Having gone to law school and studied the U.S. Supreme Court, it is a memorable experience to interview a sitting justice or even a former one. As a student, it’s hard not to start thinking of them as black-robed demi-gods.
When I was in law school, I had a brief social encounter with Justice Harry Blackmun and I considered it one of the highlights of my student days. And a few years back, I had the good fortune of interviewing Justice Stephen Breyer.
Likewise, my encounter last week with former justice Sandra Day O’Connor will stand out by virtue of her personality and what she said. On the personal side, she struck me as someone who definitely knows who she is and is extremely comfortable in her own skin. She has a palpable “center” and is clear about what she thinks. She also strikes me as someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
And what she had to say made an impression too: that at its core, the U.S. Supreme Court is a very human institution. In her book, Out of Order, she cites several examples of that, including a demonstration that was a first-ever for me during an interview. We aired the interview last night; watch it to see if you can identify what she did that no one has ever done before in any interview I have ever conducted!