With not much new going on in the country right now, thank goodness a Supreme Court nomination has come along. Republicans and Democrats needed something new to carp at each other about.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death has left a void in more ways than one way. In addition to the obvious vacant seat, her strong voice advocating for issues she was passionate about is stilled. Agree or disagree with her positions, she was a force to be reckoned with.
Much as her close friend, Anton Scalia, the Justice who died unexpectedly during the last presidential election year, Ginsberg stuck to her principles and beliefs and fiercely fought for what she believed throughout her ground-breaking career and her tenure on the Court. She could always be counted on to provide cogent reasoning behind all her opinions. She was a champion of equal rights for women and respected by friend and foe alike for her tenaciousness and dogged determination to push for what she thought was right.
With a new judge to be selected, now comes the partisan politics in the Judicial Branch. Alas, even though we’d like to believe all judges, as Lady Justice, are blind to all but the facts, it just ain’t so. And thus, We the People are embroiled in yet another drawn-out drama of diatribes, denunciations, and downright ugly dirty tricks. Otherwise known as a confirmation fight.
By the time this column goes to press, chances are President Trump will have chosen a nominee from a list of sitting female judges. (RBG would definitely approve of that.) No doubt the nominee will have a track record of decisions that may well give a clue as to how she would vote on concerns of the day. Although, the past is not always a barometer for the future. Dwight Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren for Chief Justice in 1953. Ike thought Warren would skew to the conservative side. He didn’t. Warren became the leader of the liberal wing of the Court, greatly expanding the reaches of judicial power. He was aided by William Brennan, also appointed by Eisenhower. (After he was President, Ike supposedly said, “I have made two mistakes, and they are both sitting on the Supreme Court.” But that’s not the norm.
Despite the fact that most recent Supremes have been elevated from bench seats on a lower court, that’s not a prerequisite for the job. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to be an attorney to become one of the nine. There basically are no official qualifications for becoming a Supreme Court Justice. (Some might cynically say that’s pretty obvious in some cases.) Although, apparently a nominee must have some kind of training in the law. (I took a Constitutional Law class in college. Does that count? Not that I would be interested in the job, mind you.)
Of course, right now the “who” is not so much up in the air as the “when.” Republicans cry, “Confirm, confirm, confirm,” while Democrats shout, “Delay, delay, delay.” Imagine that. A difference of opinion that’s miles apart. Given the previously mentioned fact that there are basically no requirements to be a Supreme, perhaps President Trump, in his oft-spoken attempt to “Drain the Swamp,” should look a little further afield than Circuit Court judges and others who wear a robe to work every day.
Some famous actors have portrayed jurists. Paul Newman was Judge Roy Bean. Spencer Tracy played a judge in Judgement at Nuremberg. Who can forget Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd), Fred Gwynne (aka Herman Munster), and Ted Knight (remember Caddyshack?) also claimed the title. Maybe somebody in Hollywood who looks the part would work. (Although it might be kind of hard to find a thespian in concert with Trump’s ideas.)
What about a singer? Court sessions could be quite lively if a Kanye West or Beyonce or Adele or a piano man such as Billy Joel or Elton John could set arguments to music. Professional sports coaches and managers might be good choices. They’re used to dealing with all manner of junk thrown at them by players, fans, and the media, but usually get to the heart of the matter come game time.
However, I’m guessing someone from what just might be a new good ol’ GIRL network (of which RBG might well be proud) will probably get the nod. For the future, though, in order to avoid at least one hassle, could Supreme Court justices kindly not pass away or resign during a presidential election year, especially one such as 2020? It would just simplify things ever so much.
©MMXX. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer