Bench Memos

All Fun and Games

One of the perversely charming things about Sandra Day O’Connor has always been her utter lack of self-awareness.  Her 25-year pratfall through constitutional law was like the bumbling of Hrundi V. Bakshi, the clueless klutz played by Peter Sellers in the cult classic 1968 film The Party.  Bakshi has no idea what people think of him, and when he gets a glimmer of their opinion, he hasn’t the slightest notion why it is what it is. 

So it is with Justice O’Connor’s emerita career of complaining about the rest of us complaining about “judicial activism”–always in the scare quotes when Queen Sandra uses the phrase.  (The alternative, that she is, cynically, perfectly aware of what the issues are and prattles on in this fashion anyway, doesn’t bear thinking about.)  In her latest attempt to silence criticism of the indefensible–as Ramesh alerts us over on The Corner–O’Connor is hawking a video game designed to indoctrinate 7th-to-9th graders on the need for an independent judiciary, by which O’Connor means judges who can do whatever they like to the law without any consequences for their tyrannies large and small.  The only reason this will do less damage than Grand Theft Auto is that kids won’t think it’s as much fun.

At the video-gaming conference where this modern version of Huxley’s hypnopaedia was introduced, O’Connor had this pearl of wisdom to offer:

“We hear a great deal about judges who are activists–godless, secular, humanists trying to impose their will on the rest of us,” she said. “Now I always thought an activist judge was one who got up in the morning and went to work.”

Cute.  Hrundi Bakshi only wrecked a Hollywood producer’s home in that Blake Edwards film.  Justice O’Connor’s wreckage is what’s left of constitutional jurisprudence in her wake–at the cost of many, many lives.

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