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HOME SECURITY For the first time in its 68-year existence, the majestic Supreme Court building is about to undergo major renovations. The first signs of change should appear before the month is over, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the five-year project is planned for June. The first phase of the $122 million renovation project won’t actually take place inside the Court building, but in a 30,000-square-foot area next to the Court along Maryland Avenue, currently a tranquil space occupied by grass and several large trees. Three of the trees will be cut down, a 30-foot-deep hole will be dug, and an underground, two-story police station will be built. When it’s all over, grass and trees will reign again at the ground level of the site. It won’t be until sometime next year that the side of the Court will be breached underground to connect the station to the Court building. When the Court was built in 1935, for under $10 million, it had no police force at all. But now, with additions prompted by recent security concerns, roughly 120 of the 400-plus Court employees are police officers. Court officials saw the need for a substantial space dedicated to the requirements of the police. The first step of the project will be to install temporary sound-reducing windows at the Court to keep disruption of the Court’s work to a minimum. “We want there to be no interruption of the Court’s operations,” says project manager Kenneth Champion. “We also want to be respective of the neighborhood.” Even the backup horns on trucks will be muted or silenced where possible, replaced by workers with flags to prevent accidents. The next phase of the project will be to upgrade the entire infrastructure of the Court, including heating, air conditioning, and other mechanical aspects of the building. Champion marvels that he saw one of “Mr. Carrier’s” early air conditioning units in the bowels of the building. “We have to replace everything to the point where nobody knows we were there,” he says. Champion, who also worked on the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty restoration projects, says contractors are vying for the chance to work on the prestigious Court project. The work is done under the supervision of the architect of the Capitol, who by law is responsible for the Court building. And in case anyone was wondering, there are no minority set-asides for the project, though there are efforts to reach out to small businesses. The Court has been unusually open, relatively speaking, in talking about the project. Public information officer Kathy Arberg, Marshal Pamela Talkin, and Champion held a press briefing about the plans. And on April 10, they and other officials made a presentation to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, the major residents group in the Court’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Robert Nevitt, president of the neighborhood group, says the presentation went a long way toward relieving concerns about trucks, noise, and parking disruptions. “They really seemed concerned about community reaction,” he says. More than 50 residents attended, and concerns were expressed about the trees and about the general decline in access to the Capitol grounds, already under extensive renovation. “People came away feeling very good,” says Nevitt. CLASS REUNION In recounting the sex discrimination she faced earlier in her career, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has hinted that, but for her gender, she might have been a Supreme Court law clerk some 40 years ago. While she was clerking for a federal district judge in New York, a Harvard Law School professor recommended her to then-Justice Felix Frankfurter. But when Frankfurter learned that she had a 5-year-old daughter at home, he decided not to “take a chance” by hiring her as a clerk, according to Ginsburg. On April 10, in a conference room at the Court, Ginsburg hosted a 40th reunion of the class of law clerks she might have joined. The clerks of the 1962 term are now a high-powered group that includes Richard Posner, now the prolific judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; Timothy Dyk, now a judge on the Federal Circuit; Stuart Pollack, who became a California state judge; Robert O’Neil and A.E. Dick Howard, now longtime University of Virginia Law School professors; and Peter Edelman, who went on to government service and is now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Justices had fewer clerks at the time � 17 in all that term, compared with 35 now � and the bonds among them may have been closer as a result. Some have died, and some � including Posner � were unable to attend the reunion. But the nine who were there, along with some spouses and children, shared a nostalgic evening with Ginsburg. The event was also noteworthy in format: Reunions of clerks are usually organized around the justice they worked for, not the year they served. “We told Justice Ginsburg that, had there been justice at the time, she would have been one of us,” says O’Neil, former president of UVA and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. “That not being the case, she surpassed all of us.” The group also toasted Ginsburg on her upcoming 10th anniversary on the high court. O’Neil and Howard organized the event, contacting all the surviving clerks one way or another. Asked how to account for the high level of professional success achieved by the class of ’62, O’Neil replied modestly, “I suspect that almost any class of clerks 40 years out would have some impressive credentials.” TRANSLATIONS AND DELETIONS Justices learn early on that every word they say � or, sometimes, don’t say � is scrutinized closely. In recent weeks, eagle-eyed academics have called attention to some anomalies in the off-bench writings of Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O’Connor. On April 14, Breyer spoke on the subject of “Liberty, Security, and the Courts” before the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He offered this comment: “The Constitution applies even in times of dire emergency. Who would think the contrary? Cicero did. He said inter armes leges silent; once the guns begin to sound, the laws fall silent.” Supreme Court watchers were quick to pounce. Says University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor Bernard Hibbitts: “Guns? In ancient Rome? A law clerk should have caught that one.” The translation was not the only oddity. Breyer’s word order was also unusual. In other texts, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s 1998 book All the Laws But One,the maxim is usually rendered with the final words reversed: inter armes silent leges.As for the correct translation, Hibbitts, a former Latin student who once taught a course on ancient law, says that literally it should be “silent indeed are laws in the midst of arms.” A less awkward formulation, he says, would be “in times of war the law falls silent.” Hibbitts’ critique appeared in his Paper Chase weblog on the Jurist law professors Web site, which has been a tremendously useful resource on legal issues relating to the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, at Emory University School of Law, professor David Garrow combed the galley proofs and the published version of O’Connor’s new book, The Majesty of the Law.Garrow discovered that the following sentences had been deleted from a section of the book in which she points out that in important cases through history, the views of a dissenting justice have eventually become law of the land: “This is perhaps the most obvious advantage of dissenting opinions. My own views of the level of scrutiny to be given to affirmative action programs expressed in my dissent in Metro Broadcastingwere, in due course, adopted by this Court’s opinion in Adarand. I must confess to having hopes that some of my other dissents will one day be similarly vindicated.” The deletion is especially notable given that the Court is deliberating on the issue of affirmative action in the University of Michigan cases, argued April 1. “Other than fixing some duplicative language that was visible at several spots in the galleys, this is the only substantive alteration I’ve detected,” says Garrow. “Interesting timing, one might think.” Tony Mauro is Supreme Court correspondent for American Lawyer Media andLegal Times. “Courtside” appears every other week. Mauro can be reached at [email protected].

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