The late author Harry Kemelman and his character, Rabbi David Small, would be proud to know that on Monday The Justice(s) Took Off.

“The First Monday In October” is known as the first day of the new annual session of the U.S. Supreme Court. But this year, the first Monday in October was Rosh Hashanah, and three Justices who identify as Jewish took off. Only five of the Court’s nine seats were filled; four were empty: three by synagogue (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan), and one by an unplanned death (Antonin Scalia).

Rather than hear a case, the session consisted mostly of admitting new attorneys to the Supreme Court bar, and then after ten minutes, perhaps heading to another kind of bar. Also, those justices present on Monday rejected hundreds of appeals that had accumulated in their inbox over the summer.

Had the Senate acted positively on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the court… there might have been another living absence on Monday.

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