Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just What The High Court Needs

Is a healthy rivalry that is entirely unrelated to judicial review and entirely related to New York baseball.

That's right, people. Yesterday Barack Obama announced his next move to shape the future of this country by naming the successor to the seat that will soon be vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens (Northwestern graduate, natch). And with that choice, Obama has selected Elena Kagan, a woman who has experience as White House Counsel, the Dean of Harvard Law School and Solicitor General -- being the first female to have either of those last two positions -- but there is a considerable red flag in that she's never been, you know, a "judge".

Don't be surprised if some Republicans pull that out when they try to turn Kagan into Obama's Harriett Miers, but some might be surprised to hear that the last Justice to be nominated with no prior experience as a judge was William Rhenquist, and things worked out ok for him, at least as far as competency is concerned. It might be wiser to attack her on her previously declared judicial stances, but without her being a judge, attacking any sort of track record seems difficult, which likely was a factor in selecting her for the bench. And so, it seems, with a Democratic congress, that Kagan is likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court -- and become the third Jewish Justice to currently be serving -- but what happens once she's there could be awfully interesting.

And here's why.

Most of you reading this, I'm sure, are wondering what I'm doing blabbing on about Supreme Court nominations when this blog is mostly supposed to be about sports. And you all have a point. This is an unusual turn for me to take here, though I do find politics to be similar to sports in a number of ways. But the reason I'm mentioning this is because of one little important nugget that Obama squeezed into the introductory speech.

Kagan's a Mets fan.

I think to make truly make wise decisions impacting all Americans from the wealthiest to the less fortunate, it will serve Kagan well to have had her heart broken almost annually by that delightful squad in Queens. As as some people have speculated, perhaps she can use her new position to rule it unconstitutional the next time New York nepotistically signs Frank Catalanotto, who, unsurprisingly, was designated for assignment last night.

I doubt Kagan will actually lean on the administration in such a manner, though it might be helpful, but what makes this all particularly interesting is that Obama's previous nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is a Yankees fan who hails from the Bronx. The tension could be acrimonious, as Obama noted in his speech introducing Kagan yesterday that Sotomayor has "ordered a pinstripe robe for the occasion". In the case of Sotomayor, her Yankee fandom is hardly just an auxiliary characteristic -- it was her ruling that ended the Major League Baseball Players strike in 1995.

Sotomayor also has played a crucial role in football where she reaffirmed the NFL's eligibility rules in requiring draft prospects to be out of high school for three years, effectively ending Maurice Clarett's efforts to leave school early.

And he's clearly been none the worse for it.

The only unfortunate thing about Sotomayor's place on the bench and Kagan's appointment and expected confirmation, is that the two baseball fans have no jurisdiction over Canada, and if they did, they might just stop the Montreal Canadiens from unleashing the worst blight on sports fan music since Nuts About the Nats.

Yeah, that's right. "We're right in the mix and it feels a little like '86." And "the cradle of organized sports?" Really?

I wouldn't claim the Habs should stop trying to win titles, and considering that they've just forced a second straight heavy favorite to a Game 7 last night, they haven't stopped trying, but there's something irksome about a pump up song that a) ruins "Don't Stop Believin" for me more than any crowd of drunks in a bar ever could, and b) boasts of the need for a 25th banner. Twelve NHL franchises have multiple Cups. Only seven have more than three titles. Only three have more than 10. And the Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cup Championships. I think you can tone down the anxiety just a bit, though I do enjoy the shot of Montreal's 1993 Cup-winning head coach Jacques Demers giving a thumbs up. And to think no one in the organization at the time knew the man was completely illiterate. Oh yeah, he's a senator now. And why the hell do they even bring up the Expos in this video?

I have no problem with confidence. Even musical confidence. But unfortunately, they just don't make them like the Super Bowl Shuffle anymore. If only Kagan could write an opinion making "Feels Like '93" unconstitutional.

That kind of Championship monopoly has to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, right?

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