Oh, for a Justice Mary Poppins
What a fabulous time to be alive! With Justice Souter's retirement and our delightful new President Obama ready to appoint the replacement, aren't you just giddy at the possibilities?
We are going to have a new lawgiver! While even inbred hicks get to send their representatives to scribble out some laws, it's the Supreme Court justices who tell us what those laws really mean. You can almost say they're even more important than the president (they do tend to stick around longer), which is why the choice must be made carefully.
Now some say the job of the justice is to merely interpret the law based on the Constitution, but luckily, Obama isn't one of those narrow-minded Neanderthals who want a law-interpreting robot. He's said he wants someone who understands that:
[J]ustice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.
See, he wants someone who understands us, cares for us, loves us. Someone who isn't going to worry if what some old text says is true when he (or, preferably, she) knows what's best to make us feel good about ourselves!
Know who this made me think of? Mary Poppins -- a magical nanny sent to fulfill all the needs of two deserving children. And aren't we a nation of deserving children looking for someone to take care of us? Now, I remember that in Mary Poppins the two children wrote a letter of the qualifications for the perfect nanny to make her appear, and it's certainly worth a shot to find the perfect justice. Here's what I came up with:
THE PERFECT JUSTICE
If you want this choice position
Please be a legal magician
Have empathy, have grace
Be a minority race.
Do not care for original meaning,
Find it legal if its left-leaning
Free the terrorists, legalize pot
Ban guns, Have Cheney shot
Must give gay marriage the nod
And remove all mentions of God
Always protect our right to choose
And make laws based on your views
You could be all our salvation
Force us to be a better nation.
Come and change our laws based on liberal pleas
So we don't have to wait for democracy.
Hurry, Justice! We implore!
Victory needs just five to four.
Now, I don't know if that person is really out there and whether she'll just come floating from the sky on her umbrella. But if she does exist, I'm sure Obama will find her.
And think of it: Justice Mary Poppins. Someone who doesn't look at a law and see just the strict meaning of its words, but instead sees infinite possibilities. Maybe in a law on tort reform she can find a secret guarantee of laptops for poor kids! Maybe we won't even need to pass legislation for universal health care, because she'll find it within the laws we have, hidden with many clues like in a Dan Brown novel. Who knows what magical wonderment Justice Poppins will find next?
And she won't be so narrow-minded as to make decisions based on what she finds only in American law. No, instead she'll borrow law from magical cartoon lands and France. Maybe she won't worry about laws at all and will instead base her decisions on newspaper articles or the consensus on Twitter. Or maybe she will take something from her imagination and make it our reality.
She will be able to take infinitely complex issues and break them down for us into a single opinion to settle things forever like Roe v. Wade. At the same time, she will be confused beyond belief by a simple statement such as "the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." She doesn't think like you and me; she thinks better.
Now some say the perfect justice should be familiar with the Constitution. That's ridiculous. The job of the Supreme Court is to judge the Constitution and whether it's still relevant to us today. Now, you would get a mistrial if a judge were very familiar with the defendant in a case, which is why the perfect justice -- the Justice Poppins -- should have never seen the Constitution, so as to be unbiased when it's on trial. In fact, maybe she should never read it. Through her empathy and compassion she should know what laws we need. Why would such a magical person let a silly piece of paper stand in the way of that?
So find this perfect justice soon, Obama. She could look after us for a long time, while the Twenty-second Amendment says we have you but for eight years. Then again, maybe the magical eye of Justice Poppins will see a way around that too.