You have to do an awful lot of reading and writing as part of your job. Are you an early riser?
No, I’m a New Yorker. [Laughs] Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg is our night owl.
RD has a monthly article called “13 Things Your __ Won’t Tell You.” What would be included on your list of “13 Things Your Supreme Court Justice Won’t Tell You”?
That the law doesn’t give you clear answers. There’s no easy Supreme Court case. We’re all trained lawyers. By the time we write an opinion, we’ve convinced ourselves it’s the right decision. We try to write in a persuasive, forceful, and convincing manner. But it’s misleading to assume that the verdict was as clear-cut as we make it out to be.
What’s your idea of happiness?
I think it would be the satisfaction of enjoying things with others—meaning, when you’re giving to others, whether it’s time, attention, a gift, anything. Just those moments of sharing.
With or to anyone in particular?
No, and that’s why I do public service; for me, the act of giving is the height of joy. And I define joy as happiness.
One of the most popular columns in our magazine is Word Power. What’s your favorite word?
I’ve never considered that question! I’d have to think long and hard about it. Will you take a favorite phrase?
Sure. What is it?
“Yes, I can.” Just like the Little Engine That Could.