court in talking to one of your colleagues and saying, “We understand that you think this issue is important, and we understand that you think this is wrong, but this particular adjective is not the one to use.” And I will say that on the occasions in which I’ve had to do that, I’ve never had a colleague say, “No, that’s what I’m going to say.”

Roberts also described the strategic use of opinion assignment to defuse tensions:

I get to assign majority opinions when I’m in the majority. And I, frankly, try a little bit to be sensitive to those sorts of concerns at that time. If in one opinion Justice A and Justice B have had a real knock-down, drag-out fight, and in the next opinion, the same thing—they’re on opposite sides, and they fight—I try to find, in the next assignment, opinions for each of them where they agree with each other, so at least for a brief period they’re not at each other’s throats.

News coverage of the lecture comes from the Lexington Herald Leader. Video of the event is available online (the Chief Justice’s interview begins at the 1:29:28 mark).

On February 2, Sotomayor addressed students at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, as part of the school’s Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series. The Associated Press posted a brief video clip of Sotomayor speaking about life tenure and incremental change on the Supreme Court. “In your lifetime, the likelihood of the court changing completely more than once is unlikely,” she said of justice turnover. “So, given that the current nominee is 49 years old, he has the possibility of serving 30 years, 40, maybe more. My colleague Justice Stevens was there until he was 90.” Sotomayor then added, “It means the basic essence of the court as you know it today is going to be there for a lot of years. But if you are looking for a radical change of the face of the court from the backgrounds that exist today, don’t think you are going to find radical changes.”

Looking ahead to the rest of February:

  • On February 6, Ginsburg delivers the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life at Stanford University.
  • Sotomayor travels to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she will participate in two events hosted by the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands in celebration of the territory’s Transfer Day Centennial. She will also speak to students at the University of the Virgin Islands on February 9.
  • On February 10, Justice Samuel Alito discusses the future of the legal profession at Chapman Law Review’s Annual Symposium.
  • The following day, Alito gives the keynote speech and receives the Statesmanship Award at the Claremont Institute’s Annual Dinner in Honor of Sir Winston Churchill.
  • Breyer is the featured guest at the Benjamin Nathan Cardozo Memorial Award Brunch hosted by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee on February 11.
  • On February 13, Breyer will participate in a conversation with courtroom artist Noëlle Herrenschmidt at the French Cultural Center in Boston.
  • Alito spends Valentine’s Day in Albuquerque with the Federalist Society’s New Mexico Lawyers Chapter, the H. Vearle Payne American Inn of Court and the Albuquerque Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
  • Ginsburg talks about her new book, “My Own Words,” at an event hosted by the Newseum, the Supreme Court Fellows Alumni Association and the Freedom Forum on February 23 in Washington.

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SCOTUS Map: December 2016

The justices logged 174 events in the 2016 calendar year, seven of which took place in December. The Supreme Court justices had a light extracurricular schedule this December – with the exception of Justice Stephen Breyer, who remained active on the speaking circuit. On December 1, Breyer participated in an INFO Salon for the Institute […]

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The justices logged 174 events in the 2016 calendar year, seven of which took place in December.


The Supreme Court justices had a light extracurricular schedule this December – with the exception of Justice Stephen Breyer, who remained active on the speaking circuit.

On December 1, Breyer participated in an INFO Salon for the Institute for Education, sharing the stage with U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. Breyer spoke about the themes of his latest book, “The Court and the World,” asserting that “if I don’t know something about what’s happening abroad, I can’t do my job.” The Institute for Education posted a summary of the event on its website. Hollywood on The Potomac has clips of Breyer’s talk on its YouTube page.

Breyer traveled to the Lone Star state in mid-December, where he headlined two World Affairs Council events – one in Fort Worth on December 12, and one in Dallas on December 13. Coverage of the Fort Worth program comes from the Star-Telegram. According to the newspaper, Breyer had this advice for the future ninth member of the court: “Calm down. It’s a job where every day you have to do your absolute best.”

