SCOTUS and women

My most recent painting is titled 112 Supreme Court Justices. (More on this image at the end of the post.)

 One Hundred Twelve Supreme Court Justices_gallery view_web_Wampole

As it did so many of us did this summer, the recent Hobby Lobby decision directed my attention to the topic of women and the US Supreme Court.

It took me a long time to organize my thoughts.  Here are a few of the things I read while doing so:

A few articles on the subject from the CS Monitor:

“Hobby Lobby 101:  Explaining the Supreme Court’s Birth Control Ruling”

“Hobby Lobby Ruling Shows Supreme Court Gives Corporations, Not People, More Rights”

the import for the next election

Here are some of the same ideas in comic form (“Scotus Socks”).

Or the summary from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“My point was, that no employer, whatever the beliefs were, should be able to transfer that employer’s religious belief onto people who do not share that belief.” -RBG in an interview

analysis of the RBG-written dissent to this ruling

K. Couric’s interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Notorious RBG on Tumblr

Buzzfeed’s “19 Reasons Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Your Favorite Supreme Court Justice”

When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?  When there are nine, says Justice Ginsburg.

Stuff Mom Never Told You also has a podcast on her popularity

Was anyone else thinking about this interview with an Ohio State Legislator when RBG was asked if the other justices understood the ramifications of their Hobby Lobby decision?

one of my favorite early responses to the Hobby Lobby decision:

Sandra Dougherty and Allan Gelbard, Esq. (an attorney)

from 8:24 – 29:50

Gelbard’s thoughts on the Hobby Lobby ruling were interesting because he comes to the same opinion about this precedent as the many feminist blogs that exploded over the subject, but he arrives at that opinion from a slightly different line of reasoning. The critical takeaway is that voting wisely for the President to follow Obama also means voting for the person empowered to appoint Supreme Court Justices. Considering the length of this tenure, that single job duty can have consequences far beyond the four- or eight-year stay in the Oval Office.

One month later, here’s some of the aftermath of the decision (and whether or not it’s narrowly focused) courtesy of Rachel Maddow.

This Washington Post blurb is old, but I was NOT impressed by the as it consisted of bashing female justices’ fashion sense.  There are so many ways to react, but everything comes down to the fact that their fashion choices (to your taste or not) are hardly the most significant thing about them.

On the topic of fashion, let’s talk about the jabot.  Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg sport them.  Elena Kagan does not wear one (excerpt and here’s the interview to which it refers).  Here’s Sandra Day O’Connor on the subject.

Why did I just do an about-face and switch from saying that fashion isn’t the most important thing about these justices to researching their official garb and its embellishments?  These are key concerns when the goal is to represent these humans as individuals without relying on facial recognition.


Since my bias will always and forever lead me back to art, I’ll just take a minute to explain how all these links feed into the image at the beginning of this blog post.

The long length of that paper allows enough space for each of the federal Supreme Court Justices during United States history.  The women are the only justices I painted.  Thus, I only had to paint four paper doll role models on an 18 foot x 45 in. long piece of Arches watercolor paper.  Cutting that length off the roll (and wincing over the price) brought home the lack of representation in a gut-wrenching manner.

SCOTUS women scroll_web

If your mind is not yet blown, then let’s bring a little intersectionality into the mix.  Had I painted this just after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, I’d have been listening to Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage” and painting only the people of color in the history of our highest court.  It would have been quicker, because I would have only had to paint three figures.

Surely we could do better than this.