In Smithsonian Magazine, Justice O’Connor writes about the tradition of the judicial robe, and how she made her own “modest addition” of a neck doily.
Remarkably, this similarity among our judges and justices is purely a matter of tradition. There are no rules that dictate what judges or justices must wear on the bench, nor is there even a common source for Supreme Court robes. The court’s internal correspondence suggests that, in the 19th century, the justices all wore black silk robes from a single tailor. By the 20th century, other materials were often used and judges selected their robes from those available to college graduates and choir singers. For the most part, we have all chosen to wear a very similar style of black judicial robe.
Of course, there have been a few exceptions, intentional or otherwise. In the marshal’s office records of the court, there is a note that in 1969, Justice Hugo Black “returned to the Bench” without his robe on and sat on the bench for the remainder of the court session, departing with his colleagues. But there’s no record of whether something happened to his robe or he just forgot to put it on. And Chief Justice William Rehnquist added gold stripes to one arm of his robe. It was an unannounced departure: He simply surprised us with the change one morning. He said he had recently seen a Gilbert & Sullivan opera in which the lord chief justice wore a robe with gold stripes. Our chief asked the seamstress at the court to sew some on his own robe. I myself made a modest addition to the simple black robe by choosing to wear a white judicial collar.
Don’t be so modest!
Bryan Garner just made my day when he tweeted the draft definition for “jabot” in the next edition of Black’s Law Dictionary. It says “Also termed (slang) neck doily.”
— Bryan A. Garner (@BryanAGarner) January 28, 2014
I think I may have coined a word!
I first used the phrase “neck doily” in this post from October 2009 noting that Justice Sotomayor was not wearing the “neck doily” that Justice Ginsburg gave her. At some point earlier, I made a joke to a friend about Justice Ginsburg’s frilly jabot. I said something to the effect of, “Is she a Justice or a tea cup? Why is she wearing a doily around her neck.” And, it stuck. Above The Law adopted the usage back in 2010. I’m even cited as a footnote on Wikipedia for jabot!
Since then I’ve (somehow) published about two dozen posts on the neck doily. Justice Kagan wore a neck doily in her first Supreme Court portrait, and during her investiture, but not during her first day on the bench. Kagan later said of the jabot, “In my real life I’m not a frilly, lacy person.” Though all the female Justices wore some kind of neck accoutrements (somewhere between a scarf and a doily) while sitting for their portrait. Then there was the time Justice Ginsburg swapped her neck doily for some bling, and the blue neck doily for the same-sex wedding she officiated at.
If this is my only contribution to the English language, I will be happy.
In Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp. (12-417), Eric Schnapper listed several forms of courtroom attire. He even mentioned the neck brace! But he omitted the neck doily.
In ordinary parlance, not everything an individual wears would be referred to as clothes. There are examples of that in this courtroom: Glasses, necklaces, earrings, wristwatches. There may be a toupee for all we know. Those things are not commonly referred to as clothes.
Personally, I think of it more as a garnish.
And for lol, Justice Scalia took umbrage that someone in the Court wore a toupee!
JUSTICE SCALIA: I resent that.
Totally serious question for anyone who knows. Is the neck doily put on in the robing room? Does RBG keep a slew of them there? Or are they kept in chambers? Does she ever dither on which one to pick? How long does a neck doily take to put on? If anyone knows the answer, you know where to reach me.
The new portrait of Justices O’Connor, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan offers four views of the neck doily. Here is how Tony Mauro describes it:
A seated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seen standing behind her, look somber, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seated next to O’Connor, and Justice Elena Kagan, standing next to Sotomayor, have faint smiles. They are wearing their black robes, with differing neckwear that accurately reflects their preferences.
O’Connor is wearing a sailor-suit neck doily. RBG is wearing the standard round teacup neck doily. Justice Sotomayor has no discernible neck accoutrement (not even the one RBG gave her). Justice Kagan rocks the subtle neck liner. Though she wore one at first, she soon stopped. She later said that she is not a frilly, lacy person.
Update: The Washington Post has a better photo of the painting. Justice Sotomayor is in fact wearing some kind of turtleneck neck doily.
Front and center was Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court, performing her second gay ceremony following the court’s decision striking down laws that had denied federal benefits to same-sex spouses. The importance of her presence and the setting — the roof of Fiola restaurant in Washington, with a panoramic view stretching from the Capitol to the White House — was not lost on the 100 assembled guests. …
But who would officiate? Then they read an interview with Justice Ginsburg, in which she said she had never been asked to perform a same-sex wedding. They asked, and on the day the court invalidated DOMA, she agreed to marry the couple.
