Journalist and author Jeffrey Toobin is often asked to name his favorite Supreme (of the legal variety of course). But these days he just doesn't know. Talking to an audience about his brand new book "The Oath" at the National Press Club Wednesday night, he told us that things just haven't been the same without Justice David Souter.
"He was just so lovably and strangely weird, he was a guy who didn't have a computer, who didn't have a cellphone, who didn't have an answering machine on his phone -- he didn't make it to Rehnquist's funeral because no one could reach him, his phone kept ringing and they couldn't find him," Toobin explained. "He doesn't like electric light ... but as quirky as he is, he's also a very savvy observer of human life and human character and I'll tell you a little story about him."
Toobin recalled a time in which while at a restaurant, a gentleman with his wife mistook Souter for his colleague Justice Stephen Breyer. "And Souter didn't want to embarrass the fellow in front of his wife so he said, 'yes, I'm Stephen Breyer,' and they chatted for a little while, but then he asked a question that Souter wasn't ready for," Toobin said. "He said, 'Justice Breyer, what's the best thing about being on the Supreme Court?' He thought for a minute and then said, 'I have to say, it's the privilege of serving with David Souter,' " Toobin concluded to laughs.
On the subject of Breyer, Toobin writes in the book that he, and the other eight justices, had no idea who Anna Nicole Smith was when they heard her case Marshall v. Marshall back in 2006. "Breyer cheerfully acknowledged to his clerks that he had never heard of her, but he also enjoyed a good laugh more than most of his colleagues, so he started referring to her, and her case, as 'the stripper,' " Toobin wrote.
"The Oath," which examines the relationship between the Obama administration and the Supreme Court, begins with exactly that, the oath of office -- that Chief Justice John Roberts bungled during inauguration. Toobin writes that Roberts practiced it so much beforehand that he started to annoy his wife. "At this point the dog thinks it's the president," Jane Roberts reportedly said to her husband.