The 70th Third Circuit Judicial Conference began last night in Philadelphia. Those of us in attendance were treated to an interesting keynote address by the Third Circuit’s (and New Jersey’s) own Justice Alito of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Alito mixed humor, especially as regards his fanatical (or, as they spell it here in the City of Brotherly Love, “phanatical”) devotion to the Philadelphia Phillies, with his theme of “Ten Things Most People May Not Know About the United States Supreme Court.”
Some of the “Ten Things” included the fact that most Supreme Court cases do not involve weighty constitutional issues, that the Justices are at work even when they are not on the bench hearing arguments, and that the Supreme Court is one of three co-equal branches of the federal government, each of which should respect the others. That last point might have been a reference to the dust-up that occurred when President Obama criticized the Court’s decision in the Citizens United case during his State of the Union address, and Justice Alito, who was present at the speech along with other Justices, mouthed “not true” in response.
The audience of about 400 judges, attorneys and guests gave Justice Alito standing ovations before and after his remarks. It was a good start to what should be an interesting and educational conference.