Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Make the Baseball Reference Whenever Possible!

Last night, the wife and I were listening to a clip of John Robert's opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. My wife commented that John Roberts was an eloquent speaker. As we both listened I had a flashback to college. My History Professor told us one day before a test that to use a reference to baseball whenever you get a chance. After all, it's the National Pastime. Judge Roberts did not disappoint and I am sure my old professor caught it. From the NY Times:

"Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But
it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire."

"And I'll remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not pitch or bat."

It seems like Margaret Warner of PBS did not miss the baseball analogy either. PBS

MARGARET WARNER: Doug Kmiec, the opening statement -- did the umpire analogy work for you?

DOUGLAS KMIEC: I thought it worked brilliantly. The proposition that the umpire does not create the rules, the proposition that no one goes to the game to see the umpire is a reminder that it's Congress and the president that are formulating these policies, and that -- that really was the theme of at least the Republican side of the Senate committee today, and that is this is an inquiry that is to respect the separation of powers and the limited role, albeit important role, of the Judiciary to interpret the Constitution and the statutes, as passed by the Congress but not to expect the nominee to run on a political platform or to be expressing his personal views about disputed political issues or about past cases. What they are going to inquire into appropriately is his general understanding of the law.

MARGARET WARNER: And, Kathleen Sullivan, how about the umpire analogy, did that work for you? Do you think that stands up when you think of what a Supreme Court Justice does?

KATHLEEN SULLIVAN: Well, it portrays a fairness, a judiciousness, and open mindedness that's appropriate for the judicial role. But let's face it, Margaret, with all of the talk today from the Republican side about how judges should respect the political branches and they should not legislate from the bench, let's face it, over the period of the Rehnquist court, and we mourn the great Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but the hallmark of his Court with Republicans dominating it was to strike down congressional statute after congressional statute. So if you want to go to the umpire metaphor, they called a lot of outs and a lot of strikes on the act of Congress -- in one six-year period, the Rehnquist court struck down 30 federal laws, more than any time since the New Deal. So respect for the political branches suggests more respect for Congress when it legislates to protect commerce or civil rights.

Baseball, you have to love the sport that is uniquely American. Whenever I think about a baseball analogy I think back to Ken Burn's Documentary years ago. In the beginning of the Documentary, a writer by the name of Gerald Earley makes one of the most insightful and powerful statements about our culture in America. He says that when our country is long gone and people are studying about our American civilization we'll be remembered for three things; the Constitution, baseball, and jazz music. John Roberts understands what is to be an American.


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