October 6, 2005

This is an insult to Jim Rice

Carroll Andrew Morse

This started off as an oh-so-serious post. In today’s OpinionJournal, Peggy Noonan endorses the idea of fixed terms for Supreme Court justices…

I find myself lately not passionately supporting or opposing any particular nominee. But I'd give a great deal to see Supreme Court justices term-limited. They should be picked not for life but for a specific term of specific length, and then be released back into the community. This would involve amending the Constitution. Why not? We'd amend it to ban flag-burning, even though a fool burning a flag can't possibly harm our country. But a Kelo decision and a court unrebuked for it can really tear the fabric of a nation.
After agreeing with Ms. Noonan’s reasoning, I was going to go ahead and add another idea of my own -- there’s something profoundly anti-democratic about a system that can allow the deaths of its rulers to influence the shape of the law.

To help make my argument, I went to look up some facts on how frequently Supreme Court Justices die in office. I found a website called Oyez that seemed to have the information I needed. Eventually, I learned that the death of a Supreme Court Justice while in office is not as common today as it was in the past.

However, on the way to discovering this fact, I noticed that every Justice’s page at Oyez has a link labeled “baseball” on the side. It turns out that Oyez assigns a most similar baseball player to every justice in the history of the court. Some of them make sense, e.g. John Marshall = Babe Ruth. Some of them are just bizarre, like Steven Breyer = Jim Rice. I don't get that one.

If you are a political geek and a sports fan, and you have some free internet time today, you might find the comparisons interesting. Or not.