Who Is the Biggest Hipster on the Supreme Court?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 05, 2016 1:57 PM

Think the Supreme Court is too staid for hipsters? Think again. Ever since Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes grew out a killer 'stache, the Court has been home to secret hipsters, and every Court has had its most hipster justice. Justice George Sutherland sported a beard that would put most Brooklynites to shame, for example, and Justice Thurgood Marshall's glasses had a very Rivers-Cuomo-circa-1994 vibe. Some say they didn't even have lenses.

So, who is the biggest hipster on today's Court? Here's the definitive ranking.

9. Chief Justice John Roberts -- Hipster Points: 2

As Chief Justice, Roberts also serves as the chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution, which has got to be pretty impressive to all those hip, broke Millennials with MFA's. He was also wise enough to get rid of Chief Justice Rehnquist's gaudy gold stripes, bringing the chief justice's robe back to minimalist black -- something that's always fashionable.

But that's about it. When it comes to being a hipster, the chief justice is last among his colleagues; he was captain of his high school football team, after all.

8. Justice Samuel Alito -- Hipster Points: 2.5

Like Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito doesn't score very high on the hipster scale. We're pretty sure he's never even seen a "Vice" magazine. But while Justice Alito probably can't even tell a pour-over coffee from a cold brew, he gets a few points for having, as a college student, organized a conference on domestic spying and advocated for greater privacy rights. Plus, he married a librarian, so he's got at least a bit of hipster taste.

7. The Late Justice Antonin Scalia -- Hipster Points: Let's Say 2.75

The late Justice Scalia would have scored much higher on this list, had he been alive. He was a pretty witty writer, even if he never submitted to the "Believer" or "N+1." He loved to travel around the world -- even if he wasn't tracking down the coolest Brooklyn-style bar in Hong Kong. And when he died, he was hanging out with a secret order of robe-wearing hunters. But he's not technically on the Court anymore, so we've got to dock him most of his points.

6. Justice Elena Kagan -- Hipster Points: 7

Now we're getting somewhere. As a kid coming of age on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Justice Kagan used to spend her nights smoking and talking about art and literature on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That's pretty hipster (though unhealthy). She also broke plenty of glass ceilings in her career, becoming the first female Solicitor General and first female dean of Harvard Law. That's small-batch, home-brewed artisanal IPA style cool.

But that haircut? Definitely not hipster.

5. Justice Anthony Kennedy -- Hipster Points: 8

You'd think a supposedly moderate justice like Kennedy might score lower on our hipster scale, but you'd be wrong. Hipsters love attention, and with the constant "will he or won't he" commentary Justice Kennedy engenders, it seems like he does too. Plus, Justice Kennedy has become a strong voice for gay rights, just like today's cool, progressive youth.

4. Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- Hipster Points: 9

Having grown up in the Boogie Down Bronx, Justice Sotomayor can validly claim the title of "Sonia from the block." But don't be fooled by the robe. Justice Sotomayor hasn't forgotten where she comes from or how the law effects the communities she grew up around. A former prosecutor, her Supreme Court opinions (often but not always dissents) have recently set her apart as the court's leading critic of the criminal justice system, making her a perfect fit for woke kids in the age of Black Lives Matter.

3. Justice Clarence Thomas -- Hipster Points: 10

Aloof? Check. Into originalism before it was fashionable? Check. Too cool (for oral arguments)? Check.

Justice Thomas might be hipper than most people give him credit for. Plus, he spends his summer vacations traveling around the country and RV camping in Walmart parking lots. Is that not the epitome of hipsterdom, whether it's ironic or not? Just add a VW-camper and some Instagram filters and Justice Thomas could be king of Portland's unemployed musicians. (Not that he'd like that.)

2. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- Hipster Points: Like 87 or More

You thought RBG was going to win, didn't you? We don't blame you. Justice Ginsburg has become a pop culture phenomenon in recent years; there are raps written about her, there are internet memes based on her dissents, there are even RBG books for sale in Urban Outfitters. When she's not sporting a very retro-chic jabot on the bench, she's DJ'ing radio stations. Almost no one is as hipster a justice as the Notorious RBG. Almost.

1. The Winner: Justice Stephen Breyer -- Hipster Points: He Doesn't Need 'Em.

Don't be distracted by Justice Breyer's in-office wood-burning fireplace. He's not a lumbersexual.

In fact, Justice Breyer isn't a hipster in any way, shape, or form. He's about as trendy as Mr. Rogers. In fact, he's so uncool that he's ... normcore.

Yep, Justice Breyer has outhipstered all the rest by giving up on the game altogether. Enjoy your Seinfeld-era Gap jeans and comfortable sweaters, Justice Breyer. You've earned them.

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