As we have previously noted, the Court will issue opinions tomorrow. The next opinion day is Monday, January 25. After that, the Court is not scheduled to issue opinions until Tuesday, February 23. The month-long gap results from the break between the Court’s January and February sittings.
The Court could add an additional opinion date. That would have been extremely unlikely under Chief Justice Rehnquist. But in a variety of small ways, the Roberts Court has taken a more pragmatic approach that deviates from certain traditions.
Nonetheless, the Court is an institution that does rest on tradition, and it will have a strong institutional preference for sticking to its usual calendar. The Court is also well aware of the public interest in having the campaign finance case decided, as illustrated by the fact that it held oral argument in late summer, outside the usual argument calendar.
Next, should the Court strike down McCain-Feingold‘s restrictions on corporate campaign expenditures, expect liberal commentators to reveal doomsday visions of insurance companies emptying their coffers in the 2010 campaign on a multimedia effort to smear all incumbents supportive of health care reform as fascists, socialists, and communists.
That’s a vicious one-two punch from our Legislative and Judicial branches. But should that combination come to pass, expect the Executive Branch to stay cool, adjust to the circumstances, and move ahead. There will be neither war nor implosion.
Law.com’s Legal Blog Watch writes up F1@1F. Thanks for the shout! LBW readers, enjoy your stay and come back often.
USA Today’s Joan Biskupic writes today on the ideological and stylistic differences of Justices Scalia and Breyer:
They appear at law schools together to discuss their competing views of the Constitution. They take ideological aim at each other in rulings. And their differences are increasingly playing out in testy fashion on the bench.
No two justices seem to drive each other so nuts during oral arguments. That was clear during the first session of the new year, as Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer squabbled in a series of cases last week.
Scalia is conservative and Breyer liberal. Yet their differences on the bench are ones of both substance and style. As Breyer begins a long, hypothetical question, Scalia — a fast-speaking, get-to-the-point guy — often slaps his hands up to the sides of his head.
Breyer doesn’t exude irritation as much as frustration. A pragmatist, he is irked when Scalia interrupts his interest on how a ruling might affect real life.
As Biskupic illustrates her point with the justices’ behavior during last week’s American Needle argument, her article reminds me of my own brief Scalia-and-Breyer story that similarly exemplifies their differences.
Sometime during our stay here in DC, my girlfriend and I found ourselves wildly out of place at a party with many well-established Washington-types. One glance around the room would make any mortal quake under the power on display. We had two choices: stand in the corner with eyes averted or swallow our fears and engage. We went with the latter and made towards the buffet table.
As we both stepped up to the plate–literally, dinner plates–we hit yet another obstacle. For me, big slabs of beef with no knives in sight; for my girlfriend, on the opposite end of the table, giant beans she had never seen. I didn’t know how to properly eat what I so wanted, she didn’t want to eat what she didn’t know.
I stood there staring at the forks and meat on the table, imagining to myself just how I could carnivorate without making a scene. Should I aggressively saw the meat with the side of my fork? Should I stuff the whole thing into my mouth? Should I just tear it with my hands?
Then I looked to my left and found Justice Scalia making for the meat. How appropriate!
Me: Justice Scalia, how do you eat the meat without a knife?
AS: Well, you take this bread [he takes bread from the breadbasket on the table], you fold the meat on top of it, and you eat it!
Me: You just gnaw on it?
AS: Yes, that’s how you eat it.
I was so excited to be getting meat-eating lessons, however curt, from Justice Scalia that I looked across the table to see if my girlfriend was taking it in. But instead I found myself witnessing the very study in contrasts Biskupic writes of today: Justice Breyer was very intently introducing my girlfriend to the wonder of fava beans.
Now, whenever my girlfriend and I find ourselves at fancy parties with buffets featuring slabs of beef sans knives and giant fava beans, we take care to seek out our own overwhelmed peers–easily spottable by their uneasy eating–and impart to them the lessons we learned from those old adversaries, Justices Scalia and Breyer.