Supreme Court shows up for work despite storm

Bill O'Leary / The Washington Post

The full Supreme Court showed up for work Monday morning -- and there were even two justices to spare.

Besides all current justices, retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor watched the court hear two cases, along with Hironobu Takesaki, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Japan. The top jurists of foreign countries are often guests of the court, and O'Connor maintains chambers at the building. She frequently returns to watch her former colleagues or when a former clerk argues before the justices.

With much of official Washington closed, it was a full house at the court, with lawyers and tourists filling the chamber. The court heard cases about national security and a consumer case involving the resale of goods manufactured overseas.

The court often remains open when the rest of the federal government closes, taking pride in braving snowstorms or other inclement conditions. However, it announced it was closing the building at 2 p.m. Monday, and the arguments scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed until Thursday. The justices have not yet confirmed that they will keep their regularly scheduled Wednesday session .

The weather entered the court's proceedings twice, both times when Justice Stephen G. Breyer was questioning lawyers about the future. "All right. Fine," Breyer said. "That's why I say certainly- - it might not be a storm tomorrow. I mean, you know, nothing is certain."

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.
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