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CANDOR ON THE COURT

In providing the public with what seems like complete information about Chief Justice John Roberts' seizure, the Supreme Court is breaking from one of its least admirable traditions: shrouding the health problems of justices in secrecy or less than full disclosure. The immediate comparison is with the frustrating lack of detail about the illness that ended the life of Roberts' predecessor, William Rehnquist.

The openness about Roberts' seizure reflects well on the court, on the Roberts family and on the hospital where he was treated. It also provides a model for the disclosure of the health problems of other members of the high court.

The public knows not only what occurred - a brief seizure similar to one Roberts suffered in 1993 - but also the results of a neurological examination that pronounced him fully recovered. We hope the court will be equally candid about whether, in an attempt to prevent a recurrence, Roberts is prescribed medication that could affect his work or his routine.

Supreme Court justices are accustomed to more privacy in medical matters than the president of the United States, an elected official whose physical and mental state could have implications for national security. But when a justice must be taken by ambulance to a hospital, the more disclosure, the better.

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