Highlights from the Congressional Research Service’s American Law Division

March 12th, 2018

During a recent trip to DC, I accepted a longstanding invitation to visit the Congressional Research Service’s American Law Division at the Library of Congress. I saw a number of cool Supreme Court documents, which I reproduce below.

First, here is a limerick written by Justice Rehnquist in 1975:

There was a young girl from Cape Cod.

Who thought little babies came from God.

But if not the Almighty

Who lifted her Nighty

It was Roger the Dodger by God!

Second, here is a memo that Justice Blackmun wrote to the conference concerning Roe v. Wade. Specifically, he addressed whether the line should be addressed at viability, or at the first trimester. As history would reveal, the Court in Casey would drop Roe, and adopt viability as the relevant line.

Third, here is a memorandum from Justice O’Connor to Justice Blackmun on 4/17/1990, the day the Court decided Employment Division v. Smith. She wrote:


The Court took the wrong turn today in the Free Exercise case in my view. It pains me. S.

Someone scribbled in, “88-12-13 Peyote Case.”

Fourth, here is a sketch of the Court from 1986 or 1987 when Justice Scalia was the junior justice. Were the chairs ever green?

Fifth, Adam Liptak described the following memo this way:

In 1973, while the court heard arguments during the National League Championship Series, Justice Potter Stewart passed a note to Justice Harry A. Blackmun that exhibited a nice sense of proportion.

I will post many other fascinating documents I found in the coming days.