Monday, October 11, 2010

Photo of the Day: The Men and Women Behind the Curtain

The current members of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Doug Mills for the New York Times
 We  take so may visual clues for granted. On TV and in pictures we see judges wearing black robes, but only rarely do we note with wonder that these officials,  alone in our government, wear costumes that denote their roles and their power.
      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.

1 comment:

  1. There's so much to wonder at here--for instance, look at the four people on the outside edges: the three women, and the one black. Still on the fringes of power? And I love the contrast between Clarence Thomas's wide stance (he takes up more space than anyone, way more than the chief justice) and Ginsburg's shrinking, tentative pose (you see almost as much of her chair as you do of her--she looks unsure whether she wants to be there).