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SCOTUS Map: October and November 2015


October was an active month for both the current and retired Justices. On October 6, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor made an appearance with her brother at the Arizona Opera Book Club to share stories about their childhood and promote the memoir that they co-wrote, Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.

On October 10, the State Bar of California honored Justice Anthony Kennedy with the 2015 Bernard E. Witkin Medal at its annual meeting.

On October 12, Justice O’Connor, a breast cancer survivor, spoke at the Seventh Annual “Protect Yourself, Get Screened Today” campaign at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Coverage comes from

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens served as the keynote speaker at his namesake award luncheon hosted by the Chicago Bar Association on October 13.

The following day, Justice Samuel Alito delivered the keynote at the 225th Anniversary Gala for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. David Lat of Above the Law reported on the event, at which Alito spoke about the work of federal prosecutors and regaled the crowd with anecdotes about his dog, Zeus.

On October 15, Justice Antonin Scalia addressed the Heritage Foundation at the 2015 President’s Club Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Scalia then traveled to Minnesota, where he gave the Third Annual Stein Lecture on October 20. Reiterating comments that he had made at Rhodes College last month, Scalia said that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty unconstitutional. Scalia also addressed questions about life tenure on the bench: “As soon as I think I’m getting lazier and I just can’t do the job well, I’m going to get off there. I want to preserve whatever reputation I have.” CBS News covered the lecture.

Also on October 20, Justice Clarence Thomas was the guest of honor at the Brigham Young University Law School Alumni’s Founders Day Dinner in Salt Lake City. In addition to the dinner, Justice Thomas taught a class and hosted a Q&A session with BYU law school students. The events were closed to the press, although Mark Sherman of the Associated Press interviewed a dinner attendee afterwards for quotes from the Justice.

Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer spent some time promoting his new book in Europe, participating in an October 20 panel at the Conseil Constitutionnel in Paris.

Justice Kennedy made headlines when he sat down for a conversation with Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow on October 22. Kennedy expressed his distaste for being called the “swing vote” of the Supreme Court, saying: “I hate that term. I get this visual image of spatial gyrations. The cases swing; I don’t.” Kennedy also traced his apprehensions about solitary confinement back to his personal experience undergoing combat training in the Army: “After four hours in a cell, I was going mad. These people are in, some for 40 years. It drives people mad and we don’t even think about it.” Marcia Coyle covered Kennedy’s remarks for the National Law Journal. Harvard Law School posted the full video of his talk online.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a pair of appearances in California, addressing students at Pomona College on October 22 and the University of the Pacific’s Advancing Women’s Leadership Forum on October 23. At Pomona, Sotomayor warned students about the perils of social media: “Try to figure out what will happen 30 years from now when you want an important position. Will what you said and what you thought hurt you?” Coverage of the Pomona College appearance comes from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, and Pomona has posted both a full video and two minutes of highlights on YouTube. Coverage of her keynote at the Advancing Women’s Leadership Forum comes from the Stockton Record. The University of the Pacific posted a video of Sotomayor’s speech.

Back on the East Coast, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hosted the American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence in Washington, D.C., on October 24.

On October 26, retired Justice David Souter participated in a forum on civic engagement at Nashua Community College, where he suggested that democracy in the United States might no longer be “recognizable” if civics education continues to decline in the next fifty years. “[I]f you go to a baseball game and you don’t know what the rules of the game are, it’s incomprehensible,” Souter said. “If you know something about the three strikes rule, it’s maybe a little bit more comprehensible. Well, the same thing goes for government.” The Nashua Telegraph and New Hampshire Public Radio both reported on Souter’s comments.

On October 27, Ginsburg was inducted into the ChIPs Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., for her work in the field of intellectual property law. Katelyn Polantz of the National Law Journal reported on the ceremony, which featured a video tribute from Justice Scalia and mentions of the Notorious R.B.G.

Decades ago, Scalia and his wife were married in the campus chapel of Santa Clara University in California. He returned to the university on October 28 to visit a constitutional law class and address students. Debating the merits of an “enduring” Constitution versus a “living Constitution,” Scalia called the latter viewpoint a “slippery slope” and “the destruction of our democratic system.” Bob Egelko covered the event for SFGate.

On October 29, Alito will participate in a conversation on the Constitution sponsored by the National Archives and the Constitutional Sources Project.

Looking ahead to November:

On November 6, Justice Breyer will head to the Harvard Book Store to discuss his new book.

On November 9, as part of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers Fall Meeting, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., will present Justice Kennedy with the Kathleen McCree Lewis Award in recognition of Kennedy’s forty years of service as a federal appellate judge.

On November 12, Breyer speaks at the twelfth annual Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit.

On November 14, Alito travels to New York to deliver the Bonnie and Richard Reiss Lecture in Constitutional History and Law at the New York Historical Society, while Sotomayor will speak about her life and career at the University of Richmond Law School.

Justice Elena Kagan will serve as a judge for the final round of the Ames Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School on November 16.

Alito is scheduled to speak at the University of Notre Dame. On November 18, he will participate in a discussion on a new book, Italian Constitutional Justice in Global Context. On November 19, he will address students at Notre Dame’s law school.

Recommended Citation: Victoria Kwan | SCOTUS map, SCOTUS Map: October and November 2015, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 29, 2015, 5:02 PM),