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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 28, 2013 9:00pm-10:56pm EST

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georgetown university and mentioned she was having suicidal feelings about the assassination but decided that would not be the way to go. >> and with children? >> and with children. >> so we're going to close with >> we are going to close with jackie kennedy's voice one more time. it talks about her white house years. >> once you are in the white house, i felt like i could get out. as strong as the white house can , it was getting me down a little bit. go up to new york or go see your sister in italy? it was for a sad reason this year. he thought i was getting pressed after losing patrick did -- after losing patrick.
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i thought, i can go out. i can go to a restaurant in new york or and antique shop. i used to worry about going into the rock -- into the white house. it was really the happiest time of my life. going to the white house and she found out they were the happiest times of her life. sheere is the case where had a much different impact as first lady. may not have been the ones that people thought about at the time. >> you suggest she was a transformational first lady and set the stage where those to follow. how so? >> away her generation was a bridge between traditional wives and mothers and the post women's liberation of the modern era. ast is exactly how she was first lady. there were traditional first lady's receding her and
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afterwards, they were much more modern, still partners with their husbands and picking a particular policy to work on. kennedy tapesine are widely available. you can listen to her own voice -- >> wonderful. >> everyone should have it. thanks to both of you for being at the table tonight. >> thank you for everything you are doing. >> it has been a joy for all of us to learn along the way. have a good evening and thank you for being with us. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] ♪
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>> president obama and his family are celebrating a quiet thanksgiving at the white house. the obamas sealed the executive mansion rather than go to camp david. the menu included turkey, honey bank ham, torn bread stuffing, oyster stuffing, green beans and green bean casserole. mashedotatoes and potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and dinner rolls.
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for dessert, they had a choice of nine pies, including huckleberry pie, he can pie, chocolate cream pie, sweet potato pie, banana cream pie, or coconut cream pie. the guest list was not made public. it is not clear how many joined the president and first lady and her daughters, sasha and malia. quick it was like shock and awe. i saw the look he had on his face and i can close my eyes and see him on the stretcher right now. i can see him putting his hand up. i can see his eyes. i can just close my eyes and i can see him. i will never forget that first case sort of bringing me to reality of what was going on here. after he got into the tent, there was initial triage. we get the report and we see him. he goes into the tent and everyone starts to work.
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the other team starts to work. , myself and myn colleague that wrote the forward foreword, we both got pulled in because the other team wanted us to begin right away. they did not want us to be bystanders. they said, you guys have to get involved right away. once they did that, they pulled us in, it was like a jolt. it was like, wake up. now you have to act. you have to be a doctor. you have to be a surgeon. you have to be a care provider. you have to dismiss your emotion and tuck that away, what you are feeling, and just work now. you have one objective. you have to save this guy's life. you have to stop the bleeding and you have to get him back home to his family. >> in his first book, he uses his own military experience is to write about physicians working in afghanistan.
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more sunday night at 8:00 on c- span. >> our thanksgiving day lineup continues here on c-span with supreme court justices. we begin with clarence thomas, who talks about his life before and after his appointment. then elena kagan on the workings of the nation's highest court. we will look at policy in the u.s. with a doctor that posted a youtube video that went viral, called sugar and the biddulph -- and the bitter truth. next "washington discussing efforts to raise the minimum wage. and then we will look at michael lotus' book. that, we will talk about federal funding of the arts.
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plus, your e-mails, phone calls, and tweets. live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c- span. >> a discussion now with supreme court justice clarence thomas. he spoke at the federalist society's national lawyers convention and talk about his life on the court and what it was like to get there. this is about 50 minutes. [applause] >> thank you, david. could evening, everyone. it is my great honor and pleasure to introduce our distinguished guest this evening. although much of what i might say by way of introduction is no doubt familiar to all of you.
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hasice clarence thomas served with great distinction on the united states supreme court for more than two decades now. he has been a friend of the federalist society for so long that most of you in this room already know him very well. [applause] but i think it is right for us to recall the extraordinary path that he traveled to reach the nation's highest court. not for what it tells us about him, but for what it tells us about our country. justice thomas himself put it in his remarkable memoir. "i have never doubted the greatness of a country in which a person like me could travel all the way from georgia to our nations capital." clarence thomas has dissented from west african slaves who worked at a plantation in
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georgia. he was born in pinpoint, a tiny settlement near savannah, into circumstances of extreme poverty and deprivation. there was no running water in the shanty where he lived. and only a single electric light. his father abandoned the family. when he was six, the house burned down and his mother moved with clarence and his brother to a squalid tenement in savanna, where the living conditions were deplorable and there was a shortage of food. his mother could not raise the boys on the $10 per week she earned as a housekeeper. and clarence was seven, he and his younger brother were sent to live with their grandparents. their influence on him, especially that of his grandfather, myers anderson, was life-changing. as told in his wonderful memoir, his grandfather's self-reliance and ethic of hard work and personal responsibility, his insistence on the importance of
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education, and his personal dignity and strength in the face of the injustices of the taught oursouth supreme court justice everything he needed to know to meet the challenges and opportunities that were ahead of him. the sisters at saint benedict and saint pius added a few things too. [laughter] initially, young clarence thomas was called to the priesthood and he entered the seminary. the call gradually lost its strength and eight cool and bigoted comment by another extinguished. he enrolled at holly -- at holy cross college. yeah law school came next. degree,rning the elite he had difficulty finding a big- city law firm job. so he accepted an offer from the attorney general of missouri and assistant attorney
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general in jefferson city from 1974-1977. after a brief stint in corporate the thenollowed senator danforth to washington dc, just in time for the reagan revolution. years,e next dozen terrence thomas served in all three branches of government as a legislative aide to senator man's worth -- senator danforth, the equaln of opportunity employment commission, and circuit judge on the united states court of appeals for the d c circuit. along the way, he met and married virginia, his soulmate. [applause] in 1991, he was appointed to this agreement court by president george h.w. bush.