At the ceremony, Justice Ginsburg described the couple’s love as “universal” and “human nature,” and expressed hope that it would make them “magically more wiser and richer in experience, happier than either would be alone.”
Yet somehow, the Times originally misspelled her name. Look at this ghastly correction:
Correction: September 29, 2013
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misspelled the name of the Supreme Court justice who performed the wedding ceremony. She is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, not Gisnburg.
What fashion statement is she making today?
Update: We have an update from Court artist himself, Art Lien:
@JoshMBlackman Re. Ginsburg's gold neck doily…haven't seen it up close, but yes it's gold and kind of thick & she wears it regularly now.
— Arthur Lien (@Courtartist) May 29, 2013
There you have it. It’s gold and thick.
And more from Michelle Olson:
— Michelle Olsen (@AppellateDaily) May 29, 2013
Earth-shattering news from the Supreme Court, courtesy of Robert Barnes:
Justice Ginsburg today ditched frilly jabot and accented Little Black Robe with sparkly necklace from Glamour WOY award.
— Robert Barnes (@scotusreporter) November 26, 2012
Update: Thanks to the inestimable Art Lien, we now have a sketch of Justice Ginsburg “forgo[ing] the jabot.”
Here are Art’s comments:
One thing a sketch artist at the Supreme Court needs to look for is whether Justice Ginsburg is wearing a jabot or one of her increasingly large doilies around her neck. Today, for the first time I can recall, she wore neither. She appeared to be wearing a sparkly necklace of dark crystals. I couldn’t quite make it out.
Update: WaPo Reliable Sources has the scoop on RBG’s new bling.
Time to bust out your holiday-season bling — and that goes for you Supreme Court justices, too!Ruth Bader Ginsburg turned some heads Monday when she showed up in court wearing a big shiny necklace with her robe instead of her usual frilly white jabot. We’re told that the bib-style sparkler (glass beads on a black scalloped base) was a Banana Republic offering that came in the VIP gift bag at Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year”gala in New York this month, where Ginsburg was among the honorees. (Sorry, no photo: Cameras aren’t allowed in the court.)
Swanky. Here is a pic from Banana Republic’s web site:
H/T DC Dicta
Justice Kagan sat down for a lengthy interview on C-SPAN. At 27:33, she is asked about her decision not to wear a neck doily. For those of you outside the SCOTUSphere, the neck doily is the frilly lacy thing that Justice Ginsburg wears around her neck (for more on the doily, see here, here, and here). Here is what Justice Kagan had to say:
“I think you just have to do what makes you feel comfortable. In my real life I’m not a frilly, lacy person. Some of the things people wear just struck me as not something I felt comfortable with. I have, on occasion, worn a white scarf under my robe. I have worn that for all of our pictures and my investiture. I wear pearls a lot. I think the robe is a symbol of the impersonality of the law.”
There you have it.
Update: Thanks for the link Above The Law, and picking up my usage of the term “neck doily!”
I suppose the answer to my previous question is yes.
Merry olde England. U.S. Federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, can wear pretty much anything they like—they can even go in jeans and t-shirts—but the simple black robe has been de rigueur for those on the federal bench since the early 19th century. (Some state courts continue to wear variations, like red robes on the Maryland Court of Appeals and gray for the justices of the Georgia Supreme Court.) The V-neck on a standard judicial gown hangs a little low, which isn’t a problem for men, since it exposes their shirt-collar and necktie. Women’s wear doesn’t have a consistent neckline, so many female judges seek some kind of neck adornment to cover the gap. Some of them look to England, where male and female judges alike still wear a two-banded ribbon atop their robes. The accessory is still au courant in several former English colonies, like Canada and Zimbabwe, as well.
ot all female judges take this route. Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood, whom President Obama also considered for the Supreme Court, often prefers a brooch to going all frilly. Another option is simply to adjust your personal attire to accommodate the robe’s plunging neckline and skip the accessorizing altogether. Judge Kimba Wood of the Second Circuit, for example, tends to wear a crew neck under her gown. Justice Sonia Sotomayor also prefers anunadorned judicial robe with a higher collar underneath. She received a jabot as a gift from Justice Ginsburg, but doesn’t usually wear it during oral argument. (No word yet on who will gift Kagan with a jabot, or whether she will wear it.)
Some judges, like Kim McLane Wardlaw of the Ninth Circuit, close the robe’s neckline completely, eliminating the need for an accessory. While judges typically order their polyester garments from online retailers—high-end versions cost around $400—Wardlaw had a Hollywood designer create her unique robes.
Slate also included a nice photoshopped image.
One of my first blog posts dealt with the Neck Doily–or whatever that collar thing Justice Ginsburg wears around her neck is called. Justice Ginsburg gave Justice Sotomayor a neck doily to welcome her to the Court. Although Justice Sotomayor wore it in the official SCOTUS group photo, she did not wear it in her individual photo, and she does not wear it during oral arguments.
So, the most important question that Elena Kagan should be asked, is whether she will wear a neck doily on the bench.
Now Kagan was notoriously coy about whether she would wear the traditional Solicitor General Morning Coat. So it is likely she would not answer any questions about her attire on the bench. It is also likely that she will not answer any questions about actually being a Justice.
Only time will tell.
In perhaps the most important SCOTUS fashion development since Solicitor General Kagan’s non-Morning Coat attire, I just heard from someone who attended oral arguments that Justice Sotomayor was not wearing the Collar/Neck Doily Justice Ginsburg gave her.
Although she wore the Collar in the group photo:
She did not wear it in her individual photo, unlike Justice Ginsburg
Ginsburg with Collar
Sotomayor without Collar
Could this serve as a bone of contention between the two female Justices? Or maybe Justice Sotomayor, who never wore the Neck Doily on the 2nd Circuit, just didn’t like the fashion. We shall see.
During an interview with Katie Couric, Justice Ginsburg gave us an insight into her jabot closet–but even more than that, she gave us a glimpse into the secret world of doilyology. Much like Kremlinology, we can now use the jabot draped around RBG’s punam to predict her authored opinions a given day. You see RBG wears different collars when she is reading a majority, or dissenting opinion. (An RBG clerk told me this some time ago, but I wasn’t able to make it public. Now I can).
There’s only one way to test this new theory of Doilyology. Compare her chosen jabots with our only window into the fortress of solitude at One First Street NE. Courtartist Art Lien!
First, we have the “majority collar.” RBG explains:
This one is my majority opinion collar. So when I’m announcing an opinion for the Court, this is the collar I wear. This was a gift from my clerks.
So let’s check the archives. Here is Justice Ginsburg delivering the majority opinion in Wood v. Moss. That is most definitely the golden majority jabot!
It’s quite regal!
Although, the majority jabot may be somewhat recent. Here is RBG in 2011 delivering the opinion for the Court in CSX v. McBride, with a standard, run of the mill jabot–what I call the teacup neck doily.
Second, we have the dissenting doily (dissentoily?). RBG explained, “This is my dissenting collar.” Couric replied, “Why is that.” RBG answered, “It looks fitting for dissents.” This neck-bling is so shiny it can give the men in the majority a blind spot.
And, I think we have a match. Here is Art’s sketch of RBG dissenting in Hobby Lobby, while seated next to the doily-less Justice Alito, who delivered the majority opinion. Alito definitely seems to be blinded by the light.
And, you can just make out the shades of the dissenting jabot in this sketch of Argentina v. NML Capital.
Here is RBG dissenting Shelby County v. Holder last term. Definitely the dissenting neck doily.
I think we have a match!
So, all of you enterprising SCOTUS sleuths. When you are sitting in the Court for a hand-down, pay close attention to Justice Ginsburg’s neck–you may be able to figure out what’s what. So let’s add doily-watching to box-counting and waiting-for-Lyle to our Supreme Court traditions.
In case you are interested, Couric gave us a nice shot of RBG’s closet.
And this jabot, which is from South Africa:
“This one is my favorite, it’s from South Africa. It’s from Cape Town.”
Good thing jabot, and “neck doily” are in the next edition of Black’s Law dictionary.
Hello everyone. I apologize for interrupting your summer break with this note. I have submitted grades for Property I. I am very proud of all of you. On the whole, you nailed it. I put together really difficult fact patterns that were quite open-ended, with the intent that there would be many, many, many correct answers. I thought I had considered all the possible answers, but several of you came up with things I didn’t even think of. Well done.
Additionally, many of you incorporated various concepts we talked about in class that were not in the textbook (such as the Coase Theorem, various natural law concepts, etc.). And one of you correctly used the word “dissental” to characterize Judge Kozinski’s dissent from denial of rehearing en banc in Vanna White v. Samsung. (“The dissental by Kozinski would characterize this as overprotection.”) I sent a note to Chief Judge Kozinski and he replied, “love, love, love.” I understand that he also added it to his case to persuade Bryan Garner to add word “dissental” to the next edition of Black’s law dictionary (add it alongside “neck doily,” my humble contribution to legal language).
