Friday, January 22, 2010

Justice Stevens has a bad day

Yesterday was a big day in the Supreme Court with the campaign finance decision. But it was also noteworthy because those in the courtroom noted that Justice Stevens was having some trouble reading his dissent. Many have speculated that Justice Stevens is going to retire at the end of the Term, in part because he's hired only one clerk. From the BLT:

It's rare, and always dramatic to watch, when a Supreme Court justice reads from a dissent on the bench. On Thursday, when Justice John Paul Stevens read at length from his stinging 90-page dissent in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it was also a little painful to watch.
For more than 20 minutes, Stevens spoke haltingly as he read from a summary of the dissent, a task he'd ordinarily breeze through. The 89-year-old justice seemed off his game, tripping on some words, getting stuck on others. At one point, he kept mispronouncing the word "corporation" as something like "corpo-russian," and he could not quite get it right.
As CBS News Court correspondent Jan Crawford noted on
her blog with similar observations, "Maybe it was just a bad day, and Lord knows we’ve all had those." And the written product is more important than how it was read aloud. But with a justice who is said to be on the verge of retiring at the end of this term, and in a case of such high impact, it was hard not to notice Stevens' tough morning.

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