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by this time, he had emerged as an outspoken conservative. so the confirmation process exacted a personal toll. by fathering -- by following the example of his grandfather, he persevered. and our nation is very fortunate that he did. on the court, justice thomas has been a steady and committed originalist, playing a pivotal role in the recovery and restoration of the original method of constitutional interpretation. he has made substantial and important contributions to our law. both in his opinions for the courts and when writing separately. perhaps most notably in the areas of federalism and the federation of power. the jurisprudence of protection and the guarantee of trial by jury. and the law of free political speech. his opinions reflect a deeper appreciation for the liberty- protecting structure of our constitutional system. he has advanced in understanding in the constitution, informed by
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the vital truths expressed in the declaration of independence, andecting our political derivative documents. his personal fortitude is example to all who withstand the principal. please join me in welcoming clarence thomas. [applause] good evening and it is so good to see you again. [laughter]
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he was really loose at the table so i think this is going to be a lot of fun. >> thank you, thank you. i talked about in the introduction, your path to the court is a remarkable american story. i would like to begin our discussion in the middle of the story with your decision to go to law school. that was your genesis or the genesis of your journey in the law. you went to seminary and were a student at holy cross. it was the late 1960s, a very turbulent time for our country. you decided to go to law school. you are accepted at some of the best law schools in the country. recall,alled -- if i you turn down harvard law school in favor of yellow because -- in favor of yale because harvard was too big and too conservative. i get the big part. part, iconservative
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think you have to explain. >> first of all, thank you for the introduction. i should just quit while i was ahead. [laughter] this is really embarrassing. there is a lot of attention on me and it makes me uncomfortable. , i think when you come up from a part of the country and you are in new england, there are a lot of things that are happening. , the quit the seminary only dream i had ever really had. i have been a devout catholic, an altar boy, and i is skewed eschewed allngs -- of those things in 1958. license -- like most kids, you
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things. they have anks vocation, if you are in the convent or trying to be a priest. that is the orientation. i thought that law would be a substitute vocation, something similar to the priesthood, where you did well so that you could do good, so that you could go back home and do the right thing. that was all there was to it. now that is about as deep as it got. was 1968, 1969. woodstock is going on. that can be considered in the very same thinking. [laughter] >> you were something of a campus radical, weren't you? [applause]
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>> the 60s were different. [laughter] there were a lot of things breaking involving down the structure in society. i was suddenly out of the seminary and in new england. there were no rules. things were falling apart. structure, it is very difficult to navigate. i was extremely fortunate to be at holy cross. i was extremely fortunate to still have had a residual of the and thes raised structure that the nuns had given me, the structure that the seminary had given me. i was also extremely fortunate because i had already been in
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predominantly white schools. i was the only black in my high school in savannah. a transition to a school with very few blacks and a very difficult set of circumstances otherwise, i had sort of a jumpstart. i was ahead of the game. i had something. it allowed me to continue to do well even though it was very difficult. i do want to get to harvard. i do not want to get lost in that. i was a bit of a radical. that is what happens back then. you were black and things were changing. we were very upset. at a riot in harvard square, where i finally realized, this is going too far. that, as my grandfather would often tell me when he saw me, you were not raised to be that way.
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i can give you the exact date. date wasto damascus 1970,rning of april 16, the day after harry blackmun was announced for the supreme court. we were in the newspaper. that is how i knew. [laughter] so having come back from the riot at harvard square, i am not understanding exactly what i had just done. i stood in front of the chapel at holy cross and that is where i made a promise to god that if he could help me get this hatred out of my heart, i would never hate again. it is sort of ironic when i hear people trying to tell me that i am supposed to be overwhelmingly race-conscious and have this sense of get even.
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a sort of effort to get even in my life. way is the opposite of the i was raised. that is the opposite of what we believed in. it was the opposite of the deal i made with god on april 16, 1970. , harvardect to harvard was a dream. i had no plans. what do i know about harvard? i am from georgia. me, that isaid to , iimpossible as harvard would've just laughed. that was a reach for me. but i was confused. we are meeting at the radical
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bookstore and wondering why the fbi was looking at us. [laughter] you meet at a store with a little red book behind you. other people might be interested in what you're doing. and they are not all called nsa. [laughter] rate, i was accepted, to my surprise. and i went to cambridge and i remember that there were a lot of people in the law school and it was very confusing. i escaped from that madness. sort of like the scene that you see in "the stranger." having this weird experience out there. that is what happened to me at harvard. like breathless, a panic attack. i got back to holy cross and said, there is no way i can go there.
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it is big and all these people are walking around dressed up like they were going into the corporate world. back then, we were anti- corporations. i decided to go to penn. i had not been accepted at yale. i was going to go to penn law school. yale sent me, you knew you were accepted if they sent you a big packet of materials. thinnest of the letters. we are not into the catalog thing. we are yale. [laughter] not only that, but they sent it to my grandparents in georgia, who never open my mail because they could not read what was in it. so they never looked at it. ,hey essentially sent it to me so i get this hidden letter from yale. i went to yale and quite frankly
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, as bad as the things are that i may have said about yale, the experience was very beneficial to me. [applause] >> what were you hoping to do with your law degree? savannah,nna -- go to georgia. that is my number one dream. priestoing to become a to go and help. i was going to become a lawyer to go and help. it was that simple. i could not get a job in my state of georgia. it was that simple. some people make it very complicated. i could not get a job. i look at the firms in atlanta, lots of places. i got zero job offers. jack danforth, a good man. the biggest problem i had with him was he was a republican. [laughter] but i only had one job offer.
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[applause] >> tell us about what the first job meant to you and your future. >> it was the best job i ever had. i learned things from jack danforth. i learned that you do not judge people or use labels, a republican versus this or that. i also learned that you can treat people fairly and be decent and honest with everybody. he was always absolutely honest and ethical. watching him be that way, you learn how to be that way with others. he was a compassionate man also. he was very good to me. day, i thank god that along the way -- again, remember, i had absolutely no one to give me guidance. i thank god that i met so many good people. elc, being protected
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by people) hatch and strom thurmond. i did not know strom thurmond. hearings andr 60 some of those were pretty brutal. every time, the people i could count on in the senate were orrin hatch and strom thurmond. [applause] in any case, that job meant everything to me because it was a model for how i would conduct myself and what to expect in the future. >> let's talk about your decision to come to d.c. in 1979. at that point, a major political shift was underway. what is now called the conservative legal movement came just a few years later. when you came here, your arrival coincided with this shift.
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it was that just a coincidence? or did you come with an affinity for the legal ideas? >> i was trying to get to savannah. jobs getting promoted in a that was a fine job with good people. that is not why i went to law school. as i said then, i was beginning to feel the golden handcuffs. and i wanted out. and i thoughtob job in 1979.uit my i was 31 years old. move,d up the u-haul to and fortuitously, again, good people looking out for me. senator danforth offered me a job. so i came here. and then i was going to savannahh. one thing led to another and i
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was -- and i wound up on the court. [laughter] [applause] honestly, people come up with all of these things. i love people with bad intent who write these things, how you did this or how you did that. it was totally forst gump -- forrest gump. i did my job and i showed up in pictures. one day, i showed up in the supreme court. i cannot give you a better story than that. >> there must have been people you turn to. in 1986 and that was the beginning of me going back to things that were most important in my life. and we prayed about everything that happened. good people who believed in me, like president bush.
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i did not know president bush when he nominated me. , ricky silverman, insisted that i think about it. [applause] larry silverman jostled me about it. -- counseled me about it. at every turn, and it will probably be boring to you all because my life is pretty boring , there were a series of good people who showed up. one of the things that became a priority, if you talk to people who come to new places and they do not have family, you can ask anyone in this room who does not have a structured family, you begin to assemble a family. that was the source of my difficulty with yale. yale had become the only family that i had.
