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tv   American Perspectives  CSPAN  June 26, 2010 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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how you might look at this. there is some uncertainty in that respect, but you never really know where they are going to come out until you read the opinion anyway. for the advocate, it will not be a huge difference. >> i am going to throw my colleague for a loop because i'm already off script here, but i would like to show a video about the relationships among the judges, which is very while -- very well provide -- typified by this discussion. . .
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>> when he sat next to me, both on the d.c. circuit bench and now, not this configuration, but when justice o'connor was with us, i was sitting next to justice scalia. he could say something that was so outrageous and so funny that i had to pinch myself so that i would not laugh out loud in the courtroom. >> that is quite an image, isn't it? [laughter] to the panelists, every one of the justices in our interview made an argument about the comity of the justices on the court. is it really an institution that even though they are divided frequently, there are great relationships among them? >> historically, there have been pairs that did not get along. but with these nine that we have had since the late '80s, early '90s, i think they all did
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really get along. justice brennan, the great liberal, really like scalia. with bitter ginsburg herself said she hardly agrees with him on anything of substance, but they are pals. justice brennan and justice marshall cross is the logical lines to be friends with conservatives. i do think these nine, especially since they were all, for this group at least, lowered court judges, all were accustomed to enjoy each other's customer -- each other's company and not have rivalries' the former politicians might not necessarily have. >> if you have been around the court when people like black and frankfurt are serving together, you know they do not always get along. indeed, sometimes the relationships are seriously tested by concerns and try to get them worked out.
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when burger was the chief justice, it was a very unhappy court internally. warren burger was himself a rather small person, not one of the current giants in the court history. but he was not able to keep a court that was reasonably agreeable with each other. there was a lot of backbiting that was going on there. in fact, we felt it in the press room because he had a public information officer whom he assigned the task of collecting and writing down notes about what the reporters said as they stood around in the court room. when this public information officer was succeeded by another public information officer she discovered all these notes of what the study
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reporters had said, standing around waiting for opinions. warren did not trust us. one time, we offered to pay rent in the press room because we thought if we paid rent then we would actually be better off, but burger immediately said we will not allow you to pay rent because renters have rights. [laughter] i think john is exactly on point about the court that sat together for 11 years. they did get along very well. it was apparent in the court house itself. it is a very small place, and you do not spend very many months there, let alone very many years, without encountering justices around the building. they do not always stoop to eat
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in the cafeteria the way the rest of the hoi polloi up there do, but you do see them around the court building and they are very pleasant. and i think that are very pleasant with each other. sometimes, when you watch them on the bench, you begin to wonder how pleasant it is going to be when they get back behind the curtains and start talking about it, because they are at each other's -- not quite at each other's throats, but they're certainly actively taking apart each other's arguments as the court lawyer sits there, hoping to get a word in edgewise. but it is a happy place cost of the time. with the isolation you experience there -- that is something i think a lot of reporters who have come to the court do not realize, how isolated it is. becauue it is not a political institution. it does not function that way. they do not hold press conferences, although sometimes
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i wish they would. it is in fact a very remote kind of place and it is easy to become a part of it. and if there is any risk, i think, that a reporter has, in covering the court for many years, as i have, it is the difficulty of remain detached from the institution. after a while, you do develop the habit of saying, "i really do not care what the outcome is. i care only about whether i understand what it is. " but there are different styles also of covering the court. tony, for example, is much more interested in which justice is kicking each other's tires to try to deflate their automobile. but some of us, like me, are mostly interested in the substance of the law, and the
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celebrity and the comity is something we put in a sidebar. >> i believe justice ginsburg. i think she is telling the truth. >> let me move on to the nominations process and the confirmation process. we had a chance to talk to justice so to my are literally two days after she joined the court and asked her and her perspective on the process and how it felt going through it. >> the purpose of the nomination process today in the confirmation hearing is to introduce a prospective justice to the american people so they can get to know that justice. because once the selection is made most americans will never again have an opportunity to actually hear the justice talk or to learn anything about them until the end of their service. and so it gives the american
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people that chance. i think that maybe the most important purpose of the confirmation hearings. questions even over three days are not going to tell you much about the prospective judge. you have to look at their lifework. that will be a clearer reflection of who they are and how they think, and what they will do. in the end, getting to know the person is very hard from an artificial setting like a hearing. but i think over three days that you get some sense of what the person is. and that i think does have value. >> you have spent your professional life in the federal judicial system, seeing the confirmation hearings for prior judges. i wonder whether you think today's confirmation process
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serves the public well. >> i do not. i am not sufficiently involved to say precisely what reforms should be made, but i think that the way in which the candidates are scrutinized is often shameful, that it has caused extremely qualified candidates to withdraw from being considered, and i would hope that we could somehow move beyond the bork style of confirmation proceedings and come up with a way that would be respectful of the candidates, respectful of the president in making the choice. that does not mean it has to be a rubber stamp, but i think it is highly destructive and very bad for america. >> actually, i do not think it is true anymore since pork, because there is this -- you
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have almost a camp atmosphere now in a lot of the hearings, where there are very carefully crafted questions senators ask that are almost designed to reveal something more about the senator then to truly and disinformation. having observed all of the post- bork once. >> i am not talking about just the supreme court. >> i was talking just about the supreme court. i think right now you have an unusual minuet going on, where you have sort of stage questions and very cautious answers. and i do not know if the elena kagan hearings will move or from that. marie has probably read her argument in the law review about how when she was a staffer -- a temporary staffer to senator biden's committee during the ginsburg hearings, she felt it
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was to stage and to much of a charade. she complained, not sitting where she is going to sit in a couple of weeks, that as an observer it did not yield much information to the public. >> the robert bork ones obviously yielded lots of information to the public, with a very unhappy ending for robert bork. since then, it has not been as confrontational at that level >> what about thomas? >> that was an unusual situation. if you look at what happened before the accusations from anita hill, that was very much of questions from senators, a response from the nominee, and not much follow-up from the senators. >> i hope i live long enough to see the day that a nominee to the supreme court says to the president "if you are going to nominate me, i am not going to appear before the senate judiciary committee. that is my condition.
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i will take the job otherwise." elena kagan was right. the process is vacuous. it is meaningless. it is insulting. it is degrading. it is beneath the senate. it is beneath the court. they have turned it even into a greater circus, if you can believe that. this business of going up there two days after you are nominated by the president and meeting with these empty vessels who sit in the united states and that an attempt to have a meaningful conversation with them about substance, i mean if you have seen that clip of elena sitting there with orrin hatch, in which orrin hatch is pointing out how beautiful that model of the flintlock is that is hanging on his wall -- how insulting can you be to a person of dignity and equality to ask them to sit
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there in front of a camera and mug the camera in the interest, perhaps, of persuading orrin hatch, who has a serious election contest coming up next time, that he should vote for you when his constituents probably do not support you. the republic would be safer if we did away with nomination hearings to the supreme court, and maybe to the lower judiciary as well. i can tell you i have been around when they did not do it. >> the first televised once were for sandra day o'connor. i actually think there is something legitimate about them because it is the last time that you are going to see this person that has been appointed to a lifetime position. and remember justice stevens said to me, "mine were so painful." i went back to this transcript. he was approved unanimously. this is painful? when sitting in the chair, you
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are in the hot seat and you feel uncomfortable. i remember chief justice rehnquist, when he was up for his associate justice ship in the fall of 1971, at a fellow from arizona said he was so comforting. i get the point from the nominee's view that it is awfully tough, whether you are at the supreme court level or below, but i think for the public's appreciation and what the public should demand of a nominee who is going to go on for a lifetime appointment -- we should have hearings. >> this will mark the start of the fifth year of john roberts as chief justice. let us listen to him talking about the role of the court. >> i think the most important thing for the public to understand is that we are not a political branch of government. they do not elect us. if they do not like what we are doing it is more or less too bad, other than impeachment, which has never happened, or
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conviction and impeachment. when we needed decision, it is based on the lot and not a policy preference. for example, if we reach an environmental decision that comes out in favor of environmental groups you often read "court reads in favor of environmental group. all we are doing is interpreting the law. the decision has been made by congress and the president. we are just exercising our responsibility to say what the law is. we are not ruling in favor of one side or another. i think that is important for the public to appreciate. >> on the screen will be some of the major cases of the roberts court. i will ask our panelists to help us understand the early history, if you would. anyone want to tackle it? >> i cannot see the screen. [laughter]
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in this high-tech age, there ought to be an angle you can see it from all sides of the room. >> there are several on there that do not really count because they are not interesting. antitrust legislation -- there is a certain sector of the bar that is interested in that, but generally -- i do not doubt that the kennedy case from louisiana was terribly important. i think there are two cases that really, to me, tell us what the roberts court is all about. one was the opinion by justice kennedy in the most recent ruling on the war on terrorism issue. literally the most important decision on executive power in
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generations, at least since 1952. the position that the court has taken on executive power in the years that john roberts has been the chief justice has been nothing short of truly amazing, because we all remember -- i hope we have not forgotten it -- the degree to which the second bush administration wanted to enlarge the powers of the executive branch, the unitary executive theory. the court stood up to that and said and no. it truly was a moment in history when, as a journalist, you want to quietly cheer and say go for it. somebody needs to say what you just said in this case. the other case i think that for
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me marked the roberts court if nature was the seattle and louisville case, where the supreme court reached out to take an issue on voluntary efforts to desegregate public education in urban centers. and the court reached out, where there was no split in lower courts. they took that case in order to reverse. and i recall just as brier's dissent from the bench. to me it was one of these paradigm shifts that you see in the court pick history, where if you were there, as i was, when cowper versus aaron was decided, and when the court was trying to work out all of the sequels to
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brown versus board -- to see the seattle and louisville cases come along, and to see them dealt with as they were, first of all, was astonishing. second, it told me in a way that nothing else has that we are really in a new age with the roberts court, a very new age in which cultural change, it seems to me, will be a hallmark of what the court does for the next 20 years or so -- major cultural change is on the agenda for the court. >> i think the seattle and louisville cases were the more interested set of cases. having argued affirmative action cases for the university of michigan, i follow those closely. i have a different reaction than lyle to what it told us. there were important cases.
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the court system here important cases. i think the majority opinion, in many ways, was quite measured. they could have reached out and said that diversity was not a compelling interest. instead, it was an application of the principles that had been established. justices can disagree about how those principles apply, but that is what they did. it was not surprising to me at all that a majority of the court could reasonably read it gridder and find those programs do not conform to the standards that had been established in that case. i saw it in a very different way. >> lyle referred to justice briar's -- brier's dissent from the bench, which was quite compelling because it was the last day or sitting at the term.
