Justice Stevens: Never Been Recognized, Except Once at the Video Store

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There are more good tidbits in the series of C-SPAN interviews of Supreme Court justices, the series in which Justice Scalia suggested that smart lawyers should find something more productive to do.  In his interview, Justice John Paul Stevens was asked whether anyone ever recognizes him outside the courtroom (hopefully people recognize him inside the courtroom).  Answer: never.

Well, almost never. Stevens did recall one occasion in Florida in which somebody recognized him in, of all places, a video store. Apparently, the owner of the store had just been admitted to the bar, and so was somewhat acquainted with legal issues.

This may have happened fairly recently, considering that someone with a license to practice law was instead running a video store.

New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse has noted that because TV cameras are not allowed in the Court, the justices are able to "retain a degree of privacy almost unthinkable for such powerful people. Few people recognize them," she wrote:

I once saw a tourist hand a camera to Justice Byron R. White outside the Court's public cafeteria, and, having no idea that the tall gray-haired man was one of the nine Justices, ask him to take his family's picture. White, who retired in 1993, wordlessly complied.

I can only recall asking other tourists to handle picture-taking duties, and somehow I doubt Justice White was hanging around the cafeteria in big shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  But it is nice to think that he would have been able to do that, if he wanted to.

Link: ABA Journal
Link: NYT Upfront Magazine