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juncture, they abandoned me. that was the big problem. at every point, you build a family. the people i just mentioned to you became a sort of substitute family. think about it. my wife goes with me -- my wife and i are really close. [laughter] we spend a lot of time together. we go down to savannah and she sees the family and it is the pathology, in many ways, of the social experiments of the 1960s. -- mynger is gone grandparents are gone, that anchor is gone. i am sort of without that base.
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you look for people to fill that in. the people who i just mentioned to you, who gave me that guidance and became that substitute family, it was very important to me. i always think that i am blessed because god has sent all of these good people. he sent my wife. my wife is a gift that i prayed for in the 1980s. and myo the court friend, justice scalia, was there. and it was a godsend. hequickly became friends and looked out for me, that sort of thing. just the way orrin hatch and strom thurmond looked out for me or that jack danforth looked out for me. >> let's turn to your time on the court. three weeks ago, you market your 22nd anniversary. >> i did. [applause] oh, my goodness.
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>> i did not need to look that up because i have my own personal marker. heren alex, who is with me today, was born two days after you took your seat on the court. he is my own personal marker of your anniversary. waste anyyou did not of your time watching my ordeal. >> he was two weeks late. >> at least that sort of kept your mind off that. [laughter] i am trying to look for the good side of that. if you would, share a few thoughts on your initial transition to the court. how did you get your bearings on the court? how did you learn the ways of the court? >> first of all, a came through the d c circuit. the people there were fabulous, absolutely fabulous. i got advice from a good friend,
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larry silverman, who was just a wonderful mentor on the d c circuit for the entire 15 months. [laughter] and he continued to be a friend afterwards. when i got to the court, i was enormously blessed. there.hite was still but my closest ally and friend when i got there was justice scalia. [applause] at the expense of embarrassing him or the risk of it -- of embarrassing him, as beat up as i was when i got there with the workload, i do not know how i would have gotten through it if he had not been there. became, quickly, a friend.
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he began family. --and maureen just became you know what? it was not that we always agreed on every case, but we agreed quite a bit. it was that i could count on him and i could trust him. i could go and talk to him. when i wasdays getting beat up and he was a and a colleague. but oftentimes, a friend. he was very kind to me. those on the court were delightful to me. chief justice rehnquist, justice marshall, all of them, justice brennan. they all gave me sage advice, but in the end, the closest person who made it doable was
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justice scalia. changedus what has during your 10 years on the court. >> i am older. [laughter] you know, it is really interesting. i have to take my hat off to people like john stevens, people who have been there a long time. after you have been there a while, you sort of come of age and get used to that. then it changes. new colleagues, on and you make n jot -- new colleagues come o n and you make adjustments and it is a family. it is a different court. they are good people, all of them. i have been enormously fortunate. justice alito is there now and we were at yell together. yale together. [applause] he and martha ann have become
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family. you meet new people and you get new colleagues and friends. but i have to say that, with all of that, i look back on the days that i came of age as the years that i will treasure. they were really, really hard. take justiceou scalia and we were in the trenches together. you learn a lot and you treasure now the moment, but you really look act at those days as the critical days. nowve been there so long and seen a lot. back then, you were quite fresh and you are a novice. the style of the presentation of the case is changed at all? >> there are a lot of briefs and
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people have done a lot of talking. [laughter] [applause] i mean, it is law. say, when i went on the judge.i resisted being a that is not what i like. but it is your j-o-b, so you do it. now you get to a point and you see it in -- and you see it. is, this is what you're called to do. this is what i do. it is not that the words have changed, but the way you read them, the way you absorb them. i never thought that i would treasure doing my job. i have reached that point. even the most boring cases are
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fascinating. one of my clerks today was saying to me -- i was reading some opinions and he said, you need to put on your green tie shades. i said, i think it is fascinating. i think he wanted some medication for that. [laughter] but i have gotten to a point where it is like the priesthood. this is what i was called to do. i would not say enjoy, but i love what i do. [applause] , two observers from the outside, have definitely changed that the supreme court. we had the rise of the specialty supreme court bar, of course. i do not know if that has , the quality of the oral arguments. >> it is like the gargoyles or something. they are all that bad.
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[laughter] know the legal profession that well. i just show up and do my job. [laughter] >> something else has definitely changed, the kind and degree of attention that is paid to the court and its work. >> i do not follow the attention that is paid. --we now have social blogs >> i know nothing about that. >> you do not read the new media? >> god, no. i try not to read anything about what we do, because i was there. [laughter] [applause] >> fair enough. >> i really don't. i do not read. that is just hearsay. >> we will move on.
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ok. >> i am sorry i am the way i am. [laughter] >> ok, moving on. i think it is fair to say that you are the most consistent originalist on the supreme court. >> i am. [laughter] he said i was a cold-blooded originalist or something. a stout,s now he is hardened originalist. >> i am or he is? >> he is. >> he is a courageous originalist and a brilliant one. [applause] that is right. >> i think it is fair to say that you are the justice most willing to re-examine the precedents.
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>> it is because of my affinity for starry decisiveness. to keep me from going to the constitution. [laughter] [applause] i guess they do not care more for -- care much for it either. i do not mean to make light of it. >> and that is fine. i want to ask you about your approach to writing separately. you do write separately quite a bit. you support your own path in those separate opinions.
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one of your separate opinions on the application of the sixth amendment to the jury trial rights, the sentencing facts, became the majority view of the court. opinions your separate may be less likely to command the majority view. >> maybe like a fine wine, it just needs aging. >> is that your philosophy of separate opinion making? yearsie harlem took 60 but he eventually won in plessy. >> you ask a very good question. , but i that i may lose think i am obligated and encouraged by my colleagues, if you believe that, you write it. i try not to do it in a way that is not polite or respectful, but
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-- i think that someone should have kept writing that segregation was wrong. [applause] regardless of what the president was, ithe precedent think you have to say certain things. when i first went on the court, people thought that great people like bob bork and justice scalia , the originalist, everyone not a gimmick,re but sort of an oddity. introduction and the speech by jean mayer, original is and is respected. so they had to do it.
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maybe in some of these other cases, we are obligated to say what we really think. , you are more constrained. but you get cases of first impression. recedent,ident -- p perhaps, you might question. you feel obligated to say something. that is the way i feel. the other thing is that it was , in my case,nt to to go to the court, for a variety of reasons. when you go through that, you feel that you have your -- you have, you are obligated, with the blessings that you have, with the opportunities you have to do your job, to stand up for certain principles. hope -- i havei been encouraged by my
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colleagues. they have never discouraged me. they have their approach and i have mine. and you know -- if you notice, in all of those cases, i try to do it with a certain degree of respect for my colleagues. now, 100 years from someone will excavate it and say, this guy was out of his mind. i do not know. but i think -- i am one of these remembers, as a little kid, standing in the schoolyard and saying the pledge of allegiance. little black kids at an all- black school, every morning, saying the pledge of allegiance. watching tv sign offs at night with the national anthem. and high flight, which you can see on youtube now. i still get goosebumps from these things.
