For Those Who Say The Supreme Court Is Not Interesting...
From the Interesting-News-Stories Dept.
Many people go most (if not all) of their lives without worrying one wit about the people on the Supreme Court of the United States... Maybe due to general apathy, maybe because most of the stuff decided seems so dry and arcane... Now, however, there is an opportunity to see what the Supreme Court is really like - what happens behind the paneled walls, what the justices think and do when not actively listening to arguements: Harry Blackmun's papers are now available to the public!
For those who do not know Harry Blackmun, he served on the Supreme Court from 1970 (appointed by Nixon) until 1994 (when he retired)... He died 5 years ago... He also stipulated that all of his records would be released to the public 5 years after his death... And he kept every last paper - with all his notes and scribbles - for a total of 1,585 boxes (630 linear feet) - one of the largest of the federal judicial collections in the Library of Congress! He jotting things down in every meeting, every case... It makes for interesting reading:
- Blackmun kept notes from famous cases he helped decide and how the votes came to be as they were. These cases include:
- The Watergate tapes case
- Roe vs Wade
- The Pentagon Papers case
- The case that prohibited the death penalty, and then the case that allowed it again
- Blackmun served with chief justices Earl Warren, Warren Burger (who was a childhood friend!) and William Rehnquist
- The relationships between justices ebbs and flows over years - some years two or three agree on everything, other years they criticize each other for small details and choice of words
Most of all, it puts real people with the names - it shows the human side of the highest court in the land... And in some cases that can be quite humorous: My favorite is from October 1973 - the justices are hearing a case - a clerk brings in a note stating "V.P. Agnew Just Resigned!! Mets 2, Reds 0"