As Linda Greenhouse reports in today’s Times, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Souter got a little snippy with each other, in their dueling opinions in Georgia v. Randolph. Justice Souter, writing for the majority, found that the Fourth Amendment was violated when police accepted a wife’s consent to search the premises, since the husband objected. Chief Justice Roberts wrote a vigorous dissent.
Now, bench-slappery — the practice of judges getting personal with each other in their opinions — is nothing new. But the specific nasty comments in this case are worth looking at.
(In the finest SCOTUS tradition, the insults are all buried in the footnotes; it’s embarrassing to have such stuff in the main body of the opinion. Also, this way the justices can blame their law clerks for the childish barbs.)
Chief Justice Roberts called Justice Souter’s opinion “a bit overwrought.” Translation: “You’re gay!”
Justice Souter responded by dismissing one of the Chief Justice Roberts’s arguments as a “red herring.” Do we need to spell it out for you? Herring = IKEA = GAY.
Jeez, guys, come on! We understand that “judges are people too,” and you guys are entitled to squabble every now and then. But do you really need to resort to the playground cliches of “You’re gay!” and “I know you are but what am I”?