02/10/06 - the supreme court

In today's excerpt - inside the workings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Sixty-seven year old Justice Steven G. Breyer, appointed by Carter, but confirmed under Reagan to the First Circuit and by Clinton to the Supreme Court discusses the decision-making process:

" 'Your opinions are not your children,' Breyer told me. 'What they are is your best effort in one case. The next one will come along, and you'll do your best. You'll learn from the past. (Justice) Goldberg taught me to never look backward ...' 'One of the great things about our Court is that there are two rules which I love—not written-down rules, but ways of behaving,' he went on. One involves the Justices' conference, at which they discuss their decisions and announce their votes in order of seniority. 'The first rule ... is that nobody at conference speaks twice until everybody has spoken once. Great rule. Helps preserve the peace ... The second rule, he said, is that 'tomorrow is another day. No dependency of a decision of one case on another: You join me, I join you. None of that. None of that, zero. The coalitions float. Each one, each case, is a new day. Each day is a new day ...' "


Jeffrey Toobin


Breyer's Big Idea


The New Yorker Magazine


October 31, 2005


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