Breyer then brought his message about globalization to the University of Texas at Arlington, encouraging students to “protect our American values” by learning about what is happening in other parts of the world. The Shorthorn covered his speech, which was part of the university’s Maverick Speakers Series.

Back on the East Coast, Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the Aspen Institute’s Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership in a December 9 ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The following week, Sotomayor was in Washington to deliver remarks at the December 14 naming ceremony for three submarines owned by the United States Navy. The justice has connections to all three namesakes: One submarine was named the USS Columbia for Washington, D.C.; another, the USNS Puerto Rico; and the third, the USNS Earl Warren. The Georgetowner has a recap of the festivities.

On December 12, Justice Samuel Alito presided over the Shakespeare Theatre Company Bard Association’s fall mock trial. Andrew Hamm covered the proceedings, a wrongful death suit based on the events of “Romeo and Juliet,” for SCOTUSblog. Video of the mock trial will be broadcast on C-SPAN on December 25 – essential holiday viewing for Supreme Court and Shakespeare aficionados alike.

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SCOTUS Map: October and November 2016

The Supreme Court’s days as an eight-member court may soon be drawing to a close. As the country awaits president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacancy, the sitting justices who participated in post-election speaking engagements faced questions about the election’s impact on the court. In a November 15 appearance at the Hill Center in Washington, […]


As in prior terms, the majority of the justices’ events during October Term 2016 take place in the Washington area.

The Supreme Court’s days as an eight-member court may soon be drawing to a close. As the country awaits president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacancy, the sitting justices who participated in post-election speaking engagements faced questions about the election’s impact on the court.

In a November 15 appearance at the Hill Center in Washington, interviewer Bill Press asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor whether she felt apprehensive about last Tuesday’s result. “I’m going to demur from answering that question that way,” Sotomayor said cautiously. “I will answer it in a different way, which is – I think that this is the time where every good person has an obligation both to continue being heard and continue doing the right thing.” Sotomayor urged the audience not to give in to despair or to give up on “pursuing the values that we and others have fought so hard to achieve,” characterizing the situation as a “challenge we all have to face.”

In her remarks, Sotomayor also addressed the topic of bias against women. During her nomination to the Supreme Court, she said, it was “hurtful” to hear others say that she wasn’t intelligent enough. “When I thought about it, I realized that it is the language that many taint women with when it comes to positions of responsibility. We’re either not smart enough, not creative enough, not something enough.” When the interviewer mentioned toughness, Sotomayor responded: “Well, with me they said I was too tough. My former colleague Justice Scalia and I sparred on who would ask the most questions, and I certainly didn’t think that I was harsh on lawyers, but I was described and am described as very aggressive. He wasn’t described as aggressive – and boy, was he.” Molly Runkle covered the event for this blog, with additional coverage from CNN and The Washington Post. Video of the event is available on C-SPAN.

Meanwhile, at the Jewish Federations of North America’s 2016 General Assembly, Kenneth Feinberg asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg how the court would be affected by the election. Ginsburg, who came under fire earlier this year for criticizing Trump in interviews, replied matter-of-factly: “There is an existing vacancy, and President Trump will fill it.” She added that maybe then, “Congress will do some work.” The Wall Street Journal and CBS News reported on Ginsburg’s comments.

Ginsburg made a fleeting reference to the president-elect when she appeared in the Washington National Opera’s November 12 performance of “The Daughter of the Regiment.” In the non-singing role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, Ginsburg at one point demanded to see the birth certificate of the title character, Marie, declaring: “We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.” Ginsburg’s dialogue also included a line about “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” a callback to her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder. Coverage of Ginsburg’s cameo comes from USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

In other November events:

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens served as one of the presiding justices for the final round of this year’s Harvard Law School Ames Moot Court Competition. HLS has posted video of the final, which was held on November 1, online. Coverage comes from Harvard Law Today.

On November 3, Justice Stephen Breyer spoke about his latest book, “The Court and the World,” at a luncheon hosted by the Supreme Court of Delaware and the Delaware State Bar Association. Of the court’s split decisions last term, Breyer explained: “If we don’t decide because it’s 4-4, it’s as if we never took it.” Delaware Online covered his speech.