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another dissent that was notable was justice stevens's dissent in the cases where he said he believed that no one who had been appointed -- who had been on the court when he arrived in 1975 would have ruled that way, which was an interesting perspective. as any member of the public looking at these opinions, it is always good to see how the justices themselves might view a major shift. >> i think the seattle and louisville cases would have gone further if justice kennedy had not undertaken to file a separate opinion qualifying the scope of what the court did. i see in seattle and louisville as a pair of decisions that were held back from their potential, held way back from their potential by the role that justice kennedy place.
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by the way, i know it is a hackneyed phrase, but these days i think it is entirely appropriate to talk about the court as the kennedy court. in case after case where the court is deeply divided, it always comes down to kennedy. that is the one nomination succession that i am waiting to see. >> in the clips that we showed at the beginning, just as briar talked to us about the process of granting certain cases. we are not going to show a video clip. we have a graph about the caseload from 1980 until the present. you can see back in 1980 there were about 5000 petitions to he court. the court agreed to hear 136 cases. look down to 2008. almost doubled. nearly 9000 petitions, and the number heard was just 82. what is happening here?
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>> the court has gotten lazy. [laughter] in 1982 and '83 terms, the court decided to see 150 cases. this term, there will probably decide 80. the term before that it was 74. it seems to me that if the caseload is rising the output also ought to rise, but in fact the country seems to be true. i have heard all of the arguments by the justices that they can do a better job if they decide fewer cases, and justice scalia once said to me "there is not that much interesting out there. why do we have to take more cases?" by the way, on your statistics, you do not have a footnote which shows the number of cases that are filed pro se.
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that is a bit arcane, but when a person files their own petition for review in the supreme court, they do it on their own behalf. in every 25 cases that i see, and i looked at all the big cases as they came in -- in every 25 cases every week i look at, at least three of the 25 are pro se, and i have yet to see more than one case in 30 years that was a pro se that was meritorious. whatever percentage that is, you can reduce that number. there has been an exponential increase in the filing thepro se petitions. the court needs to look at that and see whether or not it is too easy to do that. i know justice stevens always to cents when the court reduces the opportunity to appear before the court and bring in a case
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and seek court approval of it as a proper case. but i honestly think that there is -- and let me say this in a positive way. because i have such admiration for the intellect and the competence of the justices, i think it could be doing a lot more and i do not think the quality would suffer if they did. >> it depends on which way the lower court ruled and whether you really want the supreme court to get involved. justice o'connor has said it might be a good thing that the supreme court is not involved in as many cases. but i think there are also some changes in the law that have caused those numbers. one is the limits on what was known as mandatory appeals to the court. right now, for example, and voting rights cases and campaign finance cases -- the way
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congress had written that law, the court has to take those, but the court had a lot more jurisdiction that congress said had to go to the justices. some of its mandatory jurisdiction has been removed. also, what the court does mostly is look at splits in the circuits for lower court discrepancies where a court in the west might be ruling differently on a matter than the court in the east. the justices might want to resolve that. there could be an argument that maybe there are not as many circuit differences as the might have been before. i think it is more than pure inattention or laziness, but i do have to say i would never like to show those figures to editors, because i do not want to show that back when you and i were covering it in the '90s that i was doing twice as much work because the court was doing twice as much work. >> advocates would always like the court to triple the docket,
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that is for sure, but i do not know the reasons. i have heard some people speculate that it might be related to the rise of electronic databases and the courts are reading each other's opinions more than they used to and there is greater uniformity among the courts of appeals then there was once upon a time. >> oral argument is the most public part of the court's work. members of the public who are lucky enough can get seats to listen in, and the press corps has an opportunity to watch. we asked the judges their views. >> i learned when i got here that it is a lot harder to get in a question on a bench of 9 than it is on a binge of three. it had been my practice on the court of appeals to try to wait to the end of the lawyers paragraph before interrupting with a question.
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here, if you do that, if you wait until the end of the sentence, you will never get a question in. you have to interrupt to make your voice heard. >> i think i have a keen understanding of what it is like to be at the receiving end of questioning, but i also know that as an attorney i welcomed the questions from the bench. some lawyers regard questions as interruption in an eloquent speech they are preparing to make and, but an advocate wants to know what is on the judge's mind. she will welcome questions as a way of satisfying the judge on a matter the judge might not resolve as well without
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counsel's response. >> council what is your view? >> she is exactly right. any advocate worth their salt what comes questions. you are there to find out what is troubling the justices and you want to get right to it and you do not want to make a speech. it is a great court to argue before. the number of questions can be astonishing. i think in one of my arguments there were 56 questions in 30 minutes. it is nonstop and it is an enormous challenge. i think the justices really want to know the answers to the questions. it is great. >> with all the preparation we have learned goes into the cases before they get to the court room, we asked some of the justices whether the argument was actually needed at that point. what is your view on the role of argument? >> it helps focus them. the justices are actually trying to get information from the lawyer who is standing at the
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podium for them. but also they are trying to telegraph where they are at on cases. effectively, it is the first time the justices will be discussing the case in the round. the will not have met at all yet on the case they're hearing before they actually take the oral arguments. so they might be telegraphing where they are at on a case. they might be suddenly making arguments to each other, as well as the primary purpose of trying to get information from the lawyer at the lectern and try to get the best answers. they are the ones who are going to have to write up the ruling. primarily, they are going to rely on what is in the written briefs. all their work is written and documented based on precedent. but they might be able to focus an argument or get an answer to something they were not sure of by what goes on in the question and answer. >> my impression is that it is
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the most important agenda- setting conference of the justices. very soon after they hear a case, no more than two days, the preliminary vote will be cast on a firm or reverse. the content of the oral argument goes toward framing how the court will address the case when they first get together for a private conference. for that reason, i think it is really unfortunate that justice thomas does not participate in oral argument. i think it has been three terms now since he made a comment or ask a question. because of this agenda setting potential at least that the oral argument has -- i do think oral argument has the capacity to influence votes.
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he changes his mind about 25% of the time after an oral argument. that is a very high percentage figure, i should think. and so it is an institution, it seems to me, that needs to be preserved. i am not persuaded that it needs to be lengthened. 30 minutes a side seems to be adequate. >> no. [laughter] >> by the way, i have the utmost sympathy and admiration for council that appears before this court. let me say the court before justice sotomayor joined -- the court before she came with david sutter -- suitor souter was one of the most intelligence courts i have ever countered.
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no court i had ever covered before was its match. i do not know whether sotomayor is up to that. she is very good. what we have seen from her so far is most impressive. in fact, more impressive than i expected it to be, because i had seen some of her arguments on the second circuit and she is better than i thought she woold be. but i am not sure whether or not she is that next level up of intellect that the court had when it had david souter. to my mind, he was the smartest just as i have ever covered, with apologies with apologiessbryer, who is awfully smart to. >> we asked justice thomas when he chooses not to ask questions. this is a brief response. >> i think it is hard to have a conversation when nobody is
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listening, when you cannot complete sentences or answers. perhaps that is a southern thing. i do not know. but i think he should allow people to complete their answers and their thought and to continue their conversation. i find the coherence to get from a conversation helps you to understand your questions. i do not see how you can learn a lot from 50 questions. >> i will let that stand without comment. >> he is just wrong. >> if i could just say, at least the year i clerked justice brennan hardly ask any questions, and i do not remember him being ridiculed for it. so i am always wondering why there is so much focus on the fact that justice thomas does not like to ask questions. >> the problem as i see it, and maybe this is a perspective of the press, is that it leads to perceptions that are not well-
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founded. clarence thomas is entirely equal to the task of being a justice of the supreme court. there is no doubt in my mind. in some dimensions, clarence thomas is a brilliant justice. the quality of his work on the court is really first-rate when he is writing. i think he is an exemplary member of the fraternity when they are writing. unfortunately, and i hear this from many people, is he not smart enough to ask questions? whether or not a justice really concerns themselves with public perception, i think it is injuries to his legacy, after all of these years of being a high quality justice, to how people perceive that he is not up to the task. i think that in the 60 minutes of oral argument, and by the way
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justice roberts does now allow some of the cases to run on longer than 60 minutes, and i find that a positive thing -- i do not remember very many cases i have heard over the years where i thought that the rapid exchange between justices must not allow managing. if you get a really bad logger committed a really bad lawyer -- but that is rare to. most people who make the argument before a court of competent to do so. i think oral argument is the label and i wish clarence took part in it. justice kennedy plays a role with a swing vote. this is a count of 5-4 decisions
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since the start of the robert court. and to a dozen five, 10 of 79. 11 in 2007 of 74. to date in 2009, 35-4 decisions. there is justice kennedy talking about the process with obvious enthusiasm. >> just prior made the observation that in the tigers before he goes into conference, and so do i.. it is like being an attorney again. you are arguing your case. i have eight colleagues who have studied very hard on a case, who
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may have very fixed views or maybe tentative, depending on how they have fought the case through. and i have to give my point of view and hopefully to persuade them. and i feel a sense of anticipation, or adrenaline rush. i do not know what they call it. this is a big day for us. we sometimes have as many as six cases and i have to present the argument in four cases. i have to be professional, accurate, and bear, and each of my colleagues feels the same way. there is a little tension of excitement in the room, but we love it. we are designed to do it. the job is no fun if you cannot argue. >> and the interest of time, i would like to move to the next clip, which is all about the process of the court getting to an opinion.
