The Volokh Conspiracy

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Vogue on KBJ and ACB

Contrast how the fashion magazine treats the two newest members of the Supreme Court.


The September issue of Vogue Magazine is a big deal. In the past, the publisher would boast of how loud a "thud" it made when dropped off a coffee table. The cover of the September 2022 issue announces Serena Williams' retirement. And inside the issue is a profile of the newest member of the Court, titled The Grace and Promise of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz (who just finished snapping the Zelenskys in Ukraine) took two pictures of Justice Jackson. Both shots are taken at the Lincoln Memorial at dawn.

In the first shot, Jackson is seen in front of the reflecting pool, wearing an "Aliétte coat." In the second shot, Jackson is leaning against a column with Lincoln in the background, wearing an "Oscar de la Renta coat and dress."

(I understand there is some dissatisfaction that a white photographer (Leibovitz) took the shots of Jackson.)

For those curious, Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not receive a glowing profile in Vogue. Nor did the magazine send Leibovitz to South Bend. Indeed, the first article in Vogue about Barrett is titled. "Does Amy Coney Barrett Believe Life Begins at Fertilization?" The photo is not the most flattering.

In the wake of Dobbs, I've written a lot about judicial courage. The five members of the majority knew full well that their vote would ostracize them from elite society for the rest of their lives. Had any of them changed their vote, and saved Roe, they would be feted as saviors. A glossy spread in Vogue. Honorary degrees. Grand Marshall at the Rose Bowl parade (an honor Justice O'Connor received). But by sticking to their guns, and the law, they will receive none of these accolades. Good. Really, good riddance to these progressive efforts to manipulate the Justices. The Greenhouse Effect is long gone.

Which brings me back to Justice Jackson. We often speak of the cult of celebrity Justices. This obsession affected Justice Ginsburg's judgment, and likely dissuaded her from retiring. Judges, even those on the left, should resist the siren call of becoming pop icons. Yet, in this glamorous photo shoot, Justice Jackson models couture clothing. I know this was not her intent, but Jackson has become an unofficial spokesperson for Oscar De La Renta and Aliétte. Fame can quickly go to a person's head. And it never ends well for anyone, especially judges.

Finally, was the Lincoln Monument closed to the public for this shoot? Even with an early morning shoot run, there is usually someone on your left.