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i still believe in this stuff. i still believe in the constitution. it means more to me than an academic document. it is really important. that theligated opportunity that i am given to be there, to try to get it right. it is just an opinion. think you have it, i are obligated to say what it is and why. if you look like a fool, so what? that is the reason you do litany of humility. you do not worry about it. you are humble enough to know risk ofhaps you run the not necessarily looking like the most acceptable person. sense described having a of the weight of history of what and the duty and
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obligation of the job to get it right every time. note, -- on a lighter note, i want to ask you how you escape it weightiness of your job and the cloister of the courts. let's talk about the venerable practice at the supreme court known as the summer recess. you are, as i understand it, a famously collegial group of justices. there are no scorpions in a bottle on this court. of those really hard and closely-divided cases at the end of the term must produce some frayed nerves and the need to separate for a while. is that fair? >> i never have a problem with it. i mean, you know, i do not know. i did not ever have a problem with it. [laughter] >> i get out of there as soon as
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i can. [laughter] >> the truth is that, actually, we always have a very pleasant visit before the term. there are some people that you want to take your leave from at the end. ofyou have a different way unwinding over the summer recess. some of your colleagues retreat to teaching excursions in europe and so forth. you have a very different style. >> i go to europe sometimes, only to come back. [laughter] be characterized as a europhile. i like the united states. [applause]
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against the other countries, but i love the united states. i love this place. i cannot get back quick enough. i am not really anxious to leave. and about the cloistered life, i like the cloistered life. i was in the seminary, you know? . enjoy going in one of my colleagues called me brother clarence. i love that. i love my law clerks. i love the work that i get to do. it is just wonderful. think about it. every day, i go in and have this wonderful opportunity to do this job. i cannot say that is the way i felt at the beginning, but that is the way i am now. i feel blessed every day to have the chance, one more day, to go in and be a part of it. i do not care how hard it is.
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this is not nearly as hard as being in the field. this is not nearly as hard as thinking beings or stripping fodder or powers. you walk behind a horse in that george s on and do roofing work sun and work-- georgia you do roofing work or sewer work. this is a calling. this is not that bad. [laughter] how can you complain? you get a chance to do what we get a chance to do, i love the people i work with, i love seeing them. some days are better than others. my colleague, justice scalia, my friend, i hear his voice in the hall or something. these are my friends. >> talk about your relationship with your law clerks. >> i love my law clerks. i absolutely love my law clerks.
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to pickou before, i had my family. these kids are my family. >> how do you go about things now? >> arbitrarily. [laughter] the -- i do not want you to think that i just randomly hired them. i rely on people i trust. judges, good friends, clerks. taken clerks from friends like larry silverman, steve williams, people i know, edith jones. know,ots of judges i people who will call me and say, this is a good person. they know that i do not care which school they went to.
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it could be lsu or yale. i hire a small percentage from the ivy's. i hire quite a few more from the y's, simply because they are smart kids. i try to take them from the south. that part of the country. i prefer kids who come from modest circumstances, whose parents did not have all of the benefits or it manages. .hat is just a -- or advantages that is just a preference. i am not going to bring kids in who disagree on printable's. i am not interested in arguing about that sort of stuff. i like kids who are not jerks. [laughter] i require kids to work together and i do not need all of that disruption in my chamber.
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i have been enormously blessed with the kids i have had. very smart, very pleasant, very hard-working. they brought joy to my life. tomorrow, i will have lunch with about 35. we have monthly lunches. that is one of the monthly high points for me, to see my kids and to see how well they are doing. >> i understand that you take a pilgrimage to gettysburg every year with your law clerks. >> those poor kids, i dragon there. -- i drag them there. i take them on my bus. i love going to gettysburg. at the end of the term, i think people tend to be a little jaded and a little upset about things. i am more of an idealist than i was before i took the job. i want them, after they see a term, i want them to go to gettysburg and think about the price that was paid for this country to exist.
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alito, wemartha ann saw the wounded warriors today. [applause] it is one of the most heartfelt things that i have ever done, to see young people who have been mortally wounded in the sense of this nation. them and not see believe that we are doing -- that we have an obligation to continue to do the right thing. what i am trying to do in taking my clerks to gettysburg is to think about lincoln and that carnage that the took place at gettysburg. think of all the animals that were killed, all of the human beings, all of the destruction that occurred there. later,r four months november 19, to dedicate a 4-
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minute speech or whatever it was, and the things that he said to elevate that tragic moment, and what i am trying to get these kids to understand, after they see a term, after they see theymperfections, that still believe. that they are still idealistic. even with the reality, they still believe that this is important and they understand why. go and i drag them across the battlefield. the point is simply to pull it all back together after you see how the sausage is made. that you still believe that it is all worthwhile. [applause] >> of course, next week, we will be celebrating the 150th
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anniversary of the gettysburg address. i do not know if you have some final thoughts on what lincoln's words meant to the country than and what they mean to us now. >> first of all, i would like to thank you and i would like to thank you all for staying so late. [applause] wordsriefly, lincoln's mean a lot to me personally because he was a great emancipator. i happen to be from the slaves that were affected after the emancipation proclamation. also, i have to say that what lincoln had to say and what he did has affected our country enormously. we know that. but it has affected me too. amendment, no 14th
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amendment, no 15th amendment, my life would be different. i would not be sitting here. what in the speech -- but in you hear this voice. it is perfectible. the country is perfectible. not perfect, but perfectible. the war was all about that. when i go into the building that i'll work in now, that is the theme i tried to carry with me and my clerks. it is perfectible. , every day, getting up and trying to make it right, trying to make it work. you cannot do that if you do not do it on principle. it is not necessarily just about your methodology, this or that. it is about whether or not your principles are right and they are the principles of this country. i thank you all, i thank you for this opportunity and god bless you.
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[applause] >> thank you, judge sykes and justice thomas. thank you, in particular, justice thomas, for sharing many of the lessons that you learned well-t life will lived -- lived. for those of us younger than me, who will be the future of this
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country, we appreciate your sense of calling and commitment to that calling to help perfect our union and to do it without hatred for those who oppose us and with cheerfulness. thank you again for your service and your lessons. at the u.s. supreme court continues in a moment with justice elena kagan. she is followed by a discussion withgar policy in the u.s. a doctor who posted a video that went viral. then another look at the conversation with justice clarence thomas. that is here on c-span. >> on many campuses, young women are taught that they live in a patriarchal society were girls are shortchanged in school and then channeled into low-paying fields. once in the workplace, they are
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cheated out of 25% of their salary. they face invisible barriers and all sorts of forces that hold them down and keep them back, keep them out of the high echelon of power. this picture does not fit reality read it is distorted. -- does not fit reality. it is distorted. these false claims have been repeated so many times, they have taken on an aura of truth. >> critics have labeled her as antifeminist. foray, your questions christina hoff sommers. looking ahead to the new year, join mark levin january 5. >> in the next hour, supreme court justice elena kagan. she will talk about the workings of the nation's highest court.
