A friend of mine donated a lot of money to the Reagan Library, so she gets invited to attend their lecture series. Last fall, she invited me to see Sandra Day O'Connor speak--it was totally awesome. I told her it was like seeing a rock star--I was very excited. Justice O'Connor was able to somehow explain why she voted the way she did in Gore v. Bush and for that moment I didn't think there'd been a coup. (Yes there is a p on the end, but it's silent--the French must hate p.)
This week, my friend once again invited me to join her to hear CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERT!!! I was so knocked out. WOW. He looks very young, but he was actually a 20 something young attorney in the Reagan white house. I guess I was 20 something when Reagan was in the white house, so that can't be so old. He's a terrific speaker and I tried to memorize what he was saying to no avail. He spent some time thanking the Reagan Library archive staff for getting together 60,000 documents for congress to review in his confirmation hearing and at dinner, the centerpiece included some of the memo's he'd written in the white house. There was one in which a fellow from France had the same name as the president and had written a letter to ask the president to write him a letter confirming that he was not related to the president. John Robert as attorney for the president advised in the memo that maybe it was not a good idea to write the letter because the fellow Reaggan in France had used a picture of the white house on his last album cover and it was suspected that he wanted to use a letter from the president for commercial purposes. However, John Robert did suggest that further investigation was needed and that he volunteered to go to France to interview the fellow.
On philosophy grounds, he said that the United States is governed by law, not men, such that public opinion and personal prejudices do not influence the interpretation of the law. Unfortunately for me, as an attorney I know darn well that smart people can make the law say whatever they want it to. I'm pretty convinced that he's a very smart fellow.
On a funny note, he was asked the difference between his role as an appellate court judge and a supreme court justice. He said, well, as an appellate court judge I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the Supreme Court meant, and now, not so much. If you can't laugh, you'd have to cry.
It was very cool to be in the room (although a little claustrophobic from so many republicans all in one place) and at dinner my table was terribly impressed that I was an attorney. They wanted to know my opinion about the South Dakota law banning abortion and how soon the Supreme Court would get the case. The John Roberts I saw is not going to take that case the way it'll be presented from South Dakota, but other very smart people are out there figuring out the case he will take and we all know it's coming.
My high school class always wants me to have a debate about abortion and they want my opinion, but I keep reframing the debate. It's important to remember that it's not really about abortion at all, it's about the right to privacy. I reread Roe v. Wade to my class last semester and I came across an argument I hadn't remembered. The ninth amendment says that the Bill of Rights is not exclusive and that nothing in the Constitution limits other rights that we have. I don't know about the other smart people in the room, but the right to dictate what happens to my body seems pretty inalienable to me. Of course the founding fathers had slaves, so there you go. It's coming. I just had a thought. My favorite "ah ha" moment was in the movie "Broadcast News" when the Albert Brooks character describes the devil--he'll be very good looking and charming and everyone will think what a great guy he is. I do believe that John Robert will be an excellent Chief Justice, even if he is the devil. My Gemini is showing.