The big news in politics this week was the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died during a hunting trip in Texas. The official cause of death was listed as “natural causes.” However, officials are not ruling out the possibility that Scalia was actually shot in the face by his hunting partner, Dick Cheney.
Reading this news, I thought about a golf outing I had with my dad when I was a teenager. We got paired up with some random guy. On the first hole the guy teed up, shanked the ball, and screamed “FUCK!!!!” in front of a dozen or so people waiting to start their rounds. On the third hole he missed a short putt and proceeded to pound his putter into the ground, tearing up the green like he was chopping wood. On the ninth hole he whipped a club into the woods in a fit of rage.
Dad and I called it a day after the last outburst and watched the guy storm off to the 10th hole. Dad (who was then a lawyer) looked at me and said “That guy is a judge on the state appeals court. Or was. They got him to step down on medical leave.” Shocked, I asked how he got onto the bench. Dad said that the Governor of Connecticut owed someone a favor, and that favor became appointing this ill-tempered guy to the bench. And everyone’s job instantly became much harder.
But at least there was a way to remove the unqualified, unlike with the Supreme Court and its lifetime appointments. There, a judge can write: “…society’s moral outrage sometimes demands execution of retarded defenders.” They can compare homosexuality to animal cruelty or suggest that black students would be better off in slower schools. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
President Obama is now tasked with finding a replacement. Republicans want him to hold off so Donald Trump can gain office and then nominate a judge from the Miss Universe Pageant. Or maybe he’ll make federal judges compete in a swimsuit contest. Either way, conservatives will demand someone whose mind is still stuck in the 1980’s. It might be time to start vetting retired judges from the TV show Divorce Court.