Welcome to the fifth annual "First Monday in October" quiz, our customary warm-up to the Supreme Court's new term, which this year is starting off with bang of big issues. But before we try to wrap our brains around the intricacies of campaign finance law, voting rights or federalism, here's a test of the lighter side of the court. As usual, there's a range of questions, some to challenge the Clarence Darrow wannabes and some for the uninitiated.
1. How many justices have there been in the Supreme Court's 210-year history?
a) 210, b) 108, c) 54
2. What is the federal judiciary's constitutional relationship with the Congress?
a) As indicated by the Senate's role in confirming judicial nominees, Congress is in charge of the courts.
b) As indicated by the Supreme Court's recent federalism rulings, the judiciary is in charge of Congress.
c) The judiciary and Congress, as well as the executive branch, are co-equal.
3. Which of the following are requirements for appointment to the court?
a) The nominee must be at least 35.
b) He or she must be a native-born citizen.
c) He or she must be a lawyer.
d) None of the above. There are no requirements.
4. Today the justices meet in a small wood-paneled conference room to decide which appeals to hear and how to rule in a case. No clerks, secretaries or others are allowed in. What happens when someone knocks?
a) Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist personally answers.
b) Justice Stephen Breyer, the most junior member, responds.
c) The justices all stop talking and pretend they're not there.
d) No one ever knocks during conference.
5. Many people thought Rehnquist put those gold stripes on the sleeves of his black robe just for the Clinton impeachment trial earlier this year, but he actually had done that four years earlier. Which dramatic work inspired him?
a) Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance"
b) Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe."
c) Clayburgh and Matthau's "The First Monday in October."
6. Who said the following and under what circumstances: "Putting men in such an environment and paying them $20,000 a year for life makes it impossible for them to understand the pressing problems of the average American, who has to hustle for a living, with no assurance of an old age pension of $30 a month."
a) President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1935 when the justices were moving into their then-new marble building across from the Capitol.
b) Rep. Eugene B. Crowe (D-Ind.), also in 1935, regarding the same situation.
c) House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), last year, discussing possible judicial impeachments.
7. Except for oral arguments in the courtroom, is it easy today for the justices to avoid contact with the public when they go about their business at the court?
a) Yes, they drive their cars into a private garage and then use a private elevator to go up to their chambers, on a floor that is closed to visitors, and they eat in a private dining room.
b) No, the justices use public entrances and exits like everyone else.
c) The justices could keep themselves from public view, but most of them mill around with the public on the lower floor where tourists are allowed.
8. As suggested above, the justices were earning about $20,000 a year in 1935. How much do they make today?
a) They all earn $100,000.
b) The associate justices make $100,000, but the chief makes $200,000.
c) The associates make $167,900 a year; the chief, $175,400.
9. The court's marble building is indeed an architectual wonder. What distinctive feature does it have in common with the Vatican and Paris Opera House?
a) A spiral, self-supporting, marble staircase that goes from the basement to the top of the building, each step cantilevered from the wall.
b) Hidden robing rooms that open only to individuals who have the secret combinations.
c) Vaulted ceilings with Roman numeral gold detailing.
10. What is a "robing room"?
a) The seamstress's cubicle where the justices' garments are made.
b) A room within the chief justice's chambers where the justices don their black robes for oral arguments.
c) The lawyers' lounge; the name traces to the 1800s when solicitors used to wear lounging robes.
11. What souvenir does the court give to lawyers who argue cases there?
a) White quill pens.
b) Autographed photographs of the chief justice.
c) An insider's tour, including the marble staircases.
d) There are no souvenirs.
12. What did Rehnquist get as a souvenir for presiding over the Senate during the Clinton impeachment trial?
a) Majority Leader Trent Lott's autograph.
b) President Clinton's autograph.
c) A plaque with a golden gavel on it.
d) A T-shirt that said, "I survived the Clinton impeachment trial."
13. Who said: "Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation"?
a) George Washington
b) Chief Justice John Marshall.
c) Alexander Hamilton.
14. Who was the first chief justice?
15. Who was the only person to serve both as president and a justice?
16. Who was the only justice impeached by the House of Representatives?
17. Who was the only justice to resign under pressure?
18. Because of ill-timed judicial retirements, four presidents were never able to make an appointment to the Supreme Court. Which of these four unlucky presidents is the only one who served a full term?
a) William Henry Harrison
b) Zachary Taylor
c) Andrew Johnson
d) Jimmy Carter.
19. If George W. Bush is elected president and a vacancy arises, whom will he nominate for the Supreme Court?
a) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
b) Federal Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th Circuit.
c) Federal Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit.
d) None of the above.
20. If Vice President Al Gore is elected president, whom will he nominate to the Supreme Court?
a) Former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum
b) Former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine)
c) Hillary Rodham Clinton.
d) None of the above.
1 (b), 2 (c), 3 (d), 4 (b), 5 (b), 6 (b), 7 (a), 8 (c), 9 (a), 10 (b), 11 (a), 12 (c), 13 (c), 14 (John Jay, 1789-1795), 15 (William Howard Taft, 1921-30; he was president 1909-13), 16 (Samuel Chase, 1796-1811, but he was acquitted by the Senate), 17 (Abe Fortas, 1965-69), 18 (d), 19 (d, but that's only a guess), 20 (see answer to 19.)