Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Reading: Kagan's Senior Thesis or a Novel?

In a movie review for his elementary newspaper, The Beaverboard, the twelve year old future-Judge Cooney assessed the classic film To Kill a Mockingbird with these fateful words: "Though the picture is overall OK, it's also kind of boring in parts."  Not very good writing, even for a twelve year old, but it is the political import of the sentiment that sounds the death knell for Judge Cooney's nomination to the United States Supreme Court.  As a Senator  - who also happens to be a sworn presidential enemy who aspires to the high bench himself - phrases it, he could "not in good conscience bring myself to vote for someone who might show up at the Court on the first Monday in October wearing not black judicial robes but the white uniform of the Ku Klux Klan." 

This is the opening of Christopher Buckley's novel, Supreme Courtship, published in 2008 and more timely than ever. 

Cover So far, no movie or book reviews from SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan's elementary school days have surfaced, although her senior college thesis, To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933, is making the rounds, garnering comments (NYT here) and is available here. 

However, for those looking for summer reading of the more creative - - - and humorous sort - - - a better bet would is Buckley's novel.  After the fictional Judge Cooney and another highly qualified nominee are nixed, the highly unpopular president nominates an unconventional choice - - - an exceedingly popular television judge, Pepper Cartwright.  She's confirmed.  The Court she joins is more diverse than our own, an interesting touch.  But there's romance, politics, and skullduggery and a fairly fast-paced plot.   It's not great writing, and nothing is lost by listening to it in its rendition by Anne Heche. [MP3 audio clip here]

All in all, the novel is a romp, but it's satire that isn't so far off the mark. 


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