Tomorrow begins a new term for the Court, and I won’t be there.
My first visit to the Supreme Court was in the fall of 1976. I was twenty-four years old, had sketched a couple trials locally in Baltimore, and had come to DC in search of more work. CBS News gave me a chance to try out, so on that first day I accompanied Howard Brodie up the marble stairs to the courtroom, and later across the street to the Senate chamber. Howard, CBS’s chief sketch artist at the time, was by any measure one of the greatest visual journalists of all time, I was in total awe of him. He had been a combat artist during WW2 sketching for Stars and Stripes, as well as later conflicts, and had recently covered Watergate. He was also the most gentle and generous man, and thanks to him I got the job.
I also owe a great debt of gratitude to Betty Wells, another one of the great courtroom sketch artists. From Betty i learned a lot of the practical aspects of the job — like no work for hire, always retain ownership — and thanks to her I landed a contract with NBC News in 1980 which, except for a brief hiatus in the early nineties, carried me through to retirement.
And SCOTUSblog! SCOTUSblog was transformative. Instead of just covering each term’s few blockbuster cases, I got to be there for all of it and get a feel for the rhythm of the Court. Plus the banner sketches opened up a whole new creative door.
There are so many others who helped me and were a huge influence on my growth — too many to mention without leaving somebody out.
I will miss the Court, especially the press room where i felt more at home than anywhere else in DC. But I think I’m leaving at the right time. It was a good Supreme Court, if you can keep it.