Sotomayor spoke at the Leadership Alliance Presidential Forum in Washington on November 4, and Justice Samuel Alito hosted the 2016 American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court on November 5.

The Supreme Court Bar gathered at One First Street for a memorial to Justice Antonin Scalia on November 4. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., delivered the concluding remarks at the ceremony, recalling Scalia’s “vigorous” participation and occasional “priceless sotto voce insights” at oral argument. “Whatever the discipline, whatever the role, Justice Scalia was committed to finding the right answer. And once he had settled upon what was right, he let the chips fall where they may, and cared not a whit what others thought about it.” The transcript and the video from the memorial, which was livestreamed, are available on the Supreme Court’s website. Edith Roberts covered the event for SCOTUSblog. Additional coverage comes from National Review and The Washington Post.

On November 7, Breyer met with students from the University of California Washington Program. UCDC posted photos and a recap of Breyer’s visit on its Facebook page.

Sotomayor was the featured speaker for College Bound’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 9 at the Supreme Court. The following day, she was in New York, discussing her book “My Beloved World” at the launch of the NYU School of Law’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. A recap is available on NYU’s Facebook page.

Justice Elena Kagan headed to Philadelphia this past weekend, sitting for a conversation with Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow at the American Philosophical Society on November 11 and speaking at the Appellate Judges Education Institute 13th Annual Summit on November 12.

On November 14, Sotomayor gave the Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture for the Georgetown Day School community in Washington. According to Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, the event was closed to media.

Looking ahead to the rest of November, Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas are featured at the Federalist Society’s 2016 Lawyers Convention, which will focus on “The Jurisprudence and Legacy of Justice Scalia.” Alito gave opening remarks this morning, and Thomas will speak at the convention’s annual dinner tonight.

Also on November 17, Ginsburg will be honored at the Sustained Dialogue Institute’s Third Annual National Dialogue Awards in Washington.

On November 19, Alito will deliver a lecture on the reach and limitations of the Constitution as part of the New-York Historical Society’s Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series.

And finally, to recap the justices’ mid- to late-October 2016 events:

  • Breyer traveled to Puerto Rico last month, speaking to judges from Latin America as part of the DOJ Judicial Studies Institute’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training program. The Justice Department’s news release covering the speech is available online.
  • Alito participated in a question and answer session at the University of Buffalo School of Law on October 20, where he sounded a note of pessimism on the increasingly rancorous Supreme Court nomination process. It is “almost guaranteed to be miserable” for nominees, the Buffalo News reported Alito as saying. “The problem is that the Constitution does not spell out in any unequivocal way what the division of authority is between the president and the Senate,” he elaborated.
  • On October 24, Kagan received the Brandeis Medal at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Along with the medal, the school also presented Kagan with a pair of boxing gloves and a Muhammad Ali-themed T-shirt. A clip of Kagan’s appearance is available on the university’s YouTube page. The Courier-Journal covered the event.
  • Ginsburg and Sotomayor appeared together at the New York City Bar Association on October 25 as part of the Barbara Paul Robinson Series profiling leaders in the law. The Washington Post provides coverage, and full video is available on Charlie Rose’s website.
  • The following day, Ginsburg and Sotomayor made another joint appearance in New York, this time at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit’s 125th Anniversary. “I miss the place so much,” the New York Law Journal quoted Justice Sotomayor – who had served on the 2nd Circuit prior to her Supreme Court confirmation – as saying.
  • Thomas gave the Ninth Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at the Heritage Foundation on October 26, where he told audience members that Washington is “broken in some ways.” Asked to comment on the Supreme Court confirmation process, Thomas stated, “We have decided that rather than confront disagreements and differences of opinion, we’ll simply annihilate the person who disagrees. … I don’t think that’s going to work in a republic or in a civil society.” Readers can watch the full webcast on Heritage’s event page. The New York Times covered Thomas’ lecture in tandem with a recent interview the justice had given. Andrew Hamm covered the event for this blog.
  • As part of a Smithsonian Associates program, Breyer sat down for a conversation with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the George Washington University on October 27. The Associated Press covered the event.
  • On October 28, Kagan encouraged law students at Equal Justice Works’ 2016 Conference and Career Fair to be less risk-averse. “I’m a huge believer in serendipity – in life, in careers, and especially in legal careers,” Kagan said. She pointed to her own career path as an example of what can happen when one stays open-minded to unexpected opportunities. “All the most fun things I’ve done in my life, I didn’t really expect to do.” The National Law Journal (registration required) has a summary. Video of Kagan’s keynote is available via C-SPAN.
  • On the same day that Kagan provided inspiration to students at the beginning of their legal careers, Justice Anthony Kennedy added a degree to his trove of credentials. Kennedy received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the London School of Economics at the LSE North America Forum in Washington. Highlights from the forum are available at LSE’s Alumni website.


