Dear Mr. President,
It is difficult not to roll my eyes at the media's obsession with Joe Biden's use of profanity today at the bill signing. As though the bill itself is less significant than the knowledge that the Vice-President uses curse words. I think most thinking adults find this wholly unsurprising. Any one who pretends genuine offense either has forgotten the previous administration's VP entirely or is just too upset about health care reform to be reasonable. Also, with all due respect to VP Biden, on the scale of embarrassing things that he's said into a microphone, this barely registers.
Anyway, since it is such an apparently slow news day, I thought I'd offer a bit of fiction. I doubt very much you've seen the old TV show The West Wing, but, as I watch the first season for the millionth time, it's difficult not to be amused at the parallels between your administration and the fictional Bartlet administration. Life imitating art, perhaps. The episode I'm watching tonight centers around the administration's struggle to nominate the first Latino justice to the Supreme Court (See, it's freaky.) This has me thinking about the imminent retirement of Justice Stevens. I'll be sorry to see Justice Stevens go, though his lifetime of service to our country certainly entitles him to some rest and relaxation. It will be difficult, maybe even impossible to find some one truly worthy of replacing him, but I have faith in your administration, especially after the commendable confirmation of Justice Sotomayor.
What do you look for in judicial nominees? Do you look for individuals who share your political philosophy? As a constitutional scholar yourself, I'm sure you've got more insight into the role of the courts than most previous occupants of your office, do you think that makes the decision more difficult? How much of a factor are the political leanings of the departing justice? This process must involve a great number of people, as I suppose it rightly should. I'll hope that next month brings the announcement of another year with Justice Stevens on the court, but if it should not, I'll look forward to finding out who you'll nominate to be his successor.