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Jeruba's avatar

Does this formal portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court bother you at all?

Asked by Jeruba (53262points) 1 week ago

https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/images/2021_Roberts_Court_Formal_131209_Web2.jpg

It bothers me. I do not want to see them smiling as if they were high schoolers posing for a yearbook photo. I want them to look solemn and dignified, as if they took their responsibilities seriously.

When did an appearance of friendliness and sociability overtake a standard of serious attention to duty in our highest court? Or are they really all just friends here, happy to be together in their matching robes and exhibiting their easy natural charm?

What do you think?

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31 Answers

HP's avatar

It isn’t the lack of gravitas in their appearance that I find unsettling. It’s the slapped together look, as though the photographer put no more thought in the project beyond the command to smile. It’s like a photo of musical chairs 3 seconds after the music stops. I wonder if the 9 must approve the result before the photo is released. Sotomayor’s knees gaping out through the black are somewhat unsettling. In the end, the photo pretty much reflects my own regard for the caliber of their decisions. Nothing “lofty” here.

JLeslie's avatar

Doesn’t bother me. The smile means to me real people who work together. I care more that they are actually serious in their duties, I’m not so concerned about their expression in a photo.

I do understand your point-of-view though, and a serious face probably makes more sense.

This court seems so divided that maybe it’s even more bothersome to see them portrayed as friendly? Are they friendly like Scalia and Ginsburg? Or, are they disgusted with each other? I haven’t looked at court statistics lately. Historically, the court is 9/0 on 30%-40% of decisions, and 6/3 or better on many decisions too. If those are harder to come by now, there might be a lot of tension.

WhyNow's avatar

You mean like those old west photos where no one ever smiles?

ragingloli's avatar

Well, I do not enjoy seeing bad people being happy. I presume the same is true for you.
Especially after what they did, and intend to continue to do, to further erase civil liberties.

janbb's avatar

What they do bothers me much more than how they look.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Dutchess_III's avatar

No. IMO they all look appropriately serious but smiling. Except for Kavanagh, grinning like an idiot.

Demosthenes's avatar

Eh, I don’t mind it, but I think it’s funny that a lot of them hate each other. :P

Zaku's avatar

I take your point, and yes I think I’d prefer a different image for one of few formal official portraits of the Supreme Court. More, it bothers me because as a portrait of Supreme Court Justices, I’d want it to reflect the character of the people involved in the context of their work. This seems to mainly show their faces at one instant of photographer-teased mirth. As a photograph or glimpse of human nature, I find it interesting to look at in that way, but it doesn’t conjure their professional personas, for me.

And of course, with this court in particular, there’s a serious political rift involved, and other issues, so a picture that just shows them laughing at something trivial together while in a formal arrangement in their robes . . . well it both fails to show that issue, and it also subtly illustrates the problem for those of us who do know what’s going on politically.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I don’t see why that’s unsettling at all. It’s just a typical group picture. It’s not any different than one that would be taken from any workgroup.

cheebdragon's avatar

God forbid they be capable of showing human emotions. ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Any work group” really doesn’t apply to the Supreme Court @Blackwater_Park.

hat's avatar

@cheebdragon: “God forbid they be capable of showing human emotions. ~”

I think that’s what sparked this question. It’s an awful institution made up of unelected monsters devoid of humanity, yet they’re smiling like humans. Creepy shit.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@Dutchess_III Of course it does. Other people are responsible for very important, serious things too. Yet, this type of group picture is commonplace. People just seem to want the supreme court to be a bunch of snarling, sinister, evil masterminds clasping their hands together like a bunch of Saturday morning cartoon villains. They’re regular people. Some of them flawed. If you’re offended at a group of people smiling for a photo, I don’t know how to help you with that problem.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It bears no significance to me whether smiling or not.

gondwanalon's avatar

I’m OK with it. Wouldn’t give it a second thought. They’re just posing for the camera and that tells me nothing.

Blackberry's avatar

Yea I think it bothers you for the same reason it bothers me:
The larger picture of the country being on fire and everyone at the top ignoring it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And the gal seated on the far right has her robes hiked up to show her legs.

flutherother's avatar

I agree, and I find the smiling a bit disturbing considering the unnecessary damage these nine unelected individuals are doing to the lives of countless thousands. I wonder how much more disturbing these smiles would be to a pregnant woman who doesn’t want or can’t afford to raise a child. They are the United States version of the morality police.

RayaHope's avatar

I only am concerned with what they do more than if they are smiling. Are the red and blue ties of any significance? I wonder since they shouldn’t be on one side or the other. Aren’t their jobs the interpret the Constitution not follow a side?

flutherother's avatar

An interesting display of footwear ranging from regular black clod hoppers through ancient carpet slippers to what looks like bare stockinged feet. You would almost believe they were a bunch of eccentric free thinkers who can never agree on anything at all and revel in it.

Zaku's avatar

@RayaHope Yes, Supreme Court Justices, and all appointed judges, as well as elected judges, are supposed to not let their political views influence their legal rulings. And Presidents are supposed to nominate excellent judges who will do that. And the Senate is supposed to fairly vet those nominations, holding them to high standards of ability, fairness, and impartiality. But for decades now (since the Reagan administration), the Republicans have been politicizing the process and doing everything they can to try to stack the courts with partisan judges, and to block appointments by Democrats. During the Trump administration, they manages to appoint 3 to the SCOTUS who are all partisan and have other disturbing qualities, which has tipped the SCOTUS so that if the right-wingers are impartial, they can force a decision without needing to convince any non-right-winger.

RayaHope's avatar

^^ Like Roe V Wade…

filmfann's avatar

I am more bothered by their decisions.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@Zaku You don’t think Democrats have been attempting to do the exact same thing? They have, only the Republicans have just been more successful at it.

raum's avatar

The style itself seems pretty standard.

Though seeing them smile after the shit they’ve done makes me want punch them in the face.

HP's avatar

@Blackwater Park While agree that the Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of loading up the courts, it’s the unfortunate tendency of the Republicans to ignore actual talent and concentrate on ideology that upsets me and should you as well. I don’t care what your ideology is, if you can convince yourself that corporations are entitled to the same rights as people, you have no fucking business sitting on ANY bench.

Forever_Free's avatar

Do you like your High School class photo?
The photo doesn’t bother me one bit. What matters is their ruling, actions and direction.
Here is a good Times Article – The Stories Behind the Supreme Court’s Class Photos

For 150 years, the justices have sat, not always happily, for an extraordinary series of group portraits.

bob_'s avatar

Not really, no.

LostInParadise's avatar

Not that it makes much of a difference, but that photo can’t be that recent, since it includes Breyer but not Jackson.

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