SCOTUS Map: September and October 2016

Picking up where the last SCOTUS Map left off: Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the keynote speech at the International Bar Association’s Rule of Law Symposium on September 23, where he told audience members that a judge’s willingness to re-examine prior premises is “not a sign of weakness of your judicial philosophy,” but “a sign of fidelity […]

Picking up where the last SCOTUS Map left off:

Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the keynote speech at the International Bar Association’s Rule of Law Symposium on September 23, where he told audience members that a judge’s willingness to re-examine prior premises is “not a sign of weakness of your judicial philosophy,” but “a sign of fidelity to your judicial oath.” Kennedy expressed disappointment at the current political climate in the United States, saying, “Half the world is looking at us. They’re watching. They’re waiting. And what do they see? They see a civil discourse that’s hostile, fractious.” Coverage comes from the Associated Press and the National Law Journal.

SCOTUS Map OT 2016 Events

The map of OT 2016 speaking engagements includes 27 events and counting.

In late September, Justice Stephen Breyer headlined three lectures in three different cities on consecutive days, appearing in Baltimore on September 27, Boston on September 28, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire on September 29. While in New Hampshire, Breyer took the time to participate in New Hampshire Public Radio’s 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop series. Asked whom he keeps in mind when he writes opinions, Breyer said: “It depends on the opinion. If I’m writing something about the ERISA pension statute, which is probably many hundreds of pages of almost-unintelligible language, I’m writing for specialists.” However, Breyer continued, “If I’m writing a dissent in a case involving whether affirmative action is constitutional or not, I know that that’s going to be read either first- or second-hand. The press will read it, they’ll write about it, and many people will read it who are not lawyers. And I want them to understand why I would reach the conclusion that I do.” On the creation of narratives that would appeal to non-lawyers, Breyer noted, “Someone told me once: Explain what your reason is. If your daughter in high school can understand you, you’ve got a good opinion. That’s what I think people try to do.”

On September 30, Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave words of encouragement to attendees at the Animus Innovation Summit in Puerto Rico. “We are not all good at everything, not everyone is a superstar in every single way. Everybody has their strengths and everyone has their weaknesses. The hard part is not being honest with other people but with yourself,” Sotomayor said. NBC Latino reported on her speech.

While Sotomayor was in San Juan, Breyer spoke about the Constitution at the inaugural celebration of Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center. “Sure, we have written a beautiful document, but if nobody follows it we might as well hang it up in a museum,” Breyer said, emphasizing the importance of the rule of law. The Yale Daily News has a summary.

On October 5, Breyer sat for a conversation with Charlie Rose at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Breyer, who had on the previous day become the first-ever Supreme Court justice to utter the word “Kardashian” at oral argument (perhaps applying his own advice about the high-school-aged child), was asked why he had chosen the example of the Paris armed robbery of Kim Kardashian. “This comes about through teaching,” Breyer replied. “When you’re teaching, what you do is you want to give an example that the class is going to remember.” CNN covered the conversation. Full video is available online.