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>> i always want to write a majority. who would want to write a dissent? descents are more fun to write, i have to say that. when you have the dissent, it is yours. you say what you want. if somebody does not want to join in, who cares? this is my descent. it is what i want to say. when you are writing a majority, you do not have that luxury. you have to craft it in a way that at least four other people can jump on it. you try to craft it in a way that as many people as possible will jump on. which means accepting some suggestions, stylistic and otherwise, that you do not think is the best, but nonetheless, in order to get everybody on board, you take them. >> i love that clip because it is so justice scalia, talking
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about it like it is a toy. it is mine. the only child that he is. it is so true. he has obviously had a lot of fun writing dissents. they are probably the best written opinions that anybody on the court has done since they joined. but they are not what rules the land. that is his point. he has to compromise in language. he has been doing that more. obviously, he had the big second amendment case of two years ago, when the justices ruled for the first time, by a narrow 5-4 vote, that the second amendment embodies an individual right to bear arms, not just a red a state militia. justice breyer dissented from that. justice scalia kept everything in check, was disciplined, and got the majority opinion. >> the opinion writing process, i must say, is a very admirable
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process. if you spend any time in the wonderful manuscript division here at the library of congress, looking at the process from the inside, when the justices have saved their papers, and you see it -- if you have the illusion, and it is a pure illusion, that this process is undignified, that it is something that is not to be admired, you are very wrong. because when you look at the papers, the internal papers, the deliberations are serious as they go through the draft. the comments -- warren burger used to make some very unpleasant comments about women in some of his comments to other people straps. but on the whole, the process is a really remarkably admirable process. you read to draft opinions and see the joined memos or the
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dissent memos. you come away from it and you say, "that is really the way it ought to be done." we do not get to see the conference's at which justice kennedy loses it. and i think it would be very nice if now and then we could have a look into the conference room and watched it happen, which is not going to happen, but the whole process is one, it seems to me, that the american people can have real fake it works pretty good. >> speaking of looking into the court, it is just about time for your questions. i'll have my colleagues at either side of the room has a wireless microphone over to you. one of the most frequently asked questions we have c-span is "when it will cameras going to the supreme court?" since the year 2000, c-span,
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along with other media organizations, have occasionally petitioned the court for a same- the release of the audio tapes the make of each of days or arguments. the graph on your screen is our success rate. the top line is the number of requests we have made each year. the green line on the bottom shows that our requests have been increasingly turned down. i want to turn to our panel for comments about the openness of the robbers court in general, and if you would like to offer your own perspective, we would love to hear it. >> i would just say that this film is an indication of the openness of the robert cort, and the fact that the justices participated in this and allow this to happen is, i think, a great thing. in terms of cameras in the court, i know what they are going to say, and i know you guys think, but i am very
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sympathetic to the idea that it is not really in the interest of the justices to do that, for a couple of reasons. just look what happens on youtube every day. the way in which images can be distorted and cast about -- what public service goes along with that? the transcripts are available. people can read it if they are interested. justices also are able to enjoy a sense of anonymity. i know chief justice rehnquist used to love to go to the grocery store and not be recognized. given the security issues today, those things are significant. i do not know. i am certainly not going to object if they want to have it. you could be a movie star, right? >> but i am very sympathetic, at least to the justices who do not want it. >> i think it is a matter of constitutional law, and i think the court has got it wrong.
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in the richmond newspapers case in 1980, the supreme court said that the process of justice is an open process. actually, they said that as long ago as craig versus party in 1940. it ought to be an open process. for the court to pick and choose between the media -- the forms of media that undertake to cover the proceedings -- seems to me to be engaging in what is a form of first-amendment discrimination. my colleague, pete williams, from nbc, would be a wonderful person to be standing outside the courtroom and narrating a film about the oral argument, because he understands the court. i frankly am never persuaded by the argument that the court is so fragile that it could not survive televising. it is a pretty hardy institution.
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if you expose it to television and -- i have seen editorial cartoons about the supreme court, which if i were sitting up there i would be well. the court is not going to lose public respect if it goes on television. it will only gain respect. i will tell you that would very likely is going to happen -- if you watch a television program the broadcasts in full the argument on patent law and get into the degree of of business of the patent and the formula for what is patentable -- they had better put that on between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., because it is only going to serve the insomniacs in the audience. but that is not the routine
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case. most of the case is over there are fascinating. the court had a decision yesterday on the custody rights of parents who live in different countries. it was a fascinating case. it would have been wonderful to put them on television. even if it were not unconstitutional to pick and choose between the forms of media, it seems to me it is a public process that would be spectacular for the court to be on television. they do it at the state level all the time. if you are afraid, stay in your chambers. do not meet the public's interest in the court a hostage to your concern about your anonymity. it just misplaces the values entirely.
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>> if you live elsewhere in the country and are watching this, through news -- through new procedures at the supreme court and the internet you can follow every case through every filing that has been made, every breath that has been submitted. that goes up on the same day. you can see the transcripts of oral arguments and see which justice asked which question. we used to not have access to any kind of transcript. we have justice's listen to -- justices listed by name. >> you may not know this as a matter of history or historical fact, the court could not change the process of identifying the justices in the transcript until after bit -- byron white had
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retired. byron always said that the questions are posed by the court, not by an individual justice. years ago, we started lobbying the court to put names in, because sometimes if you are not where you can see the full bench one justice's boys sounds like another. some, we can always tell by the length of the question, if not the tone of voice. but sometimes khalil cents a little bit like a leto and sometimes roberts sounds a little bit like a leto. the point is that it is an enormous help to us now, and i think to the public as well, to have the justices identified on the transcripts. and that is a real benefit. it is also a great benefit to have the transcripts on the same day. before this process was instituted, you had to wait
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usually a week to buy it from a highway robbery firm that charged to $5 a page. just calculate 55 pages, which is the usual length of an oral argument transcript, at $4 a page -- at $5 a page. that is $260. the baltimore sun could not afford that for a lot of cases. now they are available on the same day basis. they are available in fall or ray, and you see who the justices are. sometimes a reporting service gets it a little bit wrong, but we tell them about it and a correct it. these are great advances. they are probably among the most important things that john roberts has contributed to, in terms of press coverage of the court. >> thanks to our panelists. let us as to anybody in the audience has a question for us. >> i actually have three
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questions, and i will let you decide which you want to take. the first is what do you think is the fact, inside and outside the beltway, of the citizens united case. the second is, you talk a little bit about the role of solicitor general. what you think? does the personality matter? the third question is more pop culture. did you see a recap on hbo and did you think that was informative for the american public to see how bush versus gore would look in the supreme court? >> it is an extremely important role because the united states brings many of the cases to the court and participates in most of the cases. so the position that the united states advocates can be very influential. in terms of whether the
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personality of taken verses also matters, i doubt it. i think the court is looking to the solicitor general, basically coming to the court, maintaining credibility, bringing the quality of that office, maintaining the quality of that office. you can have a lot of different personalities that do that. i do not think the personality matters what. -- matters much. they want somebody who is obviously up for the job, and both are. >> what about the effects of citizens united? >> let me take that one. i think we are on the threshold of a major change in campaign finance law. we already have now another case before the court. it is a republican national committee case the court is going to consider at one of the june conferences, which is the first sequel to reach the courts. that is a very important case because it attacks another part
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of the 2002 campaign finance law, the soft money banned. right now there is another case called speech now, which is a case -- this take citizens united completely back to buckley vs allejo, where the court drew a distinction constitutionally between expenditures and contributions. the speech now case destroys that distinction between the two. what citizens united did, not only on its own merits, which is the question of unlimited spending by corporations in the campaign process. it opened the possibility that the court will sort of march, one step at a time, toward a complete renovation of the entire process of paying for
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presidential and congressional elections. i do not think it could be any different. we are also seeing, by the way, very strong push back from president obama on this. and it is going to become an issue, i think, repeatedly, as the president continues to try to carry on his populist agenda. i do not think it is possible to overestimate the importance of citizens united. >> we have run a little bit over our projected time. i am going to ask we allowed john to exit the stage. >> how often are lucky enough to have a ruling to commentate on at the state of the union and then have chief justice john roberts a few weeks later comment on the adversarial state of the union. i thought for the news guy you and the public interest value it has been a good case that defines the court and generates more public attention and congressional attention.
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for less question, i did see recount. i thought it was a lot of fun. i thought it was just theater tv rather than a true reflection of what went on in december of 2000. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> a reminder that we will have copies. >> i think bush versus gore was rightly decided. >> who else has questions? >> i am interested in knowing a little bit more about the role of the courtroom news artist and how that might help bring visuals to the public and better inform the public of what people act like and how they are in this visual world we are in. >> i am sorry.
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say it again? >> the courtroom sketch artist certainly is a useful thing, for people to have a picture of the court, since there are no cameras. generally, i think the depictions can be pretty good. i do not think it is a major issue in court room dynamics. >> the supreme court is very hospitable to sketch artists, but the other day i was down at the d.c. circuit court. the court was hearing a case on the war on terrorism. ray randolph was one of the judges, a senior judge randolph. there was a courtroom sketch artist, bill tennessee, who was there. just as randolph sent a note down that he did not want to tennessee to be sketching in the court. so bill took his large sketch
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pad at out and deposited it in the press room and came back with a little reporter's notebook of the type many of us take into the courtroom and proceeded to make his sketches anyway. i went back out after the hearing was over and he took up the big one and did people color portrait of the court. he got a very nasty telephone call. fortunately, ray is not on the supreme court. i think courtroom artists to a fantastic job. they're wonderful people. bill has a great book called "all rise," which is a book of his images about the court. i do not think they are an adequate substitute for televising the court, but they do illustrate the court in a very nice way, and i know the lawyers really love them.
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bill and the nbc guy and the others to do it make a lot of money selling color copies of these two arguing counsel. [laughter] >> anybody else have a question? we asked justice briar, since we have had controversial statements read the evening, if he would like to respond or at any closing comments. would you like to do that? >> i am glad i have the chance to be here. i find it personally and lightning, interesting, and useful. is there anything i would emphasize? >> i think i would emphasize one thing that is so dull that it is not a subject of press normally. the press are made up of human beings and they are writing for
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human beings. the thing that interestt people most is other people. that is a great thing. there would not be a human race without it. at the same time, that is not our job. most of what actually goes on, i just want to say, is less than meets the eye. most of my day is spent, every day, doing something that was not in the pictures and we did not talk about very much. it is reading these misnomer things called briefs. they are not brief. they are 50 to 60 pages or longer. in each case, you will get 10, 15, and sometimes 120. unlike the certs, i read all of those. if there are 80 cases, i will be skimming a few to see if there is something new. but i will look at every one of
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them. and then i will have a memo written. and then i will read the memo discussion with my clerk. and i have read the briefs before i go into the oral argument. i mention them because i want you to see what i think is the heart of this job. i think an awful lot of people have seen it this way. it is reading through those arguments and try to understand them. it is not a contest. . .
