Supreme Court 2: The New Batch


Movies are about suspending disbelief. You’re watching a piece of fiction, so of course there are going to be things that are implausible. You just have to go along with most of them, but some plot holes are too goofy to ignore.

The quintessential example is Gremlins. Anyone who was around in the eighties remembers that you turn a cute little animal called a mogwai into a murderous monster called a gremlin by feeding the mogwais after midnight. I can suspend disbelief enough to be OK with the fact that these two animals could exist. But I can’t get past the stupid rule about eating after midnight.

This plot hole was so inane that even Gremlins 2 mocked it. A character in the sequel asked what would happen if the mogwai had something in between its teeth that fell out after midnight. And, in a question familiar to Hoosiers, they asked what would happen if the gremlin was eating while switching time zones.

There’s no answer, because it’s a ridiculous rule. It’s Hollywood.

For Republicans, the battle to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court is shaping up to be another Gremlins sequel, a political plot hole that worsens the poor precedents that have been set regarding judicial appointments.

Within minutes of the news that Justice Scalia was found dead, my fellow Republicans were saying that the next president, not Obama, should appoint a new justice. In the 36 hours since, it’s become even more clear that the GOP strategy will be to stall until next January.

I get it. Republicans should want a jurist like Scalia on the bench. Yet, this idea that we can’t replace a Supreme Court justice in an election year gives me a whole heap of questions.

When exactly does this prohibition start? Is it the actual year 2016? Is it a calendar year that starts 365 days prior to the election?

Or maybe it’s longer. Ted Cruz, the first major party candidate to get in the race this time around, announced his intentions in March 2015. Maybe the clock should’ve started at that moment?

So if you’re a Supreme Court justice, it’s probably best to die in the 26 months after a president assumes office and before the next campaign starts! Be considerate in your death, for dying at the right time is the only way to ensure there will be a noncontroversial succession.

Here’s a better way forward for Supreme Court nominations (and perhaps politics in general). Pretend you’re in the position of the other party — chances are, you will be eventually anyway — and then act in a manner that you would consider above reproach, regardless of whether you believe the next justice should be a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat.

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