Justice Elena Kagan called the late Justice Antonin Scalia “one of the most important Supreme Court justices ever, and also one of the greatest” at the October 6 dedication of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. “No one was more enthusiastic, more passionate, about connecting with law students than Justice Scalia. He visited and revisited law schools across the country to talk about ideas,” Kagan recalled. “I once served as dean of the law school he graduated from, so I had the good fortune to host the Justice several times, and those days were among the most fun I ever had as Dean … Justice Scalia would go from event to event to event, from group to group to group, exciting students, challenging students, provoking students, charming students, and making them think harder than they had ever thought before about how to do law.” Summaries of the event, which six of the eight sitting justices attended, come from the Washington Post, USA Today, and CNN. Readers can watch Kagan’s six-minute speech on George Mason University’s YouTube page.

Justice Sotomayor delivered the 2016 Stein Lecture at the University of Minnesota Law School on October 17, telling the audience that the short-handed court is trying to “come to decision making as best as we can. Where we can find a very, very narrow way of deciding a case, we use it.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio News, and the Associated Press covered the lecture. Sotomayor also visited the Minnesota History Center on October 18, where she spoke to local middle- and high-school students. “You decide who you want to be, what you want to be,” Sotomayor said, according to KMSP Fox 9. “You decide whether someday you’re going to be a Sonia Sotomayor or not.”

As part of a night celebrating the life and career of Belva Lockwood, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over a moot court re-enactment of Bradwell v. Illinois at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on October 18.

Looking ahead to the rest of October:

  • Justice Samuel Alito participates in a Q&A session at the University of Buffalo School of Law on October 20.
  • Justice Kagan will be honored with the Brandeis Medal at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law on October 24.
  • Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor are set to appear together as part of the New York City Bar Association’s Barbara Paul Robinson Series on October 25.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas delivers the Ninth Annual Joseph Story Lecture at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on October 26.
  • Justice Breyer speaks with NPR’s Nina Totenberg about his life and the Constitution as a living document at an October 27 Smithsonian Associates event in Washington, D.C.
  • Justice Kagan serves as the keynote speaker at Equal Justice Works’s 2016 Conference and Career Fair in Arlington, Virginia, which will be held on October 28.

SCOTUS Map: Summer 2016 review

The late Justice Antonin Scalia and the vacancy he left behind continued to loom large over the justices’ summer appearances, as his colleagues were often called upon to speak about his legacy, their memories of serving with him, and their thoughts on adjusting to an eight-member Supreme Court. From June 26 to July 21, Justice […]

The late Justice Antonin Scalia and the vacancy he left behind continued to loom large over the justices’ summer appearances, as his colleagues were often called upon to speak about his legacy, their memories of serving with him, and their thoughts on adjusting to an eight-member Supreme Court.

SCOTUS Map Summer 2016

From June 26 to July 21, Justice Clarence Thomas served as the instructor for a constitutional law course at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s study abroad program in Nice, France. Thomas participated in place of Scalia, who had taught the class in previous years.

Also teaching in France this summer was Justice Samuel Alito, who was a guest lecturer at Tulane University Law School’s summer sessions in Paris (and later, Berlin). The National Law Journal (registration required) reported on the Justice’s involvement with the programs.

From July 19 to 23, Justice Alito, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and retired Justice John Paul Stevens participated in a New York University Law School conference in Barcelona, Spain. The conference focused on the economic and security consequences arising from the collapse of states; a brief report is available on NYU’s website.

Justice Stephen Breyer also spent time in Europe over the summer recess, delivering the Ditchley Foundation’s 52nd Annual Lecture in Enstone, Great Britain, on July 9. Video and a transcript of the lecture are available on the Ditchley Foundation’s website.

Shifting our review to the United States, Justice Sonia Sotomayor read the Declaration of Independence for Heritage Day at the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, New York. Video of the reading is posted online. The Suffolk Times covered the surprise appearance, noting that the “historical society was asked to keep Justice Sotomayor’s visit a secret until the day of the parade.”

