Midweek Recess: Secret Edits and a Supreme Court Wedding

Welcome to Law.com’s Midweek Recess, in which we round up some tasty tidbits from the week’s legal news cycle. We’ll be here every Wednesday, so grab a cup of coffee and take a little break. It’s all downhill to the weekend from here.

Subject to Revision: When it comes to U.S. Supreme Court rulings, what’s done may not actually be done. The New York Times‘ Adam Liptak reports on a new study that sheds light on the high court’s practice of continuing to revise opinions well after their initial publication. The changes aren’t announced — and the justices aren’t always just fixing typos or correcting facts. The practice can result in differing versions of opinions in various sources and publications, causing consternation for scholars and courts parsing the justices’ every word. But rest assured that none of the current occupants of the bench are taking as much liberty with the after-the-fact revisions as Chief Justice Roger Taney, who in 1857 added 18 pages to his majority opinion in the Dred Scott case. [The New York Times]

Debating Scouts’ Honor: California’s legal community is in the midst of a debate over a proposal to ban judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts of America. The organization last year voted to allow gay youths as members but continues to exclude gay adults in staff or volunteer leadership roles. A California Supreme Court advisory committee has received hundreds of comments on the proposal, which proponents say promotes impartiality on the bench, and objectors argue would infringe upon freedom of expression. [WSJ Law Blog]

Wedding Bells at the High Court: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent a portion of her Memorial Day weekend officiating at the wedding of a man she represented in a 1975 Supreme Court case. Ginsburg, then a Columbia Law professor, secured a victory for Stephen Wiesenfeld, a young widower whose wife had died in childbirth, in his challenge to a Social Security law that provided benefits to surviving mothers but not surviving fathers who cared for their children. Ginsburg kept up with the family over the years, and on Saturday helped Wiesenfeld, now 71, tie the knot with Elaine Harris in the Supreme Court’s East Conference Room. Ginsburg also presided at the 1998 wedding of Wiesenfeld’s son, Jason, who was the child at the center of the high court case almost 40 years ago. [The Washington Post]

A Leading Lady of the Law: Cornelia G. Kennedy, the first woman in the U.S. to serve as chief judge of a federal district court, passed away last week at the age of 90. Kennedy was also the first woman to clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was shortlisted by several presidents for the U.S. Supreme Court, and was regarded by many, including former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, as a pioneer. Kennedy’s 1979 nomination to the Sixth Circuit by President Jimmy Carter is cited as one of the first to become a major political battlefield. After she was confirmed to that bench, Kennedy was given a hot plate that was used by the court’s only previous female judge, who couldn’t join her colleagues for meals at the all-male University Club of Cincinnati. You guessed it: Judge Kennedy was the first woman to get a seat at that table, too. [The New York Times]

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