The Supreme Court “American Idol” style

Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the soon-to-be vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be chosen “American Idol” style. Disregard political views, academic law dissertations, job qualifications, or “liberal” or “conservative” biases. Don’t even consider gender, race, religion, or creed. Consider what Simon Cowell might think.

If democracy is a popularity contest, then let the most popular judge win. Or lawyer, or law professor, or politician. The Supreme Court is a really big deal, after all. Those nine robe-wearing justices decide what’s legal or illegal in this country. That is no small task.

Americans are divided about how they view issues like abortion, assisted suicide, presidential war powers, and free speech. Should a woman have the right to terminate the life of her unborn child? Should non-heterosexual people have the same rights to marry as their straight counterparts? How should the federal government handle gun rights? Did the Founding Fathers intend every American to own an M16 assault rifle that they can bring with them to school and public parks? People want answers to these questions.

If the law is supposed to protect the rights of the people, then it is logical that the people should be able to choose who writes these laws. And besides, who wouldn’t want to watch Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O’Connor sing a duet from “Les Misérables?” Forget Kris Allen or even that underdog Brit Susan Boyle. The real surprise talent all come from the Judicial branch of the government.

People in the western world value their freedom. It is a hallmark of Americana. Our Constitution is imbedded with the assumption that all men (and women, as we have later discovered) are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights that have been given to them by their Creator (or any other theistic or non-theistic deity of your choosing). When we value freedom, we value our lives. And this is why the next member of the Supreme Court should not be chosen by the president. It should be chosen by any Joe Six Pack in the good old U.S.A.

And already the names are pouring in. Advocacy groups want Obama to choose either a racial minority or a woman to replace the soon-to-retire David Souter. He can be fancy and choose a minority woman. That’s right. A “Two-fer” because that’s two for the price of one. We are living in more progressive, hope-filled times, are we not?

Former President George W. Bush was so lame to choose two middle aged white guys to the Court when he was in office. Chief Justice John Roberts looks like the guy next door whose hosting a barbeque that he’s invited your family to attend. Justice Samuel Alito looks like a guy you’d see teaching your daughter’s cello lessons or coaching your son’s soccer team. In other words, these guys so are boring! Obama, the hip young dude that he is, should know better.

Names being thrown around as possible replacements for Souter are U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, federal appeals judges Diane Wood and Sonia Sotomayor, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Choosing either a woman or a Hispanic American seems to be the trend right now.

After all, this is America, right? If people want either a woman or a racial minority on the Court, they should get it. We should have a system where people can call in to choose who they want and have Ryan Seacrest announce it on television. That is reality TV that I’d be willing to watch.

But instead Obama is saying that he will not pay attention to demographics when making his choice. Oh great! The 44th President even had the nerve to say on a C-SPAN interview:

“I think in any given pick, my job is to just find somebody who I think is going to make a difference on the courts and look after the interest of the American people. And so, I don’t feel weighed down by having to choose a Supreme Court justice based on demographics. I certainly think that ultimately we want a Supreme Court that is reflective of the incredible variety of the American people.”

Wait a minute! Picking a Supreme Court justice who reflects the interests of the American people? You mean someone who’s actually qualified to look after the law? Someone who knows how legal decisions affect the lives of everyday people? Someone who isn’t tied down to a certain political ideology? What a concept. A justice whose views, values, and integrity are more important than their gender or skin color? How un-American. How weird. How unpatriotic.

Okay, now I’ll try to be serious for a moment.

I am all for having women and minorities in positions of political power in our country. I am a minority myself, in case you didn’t know that. But all the talk from advocacy groups commanding Obama who to pick harkens back to the days when Washington lobbyists owned U.S. senators in their pockets. Wait a minute, that’s still going on.

I think it is important that the Supreme Court have more gender and racial diversity. Justices Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg seem awfully lonely up there. We need more diverse voices in order to make our laws truly reflect our country’s values. But more important than that is a judge who will uphold our constitutional laws and make sure our nations doesn’t condone horrendous actions like torture, waterboarding, and unwarranted domestic spying. Integrity is more important than the demographic one belongs to.

Advocacy groups pressuring Obama to be “progressive” and choose a woman or a minority disrespects the institution that is the U.S. Supreme Court. Our laws are more important than fulfilling white guilt (though Obama is black) obligations. Feminist or minority lobbyists making decisions of who should go on the Supreme Court is like “American Idol” viewers deciding who is talented enough to win a recording contract. These decisions should be made by people who are smart, deliberate, and wise, not those who are blind warriors for “equality.”

If Obama picks a woman, great. If he picks a Hispanic, African, or Asian American, great. But I hopes he picks someone who is intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and not ideologically driven. That is the direction our country needs to go in right now.

But seeing John Paul Stevens singing and dancing would be pretty funny.

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One Comment on “The Supreme Court “American Idol” style”

  1. Andy H Says:

    Interesting blog and I agree with everything you say however I wonder if you are naive or there is a subtext to what you write. In the history of the United States, before Obama, every President has been a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. The only Catholic was assassinated.

    In past nominations, lobby groups have exerted great control over who is chosen for the Supreme Court. As this is the first non white President. I am sure minority groups see this as an opportunity to make the scales of justice slightly less crooked.

    The idea of affirmative action offends my egalitarian sensibilities, but that said I would hate to be a black guy, or worse a Muslim, in Alabama trying to get a job.

    I would also love to a Supreme Court Justice would uphold the noble ideas of justice, and purge the blight that has stained our nation these past 6 years with torture, water boarding and warrantless wire taps. My liberal side also wants to protect the unborn who I view as more vulnerable and requiring our protection that a pregnant woman. I know I am alone amongst my liberal cohorts.

    That said is it impossible to find a qualified minority who does hold true to the principles the Supreme Court is suppose to uphold? Can we not satisfy both masters? Because we all know when Obama leaves office the influence lobby groups will ensure another WASP is picked for the Supreme Court who holds steadfast to someone lobby group’s loyalty.

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