On July 11, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the justice responsible for overseeing the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, spoke at the circuit’s 2016 judicial conference in Big Sky, Montana. Kennedy’s talk addressed a variety of topics, including Scalia, selfies, civics, and the musical “Hamilton.” “Civics isn’t something where you learn it for a couple of weeks in high school,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle quoted Kennedy as stating. “It’s who we are. This is our heritage and you must know our heritage. ‘Hamilton’ is a splendid way to know our heritage.” Of the transformative power of the Internet, Kennedy had this to say: “Many in the modern age confuse a selfie and yourself.”

On July 13 and 14, Justice Breyer headlined two events at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference in Idaho – the first a conversation on “Law and Literature” in which Breyer divulged the books, films, and plays that have “informed his value system and judicial reasoning,” and the second a discussion of his latest book, “The Court and the World.” The Justice is a repeat guest at the writers’ conference, where he also spoke in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Also on July 14, Justice Sotomayor returned to New York for the Bronx Children’s Museum’s Dream Big Day. The museum recounted Sotomayor’s encouragement to the children in attendance: “I want you to be me, because I am you, and that means you need to dream big.” Sotomayor has attended Dream Big Day for the past seven years, the museum noted.

Like Justices Sotomayor and Breyer, Justice Ginsburg also has favorite places and organizations that she returns to each summer. Chief among Ginsburg’s passions off the bench is opera, and on August 26, she made her annual visit to the Glimmerglass Festival, providing commentary while members of Glimmerglass’s Young Artists Program performed a selection of opera scenes touching on the themes of law and justice.

Ginsburg also displayed her love of the arts when she traveled to the Campo di Ghetto Nuovo in Venice, Italy, where she watched her grandson perform in a production of “The Merchant of Venice” before presiding over a mock appeal based on the play. According to The New York Times, Ginsburg had a favorable assessment of her grandson’s turn on the stage: “He’s very, very good. I admit to being a little prejudiced on the subject, but I thought he was wonderful.”

On her return to the states, Ginsburg spoke to students at Duke Law School’s D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy on August 4 about the Supreme Court’s most recent term, noting that Scalia’s death was “by far the most momentous occurrence of the term,” but that the remaining justices “did very well” in minimizing the number of rulings that ended in a 4-4 tie. The National Law Journal (registration required) covered Ginsburg’s remarks. Video of the appearance is posted on YouTube.

In New Mexico, Ginsburg delivered the keynote address at the State Bar of New Mexico’s Annual Meeting on August 19. Repeating a phrase she had used at Duke Law School earlier, Ginsburg stated of the ongoing vacancy at the Court: “Eight is not a good number.” The Santa Fe New Mexican covered her speech. While in the Land of Enchantment, Ginsburg also took time to participate in the United Way of Santa Fe County’s early childhood education program, reading aloud the book “Go West” to the audience of young children and their parents, and teaching the children the difference between a carrot and a chili pepper. The Albuquerque Journal published a report of her visit, and video of the reading is available online via the Santa Fe New Mexican.

On August 10, Justice Elena Kagan participated in a dinner conversation at the Harvard Club of Washington, D.C.

In mid-August, Justice Sotomayor traveled to Alaska, becoming the first Supreme Court justice to visit the Last Frontier since SCOTUS Map began keeping track of speaking engagements in 2014. Sotomayor made an appearance at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on August 14, telling the audience that despite her reputation for being “tough,” “I’m a pussycat inside. So it’s really hard when people say they’re scared of me because I can’t understand why… But I do think that I’ve been blessed with an assertive personality.” UAF posted the video, while print and audio recaps come from Alaska Public Media.

According to KTUU, Sotomayor visited 12 cities while in Alaska. In addition to her Fairbanks lecture, she also spoke in Anchorage, where she shared the stage with Judge Morgan Christen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for an August 17 conversation hosted by the Alaska Bar Association. Mixed in with the serious questions were a few light-hearted ones: After a child asked her to identify the Hogwarts house that she would belong to, Sotomayor replied, “Gryffindor. I’m an extrovert.” Additional coverage of the event comes from KTVA.

