This weekend, in flyover country, the humanity and civility of Supreme Court Justices was on full display–and that is a wonderful thing

Photo credit: NATI HARNIK/The Associated Press

Photo credit: Nati Harnik/The Associated Press. Chief Justice Roberts and Chief Judge Bill Riley of the Eighth Circuit. Chief Judge Riley sits on the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States and is highly regarded nationally.  He and I went to law school together and we have long been friends. He is a great guy.

Chief Justice John Roberts spoke at the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday, and then he attended the barn burner of a game on Saturday night where the Huskers defeated Miami. See here. At roughly the same time, Justice Clarence Thomas spoke in Tyler, Texas, prompting editorial praise: “When U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at The University of Texas at Tyler, he spoke softly. He spoke without rancor, without partisanship and without demonizing his opponents.”

If you read the news coverage of these events you will see that the Justices each took pains to distinguish the Third Branch from the political branches of government. A reader of that coverage would, unless he or she was a terrible cynic, come to realize that the Supreme Court is radically different from the Executive and Legislative branches of government both in terms of the quality of the decision makers and how they do their work.

The Justices are brilliant and serious people. Despite their substantive differences, they like each other. They are humble despite their accomplishments. They are funny in a wry and self-deprecating manner. They honestly believe that none of them are partisans. They like football and steak just like many of us do. They also don’t mind a beer or two. While they are happy to be liked, they don’t campaign for public acclaim or acceptance. Every decision they make is accompanied by a reasoned analysis, rather than political mumbo jumbo.

When the Justices take time to come to the sticks and speak quietly about their work, they do enormous good for the institution of the Supreme Court. Here’s hoping that they continue to see more tumbleweed in the years to come.

Photo credit: My Way. This foreign blogger who traveled across the United States by car added, "I see my first ever tumbleweed in Nebraska, that's all I have to say about Nebraska."

Photo credit: My Way. This young English blogger who traveled across the United States by car added, “I see my first ever tumbleweed in Nebraska, that’s all I have to say about Nebraska.” If he had cared about American history and the opening of the West, this highway would have taken him to the Homestead National Monument of America. The dismissive English blogger even got the Highway number wrong. He was on Highway 136, not 163.



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