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she gave a lecture at the university of alabama law school. >> i have to get used to that title. we appreciate your service in this role. i are welcoming justice kagan to the university of alabama. we are honored by your presence. i want to give you first a few vital statistics about our speaker. she was born in new york city. she received her a.b. from princeton. then she went to oxford where she was awarded a masters of philosophy. then she got a jd from harvard law school. clerkedw school, she for a judge in the united states
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court of appeals. then she clerked for justice marshall. then she became a law professor at the university of chicago. she went from there to serve at president clinton's administration in several roles. teachingwent back to at harvard. she was subsequently named as dean of harvard law school. she was the first female dean of the law school there. in 2009, president obama nominated her for solicitor general of the united states. she served in that office for a full year. as ans then nominated associate justice of the supreme court.
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2010ook that position in and she fill the vacancy left by justice john paul stevens after his retirement. he was our last lecture at europe law school. -- our last lecturer here at the law school. i brought this along so i could read it. magazine, shetime was named one of their 100 most influential people in the world. i want to read to you what they had to say about our speaker today. with elena kagan, the persuader. people love to talk about the swing vote, but the truth is that only at -- every supreme court justice has only one vote to cast. what makes a justice influential is the ability to persuade others to agree. that depends on the effectiveness of the justice.
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in that respect, elena kagan has what it takes to be a highly influential supreme court justice. she has demonstrated herself to be an incisive legal thinker, both in her written opinions and her questions for the bench. she is also an excellent communicator with a crisp and direct style that will make her -- makerive persuasive, not only among her colleagues, but among be court's broader audience. she is an important voice on the court for decades to come. it is our pleasure to welcome our speaker and have a conversation. justice elena kagan. [applause]
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>> can i think everybody first? i just want to thank the judge for that warm and gracious introduction which i hope a little bit of it is true. i want to thank the whole law school for inviting me here and to the judge for endowing this lecture series. i had dinner last night and was saying, i do not know how to sit in this chair. i was saying at dinner last night, when i became a justice, i got a letter. it said that i had a lecture series, an endowed lecture series at the university of alabama law school, and the following people have participated in the lecture series. it named all of my colleagues and some of the former supreme court justices and some of the
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world's greatest non-american .ust this is -- justices my colleagues and i frequent lead lunch together. we talked about it and i had this letter and i said to them, what is it about this lecture series that everybody goes down there for? school has every law some kind of lecture series. but they do not get every single justice of the supreme court. said, is my colleagues a command performance. i said, what makes it a command performance? i got two answers. wherein -- when you said something about persuasiveness and how we judge needs to be persuasive. the word back from my colleagues was that you are a very persuasive man. [laughter] the second thing they said was that people just have such a good time when they go.
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then they come back and each justice comes here and goes back and tells all of his or her colleagues, you have to go down there. each one of us has gone. the warmth in the hospitality and the graciousness that you will show me in the last two -- 12 hours, proof that all my colleagues are right. i will give you one example. the chief justice mentioned that he was a little disappointed and then he came here and had a great time, but there was one thing he did not get to do. that was go to dreamland. i said iton this and wasn't on my schedule either. i am merely got an offer of ribs to take back with me, as well as a surprise for the chief justice.
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huber tends to be a newbie at this business, but he seems to me to be a complete professional. you are very lucky to have them. i know about dean's, i was one. thank you judge. thank you to your entire family. thank you to your university community who that has been so gracious. so far at least. [laughter] we have a few hours left. [laughter] we will handle the next 40 minutes or so anyway. must say that justice kagan has been one of the more gracious guest that we have had as you can all see from our first few minutes together. it is a real honor to have you here. tempted, listening to the all thetion, about things you have done, it reminded me of president kennedy's quit about thomas jefferson.
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harvard law dean, officer in the white house counsel, senior apostle -- senior paul c -- senior policy advisor. it amazing to find them all in one person. if i may, i would like to start a question. it will tie our law school together with your own experience. a few weeks ago at first your orientation we had a wonderful presentation. a former alabama attorney general came. and we had a former u.s. attorney general. it was about reopening the prosecution in the 16th street baptist church bombing case that occurred about 50 years ago. i thought the presentations were inspiring. they were inspiring to me as an old guy. i will they were inspiring to all people. you may also know that the offer of -- the author of "to kill a
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lee,ngbird," harper studied at our law school. i was wondering if there were fictional or real stories that have been meaningful to you over the years? >> what a great question. do is gok what i would back a lot of years in my life to when i was more the age of the people sitting in this room. i had graduated from law school and served one clerkship. then i had the chance to go to the supreme court and serve another clerkship with thurgood marshall. the moste of meaningful, incredible years of my life in many ways. it is a special thing to be a clerk on the supreme court for absolutely anybody. you are there in the building were all of these important cases were decided. you have a sense of the importance of the institution. and the small role that you plan it. .- play in it
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it was something beyond that to work for justice thurgood marshall. he was approaching the end of his life. he turned 80 the year i started working for him. he had a few more years on the court and then a few years after that. he was in rickety health. more so thaneven he had been early on in his life , taking stock of what he had done and what he had accomplished and what it all meant. for clerks that year were privileged to sit there in his chambers and listen to him. he was telling his stories about his life. we would go into his chambers everyday or every other day and we would talk about the cases. we would do the typical thing that clerks do with judges. at a certain point in time, we said all that we had to say about all of these cases. he was put into a storytelling
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mode. he was the greatest storyteller i have ever heard in my life. in a year of telling stories, pretty much every day, i don't think he ever repeated a single one. he could make you cry, he could make you laugh, he could do anything at all with you. that, he hadon to some awfully good material. [laughter] so material of his life was thrilling and inspiring to think do towhat lawyers could advance a society and make it more just. to make it more equitable for all people. stories, i think when i went to clerk for him, i was more familiar with his appellate work in his work at the supreme court. he was a great appellate advocate.
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i am making this up a little bit, but he had something like 30 graces -- 30 cases that he had one almost all of them. everybody well knows how magnificently he carved the thetegy of bringing down fifth them a separate but equal end of bringing down the system of jim crow -- ringing down the system of separate but equal and bringing down the system of jim crow. he knew he could not do it all at once. he understood how to get a court to move towards an end result is little bit at a time. and how he picked cases that would allow the naacp legal defense fund to make incremental arguments, the kind of cases that the court is going to accept. and that the legal defense fund would win.
