Opening Statements

Supreme Close-Up


As SCOTUS prepares to entertain a new fall audience, one thing is certain: Events will not be televised.

Yet many hold out hope that one day, there will be cameras in the hallowed halls of One First Street. If and when that day arrives, here’s some ex­pert advice to help the justices rock their close-up.

Sip from Styrofoam. The justices need to pay attention to their mugs. Coffee mugs, that is, says David Lat, the lawyer-slash-pundit behind the blog Above the Law. Antonin Scalia drinks from a bright-green reflective mug while Samuel Alito uses a silver tumbler—both of which pose potentially serious glare issues. “They are noticeable to observers present in the courtroom, and television will only make them worse.” His answer? Styrofoam. While not terribly regal, it means the java won’t distract viewers from the jurisprudence.

Rethink the Robes. Philadelphia lawyer and clever ABA Journal reader Andy Gowa believes the justices could make better use of their robes. Gowa suggests an array of different-color robes, with an on-staff clothes coordinator to choose the day’s color based on the issues before the court, like “burnt umber to project warmth in child rights and family law matters, and dark charcoals and blacks to pro­ject sobriety and seriousness in death penalty cases.”

Ditch the Drapes. Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC’s hit makeover show What Not to Wear, begs the court to do something—anything—about the red curtain wall that’s behind the bench. “I keep waiting for the Lion King overture to start playing,” quips Kelly. And “red can bring out a lot of imperfections in the skin—rosacea, eczema, adult-onset acne.” Which, he believes, “just bolsters the argument for an on-court makeup artist.”

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