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High Court is a Quirky Bunch

It's often said we spend more time with the people we work with than we do with the people we love. Not that we don't love the people we work with, but they're not family. (Some would say that's a good thing, but that's another column.)

So when I watched President Obama nominate Sonia Sotomayor last week to be the next Supreme Court justice, I wondered if she knew what she was getting herself in to.

If confirmed, she will be working the next 25 years, at least, with only eight people. That's kind of sobering considering who these eight people are.

Robert Schnakenberg's new book, "Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices", attempts "to lift the robes and peek underneath, to prove a fresh, unromanticized take on the solemn-looking men and women who scowl down at us."

The word "quirky" comes to mind. Eccentric, even.

It is well-known by now that Justice David Souter, whom Sotomayor would be replacing, is a bit of a Thoreau character, a loner who eats the same thing for lunch every day: a whole apple (core included) and plain yogurt. I'm not as concerned about his diet - he'll be 70 this year - as I am about the family homestead back in Weare, N.H., which is in dire need of paint. Maybe it's part of his retirement plans. We can only hope.

Then there's Clarence Thomas, who, according to Schnakenberg, tours Wal-Mart parking lots every summer in his custom-built RV. He wants to be with "ordinary" Americans.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is said to get "positively giddy" after one glass of wine, according to her son, but she still came in second to last in a Boston University study to determine the funniest Supreme Court justice. That title went to Antonin Scalia.

And so it goes.

Stephen Breyer revealed that he has been wearing the same judicial robe (synthetic, hence lint-resistant) since the early '80s but confessed to being jealous of the snazzy robes worn by Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Chief Justice John Roberts keeps two snails and a ladybug named Dora.

And John Paul Stevens, the oldest justice at 89, swears by Beano, a product he once touted in a letter to newspaper columnist Dave Barry. He eats only grapefruit for lunch now.

I'd advise Judge Sotomayor to accept her possible future fellow justices for who they are. After all, they aren't going away. Neither is she.

For better or worse, they have each other for life.

It's called family.

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