SCOTUS Map: May 2018

SCOTUS Map: May 2018Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known as one of the Supreme Court’s speediest writers, a distinction that leaves her, perhaps, with ample time for speaking engagements, even during the hectic final months of the Supreme Court’s term. Early this May, Ginsburg traveled to Buenos Aires for the 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association of […]

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SCOTUS Map: May 2018

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known as one of the Supreme Court’s speediest writers, a distinction that leaves her, perhaps, with ample time for speaking engagements, even during the hectic final months of the Supreme Court’s term.

Early this May, Ginsburg traveled to Buenos Aires for the 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Women Judges, where she participated in a two-hour conversation with 15 other female judges from across the globe, entitled “Building Bridges Between and Among Women Judges.”

The following day, Ginsburg was back in Washington, D.C., giving remarks at the Federal Judges Association’s Ninth Quadrennial Conference. According to Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal (registration required), the justice spoke favorably of the new law-clerk hiring plan (which Justice Elena Kagan had also indicated during an April 30 appearance in Chicago that she would take into account).

Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on May 5.

The following week, Thomas delivered the commencement speech at Christendom College on May 12, describing himself as a “pilgrim who wants nothing more than your pilgrimage to be more fruitful and more beneficial and more Christ-centered than mine was.”

Thomas spoke about his years away from and eventual return to the Roman Catholic Church, urging the graduates to use their faith as a compass in a chaotic, fast-changing world:

In an increasingly secular and nihilistic world, you will be faced with man-made panaceas. I think each generation pinballs between its own panaceas. For us, we have had integration. We had quotas and mandatory school busing to solve racial problems, urban renewal and housing projects to solve urban problems. Psychedelic drugs were to be mind-expanding. We went from global cooling to global warming to climate change. I doubt that the world of your lives will be less cluttered with changes, conflicts, and man-made solutions. Nor do I doubt that it will be fraught with its share of confusions and complications. Neither I nor anyone in this room knows exactly what will confront you or exactly what the world will look like for you all.

Thomas’ skepticism about the promises of progress without faith was a recurring theme in his speech. “It seems that in this increasingly secular world, man sees himself as the master of the universe. There seems to be this notion that if we put our resources and our minds to it, we can do just about anything and solve just about any problem. With more research, the most challenging and awful diseases can be understood and cured. Didn’t we, after all, cure polio and tuberculosis, which were terrifying during my youth? And man is powerful enough to destroy the earth and change the climate. Who needs God? Who cares about the church?”

Thomas reminded the audience that he had tried life without faith, calling it an “abyss”:

This world will tug at you and attempt to divert you. Somehow, you must stay the course. God will provide a way, give you the strength and grace to endure and overcome your failures… There will be those who will confidently tell you that there is a new, more modern, and fun-filled, thrilling way to live life, without the constraints of conscience and faith. They will suggest that the old-fashioned ways are passé, in the era of smartphones, iPads, and iCloud. They will say that we are smarter with the internet and artificial intelligence, but these technological conveniences are not transcendent, not divine, and not God… Google Maps may get you from one place to another, but only God will show you the way to that peace which passes understanding.

Thomas was also honored with the college’s Pro Deo et Patria Award. Video of the speech is available online, while coverage comes from the Arlington Catholic Herald and Christendom College.

On May 17, Justice Elena Kagan spoke at the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, held in Nashville this year. Four days later, Kagan was back in Washington, sharing the stage with Paul Clement at the American Law Institute’s Annual Meeting. This blog’s Andrew Hamm reported on the May 21 event.

On the same day, Chief Justice John Roberts presented Ginsburg with the ALI’s Henry J. Friendly Medal. Roberts noted that his colleague shared many attributes with Judge Friendly, for whom Roberts clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. In the chief justice’s estimation, Ginsburg is “equal parts careful scholar and evenhanded jurist,” “a friend who, like Judge Friendly, makes all of us better at our common calling,” and “a woman who keeps unusually late working hours, a judge who works quickly, routinely issuing the Court’s first or second opinions every term–even when the Chief Justice assigns her a difficult case to try to avoid having everyone else appear slow by comparison–and a cultural icon who knows much about music, nothing about football, and more than is reasonable about jabots.”

