Yesterday, I touched the third rail. I wrote about women, apparel and courtroom attire. It has generated a fair amount of perfectly fair criticism.
In the Omaha paper today there is piece about my post that I urge folks to read. It is written by Erin Grace, and Ms. Grace’s prose is powerful and, at times, beautiful and insightful. (By the way, Ms. Grace tried to call me yesterday afternoon while she was on a short deadline to get my views. I was home and asleep and missed her call. I thank her for the professional courtesy.)
At the end of the article, Ms. Grace writes:
I’m largely a conformist when it comes to office attire — perhaps fallout from years of wearing Catholic school uniforms. And I’ll say for the record right now: Mom, you were right about slips.
But if law students should be remembered for what they say, not how they dress, then that should apply to judges.
The judge has said a lot of good things in the past on his blog. He writes tenderly about his grandchildren. He worries about a seventh-grader recovering from a heart transplant.
And he raises important issues. I want to remember him for those things.
Not for his latest reflections, on being a dirty old man.
I wish to respond but only briefly.
I honestly don’t care how you (or others) remember me.* I do care passionately that federal trial judges be seen as individuals with all the strengths and weakness (baggage) that everyone else carries around.
If, on balance, you think the post was harmful to the image of the federal judiciary and truly treated women as objects, I am very, very, very sorry for that, but I would ask you to pause and reread it. I hope you will find upon objective reflection that the mockery I make of myself and the hyperbole and somewhat mordant tone I employed, made a point worth considering.
In the rough and tumble world of a federal trial practice, it is sometimes necessary to see and react to that world as it is rather than as we wish it would be.
*Here’s an irony: If I am remembered for anything, it will be because I wrote two opinions striking down state and federal “partial-birth” abortion statutes.