Real World Troubles for High Court Justice

Supreme Court Justices are sometimes accused of being disconnected from the world in which the rest of us live, thereby compromising their ability to make legal decisions that properly take into account the impact upon “ordinary” people. 

Justice Stephen Breyer might disagree.  The 73-year-old Breyer and his wife were robbed by a machete-wielding man earlier this month while vacationing in the West Indies. The robbery took place in the couple’s vacation home when a masked man stole approximately $1,000 before leaving without harming the Breyers or their guests.

Strange as it might seem, this isn’t even that unusual. Breyer’s experience puts him in the unfortunate company of fellow Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg – who was victimized by a purse snatcher in 1996 while walking with her family a few blocks from the Supreme Court building – and former Justice David Souter – who was assaulted by two men in 2004 while jogging near the Potomac River.

Ironically, crimes like these are much more likely to find the Justices because they are – despite their status as leaders of judicial branch – relatively anonymous compared to their counterparts in the legislative and executive branches, whose leaders receive far greater personal protection. There have been calls for improved security measures, but let’s hope that the Justices can retain as much freedom as possible to drive their own cars, shop in their local grocery stores, and freely walk the streets of Washington, D.C. That way, they’ll be better equipped to hear the cases of more “ordinary” Americans.      

Posted: 2/22/2012 7:13:10 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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