Roberts then quipped, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to participate in this effort to increase your public profile,” drawing a knowing laugh from the crowd.

In her acceptance speech, Ginsburg returned the compliment. “Receiving the Henry J. Friendly Medal is a huge honor, and receiving it from my Chief is a pleasure beyond measure.”

After speaking about her admiration for Friendly, Ginsburg turned to one of her favorite topics these days, the threat that partisanship poses to the federal judiciary:

When my dear friend Justice Scalia was nominated in 1986, the vote for his confirmation was unanimous. Seven years later, when I was nominated, the vote was 96-3. Not one question was asked about my affiliation with the ACLU… It has not been that way for more recent appointees. The Chief and Justice Alito drew negative votes from a number of Senate Democrats–votes that would have been cast for them had merit been the principal criterion. The same partisanship continued–this time by Republicans–for the nominations of Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan. My hope is that one fine day, our Congress will return to the bipartisan spirit that prevailed for my nomination in 1993 and Justice Breyer’s in 1994. Such a return would enable our Congress to engage again in lawmaking for the good of all the people law exists, or should exist, to serve.

In contrast to Thomas’ Christendom College address, Ginsburg painted a more optimistic picture of progress, using her own life as an example. “It is amazing that at my advanced age, 85, so many people want to take a picture with me. T-shirts, tote bags, bibs, mugs…” — and here Ginsburg’s voice took on an incredulous tone — “closet fresheners. Even tattoos bear my name and face.”

“I suppose young people latched onto me because they yearn for something advancing society’s welfare to believe possible,” Ginsburg continued, “and I fit that bill because I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer when society was prepared to accord equal citizenship stature to women… What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York City’s garment district and a Supreme Court justice? One generation. My life bears witness to the difference between the opportunities open to my mother and those open to me.”

Video of the chief justice’s introduction and Ginsburg’s acceptance speech is posted here. Andrew Hamm covered the ceremony for this blog.

The following day, Ginsburg was in New York, where she introduced Barbara Babcock, the 2018 speaker for the NYC Bar Association’s Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law.

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SCOTUS Map: April 2018

SCOTUS Map: April 2018Could Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas be the new Scalia/Ginsburg? At an April 3 lecture at Vanderbilt Law, Sotomayor mused that Thomas was the justice “with whom I probably disagree the most.” However, The Tennessean quoted Sotomayor as saying, “I can stand here and say that I just love the man as a person.” […]

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SCOTUS Map: April 2018

Could Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas be the new Scalia/Ginsburg? At an April 3 lecture at Vanderbilt Law, Sotomayor mused that Thomas was the justice “with whom I probably disagree the most.” However, The Tennessean quoted Sotomayor as saying, “I can stand here and say that I just love the man as a person.” Additional coverage comes from Vanderbilt University News.

The next day, Sotomayor gave remarks at NYU Law’s new Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies, sharing the stage with a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. NYU has coverage of the event and video online.

Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer sat for an hour-long conversation and Q&A session at Tufts University, where he artfully dodged questions on hot-button issues such as banning assault rifles and partisan gerrymandering. Breyer reminded the students that working in federal government is not the only way to effect change: “If you want to help your families and friends and make a difference in your communities, don’t you all run to Washington … look to the states.” Of the Supreme Court’s role, Breyer said, “I think we work best when we come in last, because our job is not to say what is good or bad for the country. … Our job is to decide whether what the country comes up with is consistent with [the Constitution].” Coverage comes from TuftsNow. Video of the event is posted on YouTube.

On April 5, Thomas spoke at the 71st Horatio Alger National Scholars Conference in Washington, D.C., and hosted the organization’s awards program at the Supreme Court building.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Georgetown Law on April 6 to inaugurate a new annual lecture series named for her. Video of the lecture, which began with footage of her husband Martin Ginsburg introducing the justice at a 2003 event and ended with a musical performance from the Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society, is available via C-SPAN.

The following week, Ginsburg presided over a naturalization ceremony held at the New-York Historical Society. According to the New York Times, Ginsburg recounted the story of her own father’s immigration to this country, telling the new American citizens that “[w]e are a nation made strong by people like you.” After the ceremony, the justice spoke to fellows from the Immigrant Justice Corps.

