In my* 3½ semesters in law school, I’ve noticed a funny expression in old Supreme Court opinions. Justices would often use the phrase “my brethren” to refer to their fellow justices.
As one might expect, the appointment of a woman to the Supreme Court marked the end of this practice. A Westlaw search of the phrase “my brethren” in Supreme Court opinions yielded some 284 Supreme Court cases, from 1795 to 1981, in which the phrase appeared. The last time “my brethren” was used to refer to fellow justices was in Justice Rehnquist’s dissent from a denial of certiorari in Jeffries v. Barksdale, 453 U.S. 914 (1981). The Jeffries dissent was handed down on June 29, 1981; President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor on July 7, 1981.
* Although I have been a Columbia ACS freerider for some time now, this is my first post on this eminent blog. Thank you to outgoing media chair Andy Bradley for allowing me to share this nugget of wisdom with the Columbia ACS community. Like what you read? There’s more of this on Sauntering, the blog that Andy and I run.