"My only recommendation is that they nominate someone who is 12 or 13 years old."
-- A quip from Grover Norquist,
president of Americans for Tax Reform,
as he talked about ensuring a long-term
conservative influence on the Supreme Court; the New York Times, July 3
To: K.R., Deputy Chief of Staff
From: Director, "Supreme Court 2075" Project, White House Long-Term Legacy Office
Karl, here is the list you requested. First, let me say that you guys are doing a great job distracting the media with all the talk about Alberto Gonzales and the other forty- and fifty-somethings supposedly being considered. Meanwhile, we're pursuing Grover's idea. If the Dems want a fresh face, we'll give them one.
(Added upside: No one on the list has much of a track record to pick apart. Unfortunate downside: These future leaders of America send waaaaay too many e-mails and IMs. When WILL they learn not to write it down? I was up all night reading one candidate's personal blog. I don't think we want the FBI background checkers anywhere near that guy.)
We've narrowed the list to five:
Tommy Garcia, 12. Two-time winner of "best crossing guard of the month" honors at his alma mater, Laredo Elementary, Tommy is known for being tough, but fair, on jaywalkers.
Pluses: Tommy's personal story is compelling. He's the son of Mexican immigrants who settled in Laredo, Texas, looking to make a better life. His nomination would appeal to the Latino vote. That he's a Texan surely won't hurt him with the Big Guy, either.
Minuses: At age 12, the youngest person being considered, Tommy may not yet have the "gravitas" generally desired in a justice. He also says he doesn't want to give up his paper route.
Susie Santangelo, 15. The daughter of pro-life activists, Susie, a straight-A ninth-grader attending parochial school in South Bend, Ind., is known for her outgoing personality and her ability to make everyone get along. She negotiated a deal between two girls who weren't talking because they liked the same boy. She also has the respect of her peers: Last year, as captain of her middle-school cheerleading squad, she took the team to the state finals.
Pluses: Susie's strong leadership skills could help her win over her fellow justices during Supreme Court conferences. Her nomination is also likely to appeal to Italian Americans and moms of all ethnicities who like to live vicariously through their children.
Minuses: In her interview, Susie called the justices' robes "like, so unflattering." Also, at age 15, is she already "too old" for the O'Connor seat?
Sammy Malone, 13. Sammy, a seventh-grader at the Malcolm X Charter School in Chicago, is something of a current events whiz. Asked to name the current chief justice of the United States, Sammy immediately replied, "William Rehnquist," placing him easily ahead of 90 percent of American adults.
Pluses: Another great story. Sammy was floundering in a failing school when No Child Left Behind (yes!) allowed him to transfer to a better school. Now he's class president and acing his exams. One teacher called him "a young Barack Obama." (We'll ignore that.)
Minuses: Sammy has been known to downplay his Republican ties in certain situations, such as when he sits at the "cool" table in the cafeteria. This has caused some here to wonder if he'd turn out to be another Souter rather than a Thomas. But he's definitely a comer. Elected office, maybe?
Vikram Patel, 14. Vikram is president of the science fiction club and one of the few Republican students at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in New York. He came in third in the 2003 National Spelling Bee -- in the early rounds, he nailed "litigious" and "originalism," but eventually went down on "eleemosynary."
Pluses: Vikram would be the first Indian American to sit on the high court. His teachers praise his powerful intellect, and his photographic memory also should come in handy with all those legal briefs and judicial opinions.
Minuses: Some of us worry that praise for Vikram's "nuanced" thinking is just code for someone who sees two sides to every issue. Also, Vikram's former algebra teacher, Mr. Himmelsbach, told us he wouldn't be surprised if the sci-fi-crazy Vikram wrote all of his Supreme Court opinions in Klingon.
Billy Williams, 13. A youth pastor in his evangelical church, Billy is also a star Little League shortstop in his hometown outside Little Rock, Ark.
Pluses: A natural for the Christian right, the home-schooled Billy has the ideological purity of someone who has never been corrupted by a PBS "documentary" or a Hollywood movie ("The Passion of the Christ" doesn't count).
Minuses: Some of the more squishy RNC folk are concerned that Billy might alienate Justices Breyer and Ginsburg by trying to save them.
Status of vetting: We're still waiting for one or two of the parental consents we need to complete the background checks. (Speaking of which, could you pls. get the word out to the FBI field agents that they need to keep their weapons holstered while inside grade schools interviewing the candidates' old teachers??! Apparently, Susie's second-grade teacher, Ms. Brown, "freaked out" when an agent offered to pass his gun around for show-and-tell!!)
FYI, my colleagues working on the Tri-Centennial Congressional Project tell me they've identified some very promising toddlers. As soon as they're potty-trained, we'll start administering the personality profiles. . . .
Martin Kimel observes politics and watches the Supreme Court from his Maryland home. He is not promoting himself or his two young children for a Supreme Court nomination.