Sunday, April 11, 2010

Important Confirmation Question?

I am sure that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are, even now, preparing lists of questions for the person that President Obama eventually selects to replace Justice Stevens.  Pundits everywhere will try to determine how this person will affect the balance of power on the court, what voting blocks will be reshaped by the new justice.  Will the new Justice be able to stand up to Justice Scalia as Justice Stevens is perceived to have done.

Here’s a little known fact (at least I didn’t know it); there was one area that Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens agreed upon:

And as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, the Supreme Court boasts some of the most prominent Oxfordians in the land. Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has signed a "declaration of doubt" about Shakespeare's authorship. Justice Antonin Scalia has publicly acknowledged his belief that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays. So has Justice John Paul Stevens, who has been declared "Oxfordian of the Year."

On what side will the new justice fall on this all important question? Maybe this is something the U.S. Senate could flesh out for us in the confirmation hearings.  After all it couldn’t be any more pointless a question than most of the discussion that takes place at confirmation hearings.  And it would at least be entertaining.

Although the Senators shouldn’t rely too much on the answers.  The views of many Supreme Court Justices evolve over the years and their views on the law at the beginnings of their terms don’t always match their views at the end of their term.  Why, even Justice Stevens evolved:

A quarter-century ago all this was unimaginable. In fact, Stevens, along with fellow Justices Harry Blackmun and William Brennan, ruled unanimously in favor of Shakespeare and against the Earl of Oxford in a celebrated moot court in 1987. The objection to Oxford's authorship was obvious: Because he died in 1604, he could not have written, sometimes in active collaboration with other dramatists, 10 or so plays after that (including "Henry VIII," described by contemporaries as "new" when staged in 1613).

Shakespeare.  Appropriate to all settings.

By the way I found this story via The Valve, which also contained an interesting post entitled “Mrs. Astor and King Lear” comparing the real life Brooke Astor to the fictional king.   I recommend it.  But let’s hope that all of this Shakespeare doesn’t presage Senate Hearings that can be compared to a Shakespearen comedy.