Doilyology: Predict Justice Ginsburg Opinions With Her Majority and Dissenting Jabots

August 1st, 2014

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!

Opinion: Wood v. Moss, No.13-115

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.

Opinion: Hobby Lobby, No. 13-354

And, you can just make out the shades of the dissenting jabot in this sketch of Argentina v. NML Capital.

Opinion: Argentina v. NML Capital, No. 12-842

Here is RBG dissenting Shelby County v. Holder last term. Definitely the dissenting neck doily.

SCOTUS dissent: Shelby County v Holder

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.”


She wore this jabot in two same-sex weddings she performed. This must be the nuptial doily.

Good thing jabot, and “neck doily” are in the next edition of Black’s Law dictionary.