Journeys with JA

Our shared experiences at Jespersen & Associates, our journeys if you will, have most always been good, even noble at times. No doubt some could have been better but they all have one thing in common: The work and the people we are fortunate to work with continue to challenge, reward, and surprise us.

Justice Blackmun: "Old Number Three"

Harry A. Blackmun (1908–1999)

It was Harry A. Blackmun who fully opened the door to the reproductive rights of women across the country. I met him shortly after his retirement, on two occasions.

Justice Blackmun referred to himself as "Old Number Three" because he was President Richard Nixon's third choice for a Supreme Court vacancy. As he met his fellow judges for their first official photo session, he remembered thinking, “What am I doing here?”

For years Justice Blackmun drove a little Volkswagen Beetle to work—and even to social affairs at the White House. On weekdays he had breakfast with his law clerks in the Court's public cafeteria. When I first met him in his chambers in Washington, DC, he was wearing an old beige cardigan. A baseball bat hung on the wall behind his desk. He put on a jacket for our photo, but right after the photo was taken he hung up the jacket and replaced it with his old sweater. 

He had a strong midwestern work ethic, and he told us he had "worked long hours because I was dumber than the rest of the guys and took maybe longer to come to a conclusion."

After all his years of work on behalf of women’s rights, Justice Blackmun still could not figure out why so many were against them. I asked him why he felt so passionate about the issue and he laughed quietly, saying it was probably because he had a wife and three daughters. “Even the dog was female,” he smiled.

Read more about Justice Blackmun here: Diane P. Wood, "The Qualities of a Justice: Harry A. Blackmun," 99 Columbia Law Review 1409 (1999).   

 

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Monday, 21 May 2018