Another Perspective

Surviving the Georgetown Circuit

The President will have to subject potential Supreme Court nominees to some serious judicial tests.

By 7.7.05

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As President Bush prepares to announce his first Supreme Court nominee, we'll no doubt be hearing about all sorts of "judicial tests." There is, of course, the litmus test for abortion. There is also the left-wing bite mark test, as undoubtedly People For the American Way, the Alliance For Justice, and Ted Kennedy's staff are readying the chum buckets for the media sharks.

There is a lesser-known test called the Georgetown Cocktail Party Test. It's "lesser known" because I just made it up. However, if you don't believe that the U.S. Constitution mandates taxpayer subsidies of performance artists smearing chocolate all over their bodies, you should demand that the Bushies administer the Georgetown Cocktail Party Test to all potential nominees.

As far as I can tell, having now lived in D.C. for almost a year, the biggest problem facing Supreme Court Justices is posed by the after-hours get-togethers in the tony area of the Beltway. The acceptable opinion at most Georgetown cocktail parties is decidedly liberal, and a Justice will be invited to many of them during his or her tenure. The pressure will eventually wear down a wishy-washy Justice like Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, or David Souter. Anyone whose principles are not rock solid can only hear, "Oh, Sandy, did you really have to rule that school vouchers were constitutional?" so many times before she feels the need to win plaudits next time by upholding campaign-finance reform.

Thus, to satisfy conservatives the Bush Administration must require all potential nominees to take a multiple choice exam testing how they would react to likely conversational settings at Georgetown cocktail parties. Below are some suggested exam questions:

1. A gentleman next to you says, "The New York Times op-ed page is the finest in the land." How would you respond?

A. Raise your glass and say, "Ah, the New York Times."
B. "Yes, I agree. And that Paul Krugman deserves a Nobel Prize!"
C. "Some mothers need to confiscate their kids' crayons before they leave the house in the morning."

2. A woman with so much hairspray that you are afraid to light a match exclaims, "Those awful Republicans are cutting all those social programs! The poor will suffer so much!" Do you:

A. Nod politely.
B. Respond, "Yes, and not only that, we need to do something about the root causes of poverty."
C. Say, "Maybe it would help if unwed mothers had only two kids instead of three before they reached their seventeenth birthday."

3. A skinny man with long, gray hair stands next to you and nervously says, "Crime is just terrible. So often society is to blame." You reply:

A. "Yes, crime is a tragedy."
B. "Yes, and not only that, we need to do something about the root causes of crime."
C. "I have two friends who know exactly how to solve crime. Their names are Smith and Wesson."

4. A couple who says they are originally from California start speaking highly of Senator Barbara Boxer. How do you reply?

A. "Yeah, that Boxer, she's something."
B. "She's great! I can't wait to read her new novel!"
C. "Boxer is useful. We need a few of her in Congress to remind us what socialists are like."

5. A gruff woman accosts you and in a raised voice says, "Women need to have the right to an abortion! Men are the proof of that!" Do you reply:

A. "I'm sorry, you are?"
B. "You know, Andrea Dworkin is one of my favorite authors!"
C. "Ma'am, was your daddy 'whipped'?

Any judge who answers "C" to every question should be nominated immediately. Georgetown cocktail parties are unlikely to soften him, and even if they would there is little reason to worry since those answers will ensure that he is not invited back.

A potential nominee who throws in a few "A" answers is okay, but should be regarded with a bit of suspicion. And the nominee who answers "B" to any of the questions, well, President Bush should sit him down and say, "You know, I like the job you're doing as Attorney General so much that I want to keep you there."

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David Hogberg is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.  Follow David Hogberg on Twitter.