Given the recent retirement of U.S. Supreme Court justice David Souter, we will soon be treated to the spectacle that is the confirmation process for the proposed nominee. Anyone recalling the hearings for Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas will know that the process is ripe for either reform or satire. As to the latter, author Christopher Buckley has a wonderful send up of the Court in his novel “Supreme Courtship” (2008: Hatchett Book Group U.S.A. Inc., New York).
The premise of the novel is that, after having had two distinguished nominees with unblemished records rejected by the Senate, one for having written a negative review of To Kill a Mockingbird when the nominee was 12 years old, the President nominates a judge and host of the popular television show, Courtroom 6, for the Supreme Court post. In her preparation for the hearings, the sassy judge gets ready for the inevitable hostile personal questions:
Look here Senator. You got five thousand FBI agents out there going through my garbage and waterboarding everyone I ever talked to, starting with the ob-gyn who slapped my butt on my way out of the womb. Do you really think I’d put myself through all this if I had a whole catacomb of skeletons doing the cha-cha in my closet?
The ideological division on the Court also comes in for scrutiny:
Half the justices had proved to be disappointments to the presidents who appointed them, the conservatives voting liberal and the liberals voting conservative and the middle-of-the-roaders swerving like drunk drivers from right to left. Nine times out of ten, the Court voted 5-4… ‘It is at this point unclear’ the Times noted ‘whether this Court could agree on the law of gravity.’
Even the footnotes are funny:
There were at least some advantages to being ‘the most powerful man in the country,’ even if you couldn’t seize your wife’s assets and have her submitted to peine forte et dure.*
*French term for being slowly pressed to death. Used today to describe waiting for the cable company to arrive.”