Friday morning docket: Supremes on tour

Today all’s quiet at the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are next scheduled to conference on Feb. 15, and the next oral arguments will take place Feb. 19.

That gives the justices plenty of free time to hit the road for speaking engagements!

Justice Stephen Breyer said that people used to sometimes ignore the Supreme Court, but now they don’t – even when they disagree with its decisions. Case-in point: Bush v. Gore. “The day after that came down, people said, ‘OK, we disagree with that,’ … but (there was) virtually no difference of opinion about what should be done. We’ll follow it,” Breyer told students at the University of Oklahoma. (Norman Transcript)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Baroness Brenda Hale – the first woman to join the British House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary – chatted about their experiences as women in their countries’ top judicial posts at Georgetown University. (Both had issues with access to ladies’ rooms in the beginning). But Hale noted a big general difference between their countries’ high courts – the duty of law clerks. “They never, ever, ever write our judgments,” Hale said. “Never ever.” (The Hoya)

Justice Antonin Scalia hit Mississippi State University, where he told the crowd that the Supreme Court justices make law, not moral judgments – even in cases involving morally-charged issues like abortion. “Even if there were scientific right answers, there would be no reason to believe that law-trained professionals could discern those answers better than say medical doctors or engineers or ethicists or Mr. Joe Six Pack,” Scalia said. (Hattiesburg American).

We wonder if the justices are making the talk junkets (which often come with sizeable honorariums) in part because a new study shows no link between judicial pay raises and boosted performance. That report puts a dent in Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr.’s push to boost federal judges’ pay. (FP)

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