Appellate Practice

SG Dumped Traditional Morning Coat, Wore Pantsuit of Unknown Design

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Solicitor General Elena Kagan ended a tradition on Wednesday when she made her first U.S. Supreme Court argument without wearing a formal morning coat.

Kagan opted instead for “a dark suit and an open-necked sky-blue blouse,” the Washington Post reports in a column by Al Kamen.

Some other publications had differed on the colors of the solicitor general’s attire. In response to a query by Above the Law, Kagan confirmed that the color of her blouse was light blue and her pantsuit was black, but refused to name the pantsuit designer. (“Does anyone think we can find out SG Kagan’s designer of choice via a FOIA request?” Above the Law wondered.)

Kagan’s choice of attire wasn’t a last-minute decision. She discussed the issue with other lawyers in the Justice Department and “made discreet inquiries of the court,” according to the Post account. The justices apparently told Kagan she could wear whatever she wanted.

Now the Office of Solicitor General has a new clothing policy for lawyers who argue before the high court. Morning coats will still be worn by male lawyers but they will be optional for females.

The Post story also considers whether Attorney General Eric Holder will argue a Supreme Court case. About three-fourths of the nation’s attorneys general have appeared before the court, although recent attorneys general Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft didn’t argue a case.

“There’s chatter that Holder’s not inclined to appear before the court because he really doesn’t feel like palling around with some of those folks,” Kamen writes. “But we’re told they all get along well enough. OK, maybe not poker buddies but …”

Updated at 10:10 a.m. to include information from Above the Law.

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