A few winters back, a friend asked me to meet with someone to discuss a business and possible investment. I showed up for breakfast and waited. Soon, I was face to face with the man “and his business opportunity”.
His face was a tanning bed combination of burn/tan. He had a smile that would shock and awe any dental office, both in color and tooth arrangement.
His suit didn’t have a natural fiber in it. As he reached to shake my hand, his gold-plated bracelet jangled. His appearance was not going to fool anyone, despite his amazing story of expected success. (It reminded me of the person who was explaining his importance to me and told me he knew Mr Ups, and why that might help. Later, I realized he was talking about UPS. I’m serious. That story could be a whole blog.)
Mr Business Proposition told me, “I already have a few million committed to this project”, I just need a little bit more so we don’t have any limitations”. Then, he went on to describe that I would double my investment money, in about a year. Of course, in response to me questioning as to why he just didn’t borrow from the bank, he responded that, “banks don’t understand this kind of business”.
I suspect that his business did not get off the ground. I have given you the short version. When I saw his appearance, his story of investment only continued to crease my brow into more confusion.
This “business introdution’ came to mind, as I was thinking about the 60 Minutes (TV and print version here) story that was recently done on Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and the inner workings of the Court.
He has just retired at age 90. While a Justice serves, he is not to do interviews about Court dealings and opinions. Because he was retiring, he let reporter Scott Pelley follow him around during the last session, and also tape places for the TV story that had never been seen before, on camera.
On the surface, the Supreme Court looks pretty intimidating, I think. A story book view of the Court is that they read past caselaw and apply it. They sit in those black robes and reason among themselves, as they arrive at an opinion that is then published as the law of the land.
However, if you watch the story, you might find initial appearances to be a bit deceiving. His discussion of the Court, including a view of where the Justices put their robes on; as well as a look into what happens behind the scenes, was fascinating. I think that if you read or watch the 60 Minutes piece, it might give you a different insight into what you think of the Supreme Court’s activities, beyond that solemn appearance.
Justice Stevens also discusses three recent Court decisions that gave him problem in the result. First, when the Court decided the 2000 Presidential election. If you recall, the Court told Florida to stop the re-counting of the votes. The basis for the 5-4 decision was that the Court ruled that the count could not have been completed by the deadline. Justice Stevens dissented, with the belief that nothing should have been done by the Court, until the time for counting had expired. His view was that the Court was too proactive.
Another decision he discussed was the Padilla appeal, where an American citizen was declared a terrorist by the President and imprisoned, without any trial. It is a precedent where those who are considered a danger, can be imprisoned by order of the President, without Constitutional due process. Some feel that religious liberty will be attacked under this same reasoning, in the future.
One other decision of note that was discussed in the story, involved the Court’s recent ruling in allowing Corporations to be recognized as individuals, for political contribution purposes. Never before has this been the law. Congress could have enacted such a determination; Instead, the Court created new law without precedent regarding Corporations having rights as a person.
If someone shakes your hand with crooked teeth and looks a bit homeless, you probably know that it’s not a good idea to hand over your money for investment. When a Justice of the Supreme Court gave a rare glimpse into the robe room and the inner workings of the Court, it seemed a bit surprising to see some unexpected things in the judicial system.