Apparently the job market is tough even in the federal judiciary. According to the Los Angeles Times, approximately one in eight federal judge positions are vacant “and legal scholars warn that the increasingly politicized confirmation process threatens the administration of justice across the nation.”
There’s blame to go around — Democrats say Republicans are childishly stalling judicial nominations; Republicans say it’s payback for Dems dragging their feet on some Bush nominees and Obama has failed to make non-Supreme Court appointments a priority. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick has an excellent analysis of the blame game (“not all blame is created equal,” she writes). Whatever the reason, and despite ideology, Lithwick argues, courts matter, and conservatives have a much better mastery of the judiciary’s importance.
~~~Whatever side you’re on, the fight over gay marriage will be decided in the courts, as will the fight over regulating carbon emissions. The Voting Rights Act and health care reform laws are under attack in the courts, but so are Arizona’s immigration reform and Chicago’s new gun laws. Whether you support Obama’s legislative agenda or abhor it, having properly functioning courts should matter, because today in America every single legislative action has an equal and opposite legal reaction.
With that in mind, here are a few people who would make excellent judges (if you’re willing to look past their lack of law degrees or fictionality).
She’s funny, sure, but what else would comedienne Chelsea Handler bring to the bench? Primarily, the ability to cut through the bullshit and call out her courtroom. She’s impartial, too, as evidenced by her recent evisceration of guest commentator T.J. Miller for speaking too slowly (he deserved it; “Chelsea Lately” is a spitfire pop culture commentary show, not some stoner sitcom). Chelsea is both experienced in life and hilarious on camera — providing she’s not doing pre-scripted stand-up. Keep her away from any opening statements and she would fill out a frilly robe nicely.
Come on! He’s the perfect president: articulate, sophisticated, intelligent, analytical, learned, humorous, economic, diplomatic — and the worst thing that happened during his presidency was one little MS fiasco that ended suddenly when the ratings began to fall. He’s cheerful even in bad times, he can spew Latin at God and he certainly doesn’t pander to religious forces. Plus, he’s the smoothest-talking president since Bill Clinton. Sure, he’d have his detractors on the right (I can already hear “activist judge” echoing in the background) but you just can’t say no to a Novel Prize in Economics.
While we’re on “The West Wing,” let’s take a look at the actress who played the new Supreme Court chief appointed by Bartlett, Glenn Close. Not the character herself; Evelyn Baker Lang appeared in a grand total of one episode, appropriate considering the relative insignificance of the Supreme Court. No, I’m talking about her other characters, rolled into one: I’m talking Cruella de Vil. I’m talking Patty Hewes. I’m talking Vice President Kathryn Bennett, who could jump out of a helicopter while requesting a status update and never got her blouse wet.
If you’re not familiar, Jane Bingum, portrayed by Brooke Elliot on Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” is actually a dead model who was accidentally sent into the body of lawyer Jane. She has her model memories but a lawyer’s knowledge, letting her do her job. Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far you can truly suspend your disbelief! In any event, Jane is for some reason an excellent lawyer — her lawsuits always get trial time immediately, and even though most of her suits are civil there is still always a jury that makes its decisions based on how strongly they empathize with Jane’s client rather than the facts of the case. Anyone who can successfully pull off lipstick lawsuits can handle the crap thrown at the judiciary these days.
If there’s one thing the courts need, it’s youth. Who better than current youth Justin Bieber? He’s got a babyface and a rapidly deepening voice to accompany it. Furthermore, anyone willing to ride in a tram pushed by Tina Fey deserves to make rulings about arcane tax laws and interstate commerce violations. Plus, he has a small but significant judicial track record, writing opinions in cases such as Baby, Baby vs. Playing It Cool, Stupid vs. Cupid and Omaha vs. The Mall. [A note in my defense: I had to look up Justin Bieber lyrics, I swear].
The Girl Who Hit Her Gavel Too Hard. She was wrongly pegged as a psychopath, when technically she’s really more of a sociopath. As Stieg Larsson made painfully clear, Lisbeth is tough and subscribes to her own style of virtual street justice, taking down those who wrong her by hacking their tax returns and tipping off the authorities. Her eidetic memory will help her recall obscure case law and formulate opinions, and how goth would she look in a flowing black robe?
Judge Fudge already has experience on the bench. The only reason to hesitate appointing him would be his schedule — he’s far too busy being delicious.
Because it would be funny.