Like many observers of the Supreme Court, Article III Groupie was extremely pleased to learn that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist is now back on the bench. He looked better than he did on Inauguration Day, and he presided over yesterday's oral arguments without difficulty. The most noticeable difference was WHR's somewhat hoarse and raspy voice, a result of his recent tracheotomy.*
Because of the Supreme Court's ban on cameras in the courtroom, A3G has no pictures to share with you of the Chief on the bench. But he was photographed leaving his home in Arlington, Virginia, wearing a barn jacket in the tasteful, conservative shade of stone. After seeing the photos, fashion maven A3G guessed that WHR's barn jacket was by L.L. Bean -- and she was, of course, correct. Check out the pictures at right, and click on each photograph for a close-up if you doubt A3G's conclusion. (Photo of Rehnquist by Manuel Balce Ceneta for the Associated Press; photo of barn jacket by L.L. Bean.)
Now, L.L. Bean is perfectly fine, but surely the Chief can do better! With a salary in excess of $200,000, which he will continue to draw even after he retires, plus a healthy net worth, WHR has some money to burn. A3G would like to see him take more sartorial risks. How about head-to-toe Dolce?
Too much to ask, you say? Perhaps you have a point. Dolce & Gabbana may be too fashion-forward for the Chief; a made-to-measure Brioni suit might be more in keeping with Big Willie's Style. But please don't assume that WHR, simply because he holds the lofty title of Chief Justice of the United States, is completely indifferent to fashion.
As A3G noted back when she gave him his UTR birthday horoscope, Chief Justice Rehnquist is a Libra. And this Libra profile advises the Chief as follows: "[You] make the best shopping buddy! Because of your excellent taste, off-the-rack is usually not quite good enough.... You're a trendsetter when it comes to spicing up a classical look."
This last observation is uncannily accurate. Let's recall how the Chief "spiced up" that most "classical" of looks -- the austere judicial robe, in basic black -- with the brilliant touch of four gold bars on each sleeve. If the Chief does retire at the end of this Term, he would make a formidable competitor in the second season of Project Runway...
Very well, that's enough about WHR for now; A3G is just glad that he has returned. Please note that she has refrained from distasteful speculation concerning the Chief's exact diagnosis -- she respects his privacy, as appropriately urged by Professor Thomas E. Baker, who once served as the Chief's administrative assistant.**
In closing, A3G will leave you with a few judicial sight-ations of other members of the Court (the first two fairly recent, and the last two not-so-recent, but very amusing):
3. Justice O'Connor, dining on the decidedly less-than-haute fare of the Olive Garden (A3G enjoys "Three Meat Ravioli" as much as the next gal, but who the heck takes a Supreme Court justice to the Olive Garden?); and
4. then-Judge Breyer treating a courthouse security officer like a parking valet.
A3G cannot vouch for the accuracy of the last two stories, courtesy of the amusing Bitter Waitress website. SGB's allegedly high-handed treatment of the courthouse security officer is inconsistent with his dutifully reporting for jury service like an ordinary citizen, as well as his reputation around One First Street as a generally nice guy, one of the most friendly justices.
The SOC sighting, however, is perhaps corroborated by various accounts of Justice O'Connor spending the 2003 Fourth of July weekend in Philadelphia. While in Philly, SOC officially opened the National Constitution Center along with Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania and, more importantly, spouse of the Honorable Midge (a.k.a. Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell -- who will, thanks to her husband's ill-considered Super Bowl wager, be singing the national anthem next month up in Boston).
Humming "Hail to the Chief,"
* Until late last year, A3G, like most Americans, had never heard the word "tracheotomy." Over the past few months, however, the tracheotomy has been ubiquitous. Other tracheotomy recipients who have recently been in the public spotlight include American Idol contestant Anthony Fedorov, who has a decent shot of winning now that Mario Vazquez is out of the picture, and the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II (more details via The Pope Blog).
** Chief Justice Rehnquist's current administrative assistant is former DOJ lawyer Sally M. Rider, the subject of this interesting profile, written by Charles Lane of the Washington Post -- and, of course, Shattered Glass fame. How many legal journalists can say they've been portrayed by a movie star?
At this point in time, there is absolutely nothing to corroborate the rumor that Julia Roberts is in talks to portray Linda Greenhouse, the monumentally influential, left-leaning Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. But it's not as far-fetched as it might initially seem. Consider the following:
3. It would be fitting for a gorgeously seductive movie star like Roberts to step into the shoes of Greenhouse, the Femme Fatale of One First Street. How many women are capable of producing tectonic shifts in American jurisprudence merely by batting their eyelashes at Anthony Kennedy? Indeed, liberal Linda's disproportionate influence over AMK was memorably dubbed "the Greenhouse Effect" (reportedly by former D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman).
*** One of the bloggers behind the Magic Cookie blog, who brought the SGB jury service item to A3G's attention, offers this wonderfully detailed eyewitness account:
I had jury duty a few days ago in Marlborough, Mass. I noticed a tall, well-dressed man at the front of the room. I thought he looked vaguely familiar. (WHY didn't I at least attempt small talk??) The jury pool was called into the courtroom to be selected for a trial. The judge asked several questions, including, "Are you, or are any of your immediate family or close friends, involved in law enforcement?" This gentleman raised his hand in response to the question and went up to talk to the judge. Later, he got called up again. This time, we saw him shaking hands with the judge, but couldn't hear what they were saying.
I got on the jury. The distinguished-looking gentleman did not. When the trial was over, the judge came to talk to us and revealed that [the gentleman] would have been the next juror selected if any of us had been challenged, and that, in response to the law enforcement question, he went up and said, "I feel I should tell you that I was the special prosecutor for Watergate."
I sat in that jury room room, two feet away from Justice Breyer, for HOURS, and I did NOT talk to him. ARGH! Ever since then I've been concocting these fantasies about how I would have been the only one to recognize him, and would quietly go over and ask if he was Justice Breyer, and then we would chat about jury duty and Cambridge and upcoming cases on the docket, and I would tell him that I'm going to law school next year, and he'd give me advice, and four years later when I applied to clerk for him he would remember me, and we'd reminisce about having jury duty together....
And then I snap out of it and realize that I DIDN'T recognize him, and when he turned around to hear the conversation I started with the woman behind me, he smiled and I smiled back and returned to my book instead of saying anything. What a wasted opportunity!