This painting appeared in my annual exhibition at The Shakespeare Theater Company. Their Mock Trial is a premier event among Washington’s legal establishment.  It presents a case derived from a current Shakespearean production, argued by prominent attorneys, and heard by federal and Supreme Court judges, with Ruth Ginsburg presiding.  (Watercolor, 25 x 40.” )

Supreme Court Beach

   John Roberts reads Marcia Coyle’s wonderful book. Hogan & Hartson is his former law firm.

    Pamela Talkin is the first woman to become Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. She is responsible for order and decorum within the courtroom, as well as for security operations and maintenance of the building itself.

   Another Shakespeare fan, Ms. Talkin serves as Marshall during Mock Trials at the Shakespeare Theater Company.

   She is well known to be an avid hiker and bicyclist.


    Chief Justice John Roberts (born 1955) was appointed by George W. Bush. During his confirmation hearings, Roberts compared judges to baseball umpires. “It’s my job the call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.”

   Ruth Bader Ginsburg (born 1933) volunteered for ACLU cases before her appointment by President Clinton. She once said “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a Constitution.” She added that in the 1780’s women were barred from the process and slavery was legal.

    Ruth Ginsburg: “Women are present on the Court. We are all over the bench, and are certainly here to stay.” She also says: “Every now and then it helps to be a little deaf.”

    Justice Clarence Thomas (born 1948) grew up near Savannah and spoke Gullah as his first language. He speaks of racist assumptions that his education at Yale was a result of affirmative action quotas. I peeled a fifteen-cent sticker off a package of cigars and stuck it on the frame of my law degree to remind myself of the mistake I'd made by going to Yale. I never did change my mind about its value.”

    Asked about his habitual silence during Supreme Court arguments, Thomas says he chooses not to waste lawyers’ time just to hear himself speak. “My colleagues should shut up!”

    The average age of Supreme Court Justices is 68.5. They earn $213K per year while the Chief gets $225. According to the Constitution, they shall hold their offices “during good behavior,” which has come to mean for life. No law provides for removing a Justice incapacitated by injury or illness, and refuses to resign.

   Theodore Roosevelt said “The President and the Congress are all very well in their way. They can say what they think they think, but it rests with the Supreme Court to decide what they have really thought.”

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor (born 1954) was raised quite poor and Catholic in the Bronx and identifies as ‘Nuyorican.’

   “As Latinos,” she said, “We do a lot of salsa! What do you think they’re doing in the gyms right now? They’re doing salsa!”

    Sotomayor won a full scholarship to Princeton, then edited the Yale Law Journal. President Bush I appointed her to the U.S. District Court in New York, before President Obama chose her for The Supreme Court.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe is a revered Catholic symbol of the New World being conquered and protected by the Virgin Mary. In one weekend in 2009, 6 million pilgrims visited her shrine in Mexico City. She has been described as a woman of the Apocalypse from Revelation 12:1, “clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars.”

   Large white-headed gulls have been reported reaching a lifespan of 50 years, and often mate for life. They are known to stamp on the ground in groups to imitate the sound of rain, which tricks worms into crawling earthward.

    Justice Stephen Breyer (born 1938) is a Bill Clinton appointee. Here he reads one of his most influential books, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Breyer is also a lover of Shakespeare, and serves at the annual Mock Trial in Washington. Fine arts appeal to him as well. “I’ve seen 50 million paintings,” said Breyer. “I know magenta.”

    Justice Anthony Kennedy (born 1936) was nominated by Ronald Reagan.   Robert Bork had been rejected by Congress for a Supreme Court seat, and Douglas Ginsburg withdrew from consideration when his marijuana use at Harvard was revealed. Kennedy joined the High Court in 1987.

    Justice Kennedy is commonly regarded as the “swing vote” on the Supreme Court, supplying the decisive vote for majority rulings.

    For example, although he voted to allow the Boy Scouts to ban gay scoutmasters, he voted with the majority to overturn a law banning gay marriage.

    His reason: “By treating (gay) persons as living in marriage less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

    Kennedy speaks of his swing votes thusly:

    “Sometimes you don’t know if you’re Caesar about to cross the Rubicon, or Captain Queeg cutting your own tow line.”

     Justice Elena Kagan was appointed by President Obama. She attended Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard Law, where she served as the first woman dean. In 2009, Kagan became the first female U.S. Solicitor General, then replaced John Paul Stevens on the High Court.

   When asked at her confirmation hearings about the effect TV cameras would have on Supreme Court arguments, Kagan replied:

   “It means I’d have to get my hair done more often.”

   When Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) asked her whereabouts when the underwear bomber tried to crash a plane on Christmas day, Kagan said: 

   “Like all Jews I was probably at a Chinese restaurant!”

    Michael Kahn is the founder and artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater Company. Since 1964 he has directed many Broadway and regional plays, and operas.  He has also been a teacher and head of Julliard’s drama school since 1968.

