There are times when I honestly can’t tell the difference between satire and proposals made in earnest. Jeffrey Rosen’s op-ed in the Washington Post, suggesting that President Obama nominate himself for the next Supreme Court opening, is an instance of that. Mr. Rosen lauds the president’s educational background, his presumed judicial philosophy, and his restrained temperament.
He also points to the example of Earl Warren as that of a politician appointed to the court with little or no judicial experience. The example is poorly chosen.
Earl Warren was, arguably, the most popular politician in America. By the time he was nominated to the Supreme Court, Warren had held elective office in his home state of California for fifteen years. He had been elected as Attorney General in 1938, nominated by the Republican, Democratic, and Progressive Parties. He had been elected governor of California three times, still the only person to have done so.
But, most importantly, he had demonstrated an appetite for the activity of governing, something he manifested throughout his tenure as Chief Justice.
That’s something we have yet to see in President Obama. We know that he likes to run for office, we know that he likes to be in the public eye, and we know that he likes to give speeches. So far I, at least, have yet to see any real interest on his part for the fine, detail work of holding political office. That’s something at least as necessary for a justice of the Supreme Court as it is for a president.