On Friday, Nov. 30, the official portrait for the newest United States Supreme Court was released, and it's a photo that social media won't soon forget thanks to two of the most notable figures on the bench. Specifically, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brett Kavanaugh are giving people on social media pause, and for good reason. The contrast between the two justices' expressions couldn't be any more different.
As the official portraits were released, users on Twitter couldn't help making remarks about what appeared to be a scowl from the "Notorious RBG," while Kavanaugh was all smiles. The expressions set of rounds of jokes from users far and wide, no doubt fueled by Ginsburg's celebrity as a progressive icon and Kavanaugh's notoriety for a controversial appointment process.
The photo was a visual reflection that captured the contrasts between the two figures. Trying to compare the two judges is an almost-laughable game of opposites: Kavanaugh, a spritely youngster by SCOTUS standards, stands literally apart from the petite 85-year-old, who Google tells me is only 5'1" (and occupies only about half her chair. Physically, anyway, we all know the attitude has its own radius).
To be sure, Ginsburg wasn't the only justice with a reserved expression as she sat for the portrait, as C-SPAN's footage below shows. But followed by a grinning Kavanaugh, the contrast is stark.
Besides appearance, the chasm between Kavanaugh and Ginsburg is still a wide one. Kavanaugh, confirmed just last month, is the new kid on the block; Ginsburg has been on the bench over 25 years as the longest-serving member. Kavanaugh's nomination by President Donald Trump was widely protested, and his confirmation squeaked through Senate by a hair, while Ginsburg's confirmation sailed through practically uncontested on a vote of 96-3.
Kavanaugh, an outspoken and decidedly conservative judge, was dreaded by liberals for his positions regarding insulating sitting presidents from investigation as well as rolling back the rules for legal abortions. Ginsburg, quiet and discerning, is a bulwark of the liberal end of the bench and has made a career being a bastion for civil rights, gender equality in particular.
Kavanaugh's confirmation process garnered international attention for a series of damning accusations of sexual assault and harassment, all of which he vehemently denied. Representatives of Kavanaugh did not reply to Elite Daily's requests for additional comment. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who'd accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school, gave a heart-wrenching testimony during his Senate hearing, and the judge's confirmation became a sort of moral reckoning for the country and greater society at large. But even with that and subsequent accusers who came forward, Kavanaugh was confirmed by a Republican-majority Senate in early October.
Kavanaugh is also probably the only justice in history to have had multiple GoFundMe accounts set up for himself and his family to support him in the face of the backlash over the allegations. But he's not, sadly, the only sitting justice on the bench who's been accused of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process. Justice Clarence Thomas was also confirmed despite an explosive sexual harassment hearing by Anita Hill, his former employee. Thomas denied the allegations as a "high-tech lynching" at the time and did not reply to Elite Daily's request for comment at the time of the Kavanaugh hearings. So Ginsburg, who's become a feminist icon, was flanked by two accused colleagues as she sat for her photo on Friday.
Given that dynamic, Kavauagh's controversial confirmation, and their inherent differences, it wouldn't exactly be shocking if RGB were to feel a bit at odds with her new teammate. There's no way to know whether Ginsburg's apparent expression was in any way a reflection of her actual mood, but users took their own liberties in making guesses.
The word "mood" was all over Twitter as people posted photos of the Notorious RBG giving what some interpreted as side-eye and opposition to Kavanaugh's joining the court.
Some users also picked up specifically on Ginsburg's choice of jabot, the collar that she typically wears atop her black robe.
"Interesting to note RGB’s choice of collar: her collars always have a meaning and today she chose one that resembles a weapon," noted BuzzFeed's Rachel Zarrell. "RGB likes to use her collars to make a statement and throw shade, and even wore her special 'dissent collar' the day after Trump's inauguration, despite there being no decision that day. Today's collar: sharp daggers. What do you think she's trying to say?"
In any case, the nine justices are moving ahead full-steam with hearing cases now into early December and again in January, one of which concerns rule changes made to reimburse low-income Medicare patients. At least they got their photos out of the way and can focus on their upcoming sessions.