Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
- Catching up on Constitutional Law readings only to have to do the same for Housing Law and Corporations
- Scrambling to plan another workshop for my at-risk Boston teens
- Having to leave actually leading that workshop to my partner because our ride to Dorchester was half an hour late, and if I correspondingly got back to Cambridge late I would miss seeing dear friends compete in the Ames Moot Court semifinals
- Seeing those friends demolish the competition and become Ames finalists, a huge deal at Harvard, but then doing a lot of congratulatory socializing I really had no time to do
- Giving up lunchtimes to my Community Action partner, TAP Intake Committee, and mandatory (though admittedly great) movie screenings for Corporations class
- Training a team of 1Ls on technical editing for my journal... at 9 p.m., because it was the only time they all had free
- And last, but most definitely not least, dropping everything to work late into the night on a court complaint I was wildly under-qualified to write, for a client who spent the last week calling our office to complain about me, but whom no one else would help because of a 24-hour-away filing deadline my supervisor had failed to mention a week earlier, when some (qualified) legal services office could probably still have helped. Seriously.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
It’s a gorgeous week in Cambridge, with sunshine and temperatures over fifty degrees for several days now. This made it much easier to drag myself out of bed Monday morning no matter how exhausted and sore I was from an amazing ski weekend in Maine with friends!
But once I get to class each day, I'm reminded of another reason to be glad I got up: my Constitutional Law class has just reached the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which our professor sees as a great opportunity to give us a sense of the rich social and historical context and personal dynamics between the Justices affecting such a major decision.
So we get to hear about Justice Jackson’s lifelong hatred of Justice Black, partly based on the suspicion that Black personally visited President Truman to threaten to resign if Jackson were made Chief Justice. Jackson retaliated by sending a telegram to Congress and the press calling Black irresponsible for failing to recuse himself in a case argued by a former law partner. (There were calls for both Justices to resign at this point because of the embarrassment they’d caused the Court, but both stuck around.)
We've heard about the bitter dislike between Justice Frankfurter and Justice Douglas, who became a leading expert at taunting Frankfurter during their years together on the court. During oral arguments, he loved to pass Frankfurter snide notes saying lawyers who were floundering under the Court’s questioning must have been Frankfurter’s star pupils when he was a professor. Douglas would also begin his comments in conference, which he made right after Frankfurter due to seniority, by saying he’d arrived expecting to vote the same way as Frankfurter but had just been persuaded otherwise.
My professor also notes that even the Justices most at odds with each other were united in their dislike for Chief Justice Vinson. Apparently, Justice Frankfurter once referred to Vinson’s death as the only evidence he’d ever seen for the existence of God.
Apart from the hilarity of seeing Supreme Court justices call each other “vegetable” and "son of a bitch" left and right, it's amazing to learn how one of the most famous unanimous opinions in Supreme Court history arose from such discord. It strikes me as lucky—or perhaps genius—that the professor hits this section of the syllabus just as spring fever hits the student body. Even with this lovely weather and the upcoming break to distract us, there’s still a very good reason to show up and listen.