Red with envy

He may have a lifetime appointment and the cachet of a spot on the federal appellate bench, but Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III is jealous of Maryland’s top court.

“He acknowledged that being a judge is a ‘monastic’ life, exemplified by his uniform,” writes Lisa Provence from a paper called The Hook in Charlottesville, Va. “’Maryland has red robes,’” he said. ‘“They’re beautiful. Those of us with black robes envy them.’”

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge was speaking at the University of Virginia School of Law when he pined for the fashionable scarlet robes of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

If you’re curious about why our top judges wear red, check out this essay by a librarian at the Maryland State Law Library. (It contains this memorable sentence: “Between the post-Revolutionary period and the modern eras, there were times when judges sitting on the Court of Appeals wore either black robes or no robes at all.” Oh, dear.)

During his remarks at the law school, Wilkinson also said that he felt sorry for himself when President Bush didn’t nominate him to the Supreme Court, but that he’s gotten over it:

“Then one day, ‘I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Jay, you make a hell of a poor victim,’’ said the federal judge on the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.”

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer