When Supreme Court Justices Cross Party Lines

June 28, 2016 - Calvin Trillin 06/28/2016 Views: 9,723

Adam Lowitt examines the bipartisan SCOTUS rulings of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who upheld affirmative action, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who dissented on gun control. (3:23)

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For more, uh,analysis on this, uh,

we turn to our seniorlegal affairs correspondent.

Adam Lowitt, everybody.

(cheering, applause)

Thanks, Trevor.

I, uh... Thanks, Trevor.I got to be honest,

what you saidabout those interns

running out of the court,that was...

that was pretty roughfor me to hear.

I'm-I'm sorry,I don't get what you mean.

Well, I actuallyhad that internship

before I started working here,and you know what,

it's not as easy as it looks.

Oh, man.

-(shrieks)-Aah!

Holy (bleep)!Adam, were you okay?

No, I was not okay.

I lost my jobbecause of that hawk.

Adam, can you help us understand

what's going on withthe Supreme Court right now?

Sure, I'll tell youwhat's going on.

The judicial branch of ourgovernment is crushing it.

It's the only place whereliberals and conservatives

don't always do exactly whatyou'd expect them to do.

That's what's so exciting aboutthe Supreme Court.

They zig when you thinkthey're gonna zag

and when you thinkthey're gonna zag...

-They zig.-No, they zag again.

Double zag.It's never done before.

My mind is blown right now.I don't even know...

Okay, wh-what aboutthe immigration case?

That was different. That wasdifferent, because that was

predictable. It wasa four-four party line split.

Oh, you mean the decoy?

I can't believeyou fell for that.

Uh, yeah, I guess we'll all justvote along party lines

in all cases, right? Wrong.

And that's because ofone very special man.

REPORTER: As expected, Justice Kennedy held the key vote.

All eyes are on Justice Kennedy.

Justice Kennedy, who wasvery clearly the swing vote

on this issue,has sort of expressed

a lot of misgivingsabout affirmative action

over the years.But in this case, he has clearly

very much endorsed,uh, affirmative action.

The only way to win a caseis to win Kennedy.

Wow, Adam, is-is Justice Kennedythat influential?

You don't even know.

You can't do anythingwithout his approval.

If Kennedy says affirmativeaction is in this season,

then it is in.

He's like the Anna Wintourof justice.

Okay, so-so Kennedyis the wild card?

They're all wild cards.

Take yesterday's rulingsallowing states to ban people

convicted of domestic assaultfrom buying a gun.

With Justices--this is an odd pairing--

Justices Sonia Sotomayorand Clarence Thomas dissenting.

...in a six to two decision...

REPORTER: Justice Sotomayor dissented.

She did join with-with Justice Thomas

in his dissent,which is very unusual.

How amazingis the judicial branch?

You'd think for a case aboutgun rights the two dissenters

would be staunch conservatives,but then the hard-right,

pro-gun Clarence Thomasand the left-leaning,

pro-defendant Sonia Sotomayorare on the same side.

Two diametrically opposed peoplegetting together.

You don't findchemistry like that

outside of a romantic comedy.

You think that would everhappen in Congress?

Elizabeth Warren is never gonnawalk into the senate

and be like, "Ted Cruz and Istand together.

We both agreethat 100 cans of soup

is a reasonable purchase."

But at the Supreme Courtanyone can pair up.

It's like the Unlikely AnimalFriends branch of government.

It's great for our countryand adorable.

That really is great.Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait--

can we go back to that photo?

Now zoom in.

Is that you and the hawk?

Oh, it sure is, Trevor.

That day I may havelost my job, but I...

I gained a soul mate.I love you, Clawford!

That's just creepy. Adam Lowitt,everyone.