Balkinization  

Sunday, December 03, 2006

If Supreme Court Justices Were Rock Stars

JB

(What, you mean they aren't?)

This parlor game emerged from dinner table discussions at the Schmooze. Match Supreme Court Justices with the Rock/Pop/Country artist who has the same basic "style" in their opinion writing, and give your reasons. But always remember, we're focusing on the style, not the politics.

Some of my favorites:

  • Sandra Day O'Connor-- Britney Spears. (The early Britney, pre-K-Fed, not the later, trashy Britney.) Artistically incoherent but enormously successful attempts to appeal to the exact center of popular taste.
  • William Rehnquist-- David Byrne of Talking Heads, Blondie, Devo. Unsentimental, terse, and cleverly ironic 80's New Wave post-punk. (Psycho-Killer could easily be a Rehnquist opinion except, of course, for the use of French. No foreign sources in our Constitution, thank you.).
  • Anthony Kennedy-- Lionel Richie, Barry Manilow. Overly earnest ballads that set your teeth on edge.
  • Clarence Thomas-- Prince, Lou Reed. Key aesthetic ideal: I don't give a **** what *you* think. The Justice Formerly Known as Clarence.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg-- Alanis Morissette. A Jagged Little Constitution.
  • Antonin Scalia-- Meat Loaf. Histrionic Opera Rock.
  • David Souter-- Paul Simon. Bookish, a little too insular and self-contained. Still crazy after all these years.
  • John Paul Stevens-- Willie Nelson. Crusty, independent, been around forever. (But what about his vote in the marijuana case?)
  • Stephen Breyer-- Nobody. Stephen Breyer doesn't rock and roll.

We didn't know enough about Sam Alito and John Roberts to match them to anyone yet. But in the fullness of time we will know if they are the Clash or just Richard Marx.

Feel free to offer your own nominations-- and your reasons-- in the comments.


Comments:

Wow. Whatever they're servin' at the schmooze, I want some. "Jagged Little Constitution"? "Prince, Lou Reed"? You have blown my surrealism circuits with this one. (Do you really think Stevens is most likely to get busted with psilocybin?)
B^)
 

The possibilities are endless:

Sam Alito -- Clay Aiken. We weren't convinced he was talented, but he was the best candidate on TV at the time.

John Roberts -- Dave Grohl. Sang backup for a hugely influential Reinquist before doing his own thing.
 

Scalia is Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. Histrionic, operatic, but knocks you on your ass when he opens his mouth.
 

Here's a few:

Kennedy=Donovan. Wants to be Dylan, but isn't.

Scalia=Steve Albini. Smart, but not as smart as he thinks. Has an unfortunate habit of pissing people off, on purpose.

Roberts=Randy Newman. Pleasant demeanor conceals mordant wit and cynicism.
 

Seems good, but I have a couple of quibbles. First of all, Justice Scalia's obviously Ted Nugent. And I think of Justice Kennedy as more like Dennis DeYoung of Styx. Justice Breyer is Todd Rundgren.
 

I should think Roberts and Alito are Seals & Crofts, singing Unborn Child. (Based on philosophy, though, as they've written few lyrics to date).
 

From a liberal trial law friend of mine:

Scalia as Cher and Thomas as Sonny Bono. Scalia is a talented but histrionic screamer. Thomas a mere afterthought follow-on sidekick -- a seeming buffoon who does happen to have an independent brain lurking underneath (but you would never know it, at least at not until he divorces Scalia). Plus Scalia would look mighty fine straddling the guns of a Navy battleship in that fishnet thong getup from the "If I Could Turn Back Time" video (which is also a anthem wholly apropos of Scalia's jurisprudence).
 

Sam Alito: Steve Augeri, hired by the remaining members of Journey to replace lead man Steve Perry because of the haunting similarity of his voice to their most popular member.
 

Not only doesn't Justice Breyer rock and roll, but it's well-known that his wife Joanna does not dance.

Thus may it truly be said of Chloe, Nell and Michael that their momma don't dance, and their daddy don't rock and roll.

But you won't catch me saying it.
 

"Scalia as Cher and Thomas as Sonny Bono. Scalia is a talented but histrionic screamer. Thomas a mere afterthought follow-on sidekick -- a seeming buffoon who does happen to have an independent brain lurking underneath (but you would never know it, at least at not until he divorces Scalia)."

Oh, barf. The "Thomas is Scalia's sidekick" idea might have been tenable in the first few years Thomas was on the Court, but is well past its expiration date now. Indeed, I'd consider Prince too inclined to Scalia-esque histrionics to be an appropriate comparison for Thomas, though Lou Reed works better.
 

kargo x: But you won't catch me saying it.

Popper might. :)
 

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