Meanwhile, back in the Lower 48, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was on hand for the August 15 grand opening of the Beus Center for Law and Society at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. covered the festivities.

Wrapping up the Court’s August events, Justice Kagan delivered the annual McCormick Society Lecture at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law on August 31. In a wide-ranging conversation, Kagan touched on topics such as the justices’ use of technology, diversity at the Supreme Court, the oral argument laughter rankings, and her early days at One First Street. Kagan described the extensive preparations she undertook ahead of her first-ever conference: “It’s a little bit nerve-wracking. You don’t know how people will talk to each other, so you over-prepare. You’re ready to give 45-minute lectures on every topic, when it turns out if you did that, you would arouse the enmity of all your colleagues.” Coverage comes from the Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Public Media. C-Span has made video of the lecture available online.

On September 1, Justice Sotomayor spoke at both the Tenth Circuit Bench and Bar Conference in Colorado Springs and the Metropolitan State University of Denver. The Associated Press reports that Sotomayor declined to discuss politics at her MSU appearance. Video of the MSU visit is available online.

The following day, Justice Kagan participated in a fireside chat with the Tenth Circuit Historical Society, while Sotomayor traveled to Boulder to give the Annual John Paul Stevens Lecture at Colorado Law. “The people that I take the most objection to are the people who say, ‘I did it by myself,’” Sotomayor told the audience. “Nobody does it by themselves.” According to the Daily Camera, she also had this advice for the students in attendance: Be decisive. “You’re not very valuable to people if you can’t make up your mind.” Additional coverage comes from the Denver Post and

Justice Alito spoke to NYU students at the school’s Shanghai campus on September 1, and then to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai on September 2. According to AmCham Shanghai’s summary of the off-the-record event, Alito covered topics including globalization, the dynamics on the Supreme Court, and his views on political correctness.

Justice Thomas returned to his home state of Georgia to teach a course on stare decisis at the University of Georgia School of Law. Justice Kagan also staged a homecoming of sorts, going back to her alma mater, Harvard Law School, in early September to lead a class that covered the Supreme Court’s most recent term.

At a September 8 event for HLS students, Kagan discussed the duties of being the junior justice (“Every time I think, I really do not want to go to the cafeteria committee meeting, I think, Justice Breyer went to the cafeteria committee meetings for 11 years.”) and the challenges of working on an eight-person court. “I think that the Court has done well over the past year in operating notwithstanding that difficulty of not having a tie-breaking vote … That said, there have been those cases where we can’t reach a decision, and there have been other cases where although we did in the end reach a decision, we did so only by narrowing them in a way that took off the table the reason why we took the case in the first place.” Kagan added that doing so merely delayed resolving “the real thing that’s confounding the lower courts,” and that “over time, that’s a problem.” Harvard Law School has uploaded video to its YouTube page, and coverage comes from the Harvard Crimson.

In her September 7 lecture at Georgetown Law, Justice Ginsburg was also asked to express her views on the Supreme Court’s vacant seat and Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s stalled nomination. “I do think cooler heads will prevail, I hope sooner rather than later,” Ginsburg said. The Washington Post covered Ginsburg’s remarks, while video of the event can be accessed through C-SPAN.

Justice Sotomayor delivered the Robert Kastenmeier Lecture at Wisconsin Law on September 8. Speaking about the criminal justice system, Sotomayor stated that it would be far easier for society to “invest in kids when they’re young, to keep them away from the temptations of the streets than to undo the bad the streets create.” Sotomayor called Scalia’s absence “a big hole in the court,” noting that they never had the chance to attend a Yankees game together as they had discussed. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Associated Press covered the lecture. The University of Wisconsin has made video available.

At Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s September 11 event honoring Scalia, Justice Ginsburg paid tribute to her colleague and friend. “I once asked how we could be friends given our disagreement on lots of things. Justice Scalia answered: ‘I attack ideas. I do not attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas,’” Ginsburg recalled, according to Loyola’s law school blog. She later appeared at the Annual Soiree to benefit Cedille Chicago, presenting the Martin D. Ginsburg Award (named after her late husband) to the philanthropist Joan W. Harris.

