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It's time for Supreme Court justices to shut up
Retired justices are free to get chatty once they leave the bench, say Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West in Slate, but sitting justices need to hold their tongues
Sitting Supreme Court justices need to exercise more restraint, argue Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West at Slate.
Sitting Supreme Court justices need to exercise more restraint, argue Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West at Slate.
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n appointment to the Supreme Court is not a "lifetime gag order," say Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West in Slate. So it's hardly shocking that former justice John Paul Stevens, who was close-lipped in public during his 35 years on the bench, has been "letting us know what he really thinks" — on the rights of the Ground Zero mosque supporters, on the racial slant of capital punishment — since hanging up his robes. Former justices David Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor have been sharing their views, too. But lately sitting justices, from Stephen Breyer to Antonin Scalia, have been getting in on the act, too, holding forth in public speeches on everything from gun control to campaign finance to abortion. Sitting justices are, of course, "free to do and say as they wish," write Lithwick and West, but this "gut-spilling" really ought to stop. Here, an excerpt:

Whether it's an interview, book, or speech, these nine jurists represent the court, regardless of where they are and to whom they are speaking. They should also consider that they represent that court whether or not the proceedings are recorded, televised, or just tweeted by someone in the audience. We mere mortals might get to blab about what the court should or shouldn't do, but we have no real power — the justices do. And as Spider-Man continues to remind us, with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes that responsibility is to hold your Article III tongue, even when you'd rather not.

Read the full article in Slate.

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