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Bow Tie Fever Strikes Washington

WSJ reporter Jess Bravin appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” this morning, previewing the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination hearings.

And he wore a bow tie.

Why is Bravin wearing the bow tie? He explains in WSJ’s Washington Wire today:

“Justice John Paul Stevens has pulled together some unexpected majorities during his 35 years on the Supreme Court, but there’s one area where the legendary jurist, who retires this week, has found himself in a minority of one: neckwear.

Alone of the justices, the 90-year-old Stevens invariably sports a bow-tie, a disarming symbol of his mid-century Midwestern affability, if not cutting-edge style.

Today, however, Stevens finally may find a majority. When he takes his seat on the bench for the last time, Stevens is likely to see a sea of bow ties, as lawyers, clerks, reporters and other habitues of the Supreme Court’s courtroom display the fabric of their affection for the senior justice.”

Reasons for the tie

And finally, why does Justice Stephens wear the bow tie? He explains he’s been tieing bow ties ever since his father taught him to growing up …”I’ve done it for years.”

Read more about bow ties in Washington today in a story from AP after the jump…


A story by AP’s Jessica Gresko published within the past hour:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Bowtie-wearing lawyers and spectators dotted
the U.S. Supreme Court chamber on Monday, a nod to retiring justice
John Paul Stevens and his signature neckwear.

Stevens, 90, officially retires Tuesday, the first day of the
Supreme Court’s summer recess.
“If I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a
unique and wonderful job,” said Stevens, who on his retirement
will be tied as the second-longest serving justice.
At the conclusion of the court’s Monday session Chief Justice
John Roberts read a letter to Stevens from his colleagues and the
court’s two retired justices. He noted that Stevens’ 34 years on
the bench meant he had served on the Supreme Court for “nearly
one-sixth of its existence.” Roberts said the members of the court
would miss Stevens’ “wisdom,” “perceptive insights,” and “vast
life experience.”
“Justice Stevens, we will allow you time for rebuttal,”
Roberts said after finishing the letter, a comment that drew
laughter from observers.
Reading his own letter in response, Stevens told his fellow
justices that it had been an “honor and privilege” to serve with
the eight of them and 10 of their predecessors. He noted that when
he began on the court he would have begun his response letter
“Dear brethren,” but that with two women now on the court “Dear
colleagues” was more suitable.
Even as the court was wrapping up its year, hearings for Elena
Kagan, the nominee to replace Stevens, were beginning in a Senate
building across the street.
Stevens, who wore a red bowtie on his last day in court, also read one concurring opinion from the bench in a case about patents, Bilski v. Kappos. He noted that his written opinion was “extremely long” but that his statement from the bench would be brief.
Stevens’ retirement Tuesday means he has served 34 years, 6
months and 11 days on the court, the same as Stephen J. Field, a
nominee of President Abraham Lincoln who served until 1897. Only
William O. Douglas, who served for 36 years and whom Stevens
replaced in 1975, served longer.
Stevens’ retirement makes Justice Antonin Scalia, who became a
justice in 1986, the most senior justice on the court.
Also on Monday, Roberts began the court’s session by noting the
death of Martin Ginsburg, the husband of Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg. Ginsburg, 78, died Sunday from complications of
metastatic cancer.

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