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SUPREME COURT HISTORY
The Court and Democracy
The Look of Authority
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The Look of Authority
The Judicial Robe
The Judicial Robe
Robes, which by some accounts evolved from Roman togas, have long been the traditional attire of judges and lawyers in the Western world. The official garb of U.S. Supreme Court justices is the black robe. Although the choice seems obvious today, at the time the Court was established, what the justices would wear was a matter of heated debate. While some argued for robes like those worn in English and colonial law courts, others eschewed this attire for its ostentation and royalist associations. Thomas Jefferson, it is said, was in favor of the justices wearing plain suits. In the end, the Jay Court adopted black robes with red fronts. Apparently, however, the red color continued to hold undesirable connotations. It was soon abandoned for a simpler, more sober all-black robe.
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Instructions: Roll over the highlighted portions of the images to learn how certain symbols, styles, and structures work to create and affirm the authority of the United States' highest court. Back

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