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Gore For the Supreme Court

May 5, 2009

Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker argues that Al Gore would make an unorthodox but effective Supreme Court justice to replace David Souter. Hertzberg argues that Gore, while not a lawyer, would nonetheless bring legal expertise to the bench, along with other qualities not found in the current make-up of the court.

The biggest objection to putting Al Gore on the Supreme Court, I assume, would be that he’s not a lawyer. But is this really a bug rather than a feature? Gore spent sixteen years in Congress, where he helped make the laws, and eight as Vice-President, where he took care that the laws were faithfully executed. His perspective would fill some giant blind spots on the present Court, which is made up entirely of former federal appeals-court judges who have little or no political experience, have never been elected to anything, and have a strikingly narrow experience of life in general.

I think the political realities that Hertzberg discusses in the article would scuttle Gore’s chances…he’s too old and politically controversial. But I’d like to see Gore take his place on the bench anyway. Not necessarily because he has the best judicial mind or because he’d be such a strong voice for a progressive application of the law. (I’m not even sure if either of those things is true. The future decisions of Supreme Court nominees are typically very difficult to predict, no matter their body of decisions prior to being nominated.) But, rather, because I’d just like to see someone, anyone, compile a resume like his. It’d be historically accomplished and almost statistically impossible: Vietnam Veteran, Divinity student, Congressman, Senator, Vice-President, Author, Documentary Film Maker, Oscar Winner, Emmy Winner, Nobel Prize Winner, Grammy Winner…Supreme Court Justice. His life and career would be the fodder for future generations of Trivial Pursuit players, at the very least.

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