A 35-year-old exercise tradition has adjourned for the last time at the U.S. Supreme Court. The early morning workout class was initiated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who retired a decade ago.
O'Connor had remained enthusiastic about the early morning exercise class she started at the highest court in the land—on the basketball court that sits one floor above the courtroom where she heard arguments for nearly a quarter-century.
While the first female justice never persuaded her fellow justices to join her regularly, her class became a court fixture and a hit with a devoted group of women who live in the court's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
But now the court has ruled that the women must take their workouts elsewhere. “Unfortunately, the time had come for the class to relocate,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “Few employees attended the class and for some time now, the Justice has not been a participant and cannot oversee the group's access to the gym.”
According to a 1981 New York Times article, O'Connor on her third day at the court sent a notice to all female Supreme Court employees that she was starting an exercise class. The class would meet five times a week beginning at 8 a.m. and be led by a YWCA instructor for $35 a month. The letter said that the class would include “conditioning in slimnastics with some aerobic dance.”
The class might still have been based at the court if O'Connor had been able to persuade another justice to attend. But she repeatedly struck out.
That doesn't mean the other justices don't have their own fitness regimens. For example, the oldest justice, who recently turned 84, has a workout program so rigorous it can perhaps be summed up by the headline of a story by a Politico reporter who tried it out: “I did Ruth Bader Ginsburg's workout. It nearly broke me.”