Tuesday, January 07, 2003

A Story from the Supreme Court
At the beginning of the current Supreme Court term, a friend of mine who's clerking at the court invited me over for a behind-the-scenes tour. One of our stops was to a small room lined with books; I believe it was a library reserved for the justices and their clerks. (I'm uncertain whether it was in fact called a library, as it was quite small.) Anyway, it was only used by the justices and clerks. Along one of the shelves of legal reporters and digests I noticed that one of the books was out of alignment with others. There were colored bands on the books' spines, so when all of the books were together there was a long maroon band that spanned the shelf -- except for one book where the maroon band was toward the bottom of the shelf, interrupting the line's flow. That book was upside down. I stepped closer to see what it was, and upon seeing that it was volume 410 U.S., I shrugged my shoulders to my friend as if to say, "what's this about?" Without speaking he reached for the book and began to open it. I said, "I know what's in there. On page 113. Why's it upside down?"

"Apparently this has gone on for years. Someone turns it upside down, and someone else will put it back. But actually," he said, "it's not upside down. It's overturned."

He returned the book to the shelf as it had been.


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