Monday Morning Message 4.1.19 May It Please the Court

Posted 2019-04-01 9:09am

“Equal Justice under the law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society.”  -Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell

As we walked up the steps of one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in the world, we saw sixteen majestic marble columns. Above them were the engraved words "Equal Justice Under Law."

We walked through the main corridor known as the Great Hall and saw the busts of all the former Chief Justices, including Chief Justice John Marshall, after whom our law school is named.  

At the east end of the Great Hall, we walked through the oak doors that open into the Court Chamber with its 44-foot ceiling, 24 columns, and the mahogany raised Bench behind which the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sit.

At 9:50am, we took our seats in the chairs just beyond the bronze railing that divides the public section from that reserved for the Supreme Court Bar.

“Chief Justice Roberts and May it Please the Court, I move the admission to the U.S. Supreme Court of the following distinguished graduates of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University:

  • John Christopher Calabrese ’12
  • Kimberly Kendall Corral ’12
  • Lori Marie Griffin ‘09
    • Anthony James Lazzaro ’04
    • Erica Lynn Lazzaro ’04
    • Loree Ellen Potash ‘79
  • M. Steven Potash ’78
  • Darlene Elizabeth White ’00

Each possesses the necessary qualifications to practice before the United States Supreme Court.”

On Wednesday, March 27, 10am, I had the honor of saying those words before the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Ok, I admit that I didn’t include their graduation years.) Chief Justice Roberts granted my motion, and our distinguished alumni were sworn in before the nine Justices.

Each year, Cleveland-Marshall hosts an official swearing-in ceremony for a select group of distinguished alumni for admission to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court. Attorneys admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar receive preferred seating in the Court Chamber and access to the Supreme Court law library. The day was superbly organized by Amy Miller, our Director of Alumni Relations.

After the ceremony, we watched the oral arguments in Kisor v. Wilkie. The hour long arguments dealt with an administrative law doctrine that judges should defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own rule unless it is plainly erroneous. The case was brought by a Vietnam veteran claiming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs used a flawed interpretation of its regulations to deny him disability benefits.

Justice Breyer suggested that getting rid of the doctrine would give judges the ability to question thousands of interpretive rules. He stated, “this sounds like the greatest judicial power grab since Marbury v. Madison, which I would say was correctly decided."  An opinion in the case is expected before July.

In the afternoon, we had a fascinating private tour of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world with more than 168 million items, by Elizabeth Pugh ‘78, General Counsel of the Library of Congress, and a treasured member of our Hall of Fame.  

On Thursday evening, I spoke to students at John Carroll University about how the law has served as the main vehicle for social justice since the founding of our nation.

On Friday evening, Peggy and I hosted a reception at our home for many of our admitted students and their guests and over 100 faculty, students, staff, and alumni, with inspiring remarks by David Gunning ’94, Chair of the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees.

We began the week with the words “Equal Justice Under Law.”  We ended it with a reminder to our admitted students that our law school’s mission is “Learn Law. Live Justice.”

This Week’s Monday Moment:  Learn Law Live Justice Video

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,
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