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Work-Life Balance: SCOTUS Justices Have Time For Shakespeare

By Brian Kumnick on April 20, 2009 2:21 PM

The work-life balance question is nothing new to dedicated associates who want to excel in their careers while also occasionally enjoying the fruits of a satisfying social, intellectual, and personal life. It may not surprise you, though, to learn that at the top of the profession, there's ample time to pursue non-legal interests, like the question of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

This is according to today's Wall Street Journal, which reports on Justice John Paul Stevens's refusal to apply stare decisis to a question considered settled by mainstream academics everywhere. Stevens is apparently an advocate of overturning the "Stratfordian" consensus that Shakespeare was written by, you know, William Shakespeare, in favor of a dissenting theory that the works were in fact authored by one Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Stevens has been working on this proposition, and attempting to build a working majority of fellow justices, since the 1980s.
Of particular note are the revelations that the Court's usual liberal and conservative blocs do not hold in this debate, with Justice Antonin Scalia lining up as a Stevens ally in this argument; and that Stevens has taken this so far as to make a fruitless investigative foray to the Folger Shakespeare Library in search of nonexistent notations in a de Vere Bible.

(Also noteworthy to those who abhor the thought of leaving the office for the weekend is that three hard-working justices no-commented this story, presumably for lack of time to spend pondering such non-legal frivolities.)

The evidence and the authorship debate make for interesting reading. They also might make you wish you had time to sit down and read a few pages of Shakespeare, let alone to travel to England in search of authorship clues. Today you'll have to settle for taking a five-minute break to read an article about people who do.
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