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when you look at that on the television, you might think that this is about an oral argument and which plan is more sympathetic. that is not how i see it. it is what is the rule that will come out of this case or the approach that will make this minor or major area of the law a better rather than worse set of rules call laws under which people live. everyone feels that way. what we are doing is a professional job. people are not screaming at each other. if we get annoyed, we hide. what happens is that people go or around the room and they try to explain succinctly what it
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is at the point they are at intellectually of that they think about this case and how it should come out. and everyone also knows that nobody really cares, no matter what they write, about what i happen to think about a case. what they care about is what the court thinks. the court is made up of individuals who have to pay attention to each other in order to get a result. we know that, too. eventually, what i will do is sit at the word processor and i will write a draft. my law clerk will have produced a huge memo and i will take that and i will read the briefs again and she will get the draft and think that hers is a lot better
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and i will probably try another one after she gives me another one and that is an endless process. what is the job like? i explained this to my son in high school. i said that his reading and writing. if you do your homework well, you can do -- you can get a job or the will to home work your entire life. at the end of the day, there is a document. what ever they say in the newspaper, i am happier if it says that this is good, but i try to keep my ego out of that. my ego has less of a role than it does in many places. i remember the ambassador to india came back and someone asked if it was an interesting job. he said it was so interesting that he found that he did not think about himself 4 seconds at a time.
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[laughter] you can be a bit removed. ultimately, there will be a document and unlike legislation which is not supposed to be this way, a good opinion, if it is meeting proper standards will give you, in that document, the real reasons why the judge reached that decision. alternately, the impact of what we do is in those essays. it is not what people think about them initially. it is how judges and lawyers understand them and apply them in the area of the law. i have never heard anyone in that room say that we had too little or too much work. sometimes people speculate that we could take 100 cases. why haven't we taken them? i do not know.
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i think that your laws have been passed and i agree with what montaigne said in 1584, that when you have a statute, every word is a new argument for lawyers. i do not know the answer to that. i do not think that people really worry about whether they are anonymous or not. i think that they take it pretty seriously and i think that you think that they take it pretty seriously and that is what i got out of this. there is no right perspective or one perspective. i can try to explain what i do every day, and it is interesting for me to hear what other people think, having somewhat a different perspective on the same process. that is a long winded way of saying thank you for having me this evening and for putting this program on. [applause]
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>> i would like to close with a couple of thank yous. our production team televising this live tonight and our marketing staff who put all the logistics' together. to our terrific panelist for their comments and for the justice for being here. thanks to all of you for being here. thank you very much. [applause] >> c-span recently conducted a poll that looked at the public's awareness of and interest in the supreme court confirmation process.
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a look, now at the findings. kagan hearings near. in advance of that, c-span has worked with a polling company, robert green is the principle, to do a new public opinion poll about the supreme court public knowledge and attitudes. thank you r being with us. guest: thank you. host: a couple of major findings. first of all, if we could go to the details -- which of the three branches of the federal government is best serving the public interest. what did you find question on guest: we found that of the three, the judiciary was seen as best serving the public's interest. 48% said the judiciary branch. 27, the legislative. 25, executive. host: did the data tell you why that was? guest: there were some additional questions that gave insights. of the three -- i would say at
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the time, it is fair to say, it's fair amount of public dissatisfaction with the government, the federal government, and of the three branches, the one that is the one the best is the judiciary, in their view. host: another finding of this poll -- tell people about h many participated and what kinds of people participated. guest: likely voters in the next general election, which is, of course, the fall. we conducted 1512 interviews, it was conducted late last week, june 18. the margin of error is 2.5, 95% confidence level. host: i think this is the third sensible you have done with us, so we can have tracking questions -- third such pulled you have done with us. the senate confirmation aring. there is ddscussion about where it gives good inside of the
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nominee. guest: what we learned is the senate confirmation hearings, in fact, don't particularly give good insights of the qualifications of the nominees. 59% say fair or poor inside. essentially three of the five kely voters. 41% say excellent or good. this was a little bit of a surprise. host: this is also an interesting statistic. as i just showed you -- "gop bears down on kagan." you asked how many could name the individual president obama nominated. these numbers are pretty impressive lead tilted. -- yes, only 19% could identify -- we ask the same question a year ago with justice sotomayor, an 24% drop from last year. in other words, only 19% could
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correctly name elena kagan as the potential to -- as a nominee, excuse me, to the court, a potential justice. host: it has its work cut out to stir public interest by monday. over all, it is it because people are not adjusted who is being nominated tohe court? what is your additional questions tell you about public interest? guest: i would say, yes, there are a series of other stores that have simply dominated the news. i think sotomayor's nomination -- obviously both women nominees. at the time of the respective nominations. but simply other news this crowding out the nomination. host: last question. we don't have it on a graphic. but you could tell us a statistic, when you ask people today whether it matters and
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nominee is male or female? guest: basically, most of them, above 60%, say it doesn't matter. what does matter, truthfully, is they are less interested in -- i think the sense of diversity is a bit different now. host: what does diversity mean? guest: over 60% say ty wish the nominee was not from harvard, yale, or columbia. there is a sense that perhaps we are a little less averse than we need to be in terms of background, the legal training of the people nominated for the court. host: thank you for being with us. we have the full result -- a result of the ball on our website, and questions about the interest inelevising the court's
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>> starting monday, what's the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee elena kagan. will testify before the senate judiciary committee. watch the hearing all live beginning at 12:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3, c-span radio and c- watch each day's rea error every night beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern every night. -- we-air every night beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern every night. >> you are watching c-span created as a public service by america's cable companies. canadian prime minister harper holds a closing news conference at the gao summit in canada a.
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on"america and the courts," justice john paul stevens and elena kagan have a discussion. >> the lottery is described by law that if demand it out places supply, you have to have a lottery. >> this is the central issue of today and it is not just about race. it is about class. >> madeleine sackler on the anti charter school sentiment. that is at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span "to end the." >> next, canaddan prime minister steven harper holds a news conference at the g-sheet summit in canada. he was the host of the summit.
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the meeting focused on international security, economic stability and funding for child care in the developing world. this is 20 minutes. >> good afternoon, everyone. [speaking french] -span. >> the g-8 has committed $5
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billion over the next five years of new money. we have commitments from all of the partners that raised this to $7.3 billion. the partners that raised this to $7.3 billion. we insisted on the need to be accountable for our actions, and we have discussed many international issues, nuclear proliferation, iran, and the implementation of the resolution 1929 of the un and the attack by north korea, the iranian and north korean governments. the iranian and north korean governments have chosen to threaten their neighbors with arms. we need to ensure that these
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expenditures are not the only costs associated to this, so we have also discussed afghanistan, pakist, and stability in that region. and the situation in the middle east and climate change. we must stick to our commitments because this put into play our credibility. the g-eight needs to be stronger and have common goals, and i am now looking forward to welcoming the g-20 countries. >> we have refocused the g8 in strength, development, peace and global security challenges. the g8 has committed an additional $5 billion over the next five years, and with our partners, as i mentioned sterday, bringing the total
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to $7.3 billion on the initiative on maternal and child newborn health. this wl be the key a we move forward, and we have put increased emphasis on that. we also discussed a further range of global challenges, nuclear proliferation, iran, the implementation of the sanctions by united nations resolution 1929, also north korea and the incidence. the governments of iran and north korea have chosen to acquire weapons to threaten their neighbors. the world must see to it that what they spend on these weapons will not be the only costs that they incur. we also have discussed afghanistan, pakistan, government stability in that particular region, of course, the middle east, and climate change. is essential that the g8 keep
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its promises going forward. this is essential for the credibility and effectiveness of this forum as an organization. the g8 has been reshaped and reenergize. its members share a common objective in the world, and i now look forward to meeting my colleagues of the g-20 in toronto. >> we have a few moments for some questions. we will begin with cnn. if you couldtand up, the microphone will come over to you. >> mr. prime minister, you have mentioned that you have refocused and reenergize the d.a., however, as you go into the g-20, we know that the economic issues that have been handed over to the g-eight, many members of the g-20 would like to see handed over. many people say this could be
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the last g-8 that we see in north arica. >> i seriously doubt that. st year at this time there was a lot of talk around the table. i think this be clearly for all leaders of the g8. we had a discussion last night about international institutions and international architecture. i think there is a greater understanding. as we get into the g-2 process, there is a greater understanding of the necessity of also having a forum of like-minded advanced countries who can exchange of views in a much less formal setting, and you can sometimes quickly bring resources to bear that others do not have on certain types of complex world problems. the g-20 has done a magnificent
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job soar in the year and a half that it has been around. it has been tackling the economic crisis. but there are, quite frankly, limits to what you can discuss and achieve in a group of 20. of course, there are always other participants as well. it leads to much less formal discussion then you are able to have in a group like the g-8. there is also much les commonality of purpose then you have at the g-8. all the leaders, at this point, i think would be pretty strong in their view that tte g-8is an essential organization going forward. but our coordination with the g 20, the united nations, and other international institutions remains equally vital. >> radio canada. >> mr. harper, you said that it
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is not very probable that this is the end of the g-8, because you said that for the last year and have you have managed to prove the importance of the summit. is it the fact that you're not called upon to deal with onomic issues anymore? have you given these over to the g-20? >> firstly, the g-8 and discuss whatever it once, because the g-8 can have discussions on all sorts of areas, incding the economy, but our shared idea around the table is that it is is essenttal to have a larger group, a more representative
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group, to face the challenges posed by the world economy today. there is no longer enough of the orld economy around th deg-8 table for us to take decisions for the whole world. at the same time, the g-8 brings together countries that have common values, developed countries, and on a much larger scale than the g-20, the g-8 is able to have a more formal discussion and arrive at a consensus for action. for all of those reasons, the g-8 will remain important, but
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the other international bodies will also remain important for us. >> mr. prime minister, what was the nature of discussions as far as fiscal consolidations are concerned? i wonder if the g-8 has reached some sort of target you can bring to the g-20, and was for the targets were proposed? >> there was a formal discussion on a number of matters, including economic matters. we have not attempted to arrive at consensus positions, in order not to prejudice discussions of the d-20. as you know, i have written to my colleagues in the g-20 on a uple of occasions to emphasize the importance of fiscal consolidation going forward.
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we believe fiscal consolidation and reduction of debt levels, and not in and of itself, but partly as a range of tools that we are going to need to entrench and maintain the global recovery. we are going to have good discussions around that in toronto, but my sense is that there is a strong consensus around the necessity for midterm plans on fiscal consolidation and invest countries. -- in advanced countries. >> yes, mr. harper, on the question of climate change, you spoke about this. i would like to know what the
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heritage will have been on climate change. infor both of the summit's, fact, we have our declaration here, but at the end of the day, this is a discussion to prepare. it is an extremely important discussion. more discussions will take place in the un process. i think that the countries gathered here today recognized the need to work together so as to lead to achieve -- so as truly to achieve a legally binding climate change agreement. but in the end, the u.n. process process, and we are
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determined that this process will be successful. >> the language on bilateral trade deals have you conceded that the debt is not really going anywhere? and on afghanistan, is very clear that things are quite complex. how much confidence is there really that things are going to get better in afghanistan? >> to give good questions. first of all, on trade, i do not think it is any secret that we have run into difficulty. everybody around the table agrees that in the future at some point we must complete the doja round.
