The opinions that the U.S. Supreme Court hands down from the bench are newsworthy and entertaining enough all by themselves. But in recent months, justices have supplemented the public discourse with insightful speeches and dramatic warnings — even an insulting hand gesture or two.

Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, embellishing speeches they had delivered in the past, made news by firmly pushing back against Republican criticisms of the judiciary. O’Connor warned of the potential damage to judicial independence, and Ginsburg said the criticism inspired an Internet death threat she and O’Connor received in 2005.

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