Conservative justices routinely speak at Federalist Society gatherings, including the yearly fall meeting in Washington.
Thursday's black-tie dinner at a Washington hotel cost $175 a plate, or for $550 a participant could attend the dinner and three days of speeches and panel discussions featuring a host of federal judges, conservative and liberal legal scholars and leading Supreme Court lawyers.
Some critics have said the justices are crossing an ethical line when they allow their names to be used by the group to help sell tickets to the event. Alliance for Justice, a not-for-profit group that advocates for liberal court nominees, said Alito showed "insensitivity to the need for a justice's ethical behavior to be above reproach" by doing just that.
Ethics guidelines for federal judges other than Supreme Court justices say judges should steer clear of fundraising efforts and not allow the prestige of their office to be used to drum up ticket sales.
Federalist Society president and chief executive officer Eugene Meyer said the critics have their facts wrong.
"This annual event is not a fundraiser. We have not hoped to raise funds from it, and, in fact, we lose a little money on every meal we serve," Meyer said.
While Alito was talking about the counterculture, other justices were dipping into pop culture.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor made her second appearance on "Sesame Street," joining muppet Abby Cadabby to talk about the word "career."
Abby, the 3-year-old daughter of the Fairy Godmother, said she hoped to be a princess.
"Pretending to be a princess is fun, but it is definitely not a career," Sotomayor said.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found herself in an unusual place for high court justices, among Glamour magazine's Women of the Year. "The judiciary is not a profession that ranks very high among the glamorously attired," she told the audience as the magazine honored the women at Carnegie Hall in New York. Ginsburg also noted that she might have been the second woman to join the high court after Sandra Day O'Connor, but she was the first honored by Glamour.
Among the other honorees was Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit series "Girls." As it happens, Dunham made another annual list that also included a Supreme Court justice.
Dunham and Chief Justice John Roberts (an unlikely pair, no?) are members of Esquire magazine's 2012 roster of Americans of the Year.
Roberts was recognized for his vote to uphold the health care law. The magazine said the outcome allowed Roberts to "preserve the court's institutional integrity" by joining with the four liberal justices and avoiding a wholly partisan and ideological split.
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