Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2006 / 16 Teves, 5766

What's with these hardscrabble tales from Supreme Court nominees?

By James Lileks


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees are expected to open with Stirring Tales of Humble Upbringings, then we should be honest and move the venue to Oprah's couch.


Apparently the citizens who fear that Samuel Alito will repeal the eleventy-second Amendment — you know, the one with the rights to privacy and prescription drugs from Canada — are supposed to be mollified by a tale of hardscrabble determination.


Well, it won't work, and this biography-is-destiny approach is misguided. Let us imagine two fictional nominees whose "life stories" have informed their attitudes toward the Constitution, and see which one you'd prefer. Cue Straw Man No. 1:


"Thank you for letting me into the Senate today. Pardon my suit; back where I come from, they're all made of hay.


"I was born at the bottom of a coal mine to poor parents — my mother died before I was conceived, and my father made a living carving balsa-wood peg legs for sailors. Didn't get much repeat business, as you can imagine. Every night he'd tell me and my 32 siblings that one day we were all going to go to college, and when we got there, we should gather up everything that looked valuable and run it back here to the house.


"But sometimes he'd take me aside and tell me I could go to college and stay there. I could improve myself. I could go to med school, and maybe learn how to sew an extra arm on my side. `It'd come in handy in a card game,' he said.


"I don't think he meant it as a joke. Jokes were for rich people. At most we could afford a limerick around Christmas. But I never forgot what he meant, and as I sit here today, the first man in my family with a college degree and a wife with teeth and an extra arm, I am reminded that America is a wonderful place where a man can be named to the highest court in the land on the strength of biographical anecdotes.


"So I pledge myself to judge the law according to my personal circumstances, and contort the Founders' wishes to help the groups who most closely mirror the economic circumstances of my formative years. Thank you."


It would be refreshing if a nominee told a different story:


"Gentlemen, and I use the terms in conformance with its most elastic definition, I submit to this appearance with equal amounts of rue and bemusement, particularly since it falls during the time I usually thrash my footman for sins both real and contemplated. It seems I must explain myself to a series of low-born mountebanks and trust-fund wastrels, in order to ingratiate myself with the herd of sheep over whom my rulings will fall. Very well.


"I was born in a manger, surrounded by farm animals, attended by wandering kings — Mother had entered one of her rustic moods, and had the servants build a creche in the west ballroom. The kings were authentic, mostly second-tier low-country rabble, but one of them, a rather sweaty Belgian, told my mother I had the mark of greatness on me.


"He referred, of course, to this birthmark on my skull in the shape of the Masonic emblem; it is the reason I shave my head, of course.


"In any case, I attended expensive colleges, served as judge for two decades, translated the Federalist Papers into six languages. I will rule according to the words of the Constitution, and damn the consequences. Now if you don't mind, I am late for my weekly colonic irrigation with a solution of ambergris and champagne. So get on with it."


The first fellow would be the national darling. Senators would strew petals in his path; Newsweek would crown him "The People's Justice." If he later found that the Constitution contained an unlimited number of heretofore undiscovered rights, his name would adorn elementary schools across the land. The latter example would be regarded as Count Borkula, and find himself working a hand-cart to Obscurity Junction with Harriet Miers. Which would be better suited to uphold the Constitution?


Depends whether you pronounce "uphold" as "interpret." Or even "invent."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

ARCHIVES


© 2006, James Lileks

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles