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Quoted: Holder ponders future

“Do I think that there are things that I still want to do? Do I have gas left in the tank? It’s been an interesting and tough four years. I just really don’t know. I don’t know at this point.”

-Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., speculating openly about his future while speaking at the University of Baltimore Law School yesterday (via CNN).

Quoted: Ginsburg’s sign of the times

“I was very lucky to be born at the right time. If I had been born a generation earlier, my arguments would have fallen on deaf ears. It was the women’s movement… that made it possible for the Supreme Court to do what it did.”

~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking at a recent  judicial conference in California about successfully arguing before the high court in gender-based discrimination cases when she was an attorney for the ACLU.

Quoted: Justice Stevens on retiring (perhaps too soon)

“Oddly enough, since that time, I’ve felt fine and I’m sure the way the last year has gone, I would have been perfectly capable of continuing the job because I’ve continued to do a fair amount of writing that I’ve enjoyed. That’s one of the things that I enjoyed particularly about the job – I liked doing the writing. And, of course, the work is challenging. But I may have jumped the gun a little bit.”

~ Justice John Paul Stevens, 91, speaking in an interview with AARP’s Inside E Street about his decision to retire last year after stumbling while announcing his dissent in Citizens United v. FEC – a decision he now admits may have been a bit premature.

Quoted: Ginsburg on staying put

“Couldn’t think of leaving until after it is returned to me, which won’t be anytime soon.”

~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a note to the Associated Press, saying that she will not consider retirement from the Supreme Court bench before the conclusion of a traveling art exhibition that includes a painting by Josef Albers that usually hangs in her office.

Quoted: A Dickens of a case

“This ‘suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that . . . no two . . . lawyers can talk about it for five minutes, without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause: innumerable young people have married into it;’ and, sadly, the original parties ‘have died out of it.’ A ‘long procession of [judges] has come in and gone out’ during that time, and still the suit ‘drags its weary length before the Court.’
“Those words were not written about this case, but they could have been.”

~ Chief Justice John G. Roberts, quoting Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” to describe the long-running legal battle between the estate of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall and the estate of pinup and reality star Anna Nicole Smith in Stern v. Marshall. (More on yesterday’s ruling here on Lawyers USA online).

Quoted: Kagan’s java joke

“This decision involves a very complex procedural issue. And if you understand anything I say here, you will likely be a lawyer, and you will have had your morning cup of coffee.”

~Justice Elena Kagan, warning the audience at the Supreme Court yesterday before summarizing the Court’s opinion in the case Smith v. Bayer, which held that a federal district court cannot enjoin a state court from certifying a product liability class action based on an earlier decision the federal court made not to certify a class in a related case brought by different plaintiffs.

Quoted: Liu withdraws (access required)

“With no possibility of an up-or-down vote on the horizon, my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future. … In addition, the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit has noted the ‘desperate need for judges’ to fill current vacancies, and it is now clear that continuing my nomination will not address that need any time soon.”

~ Goodwin Liu, in a letter Wednesday to President Barack Obama withdrawing his nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a Republican-led filibuster.

Quoted: Breyer on confirmation process (access required)

“Asking that is like looking at a dish of chicken à la king and asking the chicken for its perspective! It is stressful – 17 senators who can ask whatever they want on one side of the table and me on the other, 10-15 million people watching on television. Luckily I was very boring and most of the viewers probably turned off. I was confirmed, so it has a happy ending for me.”

~ Justice Stephen Breyer, speaking to The Scotsman about what Supreme Court confirmation hearings are like.

Quoted: Breyer on suspicion and democracy (access required)

“People are suspicious of institutions. The younger they are, they are more concerned and suspicious. We are 300 million people in this country, and we can’t live without them because we live like human beings do. We do it democratically. Therefore, people have to understand how their institutions work. If they are going to be cynical, let’s put that into perspective, and let’s understand the good as well as the bad. A man and a woman are going into the supermarket, and they have a lot to do. They have children. They may have grandchildren, and they may have a job. I think it’s important enough for people going into the supermarket to understand.”

~ Justice Stephen Breyer, speaking in West Palm Beach about why people need to understand institutions like the U.S. Supreme Court.