May 30, 2007

If a Justice Reads from the Bench... Has She Given an Oral Dissent?

by PG

The notion that Ginsburg's reading her dissents in the abortion and employment discrimination cases was an attempt to alert the public to what is happening in the cases strikes me as an utterly crack-brained, if not actually crack-headed, idea. I had no idea that Ginsburg had read these dissents from the bench, and I'm in the small minority (maybe 0.001%) of Americans who read the dissents myself. If Ginsburg's own admirers and sympathizers have to be alerted by Linda Greenhouse that Ginsburg is doing something, how effective a tool on public opinion can that something be?

When I go to read the latest decisions from the Supreme Court website, there is no audio link to the justices' reading their opinions. I only know if one has been read when the media chooses to report it. I cannot believe that Ginsburg -- who has a law professor daughter and a husband who is both a professor and of counsel -- is so unaware of her audience that she thinks people with a general interest in the law but no daily access to the Court are aware of whether opinions are being read aloud or not.

In my opinion, justices read their opinions primarily for two reasons: 1) self expression; 2) effect on their brethren. Surely Scalia derives some satisfaction not only from seeing his insults to his colleagues on paper, but also from reading them aloud and savoring their acerbic flavor. He also can make those in the majority differing from him understand just how angry Nino really is. Ginsburg is likely to be similarly motivated, though due to her more amicable personality, I agree with the article's analysis that her reading two dissents in a single term -- both on what are identified as women's issues, i.e. abortion and sex discrimination in the workplace -- indicates some loss of faith in her colleagues, albeit an analysis more true with Ledbetter than Carhart. (Alito probably never will be an ally, but Ginsburg sounds like she's expressing disappointment in Kennedy; if she's tossed him aside as an ally, that is very stupid.)

May 30, 2007 11:40 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Sitting in Review
Armen (e-mail) #
PG (e-mail) #
Dave (e-mail) #
Craig (e-mail) #
About Us
Senior Status
Chris Geidner #
Jeremy Blachman #
Nick Morgan #
Wings & Vodka #
Recent Opinions
Persuasive Authority
De Novo Reporter

Powered by
Movable Type 5.02