News & Politics

Supreme Court Lawyer Carter Phillips Will Throw the First Pitch at Sunday’s Nationals Game

His wife “finagled” the opportunity as a present for his 60th birthday.

Carter Phillips taking in a Nationals game. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Anyone attending the Nationals game this Sunday against the Miami Marlins may want
to keep their eyes—and apparently their ears—open for Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Alito.

“He was threatening to come and hoot at me,” says
Carter Phillips, a top Supreme Court lawyer and co-chair of the law firm Sidley Austin.

Phillips will throw the first pitch of Sunday’s game,
and Alito has good reason to
show up. After the justice threw the first pitch at a Phillies
game a few years ago,

Phillips teased him about his performance.

Regardless of whether a member of the nation’s highest court is in the crowd, Phillips
is excited for the game. He says his wife “finagled” the opportunity through “a friend
of a friend of the owner of the team” as a 60th birthday gift to her husband, who
was born on September 11.

Phillips has argued 76 times before the Supreme Court—more than any other lawyer in
private practice—so he’s usually the one writing briefs. But to win her husband the
first pitch, Phillips’s wife wrote a brief explaining why the moment would be special
to him and their family. She focused on the fact that their daughter,
Jessica Phillips, now an associate at Latham & Watkins, was the first woman to throw the first pitch
at a Washington Nationals game. At the time, Jessica was a summer associate at Covington
& Burling, a firm that provided legal services to the team as it made the move from
Montreal to Washington. As a thank-you, the Nationals allowed Covington & Burling
to designate someone to throw out the pitch. Of the summer associates who entered
a drawing for the honor, Jessica won. Like her dad will, she also threw the pitch
at a game against the Marlins.

Phillips, a former high school baseball player, says he practiced with Jessica for
a week leading up to her big moment, and he’s been just as dedicated to preparing
for his. “If I don’t get it over home plate, I’m going to be personally mortified,”
he says.

Even if Justice Alito doesn’t make it, many partners at Sidley Austin hold season
tickets, so no doubt they will show up to watch their boss in action. No pressure
or anything.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.