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Blackmun Marks 84th Birthday with Former Law Clerks, Mum on Future Plans

November 15, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Turning 84 proved extra sweet for Harry A. Blackmun, the Supreme Court’s oldest justice and a renowned chocolate lover.

Blackmun’s staff and several dozen former law clerks held a breakfast birthday party for him Thursday in the ″spouses’ dining room″ of the court’s Capitol Hill building.

Even though word had gone out that presents were taboo, some partygoers couldn’t resist presenting Blackmun with delights for his sweet tooth.

Blackmun, a justice since 1970, has told friends he is not looking beyond the current court term, due to end in late June. But he did not include any mention of retirement plans in commenting on the latest anniversary of his Nov. 12, 1908 birth.

″He said a few words, but nothing significant if that’s what you mean,″ said Wanda Martinson, Blackmun’s longtime secretary.

--- A Place to Party by Any Name

By the way, the ″spouses’ dining room″ has carried that name only since 1981. Yes, that’s when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor joined the court. It had been the ″wives’ dining room″ since 1935.

--- Chief Justice Passes on ABA Convention; Souter Will Attend

When promoted to the court’s top job in 1986, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said he didn’t plan to speak to the American Bar Association each February as had his predecessor, Warren E. Burger.

Rehnquist, who since has given up his ABA membership, said he would speak to the lawyer group’s winter convention only when he had something to say. He must not this year, because he’s passing up the February meeting in Boston.

Justice David H. Souter will be there. He’s scheduled to be a panel discussion moderator in a program at historic Faneuil Hall.

--- Court Building Construction Work Nears Completion

The last stages of a $4.8 million facelift for the high court’s 57-year-old building are due to be finished by February. They include a permanent access ramp for the disabled that will match the building’s imposing marble exterior.

Supervising the reconstruction project is James Miller, an engineer on the Capitol architect’s staff.

--- Court Has New Death Row Liaison

Lawyers for death row inmates and state prosecutors involved in last-minute maneuvers at the high court, usually conducted by phone or fax, for years have dealt only with Deputy Clerk Chris Vasil.

Now there’s a second person to serve as liaison between the justices and the lawyers - Cynthia Rapp.

Supreme Court Clerk William Suter says his new staff attorney, who just finished a five-year hitch as an Army lawyer, has her job defined as ″emergency applications clerk.″

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