Sadness Envelops Supreme Court’s Last DayJune 28, 2010 - 11:39 AM | by: Lee Ross
The justices took 75 minutes Monday to read their opinions and dissents in four eagerly awaited opinions but it was a somber feel in the courtroom from start to finish that had nothing to do with the outcomes of the decisions the justices reached.
As soon as the justices entered the courtroom, Chief Justice John Roberts said he had the sad duty to announce the death of Martin Ginsburg, husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At the end of the session, Roberts also read a letter in honor of Justice John Paul Stevens who is retiring after 35 years on the bench.
Justices Ginsburg and Stevens were in the courtroom Monday.
Mr. Ginsburg died Sunday from complications related to cancer. He was 78 years old.
Roberts told the courtroom how the pair had met on a blind date while in college. He called Ginsburg a dear friend and praised his culinary skills. Ginsburg was an accomplished law professor.
Following the announcement of the day’s opinions, the Chief Justice read a letter of praise on behalf of all members of the current court and two retired justices remarking on the career and contributions of Stevens.
“We will miss your wisdom, your perceptive insights and vast life experience, your unaffected decency and resolute commitment to justice,” the letter read before concluding that “the bonds of friendship that we have forged extend beyond our common endeavor.”
Roberts then allowed Stevens to make some remarks joking that they could be used as rebuttal. Stevens then thanked the members of the Court and the building’s staff for a “warm and enduring friendship.” His voice was choked by emotion on several occasions and said he was privileged to have served so long in what he called a unique and wonderful job.
Even though this was the Court’s final sitting there is one matter of unsettled business before the Court rises for its summer recess. The justices will meet behind closed doors for their final conference. This meeting will address some cases that remain pending and that includes their decision on whether to take controversial campaign finance. The Chief Justice announced that their final order list would come Tuesday at 1000.
Here is the Letter From Justice Stevens:
Collegiality and independence characterize ourcommon endeavor. I thank you for your kind words. Far more importantly, Maryan and I thank each of you and each of your spouses – present and departed -for your warm and enduring friendship.
It has been an honor and a privilege to share custodial responsibility for a great institution with the eight of you and with ten of your predecessors. I have enjoyed working with each ofyou and with every member of the Supreme Court workforce that has always taken such excellent care ofthe Justices. If I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job.
I wish you all the best.