The Supreme Court Justice and 'Boring' Cases

9 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2007 Last revised: 4 Oct 2007

See all articles by Neil M. Richards

Neil M. Richards

Washington University School of Law; Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Center for Internet and Society


This is a short essay discussing the phenomenon of boring cases at the Supreme Court. It examines two letters written by Supreme Court Justices to sick colleagues - a 1903 letter from Chief Justice E.D. White to William Day, and a 1941 letter from William O. Douglas to Hugo Black. The essay argues that one true and underappreciated measure of the worth of a Supreme Court Justice is not merely their ability to be (or at least appear to be) brilliant in the once-a-decade blockbuster cases. Instead, in selecting Supreme Court Justices, we should look just as much at their ability to work diligently on the vast majority of the cases which make up the Supreme Court's docket - including boring ones.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Legal History, Boring Cases, Tax, Nominations

Suggested Citation

Richards, Neil M., The Supreme Court Justice and 'Boring' Cases. Green Bag 2d, Vol. 4, p. 401, 2001; Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 07-10-02. Available at SSRN:

Neil M. Richards (Contact Author)

Washington University School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314.935.4794 (Phone)


Yale Information Society Project ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Stanford Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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