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The Justices and the Heartland

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Robert Barnes ponders in the WaPo:

How would the Supreme Court play in Peoria? And would some of the justices need a map to find it?
During oral argument in an international child custody case, Justice Sotomayor made a reference to Peoria as the prototypical small city far from urban centers such as her home of New York.  Then she caught herself and noted she didn't mean to denigrate Peoria.  Justice Breyer (of SF/Boston) took up Peoria and asked about custody being decided under Iowa law.  Well, it's one of those corn-growing states that starts with "I."  Maybe that counts as "close enough" for people who think the coasts are where it's at, and everything else is "flyover country."

2 Comments

My sense is that someone who authored the dissent in Knox v. SEIU shouldn't be casting aspersions on any state in the Union.

As for Justice Sotomayor, my sense is that most Iowa lawyers who practice in federal court would not be so dim as to argue that Ginsburg's dissent in the Ricci case would have affirmed the Second Circuit.

If we are counting, per wikipedia the current composition is pretty coast heavy:

Scalia: Queens

Sotamayor: Bronx

Ginsburg: Brooklyn

Kagan: Manhattan (where is our Staten Island justice)

Alito: Trenton, NJ - not physically on the coast, but in a coastal state

Thomas: near Savannah, Georgia - quite close to the Atlantic Ocean, but probably not colloquially the "coast"

Roberts: born in Buffalo, grew up in Indiana, definitely not the coast in any sense.

Kennedy: Sacramento - I'm guessing 80-90 miles as crow flies to the coast. But in the ultimate coastal state

Breyer: San Francisco, coastal

However, as we know, even our coastal heavy Supreme Court have varying judicial philosphies. I think a bigger issue is that every justice is an Ivy league (or Stanford) law grad, who clerked for a Supreme Court justice - it isn't like the only possible smart lawyers went to those schools and maybe we should expand the pool of potential candidates beyond a small cadre of Ivy league grads. Yes, I'm biased as I am a non-Ivy league lawyer.

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