Quick note from the world of politics: Sonia Sotomayor, she of the Maurice Clarett decision and the influence in ending the baseball strike, is facing her confirmation hearings today. Whether you approve of her nomination A) depends on your political partisanship, and B) is completely irrelevant. Sorry, we don’t care what you think about her viability as a Supreme Court Justice. That’s not what we’re here to talk about.
(She’s not even wearing umpire’s gear! Reject her at once!)
What we do want to discuss, though, is the pervasive inanity of the senators on the Judiciary Committee when it comes to her hearings. Democrat or Republican, it makes no difference: hamfisted sports references are as bipartisan as they are abundant today. Get ready for some total head-scratchers and reminders that nobody debases politics as effectively as the politicians themselves.
Sen. Tom Coburn: “We expect a judge to merely call balls and strikes — maybe so, maybe not. But we certainly don’t expect them to sympathize with one side over another.”
Sen. Russ Feingold: Great decisions are “not simply the result of an umpire calling balls and strikes.”
Sen. Charles Schumer: Some question whether John Roberts “actually called pitches as they came or tried to change the rules.” Sotomayor, said Schumer, “has simply called balls and strikes for 17 years far more closely than Chief Justice Roberts has during his four years on the Supreme Court.”
No. No, no, no. Judges are not umpires. If they were, they would be called umpires. Or umpires would be called judges. They’re not because they’re two different things: umpires are tasked with quickly determining whether a pitch is inside or outside the strike zone, which is an objective analysis. Judges are subjective arbiters; there’s a reason they issue “opinions” in the Supreme Court: because they actually are opinions.
This stupid analogy only exists because Sotomayor ended that baseball strike. There is absolutely no reason for grown men, much less sitting Senators who are on the Judiciary Committee, to turn this into a sports metaphor-filled activity.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a little sanity, please?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “So I do not believe that Supreme Court justices are merely umpires calling balls and strikes. Rather, I believe that they make the decisions of individuals who bring to the court their own experiences and philosophies.”
Thank you. Now that we’ve moved on from the balls and strikes, I believe the junior senator from Texas has the floor. Care to bring this back to a more relevant topic, sir?
Sen. John Cornyn: “To borrow a football analogy, a lower court judge is like the quarterback who executes the plays — not the coach who calls the plays.”
Our country is so f*cked.