Snow is still falling fast and furiously in the D.C. area at this hour. Most area schools are shut, and federal government agencies -- including several federal courts, according to radio announcements -- are opening two hours late. But at the U.S. Supreme Court, the person answering the phone at the main switchboard says cheerily that the Court is "open and on time" this morning for its scheduled oral arguments beginning at 10 a.m.
In spurning any snow delay, the Court follows in a tradition set by the late chief justice William Rehnquist. The onetime Army Air Force meteorologist during World War II almost never shut the Court down for snow. Especially on argument days, he felt people had come in from out of town and arranged their lives in anticipation of arguing and watching cases, and putting them off would be too disruptive. So it is little surprise that Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who counts Rehnquist as his mentor, would take a similarly hard line on snow.