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Stevens Talks Cubs, Pulls ‘Rank’ and Gives Kagan Top Billing at 7th Circuit Dinner

Posted May 4, 2010 9:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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There were several U.S. Supreme Court prospects attending a Chicago meeting of the 7th Circuit Bar Association, but just one got top billing at a dinner Monday evening, thanks to the man who declined the spot, Justice John Paul Stevens.

“I pulled rank,” the soon-to-be-retired justice told the audience, refusing to take the top speaking role, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Instead, Stevens gave an eight-minute introductory speech before the keynote speaker took the podium: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said to be a leading candidate to replace the justice.

Stevens talked about his beloved Cubs and the World Series game he attended when Babe Ruth made his famous called home run, according to the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Stevens had always remembered that the ball sailed over the Wrigley Field scoreboard, but he began to doubt himself when a young lawyer said his grandfather had caught the ball in left field. He had a law clerk do some research, and learned that Babe Ruth hit two home runs that day and he had been right.

Kagan acknowledged Stevens’ story, saying Stevens drafts his own opinions rather than letting his law clerks do it, the Sun-Times story says. "Some of my best friends are Justice Stevens' law clerks," Kagan said. "But I've never understood what they do, really, but now I know: He gives them assignments about home runs."

Other rumored Supreme Court prospects at the conference included appeals judges Diane Wood and Ann Williams. Earlier Monday, Wood “moderated a very dry seminar about changing standards for dismissing lawsuits,” the Sun-Times says.

Stevens flew to Chicago on the same plane as singing sensation Justin Bieber.

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