Updated at 9:45 am on August 3
In the health care cases decided in late June, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli were singing pretty much the same tune. On Friday, they will be on stage together to discuss tunes of another kind: operatic arias, and how they relate to the law.
They will be on a presidential showcase program at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in Chicago, titled "Arias of Law: The Rule of Law at Work in Opera and the Supreme Court." Also on the panel will be Anthony Freud, general director of the renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago.
And pulling it all together is moderator Craig Martin, Jenner & Block's litigation department co-chair and a member of the executive committee of the Lyric Opera. He is also co-chair of the ABA's litigation section's committee for the 2012 meeting. "It's the confluence of two of my interests," said Martin. He has also known Verrilli for many years as a colleague at Jenner & Block. Martin recalled running into Verrilli and his family by accident during a vacation in Tuscany a few years back.
Martin said he was pleased that both Ginsburg, a notorious opera fan, and Verrilli, a good friend, were able to participate. "Don has had a busy year," Martin said in an understatement.
So how will the panelists connect opera with the law? Martin says the Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center Ensemble will perform six well-known arias, with each segment followed by discussion of legal issues that flow from each aria.
Without giving too much away, Martin acknowledged as an example that the performance of a song from Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe will probably lead to a discussion of the gold stripes that the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist added to his black robes after seeing a perfomance of Iolanthe. Other arias will trigger discussion of the "original intent" of the composer and how it relates to the performances.
"Opera is a nice prism through which to view the law," said Martin.