Thomas Susman, the American Bar Association's new director of governmental affairs, has accumulated a lot of friends in D.C. in his nearly 40 years of working on Capitol Hill, at Ropes & Gray, and within the ranks of the American Bar Association. Many of those friends -- including three Supreme Court justices -- were on hand Wednesday night at the Supreme Court's stately conference rooms for a reception and dinner marking Susman's recent appointment to the ABA's lobbyist position.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia toasted Susman with off-the-record remarks. Scalia's presence was especially noteworthy. Scalia dropped his ABA membership years ago, put off by its endorsement of abortion rights and for other reasons. One ABA insider once described the distance between Scalia and the ABA as a "chasm." But Scalia is loyal to his friends, and his friendship with Susman dates back to his happier ABA days when the two were leaders in the association's administrative law section.
Also on hand were D.C. notables ranging from Nan Aron of Alliance for Justice to Cooper & Kirk's Charles Cooper, from Washington Legal Foundation's Dan Popeo to John Podesta of Center for American Progress, and judges including Merrick Garland, Brett Kavanaugh, Douglas Ginsburg, Royce Lamberth, Loren Smith, Lawrence Baskir, Timothy Dyk and last but not least, Susman's wife Susan Braden, who sits on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.