The news outlet finds…curious reasons to excuse away the judge of the people.
The announcement by Supreme Court Justice Kennedy that he would be retiring has generated all manner of reaction from the left. Democrats expressed outrage at the appointment, with Chuck Schumer accusing Mitch McConnell of hypocrisy for allowing a vote ahead of an election when he disallowed a justice vote in Obama’s final year.
(For the record, McConnell was actually following a standard placed by Schumer himself, in 2007. Also, Justice Kagan was approved for the bench in August 2010, a mid-term year.)
Many have declared that they will oppose a new Trump nominee outright, with numerous reasons given — It should wait for the election to complete; GOP “stole” the SCOTUS seat from Justice Garland; the Gorsuch appointment is invalid due to the nuclear option used; Trump cannot appoint while being investigated. Basically the Democrats are creating garbage truck fires and then complaining about the aroma.
The press is no less imbalanced it seems. They are broadcasting all opposition arguments as sane, while offering up their own insane rationales. This brings us to Justice Don Willett, a once popular figure with conservative twitter. If you are unfamiliar, Willett was an engaging, funny and authoritative source on the web. He always peppered his content with pop culture nods and a wry — some would say a Dad’s — sense of humor.
At the start of the new year Willett pulled back from social media when the former Texas Supreme Court Judge moved to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is still able to produce a grin at times. A few weeks ago, as a sign of his everyman appeal, he was being name-dropped after an opinion of his was entered where he had quoted Biggie Smalls’ “Mo Money Mo Problems”. That rather broad appeal has led one outlet to look askance at the popular justice, and find problems.
In an ABC News article I strove to consider as parody — “Examining a potential SCOTUS nominee’s odd social media habits” — I have yet to confirm such. The writer, Adia Robinson, displays a history of rather straightforward writing. Here she looks at Willett’s past social offerings and declares “The Supreme Court has maintained that the strict code of conduct that applies to lower court judges does not apply to them, but that doesn’t mean that the legal community looks favorably on justices making public comments.”
Posting a tweet pledging to serve based on Rick Astley lyrics is apparently cause for concern, according to Robinson. Seriously. A scroll through Willet’s timeline will deliver you any manner of similar engagement; patriotism, Calvin and Hobbes comics, shots of his kids or Star Wars references. What you will be hard pressed to find is anything controversial, but that does not excuse Willett from Robinson’s tough analysis. She even finds constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley declaring how these kind of tweets damage the integrity of the court. Seriously.
What type of disqualifying comments are we shown? Musical references and pictures of dogs. These are declared the questionable subjects Willett invoked. Even his stance on food is cited as reason to be concerned with his ability to adjudicate properly.
Willett, at the time a justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, tweeted out his son confusing “Eminem” and “eminent,” a picture of three puppies and a picture of cornbread shaped like his home state. But with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his retirement on Wednesday, and Willett’s name appearing on a list of Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees, the judge’s frequent tweeting last year raises questions for some of judicial impartiality.
Yes, she went from cornbread, directly to “impartiality”. When the press exceeds the boundaries of parody they manage to sap all enjoyment of making fun of them — almost. Texas-shaped cornbread impacts impartiality?!?! Are they concerned he will have a ruling that affects foodstuffs native to the 49 other states? Will his tweets of puppies create a rift on the bench with any judicial cat lovers? Does his posting an image of a Jedi X-wing fighter towing Santa’s sleigh mean he needs to recuse himself from any religious decisions?
One thing that has become a regular feature from journalists in the era of Trump is how they manage to disqualify themselves with their own arguments. In this fashion Adia unplugs her own warning sign, without even realizing she does so:
“Willett hasn’t tweeted since joining the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals at the beginning of this year, states the eagle-eyed reporter, “but it remains to be seen whether or not his tweets will interfere with any potential nomination.” No, it does not remain to be seen. We have already seen it.
It is patently clear that Willet’s past of humorous tweets did not interfere with his promotion to the Fifth Court — an observation she fails to make. Nobody raised so much as an argument or any other form of resistance based on his tweeting a picture of bobbleheads of historic judges. But lurch as she may, Robinson will see to it that as many people as possible know about Justice Willet’s position that cornbread should be in the shape of Texas.
I’ll wager she will have a slightly harder time explaining how this invalidates any possible nomination to the highest Court in our nation.