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Garrow: reporters should search for seizure info

When President George W. Bush makes even a mundane visit to the doctor’s office for a checkup, the press covers every detail. Yet when the man who sits in arguably the second most powerful position in the country suffers a seizure and collapses, then returns to work offering little explanation and refusing to answer questions about it, the press lets him slide.

That’s the position of David Garrow, a University of Cambridge professor and expert on ailing Supreme Court justices, who is blasting the apparent pass news reporters have given Chief Justice John G. Roberts according to the Courtside column in today’s Legal Times (second item).

Garrow isn’t shy about saying what he really thinks about Supreme Court chiefs who are less than chatty about their health issues. After the passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Garrow took the press to task about not diving further into reports of Rehnquist’s alleged liberal use of the sedative-hypnotic Placidyl during his tenure on the Court, given the Chief’s “publicly visible struggle with deleterious overmedication.”

Now Garrow is at it again. Though he usually directs attention to older justices – and even advocated for a constitutional amendment requiring justices to retire at 75 – this time Garrow is taking aim at press for not pressing the current 52-year-old Chief Justice to explain just what the heck happened on that July afternoon in Maine, and whether it could happen again. Roberts has not volunteered information, nor has he provided any when asked.

“He is behaving in completely Rehnquistian fashion, saying absolutely nothing and presuming that ‘the public be damned’ – that justices’ medical conditions do not involve the public interest and are entirely private,” Garrow told the Legal Times’ Tony Mauro.

We don’t know what Roberts thinks of Garrow’s complaint because . . . wait for it . . . he declined comment.

One comment

  1. First, the quote about the “public be[ing] damned . . .” is just plain rediculous. Being a servant to the public does not mean one gives up every ounce of one’s individual autonomy. One does not cease to be oneself simply because he is in a position that serves the public. I doubt that Justice Roberts was thinking that the “public be damned” when he did not share his Personal Health Information to a prying press.

    Second, if Justice Roberts wants to decline comment then good for him. He took the high-road rather than lowering himself to Garrow’s level of accusation and complaining.

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