by Joshua J. Friedman ’08JRN
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Illustration by Michael Sloan c/o

As Neil Gorsuch ’88CC begins his first full term on the US Supreme Court, there’s no better time to test your knowledge of the court’s other Columbians. Can you pass the bar?

 Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59LAW, ’94HON argued six gender-discrimination cases before the Supreme Court while serving on the Columbia Law School faculty. What was the subject of the first one?
a. equal benefits for military husbands
b. equal Social Security benefits for widowers
c. equal drinking age (for low-alcohol beer)
d. equal obligation to jury duty

2. Which phrase was not used by his contemporaries to describe Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes 1884LAW, 1907HON?
a. “animated feather duster”
b. “berobed bristle-brush”
c. “bearded iceberg”
d. “looked like Jehovah”

3. John Jay 1764KC, who became the nation’s first chief justice in 1789, left the bench abruptly after only six years. What unexpected event forced him to step down and return to New York?
a. He fell ill
b. He was married
c. He went bankrupt
d. He was elected governor

4. What Columbia Law School attendee (but not graduate) was the last justice to serve on the Supreme Court without a law degree?
a. Noah Haynes Swayne
b. William Henry Moody
c. Stanley Forman Reed
d. James Clark McReynolds

5. Benjamin Cardozo 1889CC, 1890GSAS, 1915HON was the second Jewish Supreme Court justice. What distinction does he hold in Columbia history?
a. second Jewish dean
b. second Jewish trustee
c. second Jewish graduate
d. second Jewish law professor

6. One of the fundamental principles of judicial review — that laws restricting minority rights deserve heightened scrutiny — was first articulated by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone 1898LAW, 1925HON in a famous footnote. What was the subject of the larger opinion?
a. workplace discrimination
b. interracial marriage
c. school prayer
d. the regulation of milk

7. William O. Douglas ’25LAW, ’79HON, who would become the longest-serving Supreme Court justice, traveled by freight train from Yakima, Washington, to enter Columbia Law School. Which did he not claim he did along the way?
a. play dice with hobos
b. get stranded in a railroad strike
c. look after 2,000 sheep
d. wash dishes to pay for his first New York City meal

8. Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger was the named respondent in the landmark 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger. What was the subject of the case?
a. campaign finance
b. privacy rights
c. freedom of expression
d. race-conscious admissions

9. Constance Baker Motley ’46LAW, ’03HON and Jack Greenberg ’45CC, ’48LAW, ’84HON both took part in litigating which groundbreaking case?
a. Loving v. Virginia
b. Roe v. Wade
c. Brown v. Board of Education
d. Miranda v. Arizona

10. What Columbia Law School alumni group was established to honor a Supreme Court justice’s time at the school?
a. the Ruthies
b. the Stone-Agers
c. the Wild Bills
d. the Cardozers


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