This past June, all of the Supreme Court justices conducted fairly lengthy interviews with reporters from C-SPAN, in honor the channel’s “Supreme Court Week,” which starts next week.
The interviews, with all nine sitting justices as well as with Sandra Day O’Connor, cover lots of terrain, from the history of the court to what the justices talk about after an oral argument to what the lot of them think of their jobs.
The WSJ Law Blog providwes a priceless nugget on your profession from — who else? — Justice Antonin Scalia.
In response to a question from host Susan Swain about the “quality of counsel” who appear before the court, Scalia responds with this gem:
Well, you know, two chiefs ago, Chief Justice Burger, used to complain about the low quality of counsel. I used to have just the opposite reaction. I used to be disappointed that so many of the best minds in the country were being devoted to this enterprise.
I mean there’d be a, you know, a defense or public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?
I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.
And they appear here in the Court, I mean, even the ones who will only argue here once and will never come again. I’m usually impressed with how good they are. Sometimes you get one who’s not so good. But, no, by and large I don’t have any complaint about the quality of counsel, except maybe we’re wasting some of our best minds.