Reporting on the retirement of Justice Kennedy, Nina Totenberg quoted R.E.M. “. . . it’s the end of the world as we know it”.
Although rumors had been circulating for over a year most Court-watchers figured Kennedy would hold off while Caligula occupied the White House. While disappointed, I can’t really blame him, after more than forty years on the bench, for wanting to step down. I’ll miss sketching him. When Kennedy joined the Supreme Court in 1988 USA Today quoted one of my fellow sketch artists as saying he had a “vanilla” face, in other words unremarkable. But not for me. I’ve grown accustomed to his face, the dome of his skull, the way his ears have no lobes, and the nose, ah the nose. Happy retirement Justice Kennedy.
Justice Kennedy announcing opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop
Sketches from this week’s opinions are posted below.
At a Thursday hearing on Paul Manafort’s motion to dismiss criminal charges for acts committed prior to 2014 as beyond the scope of the Mueller’s investigation the Special Counsel’s Office brought out the heavy hitters including Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben.
Posing nonchalantly, one hand on the lectern, the other in his pocket, Alex van der Zwaan received a sentence of thirty days and $20,000. from judge Amy Berman Jackson. Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is the first person to be sentenced as a result of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.
Note that the person depicted in the above sketch is not van der Zwaan’s father, though he was present in the courtroom.
Beginning with the indictments of thirteen Russian nationals last Friday, Special Counsel Mueller’s team have kept the federal courthouses busy, both in DC and Alexandria. In addition to new charges filed this week were two guilty pleas before Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The most significant was Manafort’s partner in crime, Rick Gates, who remained with the Trump campaign throughout the election, and is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
The other guilty plea came from a former Skadden lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, who did work for Gates and Manafort. Son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, the 33 year-old van der Zwaan displayed an air of insouciance in court as he yawned and chewed gum.
Reporters covering this story are clocking some hours and miles as the Special Counsel’s investigation moves into high gear, forcing some to grab lunch while standing in line outside the courtroom. Below is a special bonus tiny sketch of Politico’s Josh Gerstein having a bite on the go.
With the election of Donald Trump to president and his promise to appoint a new justice in the mold of Justice Scalia it appears that not much will change on the Court in the near future.
On the dreary morning after, visitors to the Supreme Court still lined up on the plaza, members of the bar still gather by the statue of John Mashall, and the justices still took to the bench to hear arguments. The only thing remarkable, and it may mean nothing, was that Justice Ginsburg appeared to be wearing her “dissent jabot.” It’s a kind of collar, not exactly a traditional jabot, with rhinestones that the justice wears when announcing a dissent from the bench. Whether she wore it to make a subtle statement or it was just the first thing she grabbed out of her jabot closet, I don’t know. But I also noticed she wore no earrings, which, for a justice know for her sense of style, is not usual.
And so, for now, life goes on. Below are my sketches of the week’s arguments.