SMU Dedman Law Alumni Sworn into SCOTUS

The excitement in the air was palpable. On a clear, crisp morning in our nation’s capital on November 8, 2023, ten esteemed SMU Dedman School of Law alumni were sworn in before the United States Supreme Court in a live ceremony before all nine Justices. The movant supporting their applications for admission was Jason P. Nance, Judge James Noel Dean at SMU Dedman School of Law, and the applicants were Angela F. Braly ’85, Cole Brown ’97, Alan P. Dorantes ’93, Scott H. Crist ’06, Bryan A. Erman ’03, Cynthia R. Garza ’04, The Hon. Judge Hector H. Garza ’05, Sarah L. Rogers ’04, Mark M. Sloan ’90, and Cynthia H. Trochu ’88.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the group heard oral arguments while sitting mere feet from the bench where the nine Justices presided. Sarah Rogers ’04 said it best: “I am in awe.” Steeped in ceremony and tradition, the opportunity to witness the Court at work firsthand is unparalleled. “After being sworn in, it was fascinating to observe the interaction of the Justices—with the lawyers and with each other—during oral argument,” said Rogers. “I have described the event to my friends, both lawyers and non-lawyers alike, as surreal. Truly a one-of-a kind, bucket list experience. In my thirty years of practicing law, I never expected to be present before our country’s highest court and the Justices who have the final say over the laws that we, as lawyers, operate under,” marveled Alan Dorantes ’93.

We live in a time where politics divides us to an unprecedented degree. Opinions are more polarized (and polarizing) than at any time in recent history, and partisan animosity feels as if it is at an all time high. One could be forgiven for wondering if our country will ever be united again. It is against this stark backdrop of discord that, I think, this trip to the Supreme Court took on a deeper meaning.

Every lawyer in the State of Texas solemnly swears an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and to “honestly demean myself in the practice of law.” As our ten alumni were admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court, they and each of the others sworn in that day likewise spoke with one voice each of their continued commitment to “conduct myself uprightly and according to the law.” Irrespective of the differing ideological views that were no doubt present, unity and respect ruled that day in the courtroom. “The entire experience reinforced our appropriate faith in the judicial system and the institution of the Supreme Court,” declared Angela Braly ’85. Respect for the rule of law to which right hands were raised transcended politics.

I can confidently say that there will be many trips to the Supreme Court for SMU Dedman Law alumni in the coming years. “Plans are already underway for next year’s swearing-in ceremony. We look forward to sharing this inspiring experience with more of our esteemed alumni,” said Nance. May this shared experience remind us of the principles we as lawyers share, and the collective ideals to which we aspire.