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Nearly a year after they were released at the Library of Congress, the papers of the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun continue to yield priceless glimpses of life at the Court. Tucked into a folder of routine correspondence relating to his law clerks is the program from the June 1996 farewell gathering of the clerks. Every June, with the justices in the audience, the clerks put on skits and sing songs, some of which boldly poke fun at their bosses. The lyrics and scripts are usually a tightly held secret. Here, as part of a regular element of the Courtside column featuring revelations from the Blackmun papers, are lyrics from the 1996 program sung to the tune of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Some of the quirks and stereotypes associated with the justices mentioned in the song still persist. Minus some of the refrains, the text follows: Ah, look at all the strange appointments Ah, look at all the strange appointments Ruth Bader Ginsburg Strolls into work every day ’bout a quarter past three Thinks we don’t see Stephen G. Breyer Gave 50 speeches last year If they asked him, he came They were all the same (Refrain) Crazy nominations Where did they all come from? Senate confirmations What were we thinking of? David H. Souter Cutting and pasting all night When there’s nobody there He doesn’t care Look at him working Writing those endless dissents that nobody will heed And no one can read Sandra O’Connor Votes with the left, then the right So that nobody knows How the wind blows Nino Scalia No one will join his invective and hyperbole Except for CT [Clarence Thomas] BUZZCUTTING A TRADITION News that the Supreme Court’s barbershop has been phased out during the current renovation of the building came as a shock to the Court community � not just Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter, the justices who used it in recent years. The shop, and its $15 haircuts, were not widely advertised, but clerks, lawyers, employees, and others who knew about it could take advantage of the quaint shop and barber Charlie Rollins’ part-time services. And it wasn’t just for men, though it was located just off the anteroom of the ground floor men’s room. Until a few years ago, according to one Court source, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got her hair cut by Rollins’ wife. Rollins, who still cuts hair at a barbershop down East Capitol Street from the Court, declined to comment about the closing of the shop, though he is reportedly not mad at the Court for closing it down. Court officials say that in recent years, the barbershop saw less and less use, so it made sense to close it while work goes on in that section of the Court building. Court records indicate that a barbershop has been a fixture at the Court since the building opened in 1935. Practitioners and former clerks at the Court have fond memories of the shop and especially of Rollins’ predecessor, Johnnie Shaw, who retired after suffering a stroke in 2000. David Frederick of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, who clerked at the Court in 1991, says, “It was a great convenience to have the barbershop there on site, although it was not as efficient as one might think, since [Shaw] cut hair with such care and precision that a haircut could last longer than an hour.” The “follicle by follicle” haircuts by Shaw would be interspersed with lots of talk about sports and other topics of the day, though Frederick says he was “very discreet about the justices.” Nonetheless, Shaw made it clear who his favorite justice was. He had turned a barber chair on one side of the shop into what amounted to a shrine to Justice William O. Douglas, Frederick says. A picture of Douglas sat on the chair, and it was surrounded by garlands and decorations, Frederick recalls. Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood’s D.C. office, also got his hair cut by Shaw when he clerked for then-Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1978. “It was quite an experience,” Phillips says. Shaw was “a huge sports fan, and he just talked my ear off, and everyone else’s, while he clipped away.” Gregory Garre at Hogan & Hartson says he was too “follicly challenged” to have taken advantage of the high court barbershop when he clerked in 1992, but he, like others, has warm memories. “The barbershop helped contribute to the strong sense of community at the Supreme Court,” says Garre. “Much like barbershops anywhere, the barbershop at the Supreme Court was a great leveler, where clerks, employees, and even justices would wait to get their hair cut by the same person and enjoy the same conversations and camaraderie about the topics of the day.” ANOTHER INAUGURATION A week before Chief Justice William Rehnquist swore in President George W. Bush to a second term as president last month, Justice Clarence Thomas presided over a little-noticed inauguration inside the Court building that has generated some controversy. In an invitation-only ceremony, Thomas on Jan. 13 gave the oath of office to newly elected Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, a close prot�g� and former aide to one-time Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore was ousted from office in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the judicial building rotunda in Montgomery, Ala. