During a recent discussion in Boston, retired Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter chatted with veteran Supreme Court journalist Linda Greenhouse about how the public image of judges – including Supreme Court justices – has changed over the years.
She said she was struck by it while watching a recent oral argument.
“I sat there, and I looked up at the bench,” O’Connor said. “Nine positions. And it was absolutely incredible: on the far right was a woman. Boom, boom, boom,” she said, her hand motioning to describe the justice’s positions, “was a woman. On the far left was a woman. Three of them! Now, think of it! It was incredible!”
O’Connor said the changes were a long time coming.
“You know it took 191 years to get the first” woman on the Court, she said to laughter from the crowd. “And we’re moving a little more rapidly now. I was pretty impressed.”
Greenhouse noted that most Americans don’t get a chance to see the diversity on the Supreme Court from themselves. Cameras are barred from the Court, so only those who travel to Washington to see live oral arguments see the image of the full Court.
“Here we are on C-SPAN, and C-SPAN has a dog in that fight,” Greenhouse said, noting the network’s long advocacy in favor of allowing cameras at the Court.
Souter, who once famously said cameras would be allowed in the Court “over my dead body,” hasn’t changed his mind.
“[That’s] a fight which I hope C-Span loses,” Souter said.