We had a big honor in my family the week before last — my wife Chris was sworn in as a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar. For most attorneys, the honor is ceremonial. But what a ceremony it was!
We left our hotel for the Court at seven in the morning, had breakfast in a private conference room there, got a free-wheeling, informative, and humorous orientation from the Clerk of the Court, Gen. William Suter, who really ought to be listed as one of Washington’s great attractions.
The swearing-in itself was performed promptly at 10 am by the Chief Justice, with six other justices in attendance. (Justices Thomas and Breyer did not attend.) It was the justices’ only public event of the day.
At ten minutes after 10, we were ushered back into the private conference room and Justice Sonia Sotomayor came to greet the group from the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Someone apologized when several flashes went off as the Justice entered. She waved off the apology, saying that after appearing before the Senate, this one was easy.
Justice Sotomayor chatted easily with the attorneys, some of whom shared with her stories about how she had inspired them or, in one case, a client. Even though I’d prepped Chris for weeks with the one question I wanted to hear the Justice speak about — what it was like to throw out the first pitch in Yankee Stadium — Chris didn’t ask it.
MEET-UP WITH THE MISHPUCHAH
We had another big honor that day — a chance to have dinner with cousins Jim Ostroff and Wendy Shapiro. (Though we’re in regular contact, the chance to actually sit face to face and talk has been way too scarce for way too many years.)
Though various kinds of stress and fatigue cut short the actual restaurant part of the visit, we did get a chance to sit for quite some time in the lobby of the Willard Hotel and catch up in ways that just don’t work all that well on the phone or in email.
Besides being cousins, Jim and I have been close friends since early childhood, and it has largely been through his infectious enthusiasm for, and careful study of, genealogy that I became interested in chronicling matters of family.
AND THEN THERE’S THE TOURIST STUFF
Yes, we did a fair amount of that as well — spending hours at the Newseum, walking the City, looking at monuments, and as long as we were in the neighborhood, making sure all was right with the Republic.