News from and about the Court

Arguments in the Supreme Court start up again on Monday. In the meantime, here’s some fun coverage of the Court and the Justices.

Ariane de Vogue of CNN wrote an interesting article regarding how the Court “shuns the spotlight.” The Court traditionally bans cameras or live recording in the courtroom during oral arguments, but posts the taped audio recordings afterwards. Only those present in the courtroom, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was present during Gill v. Whitford, get to hear what goes on behind the closed doors in real time, and no one but those present ever get to see it. However, many argue that the Court should have live cameras and/or recordings taking place during the arguments. Josh Douglas of the University of Kentucky College of Law tweeted recently, “SCOTUS still living in the ‘70s when it comes to technology and transparency.” Others, such as Congressman Gerry Connolly stated the Court “is not some mystical priesthood, and “that in the digital age it strains credulity that this modest effort at transparency would prove impossible.” However, it does not appear that the Court is going to change their practices on this issue anytime soon. Justice Souter once remarked, “I can tell you the day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body.” Justice Sotomayor also commented that cameras may disrupt the Court’s process, and “might lead to some justices playing to the cameras or others to refrain from asking questions.” Chief Justice Roberts however appears to be making the Court’s work more accessible to the public by posting opinions online with their announcement and posting transcripts and audio recordings as soon as possible.

In other news, the film “Marshall” premiered on Friday. As Pete Williams of NBC notes the film marked the 50th anniversary of when Justice Thurgood Marshall took his spot on the bench as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. According to Williams, the film chronicles Marshall’s days as a pioneering civil rights attorney and focus on his work defending an innocent black chauffeur falsely accused of raping and murdering his employer. Williams also notes that Justice Elena Kagan, a former law clerk to Justice Marshall, called Marshall “the greatest lawyer of the 20th century, bar none, not even a close contest.” ISCOTUSnow featured a review of the film.

Justice Ginsburg’s trainer, Bryan Johnson was featured in People Magazine this week. Diana Pearl of People reports that Justice Ginsburg is a “fitness junkie” and has worked out with Johnson on Wednesdays and Fridays every week since 1999. Johnson wrote a book titled “The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong…and You Can Too!” Ginsburg prefers to work out in one of the two Supreme Court gyms, and began doing so after she beat cancer for the first time. She prefers to listen to NPR or classical music during her workouts, is a pro at doing pushups, and is no “normal” 84-year-old. Pearl completed the Ginsburg workout and stated it was “intense.” Check out the Chicago Tribune for more information on the “T.A.N.” (tough as nails) justice and her workout routine.

The Seattle Times reported recently that Justice Gorsuch’s “office mate” is an elk named Leroy shot by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. When Justice Gorsuch inherited Scalia’s seat on the bench he inherited his office as well. The mounted elk head was presented to Gorsuch by Scalia’s former law clerk, Glen Summers who was present on the hunting trip in which Leroy was killed by the late hunting enthusiast Justice. According to Justice Gorsuch, he is “delighted to share space with Leroy,” and they “share a few things in common.” The Justice said they are both native Coloradans and both “received a rather shocking summons to Washington,” and “neither of us is ever going to forget Justice Scalia.”

This post was drafted by ISCOTUS Fellow Matthew Webber and edited by ISCOTUS Fellow Elisabeth Hieber, both Chicago-Kent Class of 2019.

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