    Asked about early artistic inspirations, Kahn says: “I kept a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millet in my wallet. It goes:

    ‘My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah my foes, and my friends -- / It gives a lovely light.’”


   “A handful of billionaires own a significant part of the wealth of America and have enormous control over our economy. What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires: “You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.” That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about – and that’s why it must be overturned.”

       - U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, on the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United.

  The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest organization for promoting civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.

  The HRC was largely responsible for bringing lawsuits to the Supreme Court, which ruled to overturn bans on gay marriage.

  Celebrity sponsors of the HRC include Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Rob Reiner, Pink, Whoopi Goldberg, Anne Hathaway, and Sally Field.

    Justice Samuel Alito (born 1950) was appointed by President Bush II. He is often described as “very conservative with a libertarian streak.” For example, Alito voted with the majority that speech advocating illegal drugs could be banned in schools. But he warned that ruling cannot interfere with political speech.

   Alito is another student of Shakespeare on the Court, and serves as Justice in their annual mock trial.

   During confirmation hearings promised: “If I am confirmed, I’ll be myself.”


    John Paul Stevens (born 1920) was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford. As third longest-serving justice in U.S. history, he retired in 2010.

    In 2014 he published Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. During an NPR interview, Stevens was asked if he favored the legalization of marijuana. “Yes, he replied. “The distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction.”

    As temporary Chief Justice, Stevens once made an unusual greeting directly to the audience:

    “On behalf of all members of the Court, it is a pleasure to extend to you a warm welcome!”

    It is widely believed that had Al Gore defeated George Bush in 2000, Stevens would have become Chief Justice.

    William Shakespeare (born 1564) here anoints Michael Kahn’s back with suntan lotion.

     “As full of spirit as the month of May, and as gorgeous as the sun in midsummer.”

                                                              - From Henry IV Part One

    Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is located in the Cape region 120 miles from Washington DC, and promotes itself as ‘The Nation’s Summer Capitol.”  It’s beach has been ranked #1 in America’s seashore water quality.

   The name Rehoboth means “broad spaces” in Hebrew. This area was the site of important fishing villages among the Nanticoke and other first nation tribes.

   Reboboth city was founded in 1873 as a site for Methodist camp meetings.  Today, it is a famously gay-friendly town. At the southern end of a mile long boardwalk is an established gay area called Poodle Beach.

    President Barack Obama (born 1961) was president of the Harvard Law Review. Before serving as a U.S. Senator, he taught constitutional law for 12 years at The University of Chicago.

    CBS Sports rates Obama 5th among American presidential athletes. He is known to be an ardent fan of Ultimate Frisbee.

    “You have to play through injuries, Falcons!”

    Dolles Taffy opened in Reboboth Beach in 1926. That same year Walt Disney studios opened. Mussolini’s Irish wife broke his nose. U.S. soldiers occupied Nicaragua. Charles Lindburgh crossed the Atlantic in his Spirit of St. Louis. The Supreme Court ruled that bootleggers must pay income tax.

   Donald Verrilli (born 1957) is the current U.S. Solicitor General, succeeding Elena Kagan upon her appointment to The Supreme Court. Before serving in the White House and Justice Department, Verrilli was a partner at Jenner & Block in Washington. As a public official and private lawyer he has argued High Court cases pertaining to gay marriage rights, health care, and internet regulation. Verrilli has several times been shortlisted as candidate for the Supreme Court.

    In 2000, Todd Crespi became the official CNN artist at the Supreme Court, where he covered Bush v. Gore and other historic cases.

     He also serves as courtroom artist for the Mock Trial at Washington’s Shakespeare Theater Company.


    Justice Breyer shows great resiliency recovering from accidents and misfortunes. In 2013 he underwent shoulder replacement surgery for a humerus fracture suffered in a bicycle accident at The Korean War memorial in Washington.

   Breyer previously broke his collarbone in bike accident in 2011. He also sustained broken ribs and a punctured lung in a bike crash in 1993. In 2013, the Justice was robbed at machete point in his Caribbean vacation home in Nevis.

      On the issue of allowing cameras in the Supreme Court, Breyer has stated: “You can make people look good or you can make them look bad, depending on what 30 seconds you take. And it’s already a cult of personality, and let’s not make it worse.”

    Justice Antonin Scalia (born 1937) was nominated by Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court, where he became the first Italian-American.

    He has nine children.

    It’s been documented he asks more questions than any other Justice, and provokes more laughter. Columnist Dahlia Lithwick describes his courtroom manner this way: “ He comes in like a medieval knight girded for battle...He uses the hour allocated for argument to bludgeon his brethren into agreement.”

   On the question of Supreme Court cameras, Scalia insists: “If I really thought the American people would get educated, I’d be all for it. And if they sat through a day of our proceedings, boy, it would teach them a lot.  But for every 10 people who sat through our proceedings gavel to gavel, there would be 10,000 who would see nothing but a 30-second takeout, which I guarantee would not be representative of what we do.”

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