Hadassah

Supreme Court Swearing In: A Personal Story

Wednesday, Jun 14 2017

By Deborah Kahn, Esq.

Deborah Kahn, Esq. writes about the experience of participating in Hadassah's 2015 Supreme Court Swearing In Program.

As the Co-Chair of the all-volunteer committee that coordinates Hadassah's National Attorney Council's annual swearing-in program at the United States Supreme Court, for many years, I have had the distinct privilege and, indeed, the pleasure of leading groups of Life Members and Associates to the High Court in Washington, DC for an event I believe has been aptly described as a slice of legal heaven. This program, a yearly event now entering its seventeenth year at Hadassah, has always been a highlight of the professional and volunteer lives of those in attendance. Having participated in this program myself in its early days (in 2002), I certainly share the sentiments of several of this years participants who have described the entire experience as thrilling, memorable, amazing, and never to be forgotten.

In 2015, we were particularly thrilled to be able to bring two different groups of attorneys to be sworn in before the Justices of the US Supreme Court one group on Monday, February 23, and another group on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. The Monday group hailed from across the nation; the Tuesday group included members of the Yashar Chapter based in the Nassau Region, New York, the only Hadassah Chapter comprised exclusively of judges and attorneys, celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year. Each day's program began with a kick-off dinner - these dinners have always been hallmarked by renowned speakers from the legal community, and this year was certainly no exception. On Sunday evening, we were extremely privileged to have Marcia Coyle address our members; Ms. Coyle is the Chief Washington Correspondent for The National Law Journal, a regular commentator on PBS News Hour, and the author of "The Roberts Court, The Struggle for the Constitution". On Monday evening, we were equally privileged to have Marcia D. Greenberger, the Founder and Co-President of the National Women's Law Center, speak to the group. All who attended agreed that the unique insights each dinner speaker possessed - albeit from different perspectives - added immeasurably to the appreciation of the entire event.

On both mornings following our welcome dinners, we received a warm greeting at the High Court by the recently appointed Clerk of the Court, Scott Harris, who also provided an orientation for the actual swearing in ceremony, which preceded oral arguments on both days. After the arguments on Monday, the group had the distinct privilege to meet with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - herself a lifetime member of Hadassah - at lunch; as an added surprise to all in attendance, Justice Ginsburg was accompanied by Theodore Bikel, who was in town for a Jewish film festival that was featuring a documentary about his life's work. The Tuesday group enjoyed a meeting with Justice Stephen Breyer at breakfast, and they also had a meeting with Justice Ginsburg at lunch. On both days, the participants were also treated to a meeting with the 10th Marshal (and the first woman Marshal) of the Court, Pamela Talkin, who had previously arranged for our groups to use one of the historic Conference Rooms throughout our days at the Court. A tour of the majestic Supreme Court Library - led by the extremely knowledgeable and welcoming staff members, who went so far as to assemble a special exhibit of material about Justice Louis D. Brandeis - was also part of both days' itineraries.

My Co-Chair, Tema Sternberg, and the other wonderful women on our Swearing In Committee, Lynn Altshuler, Esq. and Dawn Goldstein, Esq. - and, of course, all of the participants themselves! - uniformly agreed that this forty-eight hour whirlwind was a "SUPREME" experience, and an extraordinary Hadassah program for participants and organizers alike. The only - and I mean only - "downside" of this once-in-a-lifetime event is the fact that participation is strictly limited to twelve attorneys per day. We encourage early commitments for the 2018 program, plans for which are already well underway! For more information, or to be put on the early registration list which is already filling fast, please contact attorneyscouncil@hadassah.org or debkahn@buttermankahn.com.

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