For some comic relief, one of you used the phrase “fiduciary doodie.” I did not take any points off, but I chuckled. Another noted the uncanny resemblance between Bookie (a/k/a Snooki) and Amy Winehouse: “The leopard tights and hair bump could only be Bookie or Amy Winehouse. and Amy is thinner and never went to the gym.”
Finally, despite all of your concerns, almost every single one of you managed to completely answer the question within the word limit. In other words, the differences between the A, B, and C was not due to an inability to write within the word limits.
You can download the exam here.
You can download the A+ paper here. If this is your paper, please drop me a line.
First year classes are subject to the school’s mandatory grading curve (see p. 84 of the handbook):
grades assigned in classes of 40 or more students shall conform to a mandatory grading distribution. That distribution provides for a required 9-16 percent for A+/A, a required 16-30 percent for A+/A/A-; a required 16-30 percent for C+/C/C-/D+/D/F; and a required 9-16 percent for C/C-/D+/D/F. The class average shall be 2.85-3.15.
I think you will find that I maximized the grades here. I approached the upper limits of the grades allowed above an A-, and approached the lower limits of grades below C+. In addition, the class average was very close to the upper limit (3.326). In other words, there were many more As than Cs, and the class averages were quite high.
Here is the full breakdown.
- Average: 3.136
- A and above – 15.2%
- A- and above – 27.3%
- C+ and below: 22.7%
- C and below: 9.1%
Thank you all for a great semester.
In my constitutional law class, I gave a condensed lecture on all aspects of NFIB v. Sebelius from start to finish. The video runs three hours in length, but covers everything from start to finish. (As it turns out, I led off class by playing the video of the guy who snuck the camera into court). I also may or may not have announced that I am the proud owner of my very own neck doily. If you have some time, you will enjoy this.
Kudos to David Lat for coning three new words added to the newest edition of Black’s Law Dictionary: bench-slap, judicial diva, and litigatrix.
Three neologisms by @DavidLat that I’ve defined for Black’s Law Dictionary (10/e): “bench-slap,” “judicial diva,” and “litigatrix.”
— Bryan A. Garner (@BryanAGarner) January 27, 2014
And, Bryan Garner confirmed that “neck doily” is now slang for Jabot!
–Also termed (in slang) neck doily. @JoshMBlackman
— Bryan A. Garner (@BryanAGarner) January 27, 2014
And “doily” is preferred to “doiley.”
@JoshMBlackman Just caught it myself as you were tweeting.
— Bryan A. Garner (@BryanAGarner) January 27, 2014
Has anyone seen this picture before? I follow these things closely, and I don’t recall this pic. It seems that RBG is wearing a very festive, almost rainbow colored neck doily?
Let’s start with reverse seniority. I don’t like, at all, what the painter did with Justice Kagan. In real life, she is so vibrant and energetic, exuding this whimsical snark, as if she was going to Socratically corner you any moment. The portrait conveys her as dull and lifeless. Her shoulders are slouched. Her hair looks unkempt. She looks bored and disengaged, almost as if she doesn’t fit in with the three other distinguished Justices. She almost fades into the shadows. We can’t even see her hands. Plus her neck doily sags into nowhere. And she is in the center of the portrait. When I look at the portrait, my eyes are drawn right to Kagan’s face. I can’t imagine she is happy with this.
Justice Sotomayor, in contrast, looks fierce. She has a very sharp look, gazing right into the (figurative) lens. Her shoulders are strong, and the stitches on her robes make it clear she is asserting herself. Unlike Kagan, her hands are visible on top of the couch. She is learning towards the other Justices, unlike Kagan who seems to be shirking, and fading into the background. The turtleneck neck doily contours her visage. It’s a good depiction.
Justice Ginsburg looks so stodgy. Her hands are clasped tightly, as if she is not open, at all. In reality she is such a welcoming person. The artist did not capture the spark in that frail frame we all adore. Her teacup neck doily dwarfs her face. She is looking forcefully at the lens, with no emotion.
Justice O’Connor looks like she got an eye-lift or botox something. Her eyebrows are arched upwards in an odd way. She also has this school-girl, doe-eyed look to her. I don’t see at all the strong persona that she has exuded for three decades on the bench. Though the way her hands are laid depicts warmth, which is right on. I do enjoy the detail put into her sailor-suit neck doily.
On the whole, I don’t like it. Again, this is my purely non artistic opinion.