We'll say more
momentarily about the rest of the president's speech.
But what was the deal with Justice Stephen Breyer being the only member of the Supreme Court to show up for the speech? They had conflicting engagements? They didn't hear about it in time? They didn't know they were invited?
Please. Something weird was going on there. I can't do any more than speculate. And I'm not saying there was anything sinister. But could it somehow be related to the on-going in-house rancor over Bush v. Gore?
And as long as we're discussing the Supreme Court and Bush v. Gore, here's something else worth noting.
You may have heard that Justice Scalia recently gave a speech at Princeton University in which he set forth his constitutional jurisprudence and charged that those who embrace the idea of a living constitution were "impoverishing democracy."
What got less attention were Scalia's near-comic attempts to bar almost any form of public scrutiny of his presentation. Scalia gave his speech at a conference about James Madison; and the conference was televised by C-SPAN. But when Scalia was presented with the standard release form given to all speakers who speak at the University, he refused to give permission for his remarks to be broadcast. So when it came time for Scalia to speak, the C-Span folks had to pack up and head out.
In fact, Scalia refused even to give permission for his speech to be broadcast on the University's internal video feed, apparently because there was some chance the speech could then be picked up by local cable companies for public access viewing.
And even this wasn't enough. Scalia also stipulated that during the question and answer session after his talk he would only entertain questions about his speech -- nothing else (i.e., nothing about that whole recent unpleasantness down in Florida.)
Now when I called the Supreme Court Public Affairs Office, spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg told me that these sorts of restrictions amounted to Scalia's standard policy. "It's not unusual for a justice to do," Arberg told me, "and it's something heâs done in the past."
Perhaps so. But 'democracy' and civil liberties should start at home, no?
And anyway, Clarence Thomas may be a self-pitying blowhard when he hits the speaking circuit. But at least he's not afraid of the cameras.