Live chat: Supreme Court

Times Staff Writer

2007-10-03 11:03:10.0 Administrator2: Hi and welcome to the chat!

2007-10-03 11:03:12.0 Johanna Neuman: David, why do you think Clarence Thomas chose this moment to publish his memoirs?

2007-10-03 11:05:13.0 David Savage: He says he got the idea several years ago when his younger brother died suddenly while jogging. He wanted to write about his grandparents and his life. It took him a while to find a publisher and it took him a few years to write the book.

2007-10-03 11:06:03.0 Johanna Neuman: But were you surprised by the bitterness of his tone? That he had held a grudge for so long against the senators who grilled him during his confirmation hearings?

2007-10-03 11:07:53.0 David Savage: A little bit. I would have thought he would try to put some distance between himself and the confirmation hearings. It’s been 16 years ago. But thomas is still angry. He brings it up in conversation, and he can recall everyone who worked against him and voted against him during the confirmation fight.

2007-10-03 11:08:44.0 Johanna Neuman: The new court session opened this week. What do you think will be the key issues the court will tackle this year?

2007-10-03 11:10:48.0 David Savage: The Guantanamo detainees--Do they have a right to go before a judge? The voter ID question: Can the states require all voters to have a phoe ID before they cast a ballot. And the 2nd Amendment: Does it give individuals a right to own a gun? Remarkably, the Supreme Court has never decided that question.

2007-10-03 11:10:50.0 Phillip Ruiz: Is Thomas married?

2007-10-03 11:12:13.0 Johanna Neuman: i’m amazed about the 2nd amendment you mean there is some question about whether the second amendment means what the NRA claims it does?

2007-10-03 11:12:47.0 David Savage: Yes, Thomas is married--to Virginia. they were married in 1987, and if you recall, she sat behind him stoically during the hearings.

2007-10-03 11:14:32.0 Johanna Neuman: David, do you think any of the justices will retire after this year, giving a new president a chance to appoint replacements? And by the way, how is Chief Justice Roberts’ health?

2007-10-03 11:16:28.0 David Savage: Yes, there is a doubt. The 2nd Amendment begins with the words--"A well regulated militai, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Everyone knows the second part. In the past, the 2nd Amendment was seen as archaic--a state’s right to have a militia. But the likelihood is the Court will adopt the more contemporary view--that it protects an individual’s right to have a gun.

2007-10-03 11:18:35.0 David Savage: No one is likely to retire this year. And no one is ill, as far as I know. But there are no guarantees. John Roberts seems to be in great health.

2007-10-03 11:20:53.0 Johanna Neuman: One more question. You’ve been covering the Supreme Court for 20 years. Have you seen an uptick in the number of demonstrations held on the court steps in recent years? Has the court, like many of our other institutions, become more politicized?

2007-10-03 11:23:20.0 David Savage: The Court seems to have attracted more political attention, but no, there have been more demonstrations. The Court famously ignores demonstrations and demonstrators. It is not like Congress or the White House. Those politicians need to pay attention, but the justices say they should not be affected by demonstrations and the like.

2007-10-03 11:23:33.0 Administrator2: Thank you David and Johanna!

2007-10-03 11:23:45.0 Johanna Neuman: ttfn