The event, which sold out this year in less than two hours, was first established in 1994 by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in a bid to draw parallels between classical works and contemporary law. But as lofty as that sounds, the emphasis Monday night was primarily on entertainment, starting with a Lady Gaga reference in the first minute and ending with digs at Mitt Romney, Southwest Airlines, and even Justice Ginsburg, who poked fun at herself by offering a dissent against the final decision. Wilkinson drew applause when she asked the judges to accept “the fundamental truth that every other woman knows—there is no ideal husband,” adding as an afterthought, “except my own.” But the biggest laugh of the night came from Judge Douglas Ginsburg, who responded to Wilkinson’s statement that “Women are not disarmed by compliments. Men always are,” by saying, “Thank you.”
Props to both the judges and the attorneys for incorporating pop culture into their schtick: Everyone from the tea party to Kwame Brown’s “fully loaded” SUVs got a name drop. When describing the complicated position that Robert Chiltern found himself in, Nathan described it this way: “Like Charlie Sheen, he was caught between two goddesses.” And almost everyone made jokes about NBC and Meet the Press, especially Judge Garland. Justice Alito’s argument that the proposed tunnel would allow “more people from New Jersey to go to New York, raising the intellectual and cultural standard” was rebutted by Nathan, who stressed how depressed New Yorkers would be when they realized that “the light at the end of the tunnel was New Jersey.”
The evening ended with a popular vote, which overturned Laura Cheveley’s appeal and found her guilty of blackmail. “Mrs. Cheveley’s argument has more holes than a Southwest airliner,” Nathan said. The real winner, of course, was Shakespeare Theatre’s Bard Association, which succeeded in throwing a successful event and raising its profile for another year.
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