In addition to teaching law students creative writing and constitutional law, Garrett Epps, a former reporter with the Washington Post, is a student of judicial body language. Please take a look at his piece that ran yesterday in the Atlantic. It is entitled, “Justice Alito’s Inexcusable Rudeness; A justice of the Supreme Court should not act like a high schooler on the bench; when the target is a fellow justice, the offense is even greater.”
Assume Justice Alito did exactly what Epp alleges. That is, while Justice Ginsburg was summarizing her dissent on Monday addressing his majority opinion, “Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head ‘no.'” Why should anyone care?
The Justices are human beings and very weary ones right about now. A grimace, grin, nose wrinkle, ear tug, eye roll, a silent “no” and the like in response to your colleague’s dissent from an opinion you worked your butt off to craft is hardly worth writing about in the Atlantic–unless, of course, you teach creative writing and you really don’t like someone. God, how I hate Washington.
PS Several times, I have had occasion to spend a little time with Justice Alito. He strikes me as a serious but painfully shy man. Several times, I have had occasion to spend a little time with Justice Ginsburg. Reserved but gracious, she strikes me as someone who needs no defenders.