In light of the ABA's adoption of the anti-discrimination amendment to Rule 8.4 and the fact that the Court will soon decide whether fashion designs can be copyrighted, it may be a good time for the Court to review its apparel requirements for attorneys observing oral arguments.
According to the Court’s website, male members of the Supreme Court Bar are required to “wear a coat and a tie” when observing oral arguments. Female members “shall wear comparable attire (suit, dress, or dress slacks with matching jacket).” The website does not explain why a woman’s dress slacks must “match” her jacket or why the requirement is waived for men. Nor does the Court’s information page define “matching.” My research has disclosed two competing definitions of “matching.” One definition merely requires that the pants and jacket share a color. The competing definition requires not only a shared color but also requires that the individual components of an outfit consist of the same fabric. Now, I readily admit the limited value of these definitions since my fashion consultants purchase most of their wardrobe with “Kohl’s Cash.”
Maybe the matching requirement in some obscure way helps preserve the dignity of the Court. Or maybe women have always been held to a different and usually higher standard than men in their professional lives. But my guess is that the Court simply does not realize that the apparel requirement appears on its website.