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we are looking for language that we can apply to the g-20 as to how to achieve that objective. we have raised our level of ambition, but in the meantime it is no secret that the government of canada and many other governments are mmitted to aggressively pursuing bilateral trade deals as a way of ticks starting the process while we see the talks remaining stalled. cada and the european union are involved in a very important discussions on a potential free- trade deal between our partners in north america. we will continue to look for ways to move forward. i would not say that doja is dead. at the same time, those of us who favor legalized trade are
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going to make sure that we work through all possible avenues to advance the objectives. me about afghanistan. on afghanistan, look, everybody recognizes tt the challenges there remain significant. we are under no illusion. just about every country around the table was involved in afghanistan. we realize the challenges remain pretty severe. that said, i think there is a general recognition around the table that we have to continue to put our shoulder to the wheel to ultimately ensure that what we leave behind is a stable afghanistan that will be a positive contribor to the world, to world security, and
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not a potential source of terrorism or a failed state. we all agree that this remains an overriding, essential objective fo all of the countries in the world. >> now we will go to cbc. >> i wanted to ask you as you go into the g-20, what concerns you have both for canada and for the global recovery if country greece is forced to restructure? >> i think what all leaders recognize, and i think we do not speak here simply for the g-8, but i can speak a little bit to the g-20 conversations i have had, we all realize that the world economic recovery is fragile. we all realize that there are
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many risks going forward to the recovery. thataid, i think what we'll recognize is the following, that what we must avoid at just about all costs is some kind of cataclysmic event along the lines of lehman brothers. we cannot afford some particular event that would cause a series of cascading events and a downward spiral of confidence in global markets. that, i think that lesson from two thousand eight and that risk today is what overwhelmingly drives all p-20 leaders as we look at the problems we -- all g-20 leaders as we look at the problems we see before us. there has been a lot of talk about debt crises and defaults. there has been taught in various countries about the pressures from the banking stem. but every time you have seen
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those kind of problems, the countries involved, working with their g-8 and g-20 counterparts, have worked very qckly to know short-term cataclysmic event occurs that would throw us all off track. week to week and day-to-day we remain very engaged. the g-20 is an opportunity for us to take a somewhat longer time horizon. in this case, we're talking about a three-five-year horizon as opposed to a year to year or month to month horizon. >> we have time for one last question. we are going to go to toronto. ct. >> prime minister, when we headed into this summit, there
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was a lot of talk about the positions of europe and the united states when it came to deficit-reduction and stimulus spending. as you go into tonight's meeting, how confident are you that the leaders will agree to your proposal for the terms of getting their deficit in half by 2013 and getting debt to gdp levels down, or is the consensus that each country will just go in its own direction? >> i am confident that we will have good discussions. my observation at this particular g-8, i have never 8, where,a g- regardless of the topics, i have never been at a summit where
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leaders seemed to more deeply feel the necessity of common action and common purpose. why is that? some of its maybe -- some of it may be the personalities around the table and the generational change that has taken place over the past few years. some of it, i am sure, are the enormous challenges facing us all, the crisis we have had in the global economy that instantly affected every country, and some of the major security and development challenges around the world, some of which i mentioned earlier, iran, north korea, the middle east, some of which really do reprent threats to the stability of any economic prosperity of every country. i would say that given the generational change a robust years, given the nature of the events and the challenges that confront us, i have never seen
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more fundamentally united in purpose and frank in its discussions. i think that will carry into the g-20. we obviously will have a great deal more diversity in terms of the kinds of societies and economies these leaders are covering. nevertheless, my sense is that the commonality of purpose will moved forward and that people -- >> sunday, canadian prime minister steven harper holds a closing news conference at the at g 20 summit in canada. he is the host of the summit.
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attendees will include france, germany, japan, the united kingdom and united states. the g-20 soummit discuss cutting debt levels. after that, live coverage of president obama's news conference as he leaves the summit in canada. >> now, president obama and vice-president biden honor gay pride month. the president talked about the administration's priorities, including benefits for same-sex partners and repealing the don't ask don't tell policy in the military. from the white house, this is 20 minutes.
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>> hello, hello, hello! [applause] hello, everybody! [applause] i was going to say welcome to the white house -- but you guys seem like you feel right at home. [laughter] you don't need me to tell you -- it's the people's house. a couple of acknowledgements that i want to make very quickly -- first of all, our director of the office of personnel management, who has just done an extraordinary job across the government -- give john berry a big round of applause. [applause] >> all right, john! all right, john! [laughter] >> our chair of the export/import bank, helping to bring jobs here to the united states of america -- fred hochberg. [applause]
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our chair of the council on environmental quality, doing outstanding work each and every day -- nancy sutley. where is she? [applause] nancy is a little vertically challenged, but i see her over there. [laughter) we've got here a trailblazer for federal appointees -- we are so proud of her -- ms. roberta achtenberg is here. give roberta a big round of applause. [applause] and then i understand we've got a terrific country singer -- chely wright is in the house. [applause] in addition -- i know they had to leave because they had votes, but you guys obviously don't have just fiercer warriors
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on your behalf than a couple of our openly gay and lesbian members of congress -- tammy baldwin and jared polis. [applause] they are openly terrific. [laughter] they do great work. and it is also great to have so many activists and organizers from around the country -- folks who fight every day for the rights of parents and children and partners and citizens to be treated equally under the law. and so we are very proud of all of you.
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[applause] oh, and by the way, the guy standing next to me -- this is joe biden. [applause] just because he's a phillies fan -- he's from delaware. [laughter) now, look, the fact that we've got activists here is important because it's a reminder that change never comes -- or at least never begins in washington. it begins with acts of compassion - and sometimes defiance - across america. it begins when ordinary people - out of love for a mother or a father, son or daughter, or husband or wife - speak out against injustices that have
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been accepted for too long. and it begins when these impositions of conscience start opening hearts that had been closed, and when we finally see each other's humanity, whatever our differences. now, this struggle is as old as america itself. it's never been easy. but standing here, i am hopeful. one year ago, in this room, we marked the 40th anniversary of the stonewall protests. [applause] some of you were here, and you may remember that i pledged then that even at a time when we faced enormous challenges both on the economy and in our foreign policy, that we would not put aside matters of basic equality. and we haven't.
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we've got a lot of hard work that we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we've made over the past year on behalf of americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender. just stay with me here for a second. last year, i met with judy shepard, matthew shepard's mom, and i promised her that after a decade's-long struggle, we would pass inclusive hate crimes legislation. i promised that in the name of her son we would ensure that the full might of the law is brought down on those who would attack somebody just because they are gay. and less than six months later, with judy by my side, we marked the enactment of the matthew shepard act. it's now the law of the land. [applause] just a few moments ago, i met with janice langbehn and her children. where did janice go? there they are right there.
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and when janice's partner of 18 years, lisa, suddenly collapsed because of an aneurysm, janice and the couple's three kids were denied the chance to comfort their partner and their mom -- barred from lisa's bedside. it was wrong. it was cruel. and in part because of their story, i instructed my secretary of health and human services, kathleen sebelius, to make sure that any hospital that's participating in medicare or medicaid - that means most hospitals [laughter] allow gay and lesbian partners the same privileges and visitation rights as straight partners. [applause] after i issued that memorandum, i called janice and i told her the news.
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and before we came out here today, i wanted to make sure that i had followed up -- secretary sebelius will officially be proposing this regulation. and i can also announce that the secretary has sent a letter today asking these hospitals to adopt these changes now - even before the rule takes effect. [applause] nothing can undo the hurt that her -- that janice's family has experienced. and nothing can undo the pain felt by countless others who've been through a similar ordeal - for example, charlene strong is here. she lost her wife, kate fleming -- and charlene is here along with kate's mom, who said on behalf of all mothers, thank you. because we think it's the right thing to do. [applause] in addition, i've issued an
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as many partnership benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees as possible under current law. and i'm going to continue to fight to change the law: to guarantee gay federal employees straight employees - including access to health insurance and retirement plans. [applause] and in an announcement today, the department of labor made clear that under the family and medical leave act, same-sex couples - as well as others raising children - are to be treated like the caretakers that they are. [applause] because i believe in committed -- i believe that committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country, i have called for congress to repeal the so-called defense of marriage act.
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[applause] we are pushing hard to pass an inclusive employee non- discrimination bill. [applause] no one in america should be fired because they're gay. it's not right, it's not who we are as americans, and we are going to put a stop to it. and finally, we're going to end "don't ask, don't tell". [applause] that is a promise i made as a candidate. it is a promise that i reiterated as president. it's one that this administration is going to keep. now, the only way to lock this in - the only way to get the votes in congress to roll back this policy -- is if we work with the pentagon, who are in the midst of two wars. and that's why we were
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gratified to see, for the first time ever, the secretary of defense, bob gates, testify in favor of repeal. and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, mike mullen, has repeatedly and passionately argued for allowing gay men and women to serve honestly in the military. [applause] we know that forcing gay and lesbian soldiers to live a lie or to leave the military, that doesn't contribute to our security -- it harms our security. and thanks to patrick murphy and others, for the first time in history, the house has passed a repeal that would allow gay men and women to openly serve in our armed forces. and this repeal is authored so that the pentagon can complete its review of the policy -- which is critical, by the way, not only to passage, but it's also critical to making sure that the change is accepted and
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implemented effectively. in the senate, the armed services committee has approved repeal for the first time, and the full body is poised to vote soon. so here's the bottom line: we have never been closer to ending this discriminatory policy. and i'm going to keep on fighting until that bill is on my desk and i can sign it. [applause] of course, ultimately, change is about more than just policies in our government. and that's why i want to close by recognizing all the young people who are here - i had a chance to take a bunch of pictures with them, just really impressive folks who are advocating on their behalf. i know there are some in the audience who have experienced
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pain in their lives, who at times have been -- felt like outcasts, who have been scorned or bullied, and i know that there are families here on behalf of loved ones who are no longer with us, some in part because of the particularly difficult challenges that gay men and women still face. this is a reminder that we all have an obligation to ensure that no young person is ever made to feel worthless or alone -- ever. now, at the same time, i think there's plenty of reason to have some hope for many of the young people including those who are here today. they've shown incredible courage and incredible integrity -- standing up for who they are. they've refused to be anything less than themselves. and we all remember being young -- sort of. [laughter] but it's not easy. it's not easy standing up all
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the time and being who you are. but they're showing us the way forward. these young people are helping to build a more perfect union, a nation where all of us are equal; each of us is free to pursue our own versions of happiness. and i believe because of them that the future is bright. it's certainly bright for them. of course, it does depend on all of us. it depends on the efforts of government and the activism of ordinary citizens like yourselves. it depends on the love of families and the support of communities. and i want you all to know that as this work continues, i'm going to be stanning shoulder- to-shoulder with you, fighting by your side every step of the way. [applause] so, thank you. god bless you. god bless the united states of america. [applause]
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>> sunday, on "washington journal," tony fratto and ross eisenberry on the u.s. economy. russell pearce talks about
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immigration and border control issues and winston porter discusses how waste from the gulf oil spill is being cleaned up and disposed of. "washington, washington" live a sunday at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> here is our schedule. next, on "america and the courts, supreme court justice john paul stevens and elena kagan. after that, a discussion on the newly published book, the supreme court. it is based on a documentary that features interviews with current and former justices. then it canadian prime minister steven harper hold a press conference at the jeep -- the g-8 summit in canada. >> starting monday, which for
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confirmation hearings for supreme court nominee elena kagan. to learn more about the nation's highest court, read our latest book, "the supreme court: candid conversations with justice's current and retired." >> last month, supreme court justice john paul stevens and supreme court nominee elena kagan talked about the legacy of justice stevens as the retires. from the seventh circuit judicial conference in chicago, this is half an hour.
