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U.S. Supreme Court

Will Souter Resign? Is Alito Angry? Reporter Dishes with Readers

Posted Jan 28, 2009 9:54 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Washington Post’s U.S. Supreme Court reporter speculates on the possibility of a resignation by one Supreme Court justice and a grudge by another in a question-and-answer session with readers.

Robert Barnes, who covers the high court, doesn’t agree with talk that Justice David H. Souter will step down in June. “I think they would agree that predicting a Supreme Court vacancy is the hardest thing in politics,” he says in the Washington Post. “There is no question that Souter does not like Washington, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like being a Supreme Court justice. Again, we will all be nervously watching the end of the term, but I would not be surprised if no one left the court this year.”

Another reader wants to know more about Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and notes (as reported in the Los Angeles Times) that he did not attend a meet-and-greet session with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, both of whom voted against the justice’s confirmation. “Is [Alito] as much of a problem as he seems?” the reader wants to know. In the reader’s estimation, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “comes across to me as truly having a judicial temperament and leadership, but Alito seems like a guy with a chip on his shoulder.”

Barnes responds this way: “Alito has made several remarks that indicate he did not, shall we say, enjoy the confirmation. He has also said the press has made too much of them, and that reporters can't recognize when he is joking. Neither the court nor Alito have said why he was not at the get-together with Obama and Biden. He was there that morning for oral arguments, but the meeting was somewhat hastily arranged, even though the invitation had been issued in December.”

Another reader took exception with Barnes’ response to a reader who wondered whether Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is trying to influence potential jurors in his upcoming political corruption trial with his media blitz. “And they say journalists are cynical,” Barnes wrote.

That prompted this missive from a reader: “They say journalists are cynical? Um ... no they don't. They say journalists are lazy, unprepared, too-easily swayed by simple (but misleading arguments), not skeptical enough, and too apt to throw out the tenets of good journalism for attribution-free he-said/she-said. But cynical? Not so much.”

Barnes’ response: “Oh. My bad.”

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