Bench Memos

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An Important Birthday, Spoiled


One week after Constitution Day, another important date in constitutional history will come around. September 24 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great chief justice, John Marshall. At a hotel near Marshall’s Richmond home (which has been kept up wonderfully by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) there will be a gala dinner on the 24th under the auspices of the John Marshall Foundation. Black tie, moderately pricey tickets, almost worth the drive to Richmond, until one sees that the featured speaker, and recipient of the Inaugural Award of the John Marshall Medal in Law, will be . . . Justice Anthony Kennedy. I understand that the organizers of such events strive to be nonpartisan, and eventually they’ll probably get around to every one of the justices. But the inaugural medal to Justice Kennedy? On the quarter-millennium birthday of the greatest jurist in American history? What a letdown. I’ll stay home and save the gasoline.


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