BY R. REDDI
This article was published in the Harvard Law Record‘s 2009 April Fools’ Day issue.
President Barack H. Obama ’91 shocked the nation today in a joint announcement with Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg by indicating that the cancer-stricken Ginsburg will be stepping down from her position immediately to undergo intensive chemotherapy and allow the President to nominate as her replacement First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama ’88.
“Michelle is a highly-qualified graduate of Harvard Law School, and as a scholar of constitutional law, I can assure you that her experience as an attorney, businesswoman, community organizer and political strategist gives her the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to understand and fairly adjudicate the complex legal and moral questions facing the Court today,” said President Obama in the press conference where the nomination was announced. “Why just the other day I saw her exercise masterful judgment to finally settle the dispute between Malia and Sasha over which dog to get for the family.”
When asked what impact the nominaton would have on the children, the President said, “You know, the kids have the funniest reactions to things. I mean, the first thing Sasha said when we sat the girls down and told them was to ask whether it meant mommy would have to stop wearing her pretty new dresses.” As he left the podium to allow Ginsburg to speak he was seen giving the First Lady a surrepetitious fist bump.
Justice Ginsburg expressed a wholehearted endorsement of the choice of the First Lady as her replacement on the highest court. “The nomination of Michelle Obama to be the First African-American Woman to serve on the Supreme Court is a landmark moment in the history of both African-Americans and Women. As the First First Lady to become a member of the Court, Michelle will show the world that women can rise up and take hold of the reigns and be the final arbiters of their own destiny. I am terribly excited to be a part of so many important Firsts, and I am thrilled that there will finally be a woman on the Court strong enough to scare the bejesus out of Scalia.”
President Obama concluded the press conference by noting that the most important factor in his decision had been his deep conviction that the First Lady would bring the right judicial philosophy to the Supreme Court. “I have had a long time to examine her decisionmaking record through decisions ranging from is the proper means of ensuring diversity in our community’s schools or the stance we should take toward big corporations like Wal-Mart, and I have deep faith that in every case that comes before her she will exercise extraordinary prudence and come out with a well reasoned decision which protects the disadvantaged and supports the role of the Courts as the guarantor of our freedoms.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed optimism about the potential for a swift confirmation of the First Lady. “We were well informed that this announcement would be pending. There was some concern that it might raise legal issues regarding nepotism, but the President had a memo from the Office of Legal Counsel which put all our fears to rest. I don’t think the Republicans can do anything to stop us now.” Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) had an afternoon meeting with the First Lady to discuss her forthcoming confirmation hearings, and some aides said that prior to the meeting he had been openly incredulous of the nomination. After the meeting, however, a White House staffer stated that Specter emerged browbeaten and submissive, apologetically murmuring before a towering, stern-browed Michelle Obama. “The First Lady had sucked in her upper lip and was pumping her fist just like the time Oprah tried to tell her what to wear,” said the anonymous source.
Back on Capitol Hill, Republicans were steaming over their apparent powerlessness to prevent the confirmation of the First Lady, whom various Senators were heard deriding as a “community organizer” and “activist.” “We’ve waged a long campaign against judicial activism on this committee, and I’ll be damned if this Vanity Fair cover girl is going to tiptoe onto the High Court,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senator Chuck Grassley was equally virulent in his opposition to the appointment. “I joined this committee to apply a strict litmus test to all judicial nominees. I look for appointees with a fair and balanced view of the law, slightly astringic views on government powers and a mildly alkaline approach toward business. As far as I’m concerned, Michelle Obama will douse the Constitution in hydrochloric acid and then pour on the baking soda of judge-made law.”
The news came to the chagrin of Solicitor General and former Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan ’86, who had widely been seen as the front-runner for nomination to the Court. She declined to comment on the nomination, stating that it would be improper for her to say anything about a matter which might ultimately be the subject of litigation for the United States. However, fellow Harvard Law School professor and Obama appointee Daniel Meltzer ’75 was heard saying that it was obvious to people close to her that she was quite disappointed. “Elena has been so fashion-forward since being confirmed as Solicitor General. She bought a whole new wardrobe of really sharp pant suits, had a new haircut, and was looking really put together. This afternoon, when we met for lunch after the announcement, she was back to wearing the same old shapeless, Charlie Brown sweater, no make-up, and frizzy hair, just as though she was Dean Kagan again.”
Professor Charles Ogletree ’78, a close advisor of President Barack Obama, was overjoyed at the success of his former student, and stated that he was completely confident in her ability to be a member of the highest court. “Back when Michelle was at Harvard I could already tell that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to, and she has proven over and over again that no one can stand in her way on the path to success. She and Barack are such exceptional individuals, and the combinaton of their talents and resources has given us the power to build a more inclusive society for the next generation. If she is confirmed, Michelle will shape the law and the social consciousness in a way that will empower minority students to achieve their goals as she carries forward Justice Ginsburg’s legacy of protecting civil rights.” A wall chart in Professor Ogletree’s office, outlining his Seven Steps to World Domination, showed a large red check mark beside “Step 3: Get Michelle on the Court”. Steps one and two, “Get Barack in Senate” and “Get Barack in White House,” also were marked with checks. The fourth through seventh steps, “Get Barack Reelected”, “Replace Stevens with Latino Swing Vote”, “Get Deval in White House”, and “Stack the Court with Barack” remained unchecked.
The Senate is expected to vote on Obama’s nomination by the end of April. If confirmed, the First Lady would become only the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court and would perpetuate the absurd dominance of that court by HLS grads.