PRINT March 1995


Judiciary Drag

IN AN ERA when fashion arbiters and downtown types are addicted to judicious black robes, ideally from Comme des Garçons, the usual attire of the chief justice of the Supreme Court would seem to put him ahead of the game. Instead he has gone D’Oyly Carte. As the Court sat for the first session of the new year, William Rehnquist sported a black gown with four gold stripes on each arm. A spokesperson would explain that the judge’s outfit was of his own design, inspired by the Lord Chancellor’s robe in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.

Unfortunately, Rehnquist’s démodé whimsy signals something more pernicious than mere belatedness. This is, after all, the man Ronald Reagan named chief justice, the man Senator Edward Kennedy has decried as careless and “extreme.” And though bizarrely inspired, his capricious pomp—recalling the toy-soldier outfitting of Nixon’s White House guards—suggests a

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