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David T. Cox Admitted to Practice Law Before the US Supreme Court.

Months ago a good friend of mine recommended I become admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.  She recommended this because she knew of another attorney who was so admitted and she was mightily impressed with that particular credential.   I had visited the Supreme Court before and observed first hand how a group of attorneys had been sworn in to the bar of the court.  After that experience, I decided I wanted to be admitted some day as well.  So it was with some relish that I recently reviewed an email from the American Bar Association inviting me to join the Senior Lawyer’s Division on their Supreme Court trip, where participants would not only be sworn in as members of the bar of the Court, but would also have a special reception at the Court and meet one of the Justices and get photographed with the Justice.  I signed up immediately.

Our group of about 25 attorneys and their guests arrived in Washington the day before the big ceremony and embarked on a luncheon cruise on the Potomac.  It was a beautiful day to be on the water, and the views of Washington DC from the river were stunning.  I made friends with a number of my fellow admittees and their guests and generally had a great time, and I definitely had too much to eat.  We all had dinner together at our hotel that night and discussed the logistics for getting to the Court on time the next morning.

The weather on our big day could not have been more delightful.  We arrived at the Court just as the sun was coming up from behind the building, which faces Capitol Hill, already drenched in a delicate morning glow.  Various groups were mingling on the steps of the Court, there either to hear the Court’s decisions for that day, or like us, to be sworn in as members of the bar.  Soon enough we had entered the building and were eventually ushered into the courtroom.   My seat in the well of the Court just happened to be right next to the press seating area.  I got to speak a bit with a reporter for NBC, and I saw reporters I recognized, including one of my favorite, Nina Totenberg from National Public Radio, whose coverage of the Court is renowned.  Since the Court does not allow electronic devices, all of the reporters were using notepads and pens to take down the Court’s decisions.

As the time for the Court to begin it session drew nearer, the clerks for several of the Justices came out to place coffee (in travel mugs) at the seats of their masters.   Only three of the nine Justices apparently drink coffee, or at least enough coffee to need some with them on them bench–Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan (Justice Samuel Alito was not present during this session).  Justice Sotomayor actually had two mugs.  I would love to start speculation on this blog about what is in her second mug–more coffee, tea, something more potent perhaps?

After handing down two decisions that day, Chief Justice John Roberts entertained motions for admission.  The moving attorney read each of our names in turn as we stood up and several groups of attorneys from all over the country were admitted with a brief oath.  I noticed that the Justices were actually paying attention as our names were read, looking at each admittee with interest, perhaps to see if they knew anyone or could make some connection.  Chief Justice Roberts granted the motion and the Court adjourned and we all congratulated each other as we were ushered out of the courtroom.

Our group headed to the West Conference room where a lavish spread awaited us.  Soon, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined us.  We were thrilled to have her.  She answered questions for about twenty minutes before she had to leave.  The thing I remembered most was her answer to the question about what she likes most and what she likes least about being a Justice.  She said she likes everything about being a Justice except the death penalty cases.

After I returned from Washington, I wasted no time updating my website and social media profiles with my newly minted credential: Admitted to the United States Supreme Court.  Judging from the reactions of my friends and family, it is a big deal.  I am certainly glad that I finally followed in the footsteps of those I had witnessed being admitted so early in my career.  Now it’s time to delve into further speculation about what is in Justice Sotomayor’s second mug!