|The current members of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Doug Mills for the New York Times|
Tradition may demand it. But there is more: These people are our shamans. We have agreed, in some way, that they have special abilities allowing them to interpret law and divine its intent. They can see what others cannot. Our judges are not priests, of course, but the robes they wear suggest that the law, which may be based on rational thought, is enlivened by a spiritual yearning. We need to believe, and the judges need to be believed in.
I like the portrait that Doug Mills of the New York Times made of the current members of Supreme Court, which begins its 2010-2011 term this month, because he has pulled away and shown us the visual construct surrounding our wise men (and now three women.)
At least in this country we don't require or expect them to wear medieval accessories like wigs.