Constitutional Rorschach Test (or Zen Koan)

“I have a lifetime job.  He doesn’t.”

Justice Kennedy, responding to a question at Pepperdine about the President’s criticism of Citizens United.

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6 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    I’ll hazard a guess at an interpretation: so therefore he doesn’t give a **** if he screws up the process whereby people get elected for non-lifetime jobs?

  2. Ken Rhodes says:

    >>I’ll hazard a guess at an interpretation: so therefore he doesn’t give a **** if he screws up the process whereby people get elected for non-lifetime jobs?>>

    I think that’s unnecessarily cynical, especially since he was in the majority. Rather, I think, he’s saying he doesn’t give a **** if some guy with a law degree and a little professional experience in that field happens to disagree with him.

  3. Jackson Pollack says:

    some guy with a law degree and a little professional experience

    Who will be appointing your new colleagues.

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    Ken: If he weren’t in the majority, he couldn’t screw things up. And, to shave with Occam’s Razor: his remark applies to anyone in elected office, regardless of experience, so your inference may be unsupported. Jackson: unfortunately, it’s most likely C.U. minority Justices who’ll be retiring next; given the politics in the Senate, their replacements will probably be closer to Kennedy’s views than they are.

  5. Ken Rhodes says:

    AJ wrote>>Ken: If he weren’t in the majority, he couldn’t screw things up.>>

    Yes, that is logically correct. My point, however, was that since he was in the majority he was entitled to believe that he *didn’t* screw things up. In which case the opposing view expressed by Justice Stevens, also a distinguished jurist, probably would deserve a suitable refutation, but an off-hand slap by a non-jurist merited no more than a casual dismissal.

    >>And, to shave with Occam’s Razor: his remark applies to anyone in elected office, regardless of experience,>>

    Well, your use of “applies” is a presumption on your part. His remark was specifically about a specific comment by a specific person–a person of great importance, to be sure, but not a distinguished jurist. I would guess that Justice Kennedy would be much more concerned about the disagreement of his four colleagues, also distinguished jurists, than he would about a politician in elective office. That, of course, is simply my guess, but it conforms to the wording of his remark.

  6. Alan says:

    Could we please see the question to which Kennedy was responding, and the rest of Kennedy’s response (if any)? Is that really too much to ask?

    Anyway, out of context, I interpret this statement as just a snide putdown of Obama as someone whose views of the First Amendment don’t matter much, because he’s just a politician, not a judge.