On Page A26 of today’s New York Times are photographs of three Supreme Court justices driving away from the court on Tuesday after rendering their decision that gave the presidency to George W. Bush. Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter are clearly wearing their seatbelts. Justice Antonin Scalia is not. Justice Scalia, there’s no safe harbor against buckling up! In the District of Columbia, it’s against the law to drive unbuckled–if you’re caught, it’s a $50 fine and two points on your driving record. Of course, in the 1992 case Jacobson v. U.S. (Mr. Jacobson purchased Bare Boys magazine, which got him into a heap of trouble, but let’s not get into that here), Scalia dissented from the majority opinion that stated, “[T]here is a common understanding that most people obey the law even when they disapprove of it. This obedience may reflect a generalized respect for legality or the fear of prosecution, but for whatever reason, the law’s prohibitions are matters of consequence.” Justice Scalia, if Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires, Bush might elevate you to chief. Don’t put life and limb in jeopardy, just buckle up.
Footnote 1: Although Scalia’s hands are on the wheel, perhaps he hasn’t started driving yet. Maybe he’s just wondering how he would look if he sewed Rehnquist’s gold stripes on his own robe.
Footnote 2: Although he is partially obscured, it looks like Breyer’s son, Michael, sitting in the passenger seat, might not be buckled, which is also a violation of the law.