Justice Samuel Alito was part of the judging panel for Fordham Law’s Irving R. Kaufman Memorial Securities Law Moot Court Competition on April 8. A brief recap comes from the Virginia Law Weekly.

Justice Anthony Kennedy returned home to give remarks at an April 10 luncheon celebrating the centennial of the Sacramento County Bar Association.

Harvard University played host to Breyer on April 11, though this time at the medical school and not the law school. In his Roger Allan Moore Lecture on Values and Medicine, Breyer exhorted the audience to participate in public life and engage with people with whom they disagree. Harvard Medical School News covered the event.

Sotomayor was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ninth Annual DVF Awards (named for the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg) on April 13. The justice (who represented Italian fashion houses against counterfeiters as a litigator in the 1980s and 1990s) spoke about the women in her family who raised her and inspired her. According to Vogue, Sotomayor said, “The stories of your grandmothers, of your mothers, and of the other women in your lives who have uplifted you – don’t forget their stories because they’re the stories that will keep us moving.” Additional coverage comes from the Hollywood Reporter and Women’s Wear Daily.

To close out this month, Justice Elena Kagan will speak on April 30 at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

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SCOTUS Map: February and March 2018

SCOTUS Map: February and March 2018Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 85 yesterday, kept her calendar full during the Supreme Court’s February break, notching five events in a single week. She visited NYU Law’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging on February 5, New York Law School on February 6, Columbia University on February 11, and the University of Pennsylvania […]

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SCOTUS Map: February and March 2018

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 85 yesterday, kept her calendar full during the Supreme Court’s February break, notching five events in a single week. She visited NYU Law’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging on February 5, New York Law School on February 6, Columbia University on February 11, and the University of Pennsylvania and the National Constitution Center on February 12. Ginsburg also received the Pro Bono Institute’s inaugural Esther F. Lardent Award on February 22. Video of all six of Ginsburg’s appearances is available online (NYU, New York Law School, Columbia, Penn, NCC, Pro Bono Institute). Media coverage of her events comes from the New York Law Journal, New York Law School Community News, CNN, Penn Current and The Atlantic.

At NYU, Ginsburg disagreed with the idea that she has consciously altered the way she speaks at oral argument so as to minimize the chances of being interrupted. A 2017 study on interruptions at the Supreme Court posited that the four female justices changed their speech patterns over their years on the bench to omit polite, prefatory statements, such as “May I ask.” In her case, however, Ginsburg clarified that “I adopted the ‘May I ask’ many years after I became a justice. It was from observing my colleague John Paul Stevens, who asked very challenging questions but always began in such a gentle way. The only effort I make is to keep my questions as short as possible, so I don’t eat into counsel’s time.” At the same time, Ginsburg mused, “I do think that article has gotten a lot of publicity, and let’s see if it does affect my colleagues. I think it well may.”

The second-busiest justice in February was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, with a grand total of two events. On February 6, Sotomayor participated in a Q&A session at Emory Law. According to the Associated Press, the justice urged students to take part in the democratic process and speak up about the issues they believe in. “I believe with all my heart that unless we become engaged in our country and become active participants in making a difference in the world we’re in, that we will be nothing but bystanders otherwise, and nobody should live their life being a bystander.” Video is available here.

The following day, Sotomayor made an appearance at Brown University. In response to a student question about the top challenges young women today face, Sotomayor said, “The challenges have remained the same from when I was growing up to when you were growing up.” For example, she noted, the gender pay gap persists: “If you look at the statistics, women doing the same work still earn less than men. You can’t fight the facts. The measures have been studied over and over again, and pay equality is still one of the biggest issues our nation faces.” The Providence Journal, Associated Press and News from Brown covered the event. Footage of Sotomayor’s talk can be viewed online.

On February 7, Justice Neil Gorsuch spoke at the National Defense University as part of the President’s Lecture Series.

