Alumna Zainab Alkebsi admitted to Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in historic ceremony

Published: Apr 28, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court
(Image: Photo by Chris Phan, CC by 2.0)

On Tuesday, April 19, Zainab Alkebsi ’09, political science, was among 13 members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association (DHHBA) sworn in and admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.

Zainab Alkebsi. Photo credit NAD.
Zainab Alkebsi. Photo credit NAD.

With Supreme Court Bar admission, Alkebsi will now be able to argue cases before the nation’s highest court. Admission to the Supreme Court is only granted if an attorney is sponsored by two current members of the bar and has been in good standing for at least three years.

The event was the first time that the DHHBA participated in a group swearing-in ceremony, which typically occurs most days the Supreme Court is in session. The 13 attorneys is the largest group of deaf and hard of hearing lawyers to be admitted to the Supreme Court Bar.

“It was incredible to be part of the historic swearing-in ceremony with twelve outstanding deaf and hard of hearing attorneys,” says Alkebsi. “The cherry on top was seeing Chief Justice Roberts grant our motion in American Sign Language, which was a first from the Supreme Court bench! It was a very pleasant surprise and it was very thoughtful of him to acknowledge our group the way he did. I hope that the ceremony has inspired others who are deaf and hard of hearing to pursue a legal career.”

At UMBC, Alkebsi was a political science major and was a member of the Honors College and Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program. She is currently policy counsel for the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and is a graduate of University of Baltimore School of Law.

Read news coverage of the event below:

Supreme Court Chief Justice learned sign language to swear in deaf lawyers (Washington Post) 
A “view” from the Court: Making accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing (SCOTUS blog) 
Alumna sworn in to Supreme Court Bar with 12 deaf colleagues (UB School of Law updates) 
DHHBA members to be sworn into United States Supreme Court Bar (DHHBA News)

Header Image: U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Chris Phan, CC by 2.0

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