Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here Come De Judge, Here Come De Judge... Again

Justice John Paul Stevens' pending retirement is the end of an era for two major reasons. A Gerald Ford appointee, he is arguably the last liberal Republican with any semblance of power in Washington. Stevens was also the last World War II veteran with a major governmental position, so it's also a generational passing of the torch. His record may have titled to the left in recent years, but he was not an originalist, a pragmatist, or a partisan activist, unlike certain justices of the past and present. His scathing dissent in Bush v. Gore probably defined his 35 years on the highest court, though his majority opinions on Gregg v. Georgia, which reinstated the death penalty, and Texas v. Johnson, which upheld the ban on flag-burning, were equally crucial. Even his critics can't deny that he was a patriot, and his most outspoken decisions were made for the sake of his country, not for his stance on the political spectrum.

Regardless of whoever succeeds Stevens, the court will probably turn into another black hole of liberal vs. conservative bickering. Since the court still tilts 5-4 in favor of right-leaning judges, the general dynamic of the court won't change regardless of whoever President Obama appoints. The apparent front-runner is Sidney R. Thomas of Montana, a federal appeals judge in the 9th circuit with a moderate-left reputation, though the White House claims that ten candidates are in serious consideration. Though the stank of partisanship has now gassed all three branches of our government, it should be noted that sometimes a judge will evolve or shift views after being voted in. Stevens had a moderate-right voting record when President Ford appointed him in 1975; in return, 13 years earlier JFK cherry-picked Bryon White as a progressive liberal, though he would up being a conservative. All things considered, it's going to be another interesting summer of speculation.

Other notes:

+ Something about this Weekend Update commentary really underwhelmed me. The Catholic sex abuse that's been simmering in the US for the past eight years --and after all this time, finally went global-- finally gets satirized, and they soften the blow with pointless pop culture references. I was raised Catholic, and I don't deny that the majority of parishoners are good, God-fearing people, but the structure of the church is so rotted with lies and corruption that it can't be taken seriously anymore. You'd think there were new allegations every day. At this rate, I wouldn't be shocked if you told me that 70% of all priests were pedophiles and sex offenders. Why do they keep getting away with this, and why is nothing being done about it? At least Pope John Paul II came out of this mess relatively scot-free; his successor Benedict XVI couldn't have handled this any worse.

+ Another baseball season, another stab at roto. Once again, I have two teams with similar lineups, and I'm liking the results so far. I went 7-0-3 (seven wins, no losses, three ties) in one league and 13-1-1 in another, both good for first place. Here's hoping I keep the momentum.

+ How's Second City, you ask? Well, I had my Improv Level D show back on February 28th, and I'll have my Level E performance (my last with my current classmates) on Saturday, May 1st. I will genuinely miss working with these people. Most of us will be auditioning for the conservatory (SC's de facto masters program) later in the spring, so I doubt it's goodbye forever. In the meantime, I might be taking a course or two at IO, Chicago's "other" improv school.

+ Conan on TBS Superstation? Fine by me, I guess. Too bad if you don't have cable, though.

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