While some justices draw energy from their off-bench engagements, embracing and cultivating their public image, others approach that aspect of the job with more stoicism than excitement. At the Library of Congress on February 15, Justice Clarence Thomas told the audience that his least favorite part of being on the court was “the loss of anonymity.” “I don’t like the public part, but that’s part of the deal; I’m not going to complain about it. Those of you who are introverts—you know what I’m talking about,” Thomas said, before expressing exasperation with the “myth-making around the court and who we are.” “There’s the real world, and there’s the myth of that world. We don’t have the time, the energy, or the ink—or the bits or bytes, or whatever they call that—to engage in that narrative battle. We have work to do.” Andrew Hamm covered the event for this blog. Video is available on the Library of Congress’ YouTube account.

On February 26, Justice Anthony Kennedy presided over the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s mock trial of Hamlet.

At the University of Virginia on March 1, an audience member asked Justice Stephen Breyer about the impact that legal blogging has on his job as a judge. Breyer stated that he “normally does not read blogs,” though he admitted that once, after he had written an opinion in a patent case, “by stupidity, since it was highly technical, I became curious what the patent lawyer blogs were saying.” Breyer then threw his hands up at the memory of what he found. “Well, I mean—abortion? Death penalty? You name it! Nothing could have been as terrible as what I just wrote! There we are. I don’t read them too often and I don’t think they’ve changed life too much.”

Breyer also ruminated on the role of luck and reason in his career. Asked to describe a time where he came across a proverbial fork in the road and how he handled that choice, Breyer recalled advice he once received from a law school dean, when he was considering moving to the west coast to teach:

When you make a decision like that, you only know three percent of what you need to know in order to make a sensible decision, and you’re never going to know more. So if you keep your decisions within the realm of reasonableness—that is, don’t become a trapeze artist, unless you have a particular talent for that—there’s no way to know, okay? So you decide. And I usually think that means: lighten up when you make the decisions you are going to have to make.

And then what happens is you decide, and the world wraps itself around you. And there’ll be some good aspects and there’ll be some bad ones … if you’re very unlucky they’re mostly bad, and if you’re very lucky they’re mostly good. And I’ll tell you, to be on the Supreme Court, to be a federal judge, lightning has to strike, and we all know that. To be on the Supreme Court, it has to strike twice in the same place, and we all know that. You can control a little bit—the best you can pat yourself on the back for is, you can say, well, I was on the corner when the bus came by. And that means, you did a reasonably good job … maybe somebody will notice and you will get a better job. And maybe they won’t. But if they don’t, at least you’ll have the satisfaction of having done that well.

The Roanoke Times, UVA Today and NBC29 covered the appearance. Video of the full event is available on YouTube.

Also in March:

  • Sotomayor spoke at the 2018 NASPA Conference for student affairs administrators in higher education on March 3 in Philadelphia. Coverage comes from Al Dia, Univision and Slate.
  • On March 6, Sotomayor gave remarks at an event dedicating the NYU Annual Survey of American Law’s 75th Volume to Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The New York Law Journal has a recap (subscription required).
  • At a Supreme Court Historical Society National Heritage Lecture on March 6, Justice Elena Kagan reflected on her experiences as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall. Jon Levitan covered the event for this blog.
  • In his keynote speech at the Federalist Society’s National Student Symposium, Thomas warned the audience to resist cynicism. “I don’t think we can have a society where we are consistently cynical or negative the way that we are,” Thomas said, according to the Washington Times. “At some point, if you’re going to have a country, you’ve got to have something to be for.”
  • Chief Justice John Roberts addresses the 2018 Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., today.

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SCOTUS Map: January 2018

SCOTUS Map: January 2018Civic education was a recurring theme in the justices’ off-bench remarks this month. On January 11, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an appearance alongside her biographer at Georgetown University Law Center’s Week One class, “Supreme Court Topics: The Role of Dissenting Opinions.” A report on the event is available at the Georgetown Law website. A […]

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SCOTUS Map: January 2018

Civic education was a recurring theme in the justices’ off-bench remarks this month.

On January 11, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an appearance alongside her biographer at Georgetown University Law Center’s Week One class, “Supreme Court Topics: The Role of Dissenting Opinions.” A report on the event is available at the Georgetown Law website.

A couple of weeks later, the justice was in Park City, Utah, for the premiere of the documentary RBG at the Sundance Film Festival. In an onstage interview with Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio, Ginsburg was asked about the #MeToo movement. “It’s about time,” she responded. “For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it, but now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment and that’s a good thing.” The Salt Lake Tribune, CNN, NPR and Deadline covered Ginsburg’s remarks. Video of the conversation is available online.