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>> what do you say when introducing this man? everything interesting has been said. quite frankly, everything not interesting has been said too. so i will be brief. john paul stevens was born and raised in hyde park. he attended the university of chicago. he attended the 1932 world series, which the cubs lost. in fact, no one in this room was alive when the cubs on one of their last world series. john paul stevens attended college in chicago, law school in chicago, practiced in chicago, and served for five years on the the seventh circuit. even after he was dragged off to washington in 1935, -- in 1975, he remained in service to chicago. this year, he read -- this year, he became the first justice to turn and 90 while in
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service. the other was oliver wendell holmes. [applause] his predecessor's aura louis brandeis and william o. douglas -- were louis brandeis and william o. douglas. you may have read about him in the past couple of weeks. i give you justice stevens. [applause] >> thank you very much. [applaase] >> thank you very much.
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fellow judges, friends, members of the bar, and friends again, i am going to play my normal role tonight and talk to you very briefly what you are waiting to hear the principal speaker. i want to say, on her behalf, as she very kindly offered to let me go last. i said no, i will basically do
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what i have done for many, many years, which is open with comments that are not very profound. it occurs to me out of the blue that it was the 100th anniversary of the illinois bar association 25 or 30 years ago, and the president of the association referred to it as a nostalgialogical occasion. this is such an occasion too. [laughter] i am going to make a couple of profound comment. the first is about 8 minute court that i attended -- about a moot court that i attended and at the rotterdam -- notre dame. there were four women participants, and they gave the best moot court argument i had ever heard. and i have been too many over the years.
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there with me was justice kennedy. we have been friends for many years. during the argument, the advocates repeatedly addressed her as madam justice, and she was not responding to the very warmly. toward the end of the third of argument, when someone addressed her as madam justice, and she said, "why do you call me madam justice?
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justice is a perfectly good title. you do not have to use a sexist term to describe a judge on the court." the advocates responded in an appropriate way. after, when we were discussing who should win, i talk to her about feeling strongly about this. she confirmed that she did. she felt this was a sexist term. i went back to the court. in the following conference, i told my colleagues about this instance. justice souter said we have to get rid of this quote mr. justice -- this "mr. justice"
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business. after that, we took off the term and just started using the term "justice." that was a couple of years before justice o'connor joined the court. i think a lot of people thought she was responsible for the change. i thought i would straighten out the record. [laughter] [applause] thought my second major historical -- my second major historical event that i want to describe it refers to the chicago cubs. [laughter] i was, in fact, a witness of the home run by babe ruth. last year i was responding to questions in one of the
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sessions where you get questions from the audience, and somebody asked me if i was really there. i said, yes i was, and i remember sitting behind third base and watching dave ruth -- baby ruth -- babe ruth pointing to center field and following up with the famous shot. after the discussion, when everybody had left, a young man came up to me, he may have been a bankruptcy judge and not as young a man as he seemed --
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[laughter] he said he did not want to be responsible for embarrassing me in front of the crowd, but that his grandfather had been in the bleachers, and the ball had landed by him and they had saved it and had a souvenir. the implication was that i was dead wrong for having said that the ball went over it the center field scoreboard. my lesson from that was that maybe seniors memories are not as good as they should be. maybe they do not remember things as well as they should. earlier this year, i was interviewed about this event. i told him just what i told you, that you have to be careful about trusting the memory of senior citizens. he wrote that in the article and indicated that maybe what i had to say was not entirely reliable. [laughter] after i read the article, a thought came to me.
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they but ruth hit two home runs that day -- babe ruth hit two home runs that day. so, i gave my locklear to the assignment of finding out what happened -- might law clerk the assignment of finding out what happened to the home run that he called. she said there were many newspaper articles that made it perfectly clear that it went right out over center field. so i made a mistake in assuming that i had not correctly remembered. other than congratulating it jim and dan for their well earned trophies, and waiting with great interest to see what our solicitor general has to say, by thank you very much for your attendance and for your
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warm welcome. [applause] >> may i have a moment. your honor, we knew you were a cubs fan. now that you are retiring, you will have more time to go to cubs games. this is for you. [applause] [applause] >> elena kagan is a less of a chicago figure than the justice stevens and was not at the 1932 chicago world series.
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-- elaine and kagan is less of a chicago fixture then justice stevens and was not of the 1932 world series. but she too served on the seventh circuit. she began her academic career at the university of chicago, joining its faculty in 1991. i got to know her on strolls between the law school and the quadrangle club, where the faculty exchange ideas around a
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round table. she specialized in a labor law and administrative law. the administrative side mmst have one out, for in 1995 she joined the administration as one of president clinton's policy wonks. she was sucked even further into administration when she became dean of the harvard law school, which was a disaster for chicago, because she knew just which members of the faculty to recruit, and which delors would best attempt to them eased. harvard is -- which lures would best tempt them east. fortunately, before she managed to hire the entire faculty, and she returned to washington. i think that being the solicitor general is the second best lawyer's job in the world, right after being a deputy solicitor general.
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[laughter] what is the difference, you may wonder? the deputy general spent 100% of his or her time doing interesting legal work, while the solicitor general is expected to give speeches. not as many as a dean at has to deliver, but quite a few. so, here she is doing to the speech thing. this audience has been treated to several of her predecessors. she is certainly going to add to the interest of this speech. i give you elena kagan, the solicitor general of the united states. [applause] >> thank you so much. thank you everybody. thank you for your hospitality
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here. thank you all for your hospitality here. when i was first asked it to come and speak at this event i thought, how terrific. i love chicago. i love the seventh circuit. it would be my honor to do so. i thought i would speak about my job as solicitor general and tell you a little bit about what it is like to have the second best job in the united states. in light of recent events, i thought that would not be the right thing to talk about. the only appropriate subject tonight is justice stevens and his extraordinary career. [applause] all you need to know about justice stevens is what he told you about my exchange with him earlier today when i was coming
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out here and i looked at the program, and i saw on the program, "remarks by justice stevens," and, "addressed by elena kagan." i thought the order did not make any sense at all. i tried to communicate that to him, but he would have none of it. he insisted that he was just a humble, retiring supreme court justice, and that the solicitor general should give the speech. we are going to try to turn the tables a little bit and make sure that the focus remains on justice stevens here tonight, and i think this is going to embarrass you greatly. i hope it embarrasses you greatly, but that is what we are going to do.
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if you have read the newspapers at the last month or so, justice stevens has been in the newspapers quite a lot, as you may have noticed. you will notice that not only did it justice stevens announce his resignation, but as judge easterbrook said, justice stevens turned 90 in april. he himself has warned that this is so common that he was born in april 1920. i personally do not believe it. it is not just that he looks so darn good. i said to somebody last year that he was starring in his own private benjamin but since moving -- benjamin buttons movie. he continues to do more work than just about any other justice.
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this is true. he drafts of his own opinions. he reviews thousands of surreptitious by himself. i hope it will not annoy people on the court to say that i never understood what law clerks do exactly. now i know. he gives them assignments about home runs. [laughter] it is not just justice stevens mind continuing to have all of the quality of a steel trap, but anyone who watches the case at the supreme court, and it could be about the first amendment or about some other law, anybody who watches a case
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knows that his mind cuts through a glass. the real reason for my skepticism about his age has nothing to do with that, but something else entirely. it is an age when a person could be forgiven for thinking that he knows what he knows, and that what he knows is enough. it is an age when people could be forgiven for thinking that. justice stevens, instead, approaches every single day of his life and every case on the supreme court dockets with both in the hope and the expectation that he will learn something from them.
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justice stevens said a few years ago, he said, "learning on the job is essential to the process of judging." today, no less than he did 35 years ago when he began his supreme court service, justice stevens is curious, engaged. his mind is open and questioning. his essential stance, notwithstanding his awesome talent and intellect, his essential stance is one of genuine modesty and humility. anyone who has had the privilege of arguing in the court of justice stevens, as i have had in the past year, will know what i am talking about. there is both modesty and extraordinary intellect. i thought i would give you a bit of a sense tonight of what
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an advocate he is for the solicitor general, what justice stevens looks like through the solicitor general's eyes. he is surely the only justice on the supreme court to ask your permission to ask a question. halfway through an argument, sometimes more than halfway, sometimes when the red light is just going on. coming from justice stevens, "may i ask you a question?" or, "could you help me on this?" or, "i have been wondering about just a basic thing." justice stevens once said to me, "how can you say that?"
