With rare change in schedule, Supreme Court observes moment of silence
January 10th, 2011
12:26 PM ET
12 years ago

With rare change in schedule, Supreme Court observes moment of silence

Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court interrupted its public session Monday to mark the nationwide moment of silence in memory of the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Arizona that left a federal judge dead and a congresswoman seriously wounded.

Chief Justice John Roberts and his eight colleagues paused on the bench after hearing their first oral argument. Roberts had opened the session by saying, "That senseless shooting on Saturday caused devastating injury to persons who all, in their own way, contribute to the strength of our nation... I speak for the members of this court in extending our condolences to all the victims and their families."

The courtroom was silent as lawyers and members of the public joined the court in the brief moment of reflection. Several justices deeply bowed their head, including Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Justices Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer were among those who looked straight ahead thoughtfully.

The court had arranged to begin its public session five minutes early so that it would finish in time to mark the moment of silence. After the roughly 45 second pause, the public session resumed with the second one-hour argument.

Court officials acknowledged this change in the normally rigid public schedule was very unusual, and had no recollection of any recent related gesture.

Roberts Sunday released a statement on the Tucson tragedy, in his role as head of the entire federal judiciary.

"Chief Judge John Roll was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years," said Roberts. "(His) death is a somber reminder of the importance of the rule of law and the sacrifices of those who work to secure it."

Roll had been chief judge of U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona since 2006. That meant he took on designated administrative roles in addition to his regular trial court duties. He had traveled twice a year to Washington to meet with fellow judges for the Judicial Conference, a meeting of top federal court officials. The closed-door sessions at the Supreme Court chaired by Roberts dealt with such policy issues as salaries, security, and rules of conduct.

Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords • Supreme Court
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Phil in KC

    It is, of course, appropriate that they do so. I'm just surprised it had never before been done. There were plenty of opportunities to do so. 9/11, JFK's assasination, the space shuttle explosion, etc.

    January 10, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. T'sah from Virginia

    Americans can PAUSE for a moment of silence all over the country, and it does NOT matter if you are from the RIGHT or LEFT – BUT, when some are provoked from either the RIGHT or LEFT, they cannot PAUSE from VIOLENCE!! What a shame!!

    We need to continue to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD in a POSITIVE direction with our current leader, President Obama, and take a PAUSE from our inner-self and remove the HATE!!! It’s okay to DISAGREE with policies – BUT, you DON’T have to HATE the Deliverer!! Yes We Can!

    January 10, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Marko

    Another group that needs to drop their partisan ways.

    January 10, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. Shadia

    Its terrible how so many people were killed; my best wishes to the family members of the dead.

    January 10, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Byron

    The courts decision, the likes off the Kouch Bros and their aka's (Dick Armies) are at the top off the pyramid off responsibility
    for this act.
    Conscience, can you live with this?
    If you can, then America is in big trouble.

    January 10, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "I am not a Palin Fan, but there is no way that she should be blamed for the shooting in AZ"

    I agree. From everything I've read, the kid exhibited classic signs of a young 20-something developing a serious personality disorder like one of the schizophreniform diseases. There does not (yet anyway) appear to be any solid causal link between Loughner's abhorrent behavior and Jaberwocky Barbie's (or other right wing extremists') rhetoric or symbology, etc. The link between this shooting and Jaberwocky Barbie's crosshairs website is so far circumstantial at best.

    HOWEVER, that JB's and her fellow demogogues' rhetoric and symbology used to incite political rancor IMMEDIATELY CAME TO MIND across the country, which rhetoric and symbology culled directly from rhetoric used to incite the American Revolution, rhetoric and themes surrounding the Civil War, and other violent times and themes in our history as a nation...that SHOULD NOT be swept under the rug. This incident is a perfect example and a perfect time to reflect on the current political climate, the words and behavior that have shaped the tone and tenor of general political discourse over the past two years and to think critically and question the societal damage such nonsense can actually cause, where the lines of decency and ethics should be drawn in the sand of cultural mores and whether those who step across those lines for personal benefit should be exposed to public ridicule and disdain for their willingness to place their desire for personal and partisan political gain over good sense, common decency and respectful dialogue.

    So no, JB isn't directly to blame or culpable here, but this is the PERFECT time to recognize that her words and behavior have been questionable, at best, and that it has no place in a civil society seeking solutions to the problems that affect ALL of us. If NOW isn't the time to reflect on that, then please, someone offer a non-hysterical, non-victim-card based analysis of when, precisely, it will be...when 2 congresscritters end up shot? Another town hall? Was the poor nine year old not young enough to trigger rampant disgust...we gotta wait for it to be a toddler? WORDS HAVE MEANING AND IMPORT and its time for politicians, primarily those on the far right wing (lately, but neither side is entirely blameless), to start accepting responsibility for the words they choose to utter, and it's time for the "news" media and public at large to start holding them accountabelfor it...enough with tolerating and excusing the political escape artist acts and squirrelly slimeball backwalking. JB telling us that those weren't crosshairs is patently absurd and she should be lambasted for it...it's just another avoidance of accountability.

    January 10, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Like the old goats on SCOTUS give a flip about the American people.

    January 10, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. james Miller

    News flash -– Regretfully,nothing gets their attention quite like one of their own getting gunned down. Trust the gun control nuts to start beating their drums for more gun control and politicians will listen and agree.

    January 10, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |