June is not known as a time for levity on the Supreme Court, but the new kid on the block, Justice Antonin Scalia, managed to create a light-hearted moment yesterday.
It came as he recited, in somewhat excruciating detail, a ruling on judicial review of Interstate Commerce Commission decisions.
Most justices, in announcing court opinions, usually summarize the facts and the legal holding in a minute or two, even for the most important cases. Scalia, however, went on for several minutes, weaving through various legal considerations before announcing the high court vote (5 to 4) on the ICC case.
Then Scalia, who had announced only six earlier rulings, fewer than any of his colleagues, forgot to list the dissenters as custom requires.
"Why don't you let the people know who disagreed with you?" prompted Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, smiling along with other justices as the audience laughed.
"Oh, yes," Scalia said. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a contrary opinion, Scalia said, and Stevens was joined by "Justices Brennan and Marshall and . . . ah . . . Blackmun," he finally remembered.
Absent yesterday was Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., who was at the Mayo Clinic for a routine checkup.Esprit de Leather . . .
Ace pilots had the look in 1948: leather jacket, white silk scarf and a 50-mission cap to show that they'd flown through the flak. Part of that look is back, even if it may cost the Air Force up to $5 million.
The service has announced it "intends to renew the tradition" of issuing leather flying jackets. The jackets are a way of "enhancing esprit" and, the Air Force hopes, a way to keep pilots reenlisting.Judicial Tradeoff . . .
The Justice Department has caved in to pressure from Pennsylvania's Republican senators and agreed to recommend their candidate to the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. Assistant Attorney General Stephen J. Markman had blocked the nomination of veteran state judge James McGregor since early last year with an internal report criticizing his record as too liberal.
But after a series of meetings with Sens. Arlen Specter and John Heinz -- and implied threats that the lawmakers might hold up other judicial nominees -- Markman went to the Hill Friday to tell Specter that McGregor's name would be submitted for an FBI background check, along with two other district court nominees entangled in the dispute. In return, the Pennsylvanians promised not to make trouble for two nominees to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes their state.The Waiting Ends . . .
Washington works, if slowly. The Senate confirmed Charles E. Redman as assistant secretary of state for public affairs last week, the job he's held since last Oct. 21. Redman became the department's chief spokesman when Bernard Kalb resigned after reports of the administration's disinformation campaign against Libya were published.