Admitting new members to the Supreme Court bar is one of the Court's hoariest traditions -- and a tightly-scripted one. Current members of the Supreme Court bar are supposed to move the admission of potential new members during a Court session, reciting their names to the justices as the candidates stand in turn. Then the movant concludes, "I am satisfied each possesses the necessary qualifications," and the chief justice grants the motion.
But on Tuesday former independent counsel, judge and solicitor general Kenneth Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, deviated from the script just a bit. Addressing the Court, Starr moved the admission of several lawyers with Pepperdine affiliations, recited their names as they stood -- and then said nothing. It apparently slipped his mind to attest to their qualifications.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. looked up and started to ask Starr, "What do you think..." as if to prod Starr into revealing whether he thought his candidates were qualified.
Red-faced, Starr immediately got the hint and recited the necessary words. Roberts accepted the motion, and the bar members were admitted. But for a few moments there, it was touch and go.