Thinking Citizen Blog — Ketanji Brown (and Amanda Gorman) in Vogue — Wow!

Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day

Today’s Topic: Ketanji Brown (and Amanda Gorman) in Vogue — Wow!

Those times, they are a-changin. A Supreme Court Justice and a poet with spreads in Vogue! What’s next? But the photographs of Ketanji Brown were harshly criticized for their failure to do justice to the subject. “Annie Leibovitz and Anna Wintour will one day pay for the crimes they’ve committed against Black women photographed in Vogue,” tweeted Evette Dionne, executive editor of the nonprofit news title Yes! Magazine, who was among those scratching their heads online.” And “@voguemagazine, were there no Black women photographers available for this shoot? Shame on you and shame on @annieleibovitz. Justice KBJ deserves so much better,” tweeted Saira Rao, the co-founder of Race2Dinner, a non-profit organization that fights white supremacy through consultation-led dinners.” Today, some excerpts from an article by Boston Globe columnist Kimberley Atkins Stohr on the new Supreme Court Justice’s “choice to make her first high profile media appearance in the pages of a fashion glossy.” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

“THE ERA OF THE CELEBRITY JUSTICE IS HERE TO STAY” — is this good, bad, or neither?

1. “Long past are the days when those on the nation’s highest bench spoke only through the opinions that they authored. Now, it seems, the job of a Supreme Court justice extends beyond explaining their interpretation of the Constitution and laws. It now includes shaping the public’s image of the court as an institution, in part, by shaping the public’s perception of them as individuals.”

2. “Not everyone thinks this is wise. Legal scholars have long warned that the elevation of justices like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg to rock-star status, and the justices increasing embrace of such aggrandizement, not only eclipses their intellectual power, it can make them unwitting political figures in an era of hyper-partisanship, further threatening the public’s already battered trust in the court as an institution.”

3. “I don’t entirely disagree. Ginsburg’s own admission that her comments about the 2016 presidential election candidates were “ill-advised” for a Supreme Court justice is an example of how her full embrace of the moniker “Notorious R.B.G.” could sometimes backfire.”

NB: “But I have no problem with Jackson’s Vogue spread. She is ascending to the nation’s highest court at an unprecedented time, on the heels of some of the most disruptive decisions of a generation on abortion, gun control, religion, and voting rights. She is the first Black woman on the bench but will rarely have a chance to speak on behalf of this court’s majority, and never when it comes to the biggest cases ahead of it, including those involving affirmative action, election integrity, and environmental protections.”


1. “Though the modern embrace of the public stage by justices goes back to media appearances by William O. Douglas and others in the 1960s, legal scholar Richard Hassen credits the late Antonin Scalia with spearheading the celebrity justice culture we know today.”

2. “But it wasn’t only Scalia’s willingness to speak to the media, it was his embrace of conservative hero status for his willingness to publicly excoriate his critics. He told CBS’s Leslie Stahl of those who think the Bush v. Gore decision was purely political: “Get Over It!”

3. “More recently, since writing the majority opinion in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito has reveled in the adoration heaped on him in conservative circles, giving speeches gleefully mocking critics of the ruling and positioning himself as a religious rights crusader fighting the ills of an “increasingly secular society.”

NB: “So no, I’m not bothered by Justice Jackson pictured in a nice dress at a national monument.” (Photo above is of Scalia, below of Douglas)


1. “It’s notable that Jackson isn’t interviewed for the piece, opting instead to have her photos accompanied by an essay penned by ImeIme Umana, a public defender in Washington, D.C., who had made her own history in 2017 as the first Black woman to be elected president of Harvard Law Review. Certainly, it was Jackson’s wish to have the words accompanying her Vogue photos be those of a Black woman whose life she touched and whose work she inspired.”

2. “We searched for hope in her every measured answer, in her crystalline explanations of the law,” Umana wrote of the nation watching Jackson’s c onfirmation hearings. “We searched for hope in the tone of her voice and the width of her smile. Ours is a country desperate for hope.”

3. “We don’t know when, or for what outlet, Jackson will give her first media interview as a justice. But she’s already shown that she’s prepared to do it on her own terms. Is it embracing celebrity? Perhaps. But on a bench with others who are more than willing to do the same on their own behalf, Jackson’s approach is not only proper, but necessary.”

For the last four years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

Two special attachments below:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.



Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.