The Supreme Court press corps, joined by Court employees and seven justicesall but Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomascelebrated New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse's 30 years of Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Court on Wednesday afternoon. Greenhouse is leaving the beat at the end of the term, having taken a Times buyout offer, and will teach at Yale Law School starting in the fall.
At a reception in the Court's West Conference Room, complete with cheese, desserts, and prosecco wine, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. started off by offering his congratulations. Roberts joked that commenting on Greenhouse’s work was like "asking a corpse to comment on the work of the coroner." Her byline, he said, has been in the Times 2,800 timesa tribute to "the brilliance of her career." Roberts, a Harvard man, wished her well as she begins teaching at what he described as "one of the best law schools in New Haven."
National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg put her legendary singing voice to good use with a song for Greenhouse, with lyrics by National Law Journal's Marcia Coyle. SCOTUSBlog's Lyle Denniston, now in his 50th year of covering the Court, offered an eloquent verbal tribute. Denniston noted the Times' "special relationship" with the Court, asserting that just as the reporting of Arthur Krock and Anthony Lewis was essential to understanding the Court in their day, Greenhouse's coverage wrote the essential history of the modern Supreme Court. The Court beat, Denniston said, is one of the few left where "hokum does not substitute for substance."
Longtime NBC sketch artist Art Lien unveiled a special tribute to Greenhousea drawing of the Court in fictional session with her arguing at the podium. Greenhouse appeared delighted with the gift, though she was not sure if arguing before the Court constituted "a dream or a nightmare." Greenhouse said she had been fortunate in meeting "extraordinary people on both sides of the bench." Bloomberg's Greg Stohr offered a toast to Greenhouse, and then it was back to work for the justices and the press. The Court is handing down decisions this morning.