There was a justice for every time zone in the contiguous United States in January.

On January 22, Justice Stephen Breyer appeared at the University of North Florida as part of the school’s Presidential Lecture Series, where he warned that younger generations’ ignorance of American civics and history would prove detrimental to democracy. The Jacksonville Daily Record reports that Breyer said, “The biggest threat is that high school students and college students my grandchildren’s age—the next generation and the generation after that—do[] not understand our history, our documents, and our government.” It wasn’t all talk about the law and the Constitution, however — according to the Florida Times-Union, Breyer also ribbed the Jacksonville crowd about the Jaguars’ playoff loss to the New England Patriots. Additional coverage comes from the Jacksonville Business Journal and the UNF Spinnaker.

On January 23, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was in Seattle to help launch the Washington-specific version of iCivics (the civic-education organization founded by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) and to speak at the Council on Public Legal Education’s Summit II. “No one is born a citizen,” Sotomayor told the audience. “You have to be taught what that means.” The Seattle Times and Crosscut covered the event. While in town, the justice also visited Washington Middle School.

At least two of Sotomayor’s colleagues were in the Garden State on the same day that she was in the Evergreen State. Justice Samuel Alito attended the dedication of Sunnybrae Elementary School’s Little Free Library to his mother, Rose Alito, who had served as the principal of the school. Meanwhile, Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered a speech about civility and civics at Stockton University. “For us, civics education isn’t just an ideal. It’s indispensable,” the Press of Atlantic City quoted Gorsuch as saying. “The founders gave us a Republic, but it’s for each generation to keep it.” According to CBS Philly, Gorsuch also divulged his first accomplishment as the newest head of the Supreme Court cafeteria committee: restoring the joint’s meatball subs to their former glory. “The marinara sauce had somehow been replaced by shrimp cocktail sauce. We got that fixed.” Additional coverage comes from WHYY and Stockton University News.

Sotomayor traveled to Texas next, giving a talk at the University of Texas at San Antonio on January 25 and participating in a Q&A session at the University of Houston Law Center on January 26. “You don’t have to be a Supreme Court justice to be successful,” she told students in San Antonio. “You just have to take a step every day that makes you better than where you started.” Sotomayor also addressed the mid-January visit she received from paramedics to treat symptoms of low blood sugar: “I didn’t have a scare, everyone else did. Everybody else sees it and they panic.” Coverage of her Texas tour comes from the San Antonio Express-News, KSAT-TV, Houston Public Media and the Houston Chronicle.

Justice Clarence Thomas took part in a meet-and-greet with students at the University of Kansas School of Law on January 25.

On the same day that President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union, Ginsburg visited Rhode Island, where she lamented the partisan animosity gripping the country. The justice ultimately landed on an optimistic note. “We will see this time end, this fierce partisanship,” she said at a morning fireside chat at the Roger Williams University School of Law. The Providence Journal and the Boston Globe summarized her RWU visit, while Rhode Island Public Radio covered Ginsburg’s evening discussion at Temple Beth-El in Providence.

Two days later, at the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., Ginsburg spoke about the current political climate and the federal judiciary, which she called “our nation’s hallmark and pride.” Asked whether there is a moment when judges should respond to the undermining of democratic norms, Ginsburg answered: “The judiciary is a reactive branch of government. It doesn’t generate the controversies that come before it. It has no agenda; it’s reactive to what’s out there… If people ask me about an opinion, all I can say is, read it. Judges do depend on the bar to explain the importance of an independent judiciary.” On proposals to impose term limits on Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg had this to say: “It is a subject on which I am biased and prejudiced. I will admit that most countries in the world have a compulsory retirement age. Most of our states have a compulsory retirement age for judges. Some have fixed non-renewable terms. I’m grateful to the Founding Fathers for writing into the Constitution that the judges shall hold their office during good behavior.” Coverage comes from POLITICO, The Washington Post and Forward. Video is available via Adas Israel (select “Play,” then “Previous Broadcasts”).

