Halloween is a time for delightful contrasts. Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. Sexy zombies. Champagne and candy corn.
Today, we’re adding the Supreme Court and Halloween to that list with our top four Supreme Court Halloween connections.
Don’t think we can find a connection between SCOTUS and All Hallow’s Eve? Then keep reading to find out if this is a trick or a treat.
- Spooky Justice. A light bulb exploded during oral arguments in Central Virginia Community College v. Katz on Halloween in 2005. Apparently, it sounded like a gunshot, and set off a lightning round of witty repartee between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. Justice Roberts first suggested that explosion was a trick played on all new Chiefs; Scalia replied, "Happy Halloween." Roberts won the round with his parting shot: "We're even more in the dark now than before."
- H-ALITO-ween. Yes, we went there. Shortly before the aforementioned light bulb tomfoolery began on First Street, President George W. Bush kicked off Halloween 2005 with an announcement that Samuel Alito was his nomination to succeed
Harriet MiersJustice Sandra Day O'Connor.
- Supreme Disguise. Still need a costume idea? Why not make it a Supreme Court Halloween? eBay has plenty of graduation gowns that could easily double for Supreme Court robes, or you could try a beauty supply store for a salon cover-up smock. (Bonus points for adding gold stripes to the sleeves like former Chief Justice Rehnquist, or a lace collar like Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg.) But please resist the urge to tart up your Supreme Court Halloween costume: "Sexy Supreme Court Justice" was named one of the worst costume ideas of 2011.
- Frightening Pleas. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye. The cases, ordered in tandem, question whether a state habeas petitioner is entitled to relief when his ineffective counsel deficiently advised him to reject a favorable plea bargain, and the petitioner was later convicted and sentenced.
Frivolity aside, we're looking forward to oral arguments in Lafler and Frye. The American Bar Association submitted amicus briefs in both cases, urging the court to uphold the lower courts' rulings that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel at the plea stage.
Do you agree with the ABA, or would extending the right to effective counsel to the plea bargaining phase of criminal adjudication produce scary results?
- Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye (ACLU)
- Dressed to The Nine: The Verdict on Supreme Court Robes (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)
- Sandra Day O'Connor Brings Cowgirl Justice to Texas (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)
- Need a Seat at Supreme Court Oral Arguments? Hire a Line Stander (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)