Facts about Black Robes History

Ashley | 10 - 20 - 2020
Black Robes History

Facts about Black Robes History

Whenever you think of law and judges, we always think of them wearing black robes. Isn’t it? Wearing robes have always been a part of the court tradition. Several centuries back, judges wore different robes depending on different factors such as type of court and status of the judge. Along with the robes, they also wore short bench wigs. But have you wondered from when did the practice of wearing robes starting from? In this article, we will discuss why do judges wear black robes and the facts about the supreme court robes and the black robes history.

Why Do Judges Wear Robes?

The origin of wearing robes dates back to the 15th century. The judges who were on the King’s bench wore different colors of robes such as scarlet, green, and black. Later, in 1635, it was declared that violet robes must be worn in the winter, black robes must be worn during summer, and scarlet robes must be worn during ceremonies. But the origin of wearing black robes at all occasions is still unclear. Many historians say that it all started with the death of Queen Mary 2 in 1694 or the death of Charles 2 in 1685.

Historians suggest that during the reign of Edward 2 from 1327 to 1377, wearing judicial robes became standard in England. While dealing with criminal cases, judges would also sport a scarlet hood but when it comes to civil cases, they preferred to wear black silk robes. But the actual practice of wearing robes started with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Amy Coney Barret Is an American Attorney.
  • A. True
  • B. False

When the United States declared its independence from England, the founding fathers decided to set a separate government using English common law. During the discussion about the judicial dress to be worn, Thomas Jefferson, an American statesman and a lawyer along with few of his other colleagues wanted to opt for suits as they wanted to get rid of the English vestige. Thomas Jefferson also served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. But John Adams, an American statesman, attorney, and a writer wanted to continue following the same practice of wearing robes in order to keep the tradition alive. John Adams served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. After a long discussion, they decided to get rid of the wigs and keep the robes.

In the very beginning judges also wore colorful robes indicating the school they graduated from. Supreme court justice robes were worn keeping with the English tradition. John Marshall, an American politician, lawyer is the longest-serving chief justice and fourth-longest serving justice in Supreme Court history. He wanted to let go of the scarlet robe that was traditionally worn and make a new change in the dress code. John Marshall decided to wear a plain black robe during his investiture. Soon after this event, many other judges started to adopt the same style. Wearing robes might be due to distinguish the judge from the rest or just to follow the tradition. But the exact reason for wearing black robes is still confusing. The American Attorney and circuit judge, Amy Coney Barret says that this practice of wearing black robes might indicate that justice is blind.

Incase, you are wondering what do judges wear under their robes or what is a judge’s robe called? Here are your answers. Male judges usually wear white shirts with necktie and female judges simply wear blouses. But they can change their clothing according to the climate. And the judges’ robes are usually referred to as academic robes or academic gowns.

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