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i thought, wow, if you have gotten justice stevens to say that, you must have done something pretty terrible. mostly, he is -- it is extraordinary courtesy emanates from him. i want to tell you that if you ever argue -- well i guess you can not anymore, argue in front of justice stevens, be aware that he has an extraordinary argument internally. his instructions almost invariably cut to the heart of the legal case and leave absolutely no room for evasion and no room for escape. i am going to quote one of the
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most experienced supreme court advocate of our times, who has argued before justice stevens more than 50 times. carter phillips says, "i think what this english as -- what distinguishes justice stevens are his hypothetical. they really forced the advocate to understand the limits of his or her theory of the case. my favorite was in the n.c.a.a. versus darcanian. when he asked whether united airlines would be a state actor, if o'hare airport was the government entered -- government entity manager, if the united employee could not be fired from the terminal he operated from, the lawyers did their for more than 30 seconds
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saying nothing -- stood there for more than 30 seconds saying nothing until justice scalia leaned forward and told him,'the answer you are looking for is no'." you can always count on justice scalia for some good lines like that. carter phillips continues, "justice stevens always ask the hardest hypothetical, and he did it so gently that the effect was particularly devastating. often, these gentle, unassuming questions point the way for
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resolution." i mentioned before that justice stevens' questions very frequently come late in an argument. bides his time before actively engaging council. this is, i think, because justice stevens is simply the best listener on the court. said another way, he is the person who most understands the value of listening. he listens to learn himself, and he listens to understand what is on the minds of his colleagues, so that when he does step in, he does so with a real sense, a real understanding, of what matters in the case, of what may move his colleagues, what approaches might bridge differences and attract a majority. that aspect of his questioning might be viewed as strategic in nature.
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indeed, ever since justice stevens announced his resignation, we have heard a good deal about how he has served as a strategic leader for one part of the court. this, i think, misunderstand justice stevens' essential nature and quality. if he is influential, and we know that he is extraordinarily so, and if he has built coalitions and forged alliances, and we know that he has, even in circumstances where none would have expected it, it is, i think, because his colleagues recognize him as a person a sterling integrity and independence, constant and clear
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in his convictions, and ever faithful to his core principles. it is because his colleagues rightly see him as a truth- seeker. it is because his colleagues know that every day he has done at the job, for 35 years, he has sought to learn in it and learned from it. so, i will close in good supreme court style with a question and an answer. question: may i ask, could i have help with just a simple point, how fortunate was in this country to have justice steven'' service in these last 35 years. answer: justice stevens, this country was fortunate beyond all measure.
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and thank you, justice stevens. [applause] >> starting monday, watched the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee a line at kagan. will testify before the senate judiciary committee and she aims to replace justice john paul stevens who is retiring. what the hearing beginning at 12:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3, spanish radio and c- -- c-span radio and c-
10:22 pm we continue our look at related supreme court programming, now with a discussion on the newly published book, "the supreme court." it is based on a documentary with current and former justices treated this is one hour 30 minutes. -- a former justices. this is one hour 30 minutes. >> of the hon. chief justice an associate justices of the supreme court of the united states. >> something different is going on here than what goes on in the capitol building. you need to appreciate how important is to our system of government. >> this is the highest court in the land. the framers created it after studying the great lawgivers in history. >> the government concedes that
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the destruction of documents in a proceeding -- a line >> you do not sit here to make the law, to decide who you want to win, we decide who wins under the law of the people have adopted. >> you would be surprised of the high level of collegiality here. >> we're here to decide and we decide. >> we cannot have a decision of this court. >> why is it that we have an elegant, astonishingly beautiful imposing structure? it is to remind us that we have an important function and to remind the public when it seized the building of the importance of the centrality of the law. >> it amazes me and gives me faith in our country to know how much people trust the courts of.
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>> i think that the danger is that sometimes you come into a building like this and think it is all about you or that you are important. that is something that i do not think works well as in this job. >> good evening and welcome, my name is susan swain and i am with c-span. we have our 270 colleagues and with a c-span. dr. james billington, the staff of the library that arco hosting us this evening. welcome to our timely discussion about the supreme court of the united states. that video was the opening of a documentary about the history of the supreme court that we released last fall.
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just about this time last year, a colleague wrote a letter to the chief justice asking it c- span could bring high-definition cameras inside the marble halls of the court to tell the history of the stately building just one block from here. if c-span could bring cameras inside the halls of the noble court to tell the story that happened just a block away from here. we have previously done so with the white house and the capital. the chief said yes and we began by bringing our cameras, disturbing the many times in the day and night over the next couple of months. it seemed logical to us to write letters to each of the justices asking if they will participate in the project. justice stephen briar was the first to say yes, offering us a tour of his chambers. to our amazement, one by one, all of the other justices said yes. and soon we found we had the opportunity to interview all
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nine sitting justices and the two retired justices, the first time in history that all 11 of them had ever appeared on camera for any project. not surprisingly, it was the first interview granted by new justice so vote -- sonia sotomayor and the only interview with justice david souter, who is notoriously camera shy. when the documentary was finished and we have these marvelous transcripts, we knew we had something special that ought to be recorded for the ages. we asked our colleagues at public affairs publishers in york city who have worked with us in the past if it would be interested in helping us publish a book. this is the brand new book on the supreme court, which came out in a timely way -- last week, just in time for the president's new nomination to the supreme court. and on the noon of its publication, we thought it would be appropriate to talk more about how the supreme court functions. tonight, we are pleased to have
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with us three of the people who are closely associated with the court, three panelists who were involved in this project. i will tell you about them later. and we're also pleased to have a justice bork himself here to talk to us for a bit. before we get to that, i would like to introduce dr. don van ee, who brought it wonderful archive that we had in the reception area earlier. he is going to tell us about that. >> good evening, and welcome to the library of congress. i'm a historian with the library of congress. it is particularly fitting that this event be held here because this is the most marvelous place to study in the history of the court. all of the resources, including
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a manuscript division, include all of the chief justices of the court, which is more than any other repository. we have the papers of the nine members who sat on thes of- bourne scored in that pivotal era of 1953 to 1969. we also have a number of wonderful items online. and some of the individual pieces that you saw next store may be accessed over the internet, including letters from jefferson and letters from the justices commending the chief justice' on the monumental decision of brown vs. board of
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education. in the more recent collection, they have opened that of harry blackmun. it was quite an interesting occasion because just -- justice blackmun saved in virtually every piece of paper that he ever collected, including his dance cards and critiques of what the petitioners and respondents were in oral arguments. [laughter] and sometimes greeted them. -- graded them. [laughter] these papers are accessible to everyone on an equal basis. and of course, partial to the manuscript division, i would like to give a shout out to the wonderful library of congress, which is a market -- marvelous repository and i know from experience -- basically, the bulk of my experience was in the jefferson building.
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[applause] >> i neglected to mention that this event is being televised live on c-span3 and is streamed live on tonight. and in classic c-span style, it would not be a production without having you involved. the panel will be open for your questions and observations about the court and we look forward to the things you are interested in talking about. let me talk about our wonderful presenter, justice stephen brier. he is the first to say yes because he is interested in helping people be educated about how the court functions. he opened his chambers to us and when you see this clipqjcu thati have for you, you will see that very naturally, justice breyer has spent a long time as a professor because he helps educate people in a personal way
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about how the court operates. let's take a look. >> we decide just the federal questions, those statutes, books, and what the prosecution of the united states means in cases where people disagree about it. we have a trial. there are appeals. when you finally get to the final appeal, maybe there are 80,000 cases, 100,000 cases in the u.s. that have questions of federal law. what does this word mean? does it mean this or that? what does the word liberty in the 14th amendment mean? how does it apply to someone who once and assisted suicide? that is a case we had. does he have a constitutional right to it or not? it could be an important case, or the meaning of one of those patented words. no. [laughter] of those thousands, of 80,000 that he ask us to hear those cases, that means about 150 per
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week. 150 what? 150 request to hear cases. here they are for this week. so, what we do is read through these and we all read all of them i'm going to qualify this in a minute. we all look at all of them. and then we vote. we meet in conference and we vote. if there are four of us that want to hear any of these cases, we will hear it. >> without any further ado, let brier.roduce justice stephen -- breyer. [applause] >> thank you, that was very good. i mean, you cut out the qualification, which is that there is a pool of 30 clerks in the building and they read all of those and then divide them up and each week 5. then i get a stack of memos like
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this. i can go back and read them, but i do not usually. it depends on the memo. people know how the court works, i say, in a couple of hours i can reduce it from a stack like this to hear. the reason i can do that is not because i'm such a genius. the reason is because we have a% criterion and that is what we want people to know. the criterion is that people are looking not on the cases that we want decided. why would we do a better job than the lower court judge? they're looking to see whether there is a division in opinion about the meaning of the text by different judges, same text. if there is a difference of opinion, a lot is not uniform and our job is to have uniformed federal law. there are a few other criteria, too, but that is the main one. and i can do that in about a minute.
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and already, the audience is falling asleep. [laughter] and this is really the problem. the problem is the falling, and you will see why i am so pleased you did this program. not tonight, but the general program. why? because we know because we can read the federalist papers that hamilton was really the having a court, have something like the last word as to what the constitution means. and why? because he thought, i cannot really think of anyone else that can do it. if we give that kind of power to the president, he will become a tyrant. if we give the park -- power to congress -- well, wait a minute, they will have just passed the law and it would ot doing if it were not popular. and you expect elected politicians to say that the law they just passed was popular -- that was popular is
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unconstitutional? think again. they are not likely to say it very often. theret 3ñ is only one place lefo go. that is this group of rather obscure, sort of bureaucratic type people called judges. few have heard of them. they do not have much power, not for the person or the sword. -- the purse or the sword. and they probably will not get carried away with this too often. and that is his argument. but what is interesting to me is no where, once you accept that, does hamilton address the obvious question. if these people are so obscure, if they have never even been heard of, and in particular, if they do not have political power, why will people do what they say? and that is a very important and interesting point. and i find it absolutely
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fascinating. because the longer you go, the more you will realize that people carry out a decision that is unpopular and could even be really wrong. the first is vital, because one of the jobs of the court, and a main one, is to protect people who are unpopular because the least popular have the same rights as to the constitution. and one of our jobs is to protect that person unless the public decides that they carry out the right decision. which means if they carry it out when it is right, then they better carry it out when it is wrong. we can do it intellectually and you can do it in your columns, but it is not the principal. do you see dylan? what i see is that -- do you see
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the dilemma? when i see is that it is not about the institution. it is not about the judges. we are trusties there for a while. but you are part of it, too. the problem with all of us is that if this institution is not accepted by the american public as important to them, well, no one will do what they say and then there will not be the protection that is written into the constitution that the court helps to extend. we have to be popular as an institution. how can we be popular? we cannot be popular by making popular decisions. i mean, we could, and you should not make the decision the opposite way just because it would be popular. but really, hamilton put us there to put the cap -- power in court to make certain that there would be decisions made when that is what the constitution demands.
