Justice Breyer Shouldering All The Blame

April 28th, 2013

This isn’t the first time Justice Breyer has injured himself on two wheels. In fact, the first major tussle he had may have cost him a shot at the Supreme Court in 1993.

In her book Supreme Conflict, Jan Crawford (who was still then also a Greenburg) relays this account:

Clinton’s aides contacted Ginsburg about a week before the nomination, when she was at a federal judicial conference in Maryland. Several times that week, Nussbaum called her, asking questions about her background and then about her upcoming travel schedule, which Ginsburg took as a positive sign. He wanted to know where she would be that weekend. She was supposed to attend a wedding in Vermont, she said. Nussbaum told her she shouldn’t go; she should plan to be in Washington. But then he called back. “It’s okay to go,” he told her.

Ginsburg assumed the White House had moved on. That Friday, Clinton interviewed Boston-based federal appeals court judge Stephen Breyer, who had strong support on Capitol Hill, having worked there as chief counsel for the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee when Ted Kennedy was chairman. The meeting quickly leaked to the press, and White House Secretary Dee Dee Myers confirmed the interview.

But Breyer, a Harvard Law School professor, hadn’t been at the top of his game. He’d just left the hospital with bruised ribs and a collapsed lung, which he’d suffered in a bicycle accident. His injuries prevented him from flying to Washington from Boston, so he was driven to New York and took the train down from there. He stayed in Washington after his lunch with President Clinton, waiting to get the nomination. Clinton wasn’t sold on Breyer.

He decided not to offer him the nomination and asked to meet with Ginsburg. Saturday, shortly after she and her husband arrived in Vermont, Nussbaum called her again. “We need you to come back.”

You’d think he would’ve learned his lesson by now. Stay off the bike!