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Test your knowledge of the U.S. Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court opens its 2013-14 term on Monday. Just how much do you know about the justices and their work at the court?
(3 points for each correct multiple choice answer.)
1. In a CNN interview to promote her recent autobiography "My Beloved World" (Knopf/Random House), Justice Sonia Sotomayor revealed her childhood nickname:
a. Ají - Hot pepper
b. Taíno niña - Girl with Puerto Rican heritage
c. La polilla - Bookworm
d. Hermana mayor - Big sister
2. What unique aspect surrounds the work of law clerks to the justices?
a. They typically serve only one-year terms
b. Have a separate closed section of the court cafeteria where they can talk without being overheard
c. Perform a term-end skit where they playfully lampoon their bosses
d. All of the above
3. What invitation did Justice Anthony Kennedy personally extend to Barack Obama, when the President-elect visited the high court the week before his January 2009 inauguration?
a. To play basketball in the Court's gymnasium
b. To join in the justices' weekly private lunch
c. To personally argue a Justice Department appeal before the Court, a practice traditionally reserved for the U.S. Solicitor General's office (since the president was a former constitutional law professor)
d. To give the Court's annual Marshall Lecture, a non-binding academic or political speech on the law
4. Which character on the animated TV show "The Simpsons" eventually becomes a member of the Supreme Court?
a. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, owner of the Kwik-E-Mart
b. Lisa Simpson
c. Ralph Wiggum, Lisa's schoolmate
d. Bart Simpson
5. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made this colorful analogy when discussing a hot-button issue in oral arguments this past term:
a. "DNA should also mean 'do not allow'" -- talking about prohibiting genetic testing on those arrested, but not convicted, for serious crimes
b. "A toothless tiger shark" -- talking about continued federal enforcement of voting rights
c. "Skim milk marriage" -- talking about the rights of gays and lesbians to wed
d. "Just imagine an identical Justice Scalia clone" -- talking about patenting human genes
6. What extra-curricular activity did Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia recently participate?
a. A "Crossfire"-style debate on the law at the University of Delaware
b. Deer hunting in Wyoming
c. Taping of a special celebrity edition of the game show "Jeopardy," with money earned going to charity (Scalia won)
d. Bat mitzvah of Kagan's niece in New York
7. What was Justice Samuel Alito's recent lament about the Court?
a. Increasingly aggressive oral arguments by the bench
b. Lax dress code, with some justices seen wearing jeans in chambers
c. Budget cuts forcing the closing of the court barber shop, and the loss of annual dry cleaning stipend for the justices' robes
d. Sudden doubling of the number of oral arguments per term, from the previous 70-80 to now about 150 or more
8. This year marked the 50th anniversary of what landmark Supreme Court ruling?
a. Lemon v. Kurtzman - Establishing legal standards in the relationship between church and state
b. Cooper v. Aaron - Whether state officials have to follow the order of federal courts to desegregate its schools
c. Gideon v. Wainwright - Do indigent criminal defendants have a constitutional right to trial counsel?
d. Texas v. Johnson - Laws banning desecration of the American flag, including public burning
9. Chief Justice John Roberts, by tradition, swore in President Obama for a second term in January. Who swore in Vice President Joe Biden?
a. Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
b. Justice Sonia Sotomayor
c. Beau Biden, vice president's son and Delaware attorney general
d. Justice Stephen Breyer
10. What is the current annual salary for the eight associate justices?
b. $2.115 million
Bonus No. 1 (2 points for each correct answer)
Several justices were youthful law clerks themselves to onetime members of the Supreme Court. Match them:
1. John Roberts a. Arthur Goldberg
2. Elena Kagan b. William Rehnquist
3. John Paul Stevens c. Wiley Rutledge
4. Stephen Breyer d. Thurgood Marshall
Bonus No. 2 (5 points for each correct answer)
Match the justice to their former job:
1. Clarence Thomas a. Clerk at the United Bargains retail store
2. John Roberts b. Page in the California state senate
3. Sonia Sotomayor c. Steel mill worker
4. Anthony Kennedy d. Electroplating company worker
1. a Sotomayor wrote earning the nickname for "my eagerness to jump headlong into any mischief."
3. a The gym is on the top floor of the building, informally known as the "highest court in the land." This was reported by CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin in his new book on the Supreme Court, "The Oath." He quotes Obama saying, "I hear that Justice Ginsburg has been working on her jump shot."
4. d In the 1992 episode "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie," Bart is chief justice and is seen in the future, wearing his judicial robes, and entering a movie theater with his father Homer. Lisa Simpson also becomes President of the U-S in a separate futuristic episode.
7. a Alito, who is relatively subdued on the bench, said in a June speech: "Trying to get in a question at oral argument is really like trying to grab an item that's on sale at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving." Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed similar concerns.
8. c The unanimous March 18, 1963 decision forced states to create taxpayer-funded public defender offices. The high court overruled a 1942 ruling, and now said the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of counsel was a fundamental right, vital to a fair trial, and applied to all states through the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause.
9. b Biden personally asked Sotomayor to do the honors. The justice told CNN just two days before the ceremony she viewed it as "surreal." "If I think back when I was a kid, which of the two would seem more improbable to me," she said, "I realized each one was so far-fetched that I couldn't have imagined either"-- sitting on the Supreme Court "and swearing in the Vice-President in front of the nation and the world."
10. c The chief justice earns slightly more, $223,500.
Bonus No. 1
1. b (1980-81)
2. d (1987-88)
3. c (1947-48)
4. a (1964-65)
Bonus No. 2
50 - 58 points Terrific - Get your robes fitted as the 10th justice!
35 - 49 points Very Good - Ready to argue your case before the Supreme Court
20 - 34 points Above Average - Maybe not a lawyer, but you could play one on television
10 - 19 points Average - On the right side of the law
0 - 9 points Below Average - Objection sustained