Today we turn our attention to the 17th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court — John G. Roberts.

At the time of his appointment in 2005, he was the third youngest to be appointed to the position. You need to go back to the early 19th century to find a younger man. So expect him to stay in this lifetime appointment for years to come.

He’s not flashy. Makes headlines by virtue of his job description. His views are often described as “Traditional”. Perhaps that’s a good thing. A little caution and tradition when dealing with issues affecting 350+ million residents is appropriate.

Expect him, and his co-workers, to make the several times this term. An important (okay, only important cases are considered at the court) decision on a portion of the Affordable Care Act (health care) is before the court. On a previous portion of the law Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote. Will he do so again?

Stay tuned.

Season Ending

All good things must come to an end. Or at least a pause.

Remember the crop with fondness. And tingling taste buds if you were lucky enough to sample a few. I had a small sample — decent for an afternoon snack and I could taste the potential of a cooking apple. Mmmmm. Pie.

A rest will do the apple tree good. I can picture it now, sap retreating from fine twigs to small limbs, to sturdy branches, then trunk and into the roots. Cold is coming. Mind those roots!

Keep them hydrated. Enjoy the late fall rain. Hoard the snow with insulation as well as moisture.

I’ll be checking in during the winter. Waiting for spring, warmth, buds and blossoms developing into the delicious fruit again.

Ready to Rest

Ready to Rest

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Do you want to interview a US Supreme Court Justice? Are you a member of a recognized media organization? May I suggest you approach Sonia Sotomayor.

While her workspace and sometimes her opinions are separate from the other justices of the court, she’s more likely to respond to requests from those outside of judicial circles.

Justice Sotomayor is only the third woman ever appointed to the court. Justice O’Connor retired three years prior to her confirmation. I can almost see Justice Ginsburg smile in welcome.

This lady’s path to her current position started in the Bronx and went through Yale Law School. Her father, a tool & die maker, died when she was still a child. Her mother, a nurse, emphasized education for both of her children. They are now a judge and a physician — the woman should be proud.

Several years as a prosecutor were followed by some time in private practice. It was her pro bono work at this time that brought her to the attention of politicians and a seat on the US District Court.

She’s the first Latina to sit on the highest court in the land. In her decisions she remembers her past and frequently votes with the “liberal” block of justices. This does not however, silence her own voice as she’s been known to write separate opinions and dissents in addition to casting her vote.


Echoes across Time

Can you hear it? Faint sounds of shovels into dirt, nails into wood, sandbags hoisted into place.

They’re growing faint with time. It’s been an even century now. Yes, during the autumn of 1914 soldiers dug trenches. They prepared for winter. They prepared for defense.

During September 1914, French and British troops halted the German advance toward Paris. They managed to force a retreat — but not a great long one.

A trench was not a new defense. Both sides used them during the American Civil War. Moats and trenches around castles spotted the European battlefields centuries before that.

But the Great War, now known as WWI, brought trench warfare to it’s pinnacle. (Or low point if you were an infantryman.)

Trenches defined the front lines. No-man’s land came to mean the killing field between the opposing army trenches. Yes, lines shifted at times. Trenches would be captured with their supplies, communication equipment, and soldiers.

And the trenches killed men. They killed with a portion would collapse. They killed with wet and penetrating cold in winter. They killed with disease.

Can you hear something else? The silence. Four long, deadly years after those first trenches were constructed outside of Paris — the guns go silent. Armistice. Peace. A generation will grow to manhood and pick up arms to fight armies across many of the same miles.

Salute a veteran today. Remember a veteran today. Pause for a minute at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.



Integrity. Prudent. Cautious.

These are three of the words used by his peers to describe Samuel Alito prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Justice Alito is a product of the East Coast. He was born in New Jersey, educated at Yale, and served in several positions within this geographical area. He’s also the son of teachers, a characteristic he shares with others on the court.

He was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush and took his seat early in 2006. His opinions and dissents fall on the conservative side of the issues of today.

The media coverage of Justice Alito is unflattering. All but the official biographical sketches dwell on brief breaches of manners — the sort of whispered word or facial expression that would be ignored by a non-judicial official.

It will be interesting if he happens to write any of the opinions of the major cases currently before the court. Then the public will have more actual thoughtful words to shape their own attitude.


Important Minutes

Are you a U.S. citizen? Over age 18? Registered to vote?

Have you voted today?

No?  Then why are you spending precious minutes reading this. You should be walking, driving, taking a bus or finding a train to get to your polling station.

Important issues are on your ballot. Every one of us has a choice to make for a member of congress. Geography decides if you have a US Senator or State Governor on the ballot. And decisions on bond issues, state tax procedures, and state constitutional amendments are included.

Yes? Congratulations!!!  Thank you for helping government work.

In Honor

Your Vote Keeps it Flying




Today we are at the mid-point in our introductions to Supreme Court Justices. Several things in this man’s biography set him apart. Some are obvious. Others not so much.

Clarence Thomas was born and raised in the Savannah, GA area. He is the only member of the court from the South, the only African-American, the sole member to have studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood (left seminary before ordination), and the only member discussed thus far to have not attended Harvard Law School. His law degree is from Yale.

Justice Thomas worked for a corporation prior to his first government duties, aide to Senator John Danforth. His first experience as a judge came in a US Appeals Court and lasted less than two years before he was appointed to his current position.

His confirmation by the Senate was widely discussed in the media. Some thought he lacked judicial experience. Others stepped forward at the hearings and introduced the term and concept of “sexual harassment” into public conversation. In the end, he was confirmed by a narrow margin.

Today he rarely asks questions during oral arguments, preferring to work quietly and within the confines of the court rules. His views are conservative. To the disappointment of many, this includes opposition to affirmative action.


Tread Careful

It’s coming. All Hallows Eve. Have you planned your costume? Purchased candy?

Then the question arises: Where shall we go? Are we planning a route for maximum sweets? Do we want a little heart stopping fear? A good place to scare another costumed human? Adult or child?

Not much moon for light this year. Clouds could make it very, very dark here. Careful you don’t trip. Or disturb the residents.


This neighborhood is more Trick than Treat.



Does it work? Will it have consequences beyond a narrow intention? Is this ruling necessary?

These are some of the questions which likely surface in bold letters for the topic of today’s post — Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Two things he has in common with last week’s profiled justice are: born in California and a degree from Stanford. There are more, as you would expect with ambitious lawyers. Also many differences in the path taken to the Supreme Court and in their private lives.

Just for fun, lets mention of few of the steps on Justice Breyer’s path.

Raised in a Jewish home. An Eagle Scout. Married an English citizen. Professor. Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. (Glad I never had a work title that long or complicated.) Judge at federal appeals level.

Practical and pragmatic carries into his personal life. This is the Justice most likely to be seen hiking or attending a sporting event.

He asks good questions.  Will this work? Will this last?



Home, Jack!

Chauffeur. Driver.

Sounds luxurious. Carefree.    Expensive.

I’ve not calculated it. But my guess is that over 99% of the time I’m in a car, I’m the driver. On the odd time I’m not — it’s a luxury. Unless I’ve been requested to navigate I have options. Enjoy the scenery. Look over the edge and check the flood or drought stage of the river. Not think about which streets are one way. Or will the other drivers play nice and take turns at the four-way stop?

My parents picked up the phrase from a movie. Yes, they actually had “talking pictures” at that time. And to the end of his life, when dad got into a car as a passenger it was “Home, James.”

The ride below looks like a treat. On a sunny fall day. With a trained horse. But the driver is not James –

Take us home, Jack!

Take us home, Jack!

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