We seldom think of judges as writers, but as any lawyer will tell you, written decisions are the bulk of the court’s work. Recently, the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing published interviews with the SCOTUS justices (as they’re known in legal circles), and surprise: many of them appreciate reading, especially fiction, as the basis of good writing. NPR reports:
“The only good way to learn about writing is to read good writing,” says Chief Justice John Roberts.
That sentiment is echoed by Breyer, who points to Proust, Stendhal and Montesquieu as his inspirations. Justice Anthony Kennedy loves Hemingway, Shakespeare, Solzhenitsyn, Dickens and Trollope. […]
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says one of the great influences on her writing was her European literature professor at Cornell, Vladimir Nabokov — yes, the same Nabokov who later rocked the literary world with his widely acclaimed novel Lolita.
“He was a man in love with the sound of words,” Ginsburg said. “He changed the way I read, the way I write.”
One exception? Justice Clarence Thomas:
That contrasts with Thomas, who, when asked by interviewer Bryan Garner whether he would describe himself as a word lover, replied: “Not particularly. … I like buses and football and cars.”