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SCOTUS Map: December 2017

It’s been a relatively quiet December here at SCOTUS Map. Justice Samuel Alito headlined a pair of events at the New-York Historical Society early in the month. On December 8, he gave opening remarks before a screening of the film “A Man For All Seasons.” The following day, Alito was a featured speaker for the […]

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It’s been a relatively quiet December here at SCOTUS Map.

Justice Samuel Alito headlined a pair of events at the New-York Historical Society early in the month. On December 8, he gave opening remarks before a screening of the film “A Man For All Seasons.” The following day, Alito was a featured speaker for the society’s Ann and Andrew Tisch Supreme Court Lecture, discussing the origins of the freedom of conscience with professors Philip C. Bobbitt and Akhil Reed Amar.

On December 13, Justice Stephen Breyer made a surprise appearance at The Winsor School, a girls’ school in Boston, where he talked to students about democracy, civic engagement and the judicial system. According to the Winsor School News, the justice encouraged attendees to pursue work that “you are happy doing and that you feel is worthwhile. If you feel it’s worthwhile, you do it, and you do it well, that’s a success.”

Breyer returned to similar themes five days later in his commencement speech at the University of South Carolina. “I hope you find someone to love,” he told the December graduates. “I hope you have a job that you find important. And I hope you will spend a decent amount of your time — not all of your time, but some of your time — working for the community, in public life.” Coverage of the ceremony, during which Breyer received an honorary degree in recognition of his public service, comes from the University of South Carolina and The Post and Courier.

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SCOTUS Map: October and November 2017

SCOTUS Map: October and November 2017On October 11, Fordham Law School honored Justice Anthony Kennedy with the 2017 Fordham-Stein Prize, which is given annually to “an individual whose work embodies the highest standards of the legal profession.” According to Fordham News, the justice took the opportunity to say a few words about the promises and perils of the internet: The […]

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SCOTUS Map: October and November 2017

Justice Breyer embarked on a NAFTA tour this past month.

On October 11, Fordham Law School honored Justice Anthony Kennedy with the 2017 Fordham-Stein Prize, which is given annually to “an individual whose work embodies the highest standards of the legal profession.” According to Fordham News, the justice took the opportunity to say a few words about the promises and perils of the internet:

The cyber age is changing not only our technical world but how we think about who we are. And we’re not sure where this revolution is going. We must be careful not to allow this revolution to become what is known as the bypass age. We can’t allow the Internet to bypass the concept of who we are, what our heritage is, and what our destiny is. And that destiny and that heritage are to preserve and transmit freedom to the next generation.

On October 16, Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat for a Q&A session with Queens College students in Flushing, New York, where she lamented the lack of civic engagement today. “For me, I don’t think schools — whether they’re middle schools, high schools, colleges, and sometimes even law schools — are spending enough time inspiring their students … to take charge of their life and be aware of what civics is about.” The Queens Chronicle covered the talk.

Later that day, Sotomayor appeared at Hofstra University, where she explained the difference between stupidity and ignorance. “Stupid is the lack of capacity to understand, ignorance is the lack of exposure to know. Most of us are ignorant about things we don’t know. But lots of us are ashamed of admitting ignorance because we confuse it with stupidity.” The Hofstra Chronicle covered the discussion, and the school has released video online.

The following day, Sotomayor spoke to female high school students in a conversation hosted by Seneca Women and iCivics.

While Sotomayor was traveling around New York, Justice Elena Kagan regaled students at the Chicago-Kent College of Law with stories about daily life at the Supreme Court, including the upsides and downsides of relinquishing the junior justice position to Justice Neil Gorsuch. On one hand, Kagan mused, she no longer has to take notes at the justices’ meetings, open to the door to the conference room, and serve on the cafeteria committee. On the other hand, she said, the junior justice always speaks last when the justices go around the table discussing cases at conference, and being the ninth and last person is, in her opinion, better than being the eighth. This blog and the Chicago Tribune covered Kagan’s remarks. Full video of the event is available on YouTube.

On October 17, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer spoke at the 2017 First Circuit Judicial Conference in Rockport, Maine. A circuit executive for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit told the Knox Village Soup that the chief justice prefers not to include the press at these conferences, before later stating that longstanding 1st Circuit policy does not allow media to be present. Pierce Atwood’s Maine Appeals blog, however, does have a brief summary of the justices’ comments at the conference. According to the blog, both Roberts and Breyer expressed a desire to keep cameras out of the Supreme Court.

