Clerking for Justice Souter



Adam Gopnik once observed that “Paris is a struggle between its pompous official culture and its matchless … commonplace civilization.” The aphorism applies even more clearly to the Supreme Court. It is an institution cloaked in formality, from the ceremonies of First Monday to the grand generalities it invokes in its ruling. It is also an institution that takes itself extremely seriously, with its strongest opinions penned when it thinks another institution—Congress in passing Commerce Clause legislation or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Florida supreme court during Bush v. Gore—is treading on the Court's privileges. The Court's pompous officious culture contributes to the studied cynicism lawyers exhibit whenever they talk about judges.