We all know that judges have to wear those big long black robes. I am sure many of us have wondered why and if they are comfortable to be in all day or not? Let’s start with why they are worn and if they are a requirement of the job or not? There is no official rule requiring Judges to wear the robes. So in that sense no they do not have to. However, this is a custom that started more than seven hundred years ago. When their profession was one of the few at that time that was learned professions.
There is a lot of speculation as to why they wear the robes now and depending on who you ask you will get a different answer. Some believe it is in respect of the queen who passed in the nineteen sixties. According to some former supreme court justice, they believe they are still worn because it represents that they are going to uphold the constitution and the law. However, Andrew Napolitano believes they are given the robe to wear for a different reason. He is a former supreme justice himself and he believes they are given to wear them as a sign of respect and they wear them to remind people they are to be respected due to the position they have. Now let’s talk about how and if those robes are comfortable to wear. There is not a one size fits all answer to this question. It depends on which judge you ask and how it is being worn.
Due to how lax the state is on the expectation that our judges wear a robe in court they are given a lot of choices if they even decide to wear it, Such as they can wear it zipped up or completely unzipped. Melissa Jackson, who is the supervising judge of the Manhattan Criminal Court, says it is comfortable for her as long as she keeps it completely unzipped like a bathrobe. Whereas then you have Justice Allen who states his robe is just this funny looking thing he has that just gets in his way. However, In my research, I could not find anyone who thought it was comfortable zipped all the way up. So I would say when you think of a judge you think of it zipping all the way up and in the aspect no it is not comfortable. However, it is nice that they are now able to style it some to help with wearing it if they so choose. Women can wear a necklace with it or a lace collar to help set them apart from their male coworkers.