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Working with Justice Blackmun exposed some habits a New Yorker could learn to share. He loved politics, baseball, 8 a.m. breakfasts, afternoons in the library editing opinions with freshly sharpened pencils, and evenings at home with Dottie. He lingered over stories of his days at Harvard, as launch driver in the Harvard-Yale race, surprised to be invited to a yacht party for the winning crew, and as law student marveling at Felix Frankfurter's cadenzas in the classroom.
Justice Blackmun ran a friendly chambers on the south side of the Supreme Court building, between those of Justices Powell and Douglas, smiling as a messenger cooked fragrant Thai food on a hot plate in the clerks' room, tolerant as we smuggled friends into the Court to play ball in the upstairs gym. He was intellectually generous to his clerks, complimenting us on memos or drafts, treating our arguments as serious offerings, arriving back from the Court's conference each week to share how the votes had gone. But he also kept his own counsel. In the Bakke case, where the future of educational affirmative action programs was at stake, the Justice arrived at breakfast one spring morning and announced that he hoped we would not be too disappointed by his decision to reverse.
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