For years we’ve been huge fans of Judith Edith H. Jones. She had a reputation as a tough, smart, conservative judge. She was known as as a badass of the bench, more than capable of eviscerating counsel or colleagues who crossed her. Her dramatic nickname — “horsewoman of the right-wing apocalypse” — pretty much said it all. (See here, hottie #3.)
(The high-powered Judge Jones was also a recurring Supreme Court short-lister — so frequent a SCOTUS mention, in fact, that Slate once dubbed her “Susan Lucci in Judicial Robes.”)
So our obsession with Judge Jones went way back. How could we not adore such a strong-willed, right-wing judicial diva? Sometimes muttering her full name under our breath — the Honorable Edith Hollan Jones — would make us shiver involuntarily.
This past weekend, at the Federalist Society conference, we actually got to meet Judge Jones. It was a thrill! And we even got to take a picture of her — so cool!
(Alas, Judge Jones forbade us from publishing it on the internet — and we don’t want to be found in contempt. So the picture will have to remain in our personal stash of federal judicial portraits. Sorry!)
In addition, we had the chance to observe Judge Jones up close, while she was in the audience of the final panel of the conference — a magnificent shouting match between social conservatives and libertarians that was nominally entitled “The Role of Government in Defining Our Culture.” (We expect to write more about this
steel-cage match panel discussion later.)
We are sad to report, however, that some of these observations have changed our view of Judge Jones. We reveal what we saw, after the jump.
Our adoration of Judge Jones was premised upon a view of her as a chilly judicial diva. But over the course of the weekend, we saw some decidedly un-diva-like behavior. To wit:
1. Judge Jones stood for the entire length of the final panel discussion. The room was packed, so it was standing-room only. And, horror of horrors, one of those standing at the back of the room was a federal appellate judge: the Honorable Edith Jones.
The panel ran for over two hours. It was simply scandalous to see an Article III jurist, on her feet, for some 120 minutes. A true judicial diva would have tapped a seated male audience member on the shoulder, pointed at her nametag reading “Hon. Edith H. Jones,” and cleared her throat — which would have communicated quite clearly that he should give up his seat (for both a federal judge and for a lady).
But Judge Jones didn’t do that. Instead, she stood patiently at the back of the room, just like the rest of us. And she was wearing heels, too! (Tasteful black pumps, paired with a black alligator purse — large, in keeping with the current trend of roomy handbags.)
When Judge Jones enters a courtroom, everyone rises to their feet. And yet, for this panel discussion, Judge Jones remained standing — while everyone else was seated. What a woman of the people!
2. Judge Jones is nice to the elderly. We like to imagine Judge Jones being mean to old people. Maybe handing down some decision that denies them Social Security benefits, or something like that.
And yet we witnessed, with our own eyes, Judge Jones engaged in repeated acts of kindness towards an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman. This woman was seated in a wheelchair near the back of the room — behind the rows of seats, but in front of where Judge Jones was standing.
At one point, this elderly woman dropped her purse on the floor. And who walked over to her, bent down to the floor, picked up the purse, and handed it to the aged lady? None other than Judge Edith Jones, Circuit Judge.
Later on in the proceedings, the elderly woman removed a bottle of Centrum from her purse (the same purse that Judge Jones rescued from the floor). She then started struggling to open the bottle of vitamins, with weak and trembling hands.
What did Judge Jones do upon observing this? She walked over, took the bottle from the old woman, opened it, and gently handed the woman a vitamin. How compassionate!
3. Judge Jones is an environmentalist. Okay, we may be jumping to conclusions here. But we’ll tell you what we saw.
Near the end of the panel discussion, Judge Jones noticed a crumpled kleenex, lying in the middle of the floor. What did she do? Instead of ignoring it (as the rest of us were doing), she walked over to the kleenex, raised her black-pump-clad foot, and kicked the kleenex across the floor — a good three or four feet — until it disappeared under the tablecloth of a table at the back of the room. How considerate!
4. Judge Jones is a mom. Few roles are more inconsistent with that of “magnificent judicial diva” than “loving mother.”
It’s okay for a judicial diva to be a mother like, say, Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest: “NO WIRE HANGERS — EVER!!! And no citations to foreign law, either!!!” But for a judicial diva to act like a “normal” mom is unacceptable.
Alas, at the Fed Soc conference, we observed Judge Jones hanging out with her son, Andrew Jones, and her daughter-in-law. And not once did we see her whaling on them with a gavel. To the contrary, she seemed to get along with them quite well. On the last day of the conference, when we met Andrew and his wife, they were genial, attractive, and without any signs of abuse. E.g., no bruises shaped suspiciously like volumes of F.3d. What’s up with that?
So Judge Jones, we hate to say it, but we’re disappointed in you. Instead of being the over-the-top judicial diva of our dreams, you seem to be, well, a pretty nice and normal 57-year-old woman.
We’re disappointed and hurt. Please, Judge Jones, engage in some diva-like behavior, to redeem yourself from being blandly nice. The federal bench needs every diva it can get!
(Readers: If you have tales of Judge Jones acting like the diva she’s supposed to be, please send them our way. We need to have our faith in Judge Jones restored. Could it be that she has mellowed over the years? Did an Edith Jones impostor go around the Fed Soc conference performing mitzvahs, thereby undermining Judge Jones’s hard-earned reputation for being tough as nails?)