While in the Midwest, Ginsburg also visited Indiana, where she spoke at the University of Notre Dame about having to adjust her retirement plans. “I always said I would serve as long as Justice [Louis] Brandeis, but he retired at 83 so I can’t use that one anymore. My current answer is as long as I can do it full steam, and that means I have to take it year by year.” Judge Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, who moderated the conversation with Ginsburg, surprised the Justice and the audience by performing an RBG-themed version of Carmen’s Habanera, replete with lyrics such as “Twenty-three years spent on the Court/At eighty-three she holds up the fort/Twenty pushups in her routine/A Justice I think we have never seen.’ Notre Dame posted the video of Ginsburg’s visit to YouTube. News coverage comes from the South Bend Tribune, The Indiana Lawyer, and WNDU.

On September 13, Justice Kagan spoke at the George Washington University Law School, reminding students that Justice Scalia wrote his fiery and quotable dissents with them in mind. “You are the future of the profession, so to the extent we can communicate with you, we’re shaping the next generation of legal thought.” Asked which case she considered the most consequential in her six years on the Supreme Court, Kagan responded: “Every case is consequential to someone. You owe it to that someone to approach everything with a high degree of seriousness.” Video and a recap of the event are available online.

At the Association of Corporate Counsel National Capital Region Fireside Chat on September 14, Justice Ginsburg advised law firms to make it easier for employees to balance home life and work life. Speaking from the Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia, Ginsburg observed ruefully that “firms don’t seem to be moving that fast to be flexible.” Coverage comes from the National Law Journal (subscription required).

Also on September 14, Justice Stevens gave the keynote address at his namesake award luncheon at the Chicago Bar Association.

Justice Kagan had originally been slated to receive the Brandeis Medal from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law on September 15, but canceled her appearance. Mark Sherman of the Associated Press reported, via the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, that Justice Kagan had been suffering from a “severe cold.” A date for the rescheduled appearance has not yet been announced.

Justice Sotomayor packed her mid-September schedule with events in her hometown of New York. On September 15, she participated in a panel at Just The Beginning’s National Conference, where she discussed the film “The Trials of Constance Baker Motley” alongside five federal judges. The following day, she sat down for a conversation with Fordham University School of Law students. On September 17, she spoke at the Fast Forward Women’s Leadership Forum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On September 19, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Breyer and Alito took part in a re-enactment of the 1794 case Georgia v. Brailsford. The trial, which was part of an American College of Trial Lawyers United States-United Kingdom legal exchange, took place at the Old City Hall in Philadelphia, where the Supreme Court used to sit from 1791 to 1800. SCOTUSblog, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal reported on the event.

Like Justice Sotomayor, Justice Ginsburg also took the time to stop by Fordham Law, making a September 20 appearance that was covered by NY1. “I think everyone would agree, for a collegial body, eight is not a good number,” NY1 reported Ginsburg as saying. “You need an odd number and all of us hope by the end of the current term we will have a full house.” Additional coverage comes from New York Law Journal.

Justice Ginsburg spoke at the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center in New York on September 21. Getty Images provides photographs of the event, with additional coverage from New York Magazine.

Justice Sotomayor was honored with the Leadership Award at the 29th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

With less than two weeks to go before the Supreme Court opens its 2016 Term:

  • Justice Kennedy delivers the Rule of Law Symposium keynote at the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association today.
  • Justice Breyer is the featured speaker for Stevenson University and the Baltimore Speakers Series’ event on September 27.
  • The following day, Breyer travels to Boston to talk about his book at a Lesley University and the Boston Speakers Series’ lecture.
  • Breyer then continues up the East Coast, arriving in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on September 29 to headline a Writers on a New England Stage event.
  • Justice Sotomayor will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 30 to speak at the Animus Innovation Summit.