"Deciding not to decide is, of course, among the most important things done by the Supreme Court. It takes a lot of doing, but it can be done." -- Thurgood Marshall
This morning was a beautiful and meaningful one for me -- I was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar by Justice Samuel Alito. It was nice to chat with him. I took some time after the swearing-in ceremony that took place in one distinguished room, and the reception that took place in another, to wander around the white marble hallways and to take in the beauty and atmosphere of the historic building.
Sitting outside on the stone terrace outside of the reception room, I remembered a time when my father was in town for a dinner at the Supreme Court. He invited me and my oldest daughter to join him. She was then in middle school. As we watched Justices Scalia, Breyer, and Kennedy mingle at the dinner, I mentioned to her that she should introduce herself to them. After all, it wasn't clear if she would ever have this kind of opportunity again. She did, and they were quite engaged in talking with her. Later, we watched Justice Ginsburg slip quietly away from the dinner and walk alone toward her office. We peeked into the courtroom and marvelled at its small, intimate size. We felt that we were part of history.
Today I felt like I was a tourist in my own town. It felt good to be back on Capitol Hill. Years ago, I used to work in the Senate Hart Office Building next door to the Supreme Court, and I walked by the Court every day. I did not take that experience for granted, but I was not prepared for the rush of emotion I felt today in looking at the magnificent columns and steps and the words "Equal Justice Under Law" engraved on the front of the building.
Many thanks to the warm and welcoming George Mason law school community -- and to Judy Jin at the law school -- who invited me to join in on the group admission during alumni weekend even though I graduated from Georgetown University Law Center. I am grateful and appreciative to be part of this wonderful community as an Adjunct Professor of Law!
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.