Back in Washington, Justice Samuel Alito spoke to students in the University of California Washington Program on October 20, while Kagan hosted the 2017 American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence on October 21.

Gorsuch spoke about civility and campus free speech at the American Inns of Court National Conversation on Civility on October 21. “I’m a great believer in the First Amendment. It worries me when young people today at universities are not able to express themselves. When civility goes so far as to suppress disagreement, you’ve gone too far,” Gorsuch told the audience. Coverage comes from the National Law Journal (subscription required), the Associated Press and the ABA Journal.

Hofstra hosted its second justice in a month when Breyer delivered the keynote speech at the Hofstra Law Review’s symposium on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines at 30 — the video for which is posted online.

Roberts participated in a discussion on the workings of the Supreme Court at the Library of Congress on October 24.

Breyer was busy at the end of October, logging appearances at three events in Canada, a law school reunion and a conference over the span of three days. He spent October 25 in Quebec, where he spoke about “National Laws and New Global Realities” at the Conseil des relations internationals de Montreal (CORIM), and then at the Lord Reading Law Society. Francophones (like Breyer) can read a summary of the former event here. On October 26, Breyer participated in a Supreme Court of Canada symposium in Ottawa (a webcast for which is available online), before traveling south to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for Harvard Law School’s “HLS in the World” bicentennial summit. The following day, he made his way to Washington to speak at the 2017 Mass Tort Global Settlement Architecture Conference (recap available via Perrin Conferences’ LinkedIn).

Of all these events, the Harvard Law School summit was by far the most popular and heavily covered in the press — in no small part because Breyer shared the spotlight with not one, two or three, but five past and current Supreme Court colleagues. Breyer, Roberts, Kennedy, Kagan, Gorsuch and retired Justice David Souter all reminisced about their years at Harvard Law. Crowd-pleasing tales included one about Souter sustaining fencing injuries in a mock duel as a 2L, and Kennedy’s account of being called out by a law school dean for studying the revenue code at a Red Sox game. Having multiple justices on the stage provided opportunities for some inter-generational flattery — asked to identify favorite professors at HLS, Kagan said that hers was Breyer (who had taught her antitrust class), while Gorsuch glowingly described the time he spent clerking for Kennedy. Kennedy responded: “You didn’t always do what I told you to do as my clerk. You better start doing it now.” Coverage of the festivities comes from The Washington Post, CNN, the Boston Globe, the Harvard Crimson and the Harvard Gazette. Video of the event can be viewed on YouTube.

On October 27, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at the Equal Justice Works 2017 Conference and Career Fair. Andrew Hamm covered the appearance for this blog. Video is available via C-SPAN.

The justices have stayed busy into November. On November 2, Sotomayor spoke at a National Association of Women Judges (District 4) ceremony honoring District of Columbia Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby with the Edna G. Parker Award.

On the same day, Alito participated in a Georgetown Law Journal panel on customary international law (a summary is available at Georgetown Law News), while Breyer made an appearance at the British Embassy Washington for an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

That weekend, Breyer was a featured guest at two book festivals, opening the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta 2017 Book Festival on November 4 and speaking about his latest book, “The Court and the World,” at the 37th Annual Berrin Family Jewish Book Festival in Miami on November 5.

On November 8, Sotomayor presided over a Supreme Court Historical Society re-enactment of Clay v. United States, with Justice Clarence Thomas watching from the audience. The National Law Journal (subscription required) covered the event.

Ginsburg delivered remarks to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers on November 11 in Washington.

Breyer visited the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación in Mexico on November 14 to speak about his book “Making Our Democracy Work,” thus completing his NAFTA tour.

That same night, Roberts presided over the final round of the 2017 Ames Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School. A summary is available via The Harvard Crimson.

Last but not least, Gorsuch gives the keynote address this evening at the Federalist Society’s 2017 National Lawyers Convention Annual Dinner.

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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 […]

The post SCOTUS Map: Summer 2017 appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

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 […]

The post SCOTUS Map: March and April 2017 appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

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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