I have been thinking more about whom President Obama should nominate to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice David Souter. A lot of people are thinking about this, including Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, who teaches at the University of Maryland School of Law. She wrote this article that appeared on CNN.com today, and I am in complete agreement with her:
The gist of the article is that for the last 20 years, all appointed Supreme Court judges have come from appellate courts, and Professor Ifill would like to see lawyers from other areas of practice be considered as well. Of course she is right. When you limit the kind and type of experience you bring to a court in this way, you limit the depth of the Court’s view. There are gifted legal scholars that have chosen not to serve on the nation’s appellate courts, and they could serve the Court just as well or possibly better. You cannot know if you cut them out because recent precedent has gone a certain way. The best possible person for the position should always be sought out. It’s the SUPREME COURT, after all, not the “Appellate Court Finishing School.” SUPREME, I say!
As a matter of fact, there are no set qualifications for becoming a United States Supreme Court Justice. You don’t even have to be a lawyer, although all of them have been…to date.
If I were President, me, I know who I would nominate: The Right Honorable James Newell Osterberg, Jr. You may be more familiar with his musician’s moniker of IGGY POP. Yes, I would wish to appoint Mr. Osterberg to the highest court of the land, and I will tell you why:
-- Iggy is one smart dude. Don’t let all that shirtless and reckless rock n’ roll excess fool you; underneath that punkish and abused exterior is the heart of an intellectual. Don’t believe me? Hey, the guy, when not working with David Bowie or the Teddybears or The Stooges or the Boss Martians or scads of other musicians, actors, filmmakers, and artists, might be writing an article for a scholarly journal, as he did in 1995 in Classics Ireland.
-- He brings the outsiders’ view to an insular place…way way way outsider, like former drug addict, physically-challenged person (he has one leg markedly-shorter than the other), and once played both a vacuum and a blender onstage. Take that, Clarence Thomas!
-- He’s old enough to know stuff and young enough to shake things up.
I have total faith that Mr. Osterberg would surround himself with the finest and coolest legal clerks available, that he would study and consider each case to the best of his ability, and would be removed from the bench after one term for calling out the other judges or standing on tables.
I will never be President, and Iggy Pop will never sit on the Supreme Court. But maybe it is indeed a good thing to think outside of the box a bit for our next judge, even if one of the progenitors of modern punk/hard rock music could never make it through the confirmation process. I’d even take someone who liked the Stooges.