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that, a fair amount about but i did not know he was one of the greatest trial attorneys of his time as well. he spent enormous amounts of time crisscrossing the state of , representing a wide variety of people, mostly in criminal cases. and frequently in capital cases. and he was subjected to incredible danger himself. he would come to town and it was not clear that he was going to be safe. course, the indignities of traveling in a place where you could not stay at a hotel. you could not eat at a regular restaurant. and then representing why people before all-white juries. it was not clear that anybody
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had justice in mind. us ofories that he told those cases, it all came back to me the summer i read a very fine book. it had just won the pulitzer prize. it was called "devil in the growth." -- grove." it is a gripping story. it reads like a whodunit. him and the incredible lawyering skills that he had. the great ethics that he showed in all of his work. lawyer and at supremely ethical man. person -- it the is important that me and my
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, we were poor kids who have not experienced anything in the way of discrimination. that at that to time of my life day after day, it was an experience that changed me forever. it made me think about the -- itial of law in a way hope everybody in this room does. >> that is very interesting. we got some insight into your beginnings. your earliest experiences as a lawyer was there with justice marshall. --ould like to ask you about >> it has not changed that much.
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[laughter] >> that is something we are interested in. years, in a serious way, you have seen the process from the outside. wereerstand that when you in the clinton administration, you are involved and assigned to work with ruth bader ginsburg and in connection to her confirmation hearing. then i read a law review article that you wrote for the university of chicago. it was critiquing a book about the process. and i have been through the process yourself. i wondered if you would comment on the thoughts nomination and confirmation process. >> sure.
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know, i had a good time actually going through the process. i will say a little bit about why. notwithstanding that, i think the process is sort of broken. everybody agrees on that. it is hard to see how to fix it. i will tell you a little bit about why i had a good time going through the process first. the part of the process that the public sees is the confirmation hearings. the two or three days were the nominee sit in front of the judiciary and answers questions. each senator gets a half an hour and it goes one by one. then it starts all over again. that is an extremely important part of the process. it is the tip of the iceberg. before that happens, the nominee does visits with individual senators. they're called courtesy visits. i did 81 of them. my colleagues, justice sotomayor
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your, i think she did 92. 81 senators, i went to them one by one to each of their offices. some of them would just be kind of meeting great, 10 minutes, you take a picture and say hi, you go your merry way. others of them were extremely substantive and interest in serious conversations. senators would try to figure out what you were all about. and what your approach to the law might be. enjoyedthe most part, i all of those conversations enormously. there were rules about you what you -- rules about what you couldn't could not say. sometimes it was difficult to figure out what the boundaries were. it was a little bit of a challenge. part, thesemost were called courtesy visits for a reason. everyone was very gracious.
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people knew that they were going to vote for me. people knew that they were going to vote against me. there were relatively few people who were undecided. i enjoyed them. i enjoyed putting names to faces and seeing what these people were like. i enjoy conversing with them. that was pretty much it. then you get to the hearings to admits, and i have to you, maybe it will be obvious after today, i have to admit you to -- it meant to you that i am a little bit of a ham. [laughter] i was nervous going in. all the lights are on you. the first day, when i gave my opening statements, because you are on tv, you get professionally made up. we had to notch down the makeup on the second and third day.
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feel like you are in the center of things. there are tons of people taking pictures of you. underway, senator leahy was first. then your senator was next. once i got through those two, i thought, i got this. [laughter] it just seemed as if there were words coming out of my mouth that seem to make some sense. in a way, you are very much in control of the thing. they are very polite. they do not interrupt you. they let you say what you want to say. about --e talking --be someone was talking [laughter] i had a good time. with all that said, i think the
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senators are very frustrated by the process. they basically want to know how you are going to decide cases. that is what they want to know. wanting blame them for to know. that is in them thing to know. -- unimportant thing for them to mportant thing for them to know. how we decide the next abortion case. the nominees are not going to say that. certainnees, to a extent, cannot say that. there are clear ethical boundaries that the nominees cannot cross. frank, there are some things that even if you could say, you would not say them. nominee, your goal is to get through the process. it did not seem to work out all when hel for judge bork was open about absolutely everything. [laughter]
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then, havesince stopped short of saying that the senators would really like to know. forn't blame the senators being a bit frustrated by that state of affairs. as a result, i think the senators, and i say this of both people -- the people who work for you and the people who are against you and the people who are trying to figure out which is which, maybe least of them, of the people who work for you and the people who are against you, it becomes a little bit of the theater. it just becomes a place for all of them to make their statements about what they think about the courts and the issues. the court decides. it becomes political theater and you are just sitting there. you are the excuse.
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you are the excuse for both sides. republicans and democrats alike to do their set pieces and make their speeches. that doesn't seem all that helpful. i totally understand why it has come to that. my senators may feel frustrated. i do not know the answer to the question. people say we will just get rid of the thing entirely. i think senators have every right to see who it is that has been nominated as you try to get some sense of who is that -- who that person is and how they might approach the job of a judge. it is hard to make the hearings themselves really work. on the could follow-up workings of the political process, one of the things that
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is different about you as compared to some of your ofleagues is that instead the normal way of coming to the supreme court -- progressing through judgeships, -- you worked in a clinical job. you are one of president clinton's senior policy advisers. how did that experience affect you and your service on the board? -- court? chief worked in the reagan white house. he worked in the reagan white house. justice scalia worked in the reagan justice department. i worked in the clinton white house. in the clinton justice department. maybe i am missing somebody. ithink the chief justice and are the only people who worked in the white house. i think it is a different job.
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when i think about those four years of my life, it was the .quivalent for my colleagues it was a very different job. one of the great things about lawyerly careers and my career event at different points in my life, i have one different hats. i have done different things. i have different responsibilities and obligations. when you are working in the white house for the president, and i have worked both as a lawyer and is a policy person, you're mostly thinking about policy and politics. as a lawyer, you are thinking about lots each -- law too. but always with some politics attached to it. your job in the white house is to mary law and politics. law and politics.
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i cannot imagine any judge describing their role that way. it is not to say that law is a science or a mechanical enterprise. you obviously know that it is not. we disagree on many things. sometimes we disagree incredible ways that follow from -- predictable ways that follow in our own theories of how to interpret the law, constitution, statutes. all of those are so different in thinking about policy and the way people in the clinical branches do. -- elliptical branches do. that was when i was in my 30s. it was a different role. it was a different set of responsibilities. as the judge, i think about law and what i am doing and what i am called upon to do in a very
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different way. lifel the things in my that affect what i'm doing now, i honestly think that affected the least. one thing that i bring to the table from those years is an understanding of how certain political processes work. sometimes it is relevant to particular cases that we may hear because of course, we do review a lot of executive branch decision-making. that, the ways of thinking and the goals of what you are doing are pretty divergent. >> let me expand that a little bit. level, the theory is that diversity of all kinds
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on a jury will help in fact finding. jurors from different backgrounds all bring different life experiences to the table. that is what you are talking about today. there's been some talk in the press and other places about the lack of that kind of diversity on the court. room for a theory that more diversity on the supreme court would be good in legal decision-making, as opposed to fact finding? -- i would like to be a might -- a more diverse court in some ways. the way in which i think you are very polite not to say so, but the way in which the court is not diverse is that this court and very coastal and urban
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elite law school court. know, a tremendous number of life years of the justices on on thert have been spent sellout line of amtrak. line of amtrak. it goes from boston to new york to d.c.. it's not there, maybe there is a little bit of west coast. but there's not a lot in between. a few justices grew up in indiana. justice thomas griffin georgia. georgia.p in but they spent most of their professional lives in washington, d.c.. the rest of us are pretty eastern or california.
