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Picking Your Friends

Posted October 10, 2005

It must be difficult to choose a Supreme Court Justice, much less two. How do you go through all the resumes to figure out who should sit on the highest court of the land for the rest of their lives? Is it like choosing people for kickball, or is it a little harder, like picking the correct animal skin seat covers for your car? Today we'll find out.

My first pick Andy. One of the smartest people I've ever known. But he's not a lawyer, and he is a drunk, so he might have a hard time getting confirmed. You don't actually need to be a lawyer to become a Supreme Court justice, but I needed some way to narrow down my list. From now on, lawyers only.

I thought of my friend Craig, an attorney whom I work with. Lots of people like him, and with his winning smile and good looks, he'd probably sail through confirmation. But I recalled hearing innuendo of some unusual past history. Skateboard-propelled self bowling could be a problem.

My friend Pat was my next choice. He's Alaskan, so he could easily fool people into thinking he's conservative. He recently passed the bar (go Pat), which was enough to get Michael Brown to head FEMA. So I asked Pat the following important question: which Amendment is your favorite?

"The Fourteenth," he answered.

"By Fourteenth Amendment, which provides due process and equal protection under the law to all US citizens, you mean the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed Prohibition?"


At least he was honest.

Finally, I thought of Wayne, who was the best man at my wedding, the lead singer of my college band, and as far as I'm concerned, a top-notch lawyer. I advised him that I was nominating him for the Supreme Court, and he sounded appropriately astonished. He began to thank me, but I interrupted. "I have some questions first."

G: What are your plans for the next fifty years? You busy?
W: I'm not busy and I'd like to be a Justice so I can stay that way.
G: How do you feel about black robes?
W: I find black slimming.
G: Don't you think they make Justice Roberts look fat?
W: He's a handsome man?
G: But the robes make him look fat.
W: I think it's the haircut.
G: How would you feel about working with people who are on average seventy-five years older than you?
W: I have no problem with the age difference.

Elusive. Vetting is hard. Then I remember the most important question:

G: Could you sum up your judicial philosophy with any one Elvis Costello song? You don't have to answer immediately.

N.B. He would have been immediately disqualified if he said anything about Peace, Love and Understanding.

Wayne got back to me over email. He chose Accidents Will Happen, which is a strong signal that he won't overturn Roe v. Wade, and also makes me think he'll interpret the Constitution as a living document, rather than as a strict originalist. I will alert Wayne right away of his nomination (don't tell his employers yet).

In conclusion: picking one of your friends as a Supreme Court Justice is a strenuous process, especially if you know a lot of lawyers. It's harder than selecting which friends you want as housemates, but with the Supreme Court, you don't have to live with them.



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