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-- what the constitution demands and it is unpopular. you see the dilemma. you have got to get the public to want to support an institution that in a rowboat -- inevitably will make decisions, and should make decisions, that i do not like. what can we do about that? and by the way, sometimes when they do not like the decision because they think is wrong, they are right. it is wrong. and sometimes it is not true. sometimes it is right. we can go through history. %%how we treated the indians -- the indians and when jackson was president and about the difficulties of segregation and desegregation.
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public gradually coming along. but how, to go back to the question, can we bring them along without just writing things they like? i do not have an answer. it is lovely to ask questions you have no answer to. [laughter] that is why it is so hard for me to ask questions in oral argument. i am trying to ask questions, but they have to be questions i already know the answer to and were written about, so nobody understands the question. note -- [laughter] the answer has to be in part to tell people what we do. and when i say we, i do not mean just these judges today, and i do not even mean just the judges. that is why i love this film. because it did not just have judges. because it showed more about the institution than that. it showed a the judges, who aren't there temporarily. i will not say that is a -- who
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are there temporarily. i will not say that is a bad thing. it showed the building, which i think is part of it, not because of its grandeur, but what it symbolizes. it showed the lawyers who understand it well from the client's point of view, and they are there to help those clients. and they showed it from the present point of view, too, and it is the press that has to communicate and it can only communicate by understanding the institution and trying to transmit what we do. all of that is in this film. moreover, it is very interesting. [laughter] and i say that because remember, remember might minute of explanation -- my minute of expedition. and what i try to do is to explain what a case is a really about. it is hard to do that and keep people awake for more than five minutes of that explanation because they are long and complicated.
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but they can be very important. but they caution that does not make them less complicated or easier to explain. -- but that does not make them less complicated or easier to explain. there you have why i think what you're doing and what you did is helpful not just to me as a person, but to me as an institution. i say you are there to benefit americans who have to understand it. thanks. [applause] >> thank you so much. justice breyer was nominated by president clinton and took a seat on the court in 1994. before coming there, he had the interesting observation of seen the court from the other side of the street. he served as counsel to the u.s. senate judiciary committee, giving him an interesting
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perspective. as i noted, he was a professor at harvard, which we can see from his approach to helping us understand the court. and before that, served from 1980 to 1990 as the chief of the circuit. over the years, in our quest to understand how the supreme court operates, since it is closed to cameras, we have turned again and again to reporters who cover it. i see my old friend, tony moyers, we have been calling on for 20 years to help us understand. pleased to have you here. i am sure in neglecting others. we thank you for that. we have invited to a vote of folks who participated in our documentary and -- we invited two people aboard is a bit in our documentary we have the dean of the supreme court press corps, which means he has been covering the court for longer
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than anyone else, 52 years now. that means he has covered one of every four of the 111 justices to serve the court. he worked at the "baltimore sun" before he had his blog, where he regularly report on the decisiins of the court. would you join me? joan biskupic is a supreme court reporter for "usa today" and has been covering the court since 1989. we have learned that folks who cover the court stay there for a long time. it is a complex institution and a small community. their tenure is recalling long once they are there. she is a lawyer and has just finished her second biography of justice is on the court. first was on saturday o'connor, her most recent one, which we are featuring tooight and will have copies for sale later on. and they got -- and a biography
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of justice antonin scalia. john, would you please join me? and for a nother -- joan, would you please join me? and for another perspective, we have askkd marine money to join us tonight -- maureen mahoney to join us tonight. she has won 22 of the cases that she has argued before the court. she is known as recently for presenting the university of michigan and the affirmative action case that she won. her first case before the court was in 1988 and also brings varying perspectives because she served as a clerk to the justice william rehnquist and served as a time as deputy solicitor general. thanks for being here. as our panelists take their seats, i would like to do this. the book is edited transcripts of the interviews that we have recorded. we have picked a number of them tonight so that you can continue
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to hear the justices in their own words. first, we're going to start with the big news, which is the new appointment of elena kagan. what is interesting is that the court was on an 11-year stretch with those changes what -- with no changes. since 2005, there are new appointments to the court. each of the justices talk to us about the dynamics on the court and how it changes when a new member joins. let's listen. >> to some extent, it is unsettling. you quickly get to view the court as the court, as composed of these members, and it becomes hard to think of it as involving anyone else. i suspect it is the way people think of their families. how could it be different -- different? but you do get new arrivals in both of those situations. >> it is a new court. when i was trying jury cases, which is usually 12, if a juror
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had to be replaced it was just a different dynamic. it was a different jury. this will be the same. this will be a very different court. and is -- it is stressful for us because we so admire our colleagues. we wanted to ever be the same. but i have great admiration for the system. the system works. >> i think is healthy for the court to have members with different backgrounds. i think -- i saw a television program recently where somebody said there should always be someone i had -- there should always be someone who has served in the armed forces. i think there's always be someone who has practical experience -- there should always be someone who has bartow experience in litigation. -- who has experience in that litigation. >> i am not going to ask questions. i'm going to turn to our of panelists to jump in about how a
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new member changes the court. >> they are always younger than me. [laughter] which perhaps, is a sad fact because we could use a little more wisdom around there sometimes. [laughter] as we all surely know, wisdom comes with age. [laughter] it is literally true that every new member of the court brings with that person's nomination and confirmation a new court. justice breyer and others can tell you what it is like on the inside. but it is one of the first things that you begin to notice, how lawyers come before the court and start trying to pick up that new vote. and so early in the tenure of a new justice it would not be surprising at all to see counsel before the court undertake to
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try to reach out to that person. on this court, however, and on a number of the courts that i have covered, you will always start out by trying to appeal to a anthony kennedy because kennedy is likely to be a swing vote if the court is at all divided. the service, it is deeply divided. but the dynamic of around the courthouse from the perspective of the press room is that there is always a shake down timeframe when a new justice comes on. i remember harry blackmun telling me about sandra o'connor. he said, that woman came here with an agenda and started throwing her weight iran and from the first day. -- her weight around from the first day. [laughter] i do recall that she spent the
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arbor of the first term that she was there and did insert yourself -- spend the november of the persian that she was there and did insert herself. it is literally true that the court does change, and we see it with each new justice because we know, at least those that pay fairly close attention to it, that is not necessarily predictable that you can note easily which five will constitute a majority in any given case. >> it is exciting for us to cover a new justice because it gives us a new court and we 7fk&-háhem in public playing off each other. justice harry blackmun about sandra day o'connor, usually those things do not become evident with the justice's own words. we watch from the bench and see
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the dynamic opinions. it's one thing that just as prior might have mentioned if he had gone on about what it would be like to be the junior justice for those 11 years before we have the addition of justice roberts and justice alito is that he had to play a certain role on answering the door for the other justices in their private conference, bringing them coffee, taking notes. we watch how they play off each other in public, but it reveals about -- a bit about what has gone on privately. it is going to be unusual to send the have a second justice so quickly. -- suddenly have a second justice so quickly. we're all just getting used to justice sotomayor, and if things go smoothly as i believe they will for elena kagan, she will come on soon and that will be another court and lost more news for those of us who follow the justices. >> from and advocates perspective, it will change the
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dynamic of the argument somewhat, but the preparation is the same. if you are preparing for argument and you are trying to figure out every possible question any justice of any name might ask, and it could come from anyone at any time, i think the preparation is largely the same. it will be harder to predict where justice kagan will come out on various cases with justice -- on various cases because justice stevens has this wealth of opinions in virtually every -- every area of the law that you can consult when trying to figure out how you might look at this. there is some uncertainty in that respect, but you never really know where they are going to come out until you read the opinion anyway. for the advocate, it will not be a huge difference. >> i am going to throw my colleague for a loop because i'm already off script here, but i would like to show a video about the relationships among the judges, which is very while -- very well provide -- typified by
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this discussion. . . he is a very amusing fellow. he sat next to me on the d.c. circuit bench. when justice o'connor was with us, he could say something that
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was so outrageous or so funny that i had to stop myself from laughing out loud in the courtroom. >> every one of the justices made arguments about the levity on the court. really an institution where there is a great report between them? >> i think they all really did get along. justice brennan really white stallion -- really liked scalia. they are pals. justice brennan and justice marshall crossed the ideological lines to be friends with the
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conservatives. they were all lower court judges. all of them were accustomed to enjoying each other's company and not getting into the rivalries that politicians may get into. >> if you have been around the court when people like black and frankfurt were together, they do not always get along. they are seriously tested when try to get the work done. when warren burger was the chief justice, it was a very unhappy court. warren burger was, himself, a rather small person, not one of the giants of the court history. but he was not able to keep a
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court that was reasonably agreeable with each other. there was a lot of back-biting that was going on there. in fact, we felt it in the press rent because of warren burger had a public information officer whom he assigned the task of collecting and writing down notes about what the reporters said as they stood around the courtroom. when this public information officer was succeeded by another public information officer, she discovered all of these notes of what these reporters had said standing around looking for opinions. warrant did not trust us. one time we offered to pay rent in the press room because we thought if we paid rent that we would actually be better off.
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burger king immediately said, " no, we will not allow you to pay rent because all renters have rights." i think the court that sat together for 11 years did get along well. it was important for the court house itself. it was a very small place. you do not spend a very many much their without encountering justice here and there around the building. they do not always stoop to eating in the cafeteria is like the rest of the cali police -- hoi polloi do. sometimes when you watch them on the bench you begin to wonder how pleasant it is going to be when they get behind the curtains and start talking about
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it. they are not quite at each other's throats, but they are taking apart each other's arguments as the court lawyer says they're hoping to get a word in edgewise. it is a happy place most of the time. with the isolation that you experience, that is something a lot of reporters that come to the court do not really realize how isolated it is. it is not a political institution. it does not work that way. they do not hold press conferences, although sometimes they will. it is, in fact, a very remote kind of place. it is easy to become part of. if there is any risk that a reporter has, it is the difficulty of remaining detached
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from the institution. after a while, you do develop a habit of saying, "i really do not care what the outcome is, i only care about understanding what it is pure "there are different styles in covering the court. tony, for example, is more interested in which justice is kicking each other's tires. >> i believe justice ginsberg. i believe she is telling the truth. >> we had a chance to talk to justice sotomayor literally two
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days after she joined the court. we after for perspective. >> we want the people to get to note that justice. i was the selection is made, most americans will never again have an opportunity to actually hear the justice talk or to learn anything about them. and so, it gives the american people that chance. i think that is what i learned. that may be the most important purpose of the court. questions over three d


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