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all of us have gone to the same two law schools basically. it is just one of these weird flukey things that all of us are graduates of harvard nel, -- harvard or yale, except for justice ginsburg who spent one year at columbia. that is crazy to me. it is not a good thing. i would say this, it is not a good thing for me other than that the cases would come out differently if it were more diverse. diversity is good because we are an important institution. there are nine of us stop -- nine of us. when a nine person institution looks more like the country, it has greater credibility. people can identify with it a little better. those pins are important for an institution. i would say the same thing about why it is important that we now
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have three women. it is a great thing. my colleague, justice ginsburg, she always says, what about nine? [laughter] i think it is a really good thing. i look out onto the court room all the time and there are all of the school children who come think,ool groups, and i it is a great thing that young girls and young boys are seeing me and justice ginsburg and justice soto mayor and none of us are shrinking violets. they are watching us and the fact that we contribute in the exact same way as our male colleagues do. that is terrific. i think it would be good if we were diverse in some other ways that i mentioned for the same exact reason. but i do not think it means all -- makes all that much
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difference in the conference room. when the doors are closed and we are deciding cases. not going to say that it never makes a difference because i do think there are particular kind of cases where somebody might have a very strong intuition about the way the world works that comes out in the decision-making process. i think in particular about a case a few years ago when i was a solicitor general and justice ginsburg was the only woman on the court then. i think she had a very different reaction to a case involving the strip search of a 13-year-old girl. there are occasional cases like that. they are rare. i think when a door closes and we discussed cases, there are three women there. todoes not make difference either the women or the six men. i think that is true most of the time. make the decision-
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making process different. it is because we are a public institution. we are supposed to be the eyes of the country. it is important that the entire country can see -- to be able to identify a little bit more. >> you referred a couple of times in those remarks to the decision-making process. mysterycess is a deep to the outside world. what can you tell us about it? not only how works, but for how you observe your colleagues changing their minds about cases along the way? what makes the difference? hard alongo think the way.
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hard alongy think the way, sometimes they change their minds along the way. the first thing that you get in a case is the brief. the briefs are the first and most important thing. especially in terms of one's thinking about the case. if you are doing appellate work, i suspected as much the same. getting your argument down in the most persuasive form. in the written materials that you give to the court, it matters the most. that is where you are really going to start thinking about a case and the arguments on each side. that is the most important thing. and we have oral arguments.
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you can lose a case in oral argument, you can win a case in oral argument, but rarely both. sometimes i will go into oral arguments and have a kind of leaned, and the oral argument will confirm that or it will make the drawback and say, maybe i am wrong. maybe i need to look at this more. maybe i need to figure this out again. the oral arguments can make a difference. they are also important to the supreme court for his strange reason. it is the first time that the justices top of each other -- talk with each other. in some court, especially overseas, the justices talked before they hear arguments. we do not.
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ist of the argument communicating with your colleagues about what you think about a case. in conference, when we sit down together for the first time, we follow a pretty stylized format. we go round the table and everybody speaks once before anybody can speak twice. if you are like me, eight people will have spoken and cast a vote by the time i get to say anything. that means if i wanted to think about a certain thing, if i have what i think is a bit of an unusual take on a case, a take that has not been presented so much in the brief, i will try to use oral arguments to preview it, if you will. i am trying to get people to think about it. many of my colleagues do the exact same thing. sometimes you feel sorry for these lawyers. they are standing on the podium. usis kind of an excuse for
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to be having a conversation with each other. that the lawyer is a little bit like, i have some points to make too. [laughter] where like, too bad. [laughter] >> i think some law students can identify that. >> then we have conference a couple days after oral arguments. i like that. a lot of appellate courts around the country, people go into conference right after the arguments. i like the fact that we have a couple of days where we talk about it with the clerks, i talk about it in one-on-one and we mull it over. it works for me. i mull it over, what i have heard and what i am thinking. then we go into the conference room and it is just the nine of
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us. we have no clerks, no administrators. the chief justice starts things off. he brings the case and remind everybody, here are the issues and here is what we need to decide. he is the first person to state his views. he casts a preliminary vote. and it goes around the table. in seniority order. so i always speak night. it is actually better than speaking eight, 7, 6. it has a certain drama to it sometimes. [laughter] and then sometimes, but not always, free-form conversation breaks out. my first conference, i thought it was the weirdest thing. aname in and there was important case. it was the kind of case it would appear on the front pages of the newspapers. -- not ad case, nobody
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newspaper in america would write about this case. it was a very complicated procedural case. the first case, we went around the table and each of us that his or her fees. iece.ace -- p it was one of those 5-4 cases. it was 5-4 and the chief justice said, next case. we did not say anything else. the next phase, we went around and it was really hard i complicated and nobody knew what was going on. then we went around the general conversation broke out. he talked about this case for a good 40 minutes. and i thought, this is the strangest thing i have ever seen. this really important case, 10 minutes. everids that nobody has heard of, 40 minutes. what is that about?
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it and as i about have experienced more cases, i realize that there are some cases where you can talk until you are blue in the face. in the end, people might think it is interesting. they might think that you did the best you could for that argument. but they are not going to be persuaded. there are cases where we are not going to persuade each other. there are two different ways of looking at this, or three. in the end, talking probably will not change that. there are other cases where talking can change a lot. people can start thinking about things in an entirely new way. i love those cases. i love cases where people do not have strong priors. they are really susceptible to arguments and persuasion. i like the feeling of being persuaded myself.
