A new collection of photographs takes viewers into the normally off-limits chambers to show justices clowning with their law clerks and at work in front of computer screens.
The justices usually guard their privacy. But seven of the nine allowed Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly into their three-room chambers with quaint fireplaces, oak paneling and, in some cases, fabulous views of the Capitol.
Kennerly has made photographs available on the Internet and published some in Newsweek magazine this month. More will be included in his book, being published next year by the University of Texas Center for American History, about the three branches of government and the journalists who cover them.
The photographs show that decorating taste and technology differs widely from one chamber to the next.
Justice Clarence Thomas, the youngest member at 54, has a flat-screen computer monitor and sleek chair. No computer is in evidence in the photographs of the office of 78-year-old Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Behind the desk of 83-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens sits an old silver radio, its antennae awkwardly raised.
Some of the justices have loads of personal pictures on their walls. Others have almost none.
By far the most formal office is that of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, with rich red walls. Matching red carpet showcases a pattern of gold stars. A 17th-century Dutch painting of a vase of flowers is framed ornately and hung above a pedestal table holding a sculpture of a Pony Express rider. It’s a model from a monument in Sacramento, California, where Kennedy was born.