I am trying to ignore the set-piece confirmation “hearings” for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Justice-designate to the United States Supreme Court. This is pre-determined, staged blather and unless someone pops up with an Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas Three Ring Circus, Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation is assured. Likewise, damn near every word of these so-called hearings is predictable. The nominee presented a suitably humble “I like me” presentation and promised to be fair, while hinting that she would vote to uphold Roe v. Wade even though antiquated judicial selection rules say that she cannot say so publicly. (Ho, ho, in the private vetting process that got her this far, do you suppose that the President’s advisors forgot to ask that?) She assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that her life is the law, and yet her log-cabin upbringing and dogged determination to defeat the unique vicisitudes that life threw at her because she is Hispanic and female make her incomparably qualified to sit on the highest Court. Blah, blah, blah.
Then, she will be “questioned.” Committee Democrats will not throw softballs, they will let her play T-ball and agree unpretentiously with their paeans of esteem and wonder. Committee Republicans will cross-examine her with all of the skill that convinced them that the Courtroom was no place for them so they needed to start using their bullshit to run for office. They will shoot a few blanks, make noise, huff and puff, and then the vote will be taken and result in the same tally as it would have without one word of “testimony.”
Well, isn’t everyone on the Supreme Court “well qualified”? I wonder. Certainly, a Justice can have a really rotten personality and be good at his/her job, or be a decent person and suck as a judge. I’ve known examples of both, but all that I actually know about the Supreme Court is what I’ve read, so making some sort of Wise and Unchangable Declarations about the sitting justices would be ill-informed and stupid. But I hope to God that they don’t sitting around thinking that they are “well qualified.”
Let’s go straight to fantasy land. I will never be a justice or a judge. A robe is something one wears right after a shower in the winter. Period. My practice has not been of the “correct” type, my personality is too grating, my definition of success is peculiar (and even I fall far short of that), my humor is odd, my prose is blatant, blunt, blustering and much too blue, and I come from a law school that is not in the “first tier,” much less being in the Elite Six (or however many are considered elite now.)
So this is pure fantasy – the opening statement of this poor scribe at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Hello? Hello? Is this damn thing on? Oh, ok.
Good morning. Ok, maybe you call it morning, it’s 10 AM, and you’re just getting started, must be a government thing.
If I was going to read an opening statement, I’d have just mailed one over. I’m going to talk to you, ok?
Um, ladies and gentlemen - here’s the first thing you ought to ask me and the first thing you ought to know. Am I qualified to be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.
Anyone who appears in this town and says “I’m qualified to be here, I’m the one who should be making decisions, I’m the one who should be judging my Fellow Man,” well, that person has no business even filling in for Judge Judy. You won’t get justice except by accident from such a judge, you will get self-righteous, elitist bilge water. Frankly, I’m thinking you’re batting about .500 in my lifetime with Supreme Court nominees, but that’s just me talking.
Also, I’ve gotten a few belly laughs out of everybody who’s been saying with a straight face that they just want the smartest, fairest judge, no matter what that judge believes. Bullshit. OK? NOBODY wants justice. Got that? NOBODY. EVERYBODY wants to win, EVERYBODY wants to advance their political agenda and personal beliefs and EVERYBODY wants 6 extra pieces of the American-Dream-Pie. So they’ll figure how a nominee will vote in about 10 categories, and figure which one will sell to the rubes, and send the PR train down the track. You might ask yourselves, if you've been appointing so many "best-of-the-best," "well qualified" justices, how come you've been getting so many 5-4 decisions in big cases? That seems a tad odd, don't you think?
Oh, everybody wants to know how I’ll vote on a case to affirm or reverse Roe v. Wade. The rules say I can’t tell you. [Pause.] And goodness knows, the President’s people never asked me. [Long pause.] So shall I do the cryptogram thing and send you the answer in code like everyone else for the past 30 years? No, Lord knows I’ve been a hypocrite too many times myself, but I do try to recognize when I’m doing it. Roe v. Wade bothers the hell out of me. I’d probably vote to affirm it. And damn your black souls for sticking that issue in the Courts where it doesn’t belong, just so you can do the old shuck & jive and blame the Courts for what you don’t have the guts to face.
Oh, my, I violated the rules.
Anybody with a computer can find a few hundred blog posts I’ve written and a few hundred legal briefs. I will not explain any of them. They stand as is. Anybody who cherry picks them is telling an intentional lie. If you quote me, quote all of me. I stand by it all.
What do I believe? You don’t have a right to know over and above what people do. But people do.
I believe in America.
I believe that West Virginia is a great place.
I believe in God and Jesus Christ and why He made that sacrifice for me is a total mystery, ‘cause there is no way I deserve it - - I’ve screwed up more ways than there are sizes & types of screws.
I believe in a good joke, and if it offends someone, they’re an intolerant bigot.
I believe that if you require kids to be polite from Day One, they’ll be using “sir” and “ma’am” when they’re 80.
I really like to see our flag flying. People have the right to burn it, but they’re still assholes when they do.
I believe that people can change, but only when they’re willing.
I believe in the power of reason.
I believe that which gender adult wants to screw which other adult is boring and making a big fuss over it is a diversion from important things.
I believe that an argument that has no purpose is idiotic.
I believe that some people are just plain mean.
I believe that most people are mostly nice.
I believe about 95% of everything that Theodore Roosevelt ever wrote.
I believe that The Secret, think about something and it’ll happen, is New Age babble.
I believe that if you quit learning, you better be dead.
And I believe I’m headin’ out for a beer. I’m buyin’. Anybody with me?