On October 1, before the start of the new Supreme Court Term, the annual Red Mass was held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, in Washington, DC. Held before the opening of the judicial year, the Mass is celebrated “to invoke God’s blessing upon… all protectors and administrators of the Law” (description here).
Tony Mauro of the Legal Times reports on this year’s Red Mass, which was attended by numerous legal celebrities:
By law, the Supreme Court opens its fall term on the first Monday in October.
But by tradition, the Court season begins the day before, with the annual Red Mass celebrated at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C.
At this year’s Oct. 1 mass, four of the five Roman Catholic justices — along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, several other Cabinet members, and dozens of other area judges and public officials — were in the pews.
No sign of President Bush, who did attend the Red Mass in 2005. But plenty of other big names were in the house (of worship):
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who, with his wife, Jane, was active for many years in the Catholic organization that sponsors the mass, was in the front row, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. Justice Samuel Alito Jr., the other Catholic on the Court, did not attend, nor did the non-Catholic judges, some of whom have come in the past.
Why was Justice Alito not in attendance? Perhaps he was out of town?
If you know the answer to this question, or if you attended the Mass and can offer an eyewitness account of the proceedings — including sightings of any lower-court judges in attendance — please share your knowledge in the comments (or send us an email).
Seeing Red [Legal Times]
A Judicial SIGHT-ation Tomorrow: The Red Mass [UTR (2005 Red Mass)]
Judicial SIGHT-ations: Federal Judges Busting Out All Over! [UTR (2004 Red Mass)]
The Red Mass Online [St. Thomas More Society]