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says that by associating himself with someone closely identified with Moore, Thomas was “thumbing his nose” at current church-state doctrine just weeks before the Supreme Court considers two cases on the constitutionality of displays of the Ten Commandments on public property. “If Thomas ever had any chance of becoming chief justice, this action should kill it,” says Lynn. Parker declines to be interviewed about the event, stating through a spokesman, “I was honored that Justice Thomas would swear me in, but it was a private ceremony. I will continue to treat it as such out of respect for him.” How did the high court event come about? In a statement issued on the day he was sworn in, Parker said, “Shortly after I was elected, I requested to be sworn in by Justice Thomas because if anyone symbolizes courage under fire, it’s Justice Clarence Thomas. He is a man who stands up for what he believes and defends our Constitution even when viciously attacked.” Parker continued, “I greatly admire him for his tenacious adherence to the original intent interpretation of the Constitution and strict statutory construction.” The statement said the ceremony was attended by “a small group of friends and family.” The following day, Parker was back in Montgomery for a second, less official swearing-in by none other than Moore himself. “I have been doubly blessed to have been sworn into office by two heroes of the judiciary,” Parker said in a statement. In remarks he gave after his second swearing-in, Parker reported that the day before, Thomas “admonished us to remember that the work of a justice should be evaluated by one thing and one thing only � whether or not he is faithful to uphold his oath, an oath which, as Justice Thomas pointed out, is not to the people, not to the state, and not to the constitution, but an oath which is to God Himself.” Parker continued, “I stand here today, humbled by this charge, but a grateful man who aspires to adhere to that tradition embodied in the sentiments spoken to me yesterday by Justice Clarence Thomas, and the commitment to our Founders’ vision of authority and the rule of law personified by Chief Justice Roy Moore.” Parker concluded, “May we boldly proclaim that it is God, Jesus Christ, who gives us life and liberty. May we, as justices who have taken oaths to our God, never fear to acknowledge Him. And may the Alabama Supreme Court lead this nation in our gratitude, humility, and deference, to the only true source of law, our Creator.” Lynn of Americans United says Thomas’ agreement to swear in Parker is “a clear signal from Thomas that he condones religiously based defiance of the federal courts by state officials. Parker is known for only one thing � his association with Commandments [and] Judge Roy Moore. By swearing in Parker, Thomas is saluting an extreme version of states’ rights.” Thomas declines to comment, but John Eastman, a former Thomas clerk who is now professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., dismisses Lynn’s criticism: “I applaud Justice Thomas for not shying away from swearing in someone who happens to believe in God.” GUIDING THE MASTERS With zero fanfare, the Court has issued new guidelines that will bring structure to one of the least-known parts of its caseload: the original jurisdiction cases in which the Court appoints special masters. “Original cases,” assigned to the Court by the Constitution, usually are border disputes between states triggered by shifting river beds, or conflicts over the rights to water that flows through several states. The Supreme Court is the first stop for these cases, so they arrive without a factual record. To accomplish that fact-finding, the Court appoints special masters who hold hearings and make recommendations to the Court � a process that often takes years. The Court used to appoint mainly retired justices and federal judges as special masters, but in recent decades, private practitioners and law professors have been picked. Practitioners and even some special masters themselves have for some time wished that the Court would guide their work with procedural guidelines, if not rules. So the clerk’s office began the project last year and has issued guidelines as prepared by Deputy Clerk Cynthia Rapp. Most of the guidelines are routine, relating to case management issues that arise in this complex and often-contentious type of litigation. One sign of the Court’s embrace of technology is the suggestion that masters create a Web site for the posting of dockets and documents in the case. The guidelines point to a Web site maintained by George Washington University Law School professor Gregory Maggs, the special master in the current case United States v. Alaska. Interestingly, the guidelines drop a hint or two for special masters urging them to move the cases along and not to charge excessive fees. Fees are approved by the Court, but are paid by the parties to the case. Masters have charged from $250 an hour to $450 an hour, and ordinarily the Court will go along if the parties do not object. But the guidelines pointedly note that in 1984, then-Chief Justice Warren Burger objected to the high fees charged by a special master and noted the “public service aspect” of being appointed special master. Former Maine Chief Justice Vincent McKusick, a three-time special master and a scholar of original cases, says the guidelines are “long overdue” and will help new special masters hit the ground running. McKusick, of counsel at the Pierce Atwood firm in Portland, Maine, who consulted with Rapp in the preparation of the guidelines, says that, by issuing guidelines rather than rules, the Court will allow masters to retain flexibility in managing their cases. And McKusick approves of the guideline that hints that masters should not overbill the parties: “Being appointed as special master is not only a public service but a great honor, so they ought not to expect to be paid the same as they might be by a corporate client.” Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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