Life’s endeavors, trials and tribulations are all a matter of punctuation. Yes, the overall picture is important, but so too are the details and fine tuning.
I congratulate Elena Kagan on her nomination to the land’s highest court and wish her excellent punctuation in carrying out her duties. Moreover, I wish her “seykhl”, a Yiddish term meaning “common sense”. May her tenure, once initially approved, be an ode to sense and sensibility, a nod to the betterment and justice for all, and an example of judicial wisdom and temperament, all accompanied with a great attention to the minutiae of legal ramifications of her decisions. The meat and potatoes of any judicial decision must be delineated by careful analysis of the particulars, the “punctuation”, in carrying out one’s judicial commission. The proper punctuation will translate into a clearer perspective, and bring relevance, both social and legal, to the chapter and verse of the laws of the land.
Solicitor General Kagan has never been a judge. The criticism of that fact is at the forefront of the GOP’s customary and usual punishment of anything Obama. Has that party forgotten that the last time we had a Supreme Court nominee-turned-Justice who had no prior experience as a judge was in 1972, when Nixon appointed two men to fill the bill: William Rhenquist and Louis Powell. Have our darling conservatives had a memory loss about the long tenure of Rhenquist plus the fact that he became Chief Justice? As Senator Patrick Leahy said, “The Republicans will criticize any appointment of Obama. Kagan will be approved.”
Furthermore, Kagan’s lack of experience on the bench can be a double-edged sword. Since she never occupied a judge’s seat, there is no paper trail on such hot-button issues as guns and abortion for the opposition to attack. However, there is no guarantee that she will take the liberal side of those issues either, which is a sticking point for many Progressives. Despite the deep diligence conducted by any President preceding a Supreme Court appointment, no one can ever be sure of the outcome of that Justice’s thinking and decisions. David Souter was the classic example of that hubris, having been appointed by Bush The First and ultimately being one of the most liberal voices on the Court.
President Obama has spoken of Kagan’s knowledge of the law, her suitable temperament and her role as a consensus builder. Thus, without the typical bench record to condemn or confirm her, it will be interesting to watch how this turns out. She is young, generally liberal in philosophy and not beholden to any previous judicial decisions.
I hope she uses her “punctuation” and seykhl wisely. It is going to make all the difference:
An English professor wrote the words:
“A woman without her man is nothing” on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.
All of the males in the class wrote:
“A woman, without her man, is nothing.”
All the females in the class wrote:
“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
PUNCTUATION IS POWERFUL.