Sunday, February 14, 2016

That crap going on in Washington

So a Supreme Court justice dies in a presidential election year. Oh boy is the political wrangling for months on end going to be fun. If we do get any confirmation hearings before the election, I think I'd rather watch Advise and Consent than the real thing which will just be a bunch of grandstanding.

Of course, Advise and Consent isn't about a Supreme Court nomination, but the principle is the same. As for the Supreme Court, it doesn't show up that much in the movies just because, I think, the Supreme Court really isn't that exciting and therefore it's not well-suited to movies about it. Trying a case before the Supreme Court isn't like in a regular court, and even in those regular courts Hollywood's portrayals of trials is notoriously inaccurate. But as for the Supreme Court, as I understand it, the arguments are just a half hour a side, with the justices asking questions. One justice notorious for not asking questions says it's fairly pointless and that reading the briefs filed beforehand is more important.

Gideon's Trumpet, about the workings of the case that became Gideon v. Wainwright as it made its way through the court system and ultimately to the Supreme Court, was a TV movie and really less about the Supreme Court than about the people aruging for Gideon (played by Henry Fonda).

First Monday in October stars Walter Matthau as a Supreme Court justice who winds up sparing verbally with the first female justice (Jill Clayburgh), although I have to admit to not having seen this one before.

The Magnificent Yankee stars Louis Calhern as Oliver Wendell Holmes, the fourth-generation imbecile and Supreme Court justice who famously wrote in a Supreme Court decision allowing the government to use the power of the state to forcibly sterilize women that "three generations of imbeciles is enough". No, those old time justices weren't paragons of virtue.

The Chief Justice of the United States is the person charged with presiding over the Senate trial of any President who should find himself impeached, so in Tennessee Johnson, about the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson (Van Heflin), we get to see Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase (Montagu Love).

Finally, I distinctly recall a Looney Tunes cartoon where Daffy Duck is up against Bugs (or possibly Porky Pig, but more likely Bugs) and, in a moment of exasperation, exclaims, "I'll take this to the highest court in the land!" the joke, of course, is that we expect this to be the Supreme Court, where in fact the next scene shows Daffy trying to get to a courthouse that's 10,000 feet above sea level. Anybody remember which cartoon this was?

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