Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes
by Clare Cushman
Foreward by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Reviewed by Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian
Although today the Supreme Court is thought of as a highly divisive collection of Justices, the truth, as deliciously revealed in Table for 9, is that it has actually been the food shared by the members of the Court over the years that holds it together as a community of legal thinkers.
Starting with the Supreme Court’s inaugural session in 1790, then in New York, with 13 toasts at the Fraunces Tavern, the members of the Court (who originally lived and supped together in a local boardinghouse) have always lunched together, and savored shared moments of food and drink. Indeed, Chief Justice John Marshall bottled his own favorite brand of Madeira, with a Supreme Court label.
Table for 9 is in fact a biography of the Court through food: a palatable history of these American times, and reveals so much more about the Court and its working process than the erudite opinions, splits in philosophical bent, and the major social issues the Court faces as part of its work. It is intriguing to see that currently, lunch recess on days of oral argument is one hour, in the Justices’ Dining Room, where legal discussions are strictly off-limits—and the Justices pay for their own meals. Over all the years, the tradition of sharing meals, dinners, seders, welcome and farewell celebrations, has become an integral part of the Court, building a special kind of collegiality that food does best.
The late husband of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was renowned for his culinary skills and devotion to feeding the Court, but so was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, with her Southwestern legerdemain. Chief Justice Warren Burger invented Oysters Le Burger, and Justice William O. Douglas was renowned for his martini skills. Justice Thurgood Marshall was trained to cook by his grandmother in case the law didn’t work out, and Justice Harlan Fiske Stone was considered the one great gourmand of the Court, with a deep appreciation and knowledge of cheese and wine. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who contributed the foreword, makes evident that unlike her esteemed colleagues, she herself is better out of the kitchen:
I was phased out of the kitchen at an early age by my food-loving children, who appreciated that Daddy’s cooking was ever so much better than Mommy’s. So I will not try out the recipes in this book myself. But I will enjoy turning the pages, pausing at certain photographs, and inviting a child, or now grandchild, to make something delicious for me. Bon appetit!
Laced through with recipes, history, photos, and sidelines on the individual Justices’ favorites (Justice Brandeis loved ice cream, we learn), Table for 9 achieves the best of biography, history, cookbook, and the delights of putting all those ingredients together in the freshest possible way. Also included is a useful Appendix of Justices, 1789 to present, including the dates of appointment and service, and the name of the President appointing him or her to the Supreme Court, along with an index which allows you to jump to Pickled Pigs Feet (p. 59) or Cherry Bounce (p. 38).
Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Law Library. Here is our Wish List for the month of March, featuring books about electronic payment systems in the law and drafting bills for clients. Growing our collection is about so much more than a single book—it is a living demonstration of how the Library expands the public’s access to justice and provides legal practitioners with the tools they need to represent members of our local community. Please see our Donation Guide for more ways to support the Law Library.
Electronic Payment Systems: Law and Emerging Technologies
Written by Edward Allen Morse
$89.95, Paperback, 2017
How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay, 3rd edition
Written by Mark A. Robertson and J. Harris Morgan
$34.95, Paperback, 2018
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Recent Book Drive Donations
Thank you to Shannon K. Mauer of Duane Morris LLP for generously donating Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialog, part of our February Book Drive.
Thank you to Robert Gates for generously donating The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, part of our February Book Drive.
Please take a look at our Book Drive page to see Wish List items from prior months. We are still wishing for these books!
Thank you for your support!
Edited by Harry N. Scheiber
In this captivating and highly readable new book, UC Berkeley School of Law professor emeritus Harry N. Scheiber and five contributing authors chronicle the evolution of the California Supreme Court, California law, and California history. Constitutional Governance and Judicial Power demonstrates that the state’s highest court is inextricably linked to the political, socioeconomic, and cultural forces of its time.
The court was established by Article VI of California’s Constitution and held its first session on March 4, 1850, in what had been a San Francisco hotel. The first chief justice was Serranus Hastings, a transplant from New York and Iowa, who had formerly served as chief justice of Iowa’s highest court. Gold was discovered on January 24, 1848, and would be a driving factor in the state’s economy, population growth, and the court itself. Of the first 27 justices, 11 came to California for reasons related to mining gold. The ensuing period included the adoption of common law, the reliance on both Spanish and Mexican legal doctrine, and the foundations of water rights and mining law. Hugh C. Murray, who became Chief Justice in 1852, authored two decisions “notorious as much for their bigoted rhetoric as for their holdings.” In the opinion In re Perkins, the court upheld the right of out-of-state slaveholders to recover escaped enslaved persons despite California’s prohibition against slavery. In People v. Hall, the court banned Chinese witnesses from giving evidence against white persons in criminal cases. Hall provided the precedent for the extension of the ban to civil cases.
Other chapters address the court’s response to California’s rising industrialism, the sweeping changes ushered in by the Progressive movement, and the tremendous population and economic growth during the long tenure of Chief Justice Phil Gibson. Scheiber authors the chapter on the Liberal Era which was marked by the LA riots, school busing, gay rights, affirmative action, and more, as well as the appointment of Chief Justice Rose Bird and her eventual removal by California’s voters. Final chapters explore the retrenchment of the Lucas Court and the more centrist jurisprudence and centralization of administration and funding of the state court system under Chief Justice Ronald George.
This comprehensive study of the Court’s 165-year history will appeal to lawyers, legal scholars, and those with an interest in California history. Constitutional Governance and Judicial Power is a new addition to SF Law Library.
California Supreme Court history enthusiasts can find the following additional titles in the law library’s collection:
Chief: The Quest for Justice in California, by Ronald M. George, interviewee
In Pursuit of Justice, by Joseph R. Grodin
The law library also has these judicial biographies:
My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Judge Thelton Henderson: Breaking New Ground, by Richard B. Kuhns