Every now and then there is a news report that conveys a world of rich detail in one simple sentence. This may have been missed by some, but on Monday morning Nina Totenberg spoke one of those sentences in an NPR report on the way that members of the Supreme Court approach the task of writing. I’ve highlighted that sentence in the excerpt below:
“The only good way to learn about writing is to read good writing,” says Chief Justice John Roberts.
That sentiment is echoed by Breyer, who points to Proust, Stendhal and Montesquieu as his inspirations. Justice Anthony Kennedy loves Hemingway, Shakespeare, Solzhenitsyn, Dickens and Trollope.
Justice Thomas says a good legal brief reminds him of the TV show 24. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says one of the great influences on her writing was her European literature professor at Cornell, Vladimir Nabokov — yes, the same Nabokov who later rocked the literary world with his widely acclaimed novel Lolita.
Somehow it is not a surprise to see that a man who thinks in talking points finds comfort in the predictable, repetitive and formulaic prose of bad TV. Perhaps this helps to explain how he became the most corrupt and actively partisan Supreme Court Justice in generations. And that leads to an interesting question: does rigidity of thought lead to corruption or does corruption lead to rigidity of thought?
And with that, how about a fresh open thread.