COLUMN: A new name in justice

Don Norvelle

As the Supreme Court convenes for the 2006 fiscal year with a brand new chief justice, one question looms over the nation with a fury that can only be the result of partisan politics: Who will replace Sandra Day O’Connor?

Despite threats of committee delays, filibusters and other shameless tactics, it is imperative that the president disregard political correctness and all other demands to employ standards which are irrelevant to selecting a sound jurist.

The president must appoint someone who truly understands and respects the Constitution.

The president must appoint someone who will mold coherent case law.

The president must appoint me!

Never attending law school is irrelevant. According to the second edition of the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, nine justices were self- taught. I am self-taught. I read the Constitution at least once per month. I keep a copy in my back pocket whenever I leave home.

I have visited the Legal Information Institute ( innumerable times. I actually find it fun to read statutes and court opinions. You may remember last spring when I cited legislation thirteen times in one column (“Death and taxes, but mostly taxes”).

Furthermore, not being a lawyer provides me with two very important qualities which are extremely difficult to find in modern politics: morals and a soul.

The absence of these two qualities is the final cause of all the senseless bickering that occurs in D.C. and the various state capitals. Not being corrupted by political favors, party bullying and other such scourges allows me to be a beacon of hope in that otherwise God-forsaken Hell-hole.

However, my most important qualification is that I would not be an activist judge.

Unlike activist judges, I understand that the Constitution only changes whenever an amendment is ratified. If the courts were allowed to rewrite the Constitution to suit their whims, the amendment process would be meaningless. One could get the same result 100 times faster by bribing a judge.

While activist judges will not hesitate to create an illogical mess of case law to support policy desires, I would remain true to the meaning of the Constitution.

I understand that legal documents are not written in a vacuum. They are written by people of a particular time and place; therefore, they are subject to changes in style and changes in the definitions of words. Legal documents must be understood in the context of when and where they were written. Professor Eugene Volokh’s paper “The Commonplace Second Amendment” ( is a perfect example of the exegetical insight I would employ when deciding cases.

I know that some poor FBI agent has to read college newspapers looking for agitators, and I sincerely hope he will pass this resume on to the president. Regardless of how the rest of his presidency will be remembered, he could at least take pride in defying all conventions to nominate the absolute best person for the job.

Besides, I would look darn sexy in one of those snazzy black robes.

I rest my case.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].