73 Harv. L. Rev. 84 (1959-1960)
Supreme Court 1958 Term, The - Forward: The Time Chart of the Justices

handle is hein.journals/hlr73 and id is 114 raw text is: THE SUPREME COURT
1958 TERM
Henry M. Hart, Jr.*
This Foreword departs from the pattern of most of its predecessors
by addressing itself not to any especially noteworthy decisions or events
of the past term but rather to problems of the Court's administration
which are common to every term -problems of the volume of the
Court's business and of the ways in which the business is done. An
effort will be made to picture these problems as concretely as possible
by trying to fit the actual work which the Court does into the time ac-
tually available for doing it. After that, a few observations will be
tendered about the conditions of the Court's work and the relation of
those conditions to the number and quality of its decisions.
One caution should be stressed at the outset. Much of what is said
at the beginning will appear to be sheer guesswork, and guesswork in
part it will be. But the reader is asked to suspend judgment about the
validity of particular guesses as well as about the validity of the effort
to make the guesses at all until the time comes when they can be fitted
together. For what then emerges is not guesswork but hard fact - the
fact that the Court has more work to do than it is able to do in the way
in which the work ought to be done.
A second caution is also appropriate. Both in making particular
estimates and in the estimate as a whole, we shall be dealing with
averages, and averages are treacherous. It used to be said that an
OPA economist was a man who believed that if you have a sample of
ten girls of whom five are virgins and five are not, then each girl is fifty
per cent virgin. A former OPA lawyer, wryly remembering this gibe,
naturally wants the reader to understand that he does not suppose the
averages to prove anything more than they do prove. The volume of
the Court's work varies considerably from term to term in respect both
of its total burden and of its constituent elements. The talents and
temperaments of particular Justices vary even more greatly. The men
who sit on the Court differ in their conception of its function, in their
sense of the obligations of draftsmanship, and in their capacities as
craftsmen. In these circumstances, it is hardly to be expected that es-
timates of the time needed to do particular kinds of jobs will fit any of
them very closely. But the estimates may nevertheless serve to illumine
tie nature of the demands which membership on the Court makes on
any individual as well as the nature of the demands which the institu-
tional system as a whole makes on the Court.
* Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. A.B., Har-
vard, 1926, LL.B., 1930, S.J.D., 1931.

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