The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that Kathleen Arberg, the court’s longtime spokesperson, will retire on July 3. Arberg has spent 40 years working for the federal judiciary, with 38 of those years at the Supreme Court and 22 as the head of the court’s Public Information Office.
Arberg came to the court in 1982 as an assistant public information officer and served in that role until 1999, when she became the public information officer, responsible not only for serving as the court’s spokesperson but also for managing the PIO, with its twin functions of “facilitating accurate coverage of the Court” and “furthering the public’s understanding of the Court’s function and history.” Among other things, the PIO provides credentials to reporters covering the court and distributes the court’s orders and opinions as they are released to waiting journalists.
In the press release announcing Arberg’s retirement, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that “Kathy has provided nearly four decades of invaluable service to the Court and members of the press. Although we all wish her well in retirement,” Roberts added, “we will miss her presence immensely.”
The past several years have been particularly busy ones for the Public Information Office. Since 2016, Arberg has managed public relations for the court during three contentious fights to fill vacancies caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the deaths of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In addition, Arberg and her colleagues have grappled with an extremely active “shadow docket” – the emergency orders and summary decisions issued outside the court’s normal briefing and argument schedule. The shadow docket often results in late-night and weekend orders on topics ranging from COVID-19 restrictions to election law to the death penalty.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.