Philippa Strum


Justice Harry A. Blackmun used to enjoy telling a story about Supreme Court conferences during the Court's 1970 term, his first on the Court. Warren Burger was ChiefJustice; Hugo Black was the most senior Justice. Court protocol, of course, is that the Chief Justice begins the discussion of each case, the most senior Justice speaks second, and the floor goes in turn to each of the other Justices according to descending seniority. Chief Justice Burger would present a case by laying out the issues involved as he saw them and the decision he believed the Court should reach. Then he would turn to Justice Black who, in a voice filled with sorrow and reproach, would lament, "Oh, Chief Justice!" and proceed to analyze the case in completely different terms.