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i like the feeling of persuading others. it is not true of every case. there are some cases where we just disagree. we know that we disagree. andthere are lots of others some are less important. some are more important. we are really trying hard to ,hink about real issues complicated issues, issues that people have not thought about before. issues that people do not have going into -- do not have convictions on. i love that process. >> these law students are reading the final results. from reading some of the opinions and some of the language, some of them and some people may have the idea that there's a lot of animosity among the justices. what has been your experience on a personal level? >> this is the thing that
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surprises people the most. you are exactly right, judge. sometimes you read a majority and then you read a dissent and you think, wow these people must hate each other. they are when things at each other. they are close to calling each other names. is, weth of the matter like each other quite a lot. to the it is a testament institution and the way it works, particularly with the chief justice, that the institution runs his wife. we actually a very collegial court. we have very firm friendships. enduring friendships. possibly the best friend, the best friendship on the court, is between two people who no one usually put in the same
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category. it is between justice scalia and ruth ginsburg. they've been friends for decades and decades. they share a new year's eve dinner together every year for all that time. they really love each other. i think that is -- i think we all like each other and i think we all have enormous respect for each other. i think we all believe in each other positive faith -- each other's good faith most important. that is not easy every day. it is not easy on cases that you really care about. you think that there is an obvious right answer to them. you have to listen to a colleague who has come out in the exact opposite way. you must not entertain the
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-- it is hard sometimes to realize that people, two people can approach the same problem in other good faith and diverge so dramatically. i think all of us know that it is true. one of the important lessons of life in the law and something that the court really depends upon his understanding that. i think we do. i think there've been historic periods -- i think there've been the store periods where that is .ot true there's been disliked and disrespect. there've been pathological hatreds on the court. i read a book by a former colleague of mine called "scorpions."
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it is a fascinating book. it is about four supreme court justices, all giant figures, who were all appointed by the same president. they were all appointed in some respect to do the same thing, which was to save the new deal. they were frequent roosevelt's appointments. from alabama, justice jackson, justice douglas, they were all appointed by one president within the space of a few years. was a particular thing that he hoped his justices would do. but then it turned out that these justices were serving years and years and years and different cases come before them that have nothing to do with the reasons that franklin roosevelt appointed them. they go in all kinds of different directions. all kinds of different theories about how to interpret the constitution.
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in the case of those four, they develop real animosity between themselves. it was justice frankfurter who said about justice douglas that he was the second most evil man he had met his life. leading everyone to think, who was the first? [laughter] say, i really happy to am really happy to say that this court is nothing like that. really a joy to come into the institution as a newbie, a junior justice, as my colleagues oftenare my main -- remind me i do have an example in front of me. the chief justice really sets the tone for the institution. that is a great thing. but you mentioned justice scalia. ahad her stand that you have friendship with justice scalia as well. like i have.
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-- >> i have. i knew justice scalia before he came on the court. he is a total crack up. i love the guy. he is such a good guy, so generous, so warmhearted, i love spending time with him. he did me a big favor. if you don't mind, i am going to tell the story. back to your first question about the confirmation process. when you go through the confirmation process now, at least if you go through the way i go through it, there is the nominee of a democratic and 71 if you characterized by demographics, i think they would say that i am a jewish woman from new york city. -- nott known to be known to have particularly strong feelings about guns maybe. when i went to all of these
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courtesy visits, the question i was asked most was not about abortion or religion or anything else. the question i get asked most was my views on guns. say, how areally you going to rule in this case, how are you going to rule in that case. instead they would ask me questions that were designed to figure out who i was and what i was. a lot of people, democrats republicans, both, they would sit me down in the chair and say, did you ever hide? -- hunt? i would say to myself, that is not really what we did growing up in york city. [laughter] they would say, did you have friends who had -- hunt? have you ever shot a gun? have you ever held a gun? all of my answers to these questions were in their view, pathetic. [laughter] i was talking to one of the
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senators from idaho and he goes through these questions. he says amy, this is really important to me. it is important to make the joints. it is important that you understand how important the gun culture is in my state. there is a lot of fear about the way you might think about second amendment issues. you may not be for millie or with this setar of things. i appreciated that. you, him, senator, i tell i am the person i am. i have had the experiences that i have had. if you want to invite me hunting, i would be delighted to go. this look of abject horror came over his face. [laughter] do i have to go hunting with her? [laughter] i realize maybe i had crossed a little bit of a line. i said, i will tell you what senator, if i am lucky enough to
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be confirmed, i will ask justice scalia, who i need to be a great hunter, to take me hunting. i was confirmed, i went to justice scalia and i told him this whole story. he thought it was hilarious. he said, we are on it. the first thing he did is that he took me to the gun club. we shot clay pigeons and he gave me lessons about gun safety. --n he started taking me out firstly schappert together. we've done this multiple times. probably five or six times and we are going in a few weeks. , i guess it was the end of a few years ago. the end of my first term on the court, he said to me, you have the birds down. we are going after big game. we went up to wyoming together. we spent three days in wyoming and east about -- each of us had
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a deer license. each of us shot a deer. neither of us on antelope. he think that was a failure of the trip. he thought that we could've have shot gears in his backyard. -- b gears in his backyard -- the deers in his backyard. [laughter] i enjoyed it i shot a deer. i have a great printable justice scalia that i value highly. if i tell you that i go to the opera with justice ginsburg, you would probably not be as interested in that. but i do that too. >> let me follow up a little bit on maybe what is a more process oriented version of a similar question. i found that it is wonderful to be a justice on the supreme court terms of personal relationships full -- personal
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relationships. folksobviously a group of that he's here those stories and it is very curdling. but you do disagree with each other. you do disagree vehemently at times. when is it appropriate to write a dissent? once, thate lost they justice have an obligation to admit defeat and go on? how does that work in your mind? like i think dissenting opinions play an important role in the court. that is not to say that i do not value consensus. to the extent that we can achieve consensus, i think we should try hard to do so. i very much admire the chief justice's efforts in that regard. i hope that i am a willing participant in that effort.
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thingk the absolute worst on the court is when the splinter and when there is not even a majority. when there is one of these four people say one thing, three people say one thing, two people say another thing. that is the worst thing. these poor lower court judges do not know what to make of what we have said. obviously, lawyers as well. that is the thing that i think is most important. that we try to come together at least to get a clear majority. sometimes that is not possible. i think a lot of effort should be expended on that. that, --re beyond there is a majority. it you going to descend from -- dissent from it? if the majority can practice ruling narrowly enough, so that
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a big division or disagreement are not implicated, that is a tricky thing. we should try to do that. sometimes it is not going to be possible. there are some issues that you can narrow all you want. we are still going to disagree. and then a dissent is appropriate. there are different kinds of defense. -- dissents. summary matter of condition, i have to be right am. there are cases we do that are not so important. there will nevertheless be a dissent. you say, what is the deal there. in a case about the meaning of a particular statute. it is just an honest disagreement about what these words on the page mean and whether maybe it is a disagreement that is based on
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ideological differences about statutory interpretation. maybe it is just a different based on how you read it -- a certain provision which are often very collocated. you will see a dissent think what is the purpose of that dissent? and that case, it is not your writing for the ages. you are not writing in the hopes that the court will change his mind or anything like that. you are writing that it is a complicated thing and both sides presented arguments. both sides of work very hard on that. fact that different people can look at the same words and read in two different ways. in some respects, that is an honest thing to say. this is not a 9-0 case. it is not a slamdunk. the lawyers that were presenting on the other side were not making fallacious arguments. they may have had a point.