Roger Jepsen, 1928-2020

One afternoon, in March 1970, a veteran Midwestern senator rose from his seat to defend a Supreme Court nominee accused of being second-rate. “Even if he were mediocre,” Sen. Roman Hruska told his colleagues, “there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?”

The senator’s observation was immediately regarded as an embarrassment, a dagger inadvertently plunged into the hapless nominee he sought to defend. It is also, a half-century later, just about the only thing anyone now remembers of Hruska. And yet, of course, there was a certain wisdom in what he said: “We can’t have all Brandeises and Frankfurters and Cardozos,” he declared, referring
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