Raising the Bar: 2024 Supreme Court Swearing In Program

March 11, 2024

Raising the Bar: 2024 Supreme Court Swearing In Program

On the grand steps in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, 11 attorneys — all Hadassah members and Associates — posed for a picture to memorialize a special day in their careers. Photo or not, February 28 is surely a day they’ll never forget.

“I have been practicing law for over 30 years, and being admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States certainly stands out as one of the highlights of my career,” said Leigh Gilligan, who, along with 10 other attorneys in Hadassah’s Attorneys and Judges Council, had the privilege of participating in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being sworn in to the Supreme Court Bar before all nine justices.

This year’s Swearing In Program, Hadassah’s 23rd, marked the Council’s first year back at the Supreme Court, following COVID-19 restrictions and the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legal role model for many and a Hadassah life member. “Being back at the court was like visiting family we hadn't seen in a while,” said Lynn Altshuler, a Council co-chair. “The Court has definitely changed since COVID-19 and is very security-conscious. However, many of the Court personnel are still the same, and they remember our group with warm regards. We miss Justice Ginsburg for her intellect on the bench and for the long-time relationship she had as a member of Hadassah.”

This was Altshuler’s first year leading the program as a co-chair of the Swearing In Committee, though she’s been a member for about 12 years. She joined Tema Sternberg, who has co-chaired the committee for 12 years now.

“It felt great getting back to the Supreme Court, where so many we knew still worked there were happy to see us and said so,” said Sternberg. “There was a sign in the hallway welcoming Hadassah to the court.”

“We missed RBG, of course,” she continued.

Altshuler, with fellow Council co-chair Geri Kahn, sponsored the Hadassah attorneys, a requirement for being admitted to the Supreme Court Bar, and Altshuler also made the motion to admit the Hadassah attorneys to the Supreme Court Bar.

The two-day event kicked off on February 27 with a reception and dinner, where attorneys heard from Nicole Saharsky, co-chair of Mayer Brown’s Supreme Court and Appellate Practice, who has argued 30 cases before the Supreme Court, and Elizabeth Cullen, Hadassah’s government relations director. Both spoke about combating antisemitism and women’s rights issues, as well as what the group should expect the following day in the courtroom.

Previous Swearing In Program speakers have included Michael Dreeban, former solicitor general; Seth Waxman and Ian Gershengorn, former acting solicitor generals; Adam Liptak from The New York Times, and Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for the National Law Journal and a regular contributor to PBS NewsHour.

On February 28, after breakfast in one of the historic conference rooms bearing official portraits of retired justices, participants were sworn in and then got the rare opportunity to hear oral arguments for two cases.

“Our attorneys are so close that they can see the expressions on the faces of the justices very clearly,” said Altshuler.

“To be present and watch oral argument before the Supreme Court was amazing. Watching the justices of the highest court in the land preside over an important and impactful legal case was compelling and exciting. Listening to the attorneys argue their positions and the justices pose questions and comments was awesome; the keen and sharp minds of the attorneys and justices were on full display,” said Gilligan.

Scott Harris, Supreme Court clerk, spoke with the group, offering insights based on his many years at the court. The participants then headed to the Supreme Court Library — only open to the justices, their staff, congressional members and attorneys admitted to the Supreme Court Bar — for a tour of its massive collection and its rare books room.

Said Sternberg: “The participants are in awe of the experience and what it means to them in the future.”

What’s more, said Altshuler, participants enjoy being sworn in alongside their Hadassah peers. “It makes it extra special for them and creates a warm feeling of community between the attorneys and their positive feelings about Hadassah.”

For Gilligan, this experience is a family affair. Her mother-in-law is none other than Sternberg herself, and her husband, Jeremy, participated and was admitted in 2014.

“He raved about the program and encouraged me to participate, and I am so pleased that I did,” said Gilligan. “It was an honor to participate under Tema's leadership.”

Altshuler’s own experience at the Supreme Court with Hadassah in 2007 was “awe-inspiring.” A year earlier, knowing very little about Hadassah, she learned about the program through a friend. “Intrigued, I signed up. My day at the Court surpassed all my expectations.”

“It led me to join the Swearing In Committee and get more involved locally, where I later served as president of the San Francisco Chapter of Hadassah and began a local Attorneys and Judges Council,” she continued.

Additional requirements for admittance to the Supreme Court Bar are being admitted to practice for three years in a state, commonwealth, territory, possession or the District of Columbia, from where one must submit a Certificate of Good Standing.

The Hadassah Attorneys and Judges Council connects attorneys nationally and locally while working closely with Hadassah's advocacy initiatives. Lawyers can meet, network and discuss legal and social issues that relate to their careers and the Jewish community while promoting Hadassah's mission.

Read coverage of the Swearing In in Jewish Link.

Learn more about the Hadassah Attorneys and Judges Council.

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