Under the Robes: Secrets of the Supreme Court

The nine members of this secretive gang make fun of one another, call one another by nicknames, indulge vices like pornography and alcohol, maintain enemies lists, break the law, have odd habits and are prone to crying jags.

The Supreme Court Justices. They're just like us!

That is, if a new book on the Court is to be believed.

Although they present a somber exterior when the Court's in session, the black-robed members of the nation's High Court have plenty of personality quirks and get into more drama than characters on a daytime soap opera. Jeffrey Toobin, a New Yorker writer and CNN legal analyst, takes a peek underneath the robes in "The Nine," his new book about the Supreme Court.

In addition to arguing that the current Court under Chief Justice John Roberts is living up to the ideals of the conservative movement far more successfully than it did under former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Toobin includes some revelations about the justices and their personal lives:

Justice David Souter was so shattered by the Court's decision in the 2000 Florida recount case that he came close to resigning:

"He came from a tradition where the independence of the judiciary was the foundation of the rule of law. And Souter believed Bush v. Gore mocked that tradition. His colleagues' actions were so transparently, so crudely partisan that Souter thought he might not be able to serve with them anymore. Souter seriously considered resigning. For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice. … At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same. There were times when David Souter thought of Bush v. Gore and wept."

When she was being vetted as a nominee back in 1981, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lied to (or at least misled) then-Justice Department aide Kenneth Starr, telling him that she had never cast a vote on an Arizona measure to liberalize abortion. In fact, as a state senator, she'd voted April 29, 1970, to end criminal prohibitions on abortions in the state.

O'Connor supported George W. Bush's election, but she quickly lost her affection for the new president and some of his officials, especially Attorney General John Ashcroft, who "embodied everything that O'Connor disdained about the modern Republican Party. He was extreme, polarizing and moralistic -- unattractive."

When she found out that one of her former law clerks was taking a job with Ashcroft, she said, "Working with Ashcroft, he's ruining his career."

Along with Ashcroft's hiring, "the politicized response to the affirmative action case, the lawless approach to the war on terror, and the accelerating disaster of the war in Iraq" (which she called a "mess") appalled her.

The decision to rush the swearing-in of Justice Clarence Thomas spared the controversial nominee the publication of more embarrassing personal revelations than Anita Hill's notorious testimony. That same day, three Washington Post reporters were set to write a story about Thomas' extensive taste for pornography, including accounts from eyewitnesses such as the manager of his local video store. "But since Thomas had been sworn in, the Post decided not to pursue the issue and dropped the story."

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