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Monday, July 14, 2008

Thirty Years of Supreme Reporting

After 30 years of covering the Supreme Court for the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse is retiring to academia, otherwise known as Yale Law School. In her final article for the newspaper titan, Ms. Greenhouse reflected on her last three decades and the changes she has seen in our nation’s highest court.

From the battles over abortion and affirmative action of the 1970s to the battles over abortion and affirmative action of our current decade, Linda Greenhouse has had a front row seat for it all. And of course, you don’t spend 30 years covering a beat without getting a little insight into the inner workings of what has traditionally been a relatively secretive institution.

In yesterday’s article, Ms. Greenhouse wrote about her experiences on the front line of the Robert Bork confirmation battle – coincidentally a professor of her's during her time at Yale. She also discussed the shrewd management style of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. She even included an amusing, if somewhat off-color (well, by Supreme Court standards, anyway) pregnancy anecdote regarding an exchange between herself and former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor which included the phrase, “keep your legs crossed.” (As Justice O’Connor had hoped, Ms. Greenhouse did end up going into labor on the first Monday of the Court’s 1985 session.)

In the final paragraph of her final article, Ms. Greenhouse closed with a rather astute observation regarding the Court’s legacy of leadership and controversy. “The court is in Americans’ collective hands. We shape it; it reflects us. At any given time, we may not have the Supreme Court we want. We may not have the court we need. But we have, most likely, the Supreme Court we deserve.”

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