The Supreme Court's Chamber is a place of cool marble and hushed voices. At the Court's public sessions, polite ushers whisper rebukes to onlookers who so much as slouch in their seats, and talking is forbidden whenever the Justices are in the room.
Yet history shows that noisy events elsewhere have their muted echoes inside that chamber. Often those echoes are hard to trace, and only become comprehensible later.
The shootings in Arizona will almost certainly leave their
mark on the Court as they have on most other parts of American culture.
We can only hope that mark is a positive one; how the Court responds
to the shock will powerfully influence life for the rest of us.
MORE ON Jared Lee Loughner:
Garance Franke-Ruta: Tea Party Group Blames 'Leftist' for Giffords Shooting
Michael Serazio: Jared Lee Loughner and the Rise of Anti-Social Media
Trevor Butterworth: Loughner Believed Grammar Has a Politics; So Did the First Grammarian
There's a more important question than whether Sarah Palin's website or Glenn Beck's vitriol influenced accused killer Jared Lee Loughner. (In fact, I think it's a defining trait of communications media people that we want to make any big story about ourselves.) The bigger question is: Is it even possible to have a democracy in a society where Jared Loughner can buy a Glock and 90 bullets, carry them around, and use them on a public gathering?