Bedtime Story: Mind Your Manners, or When the Very Important Judge Visited the Very Special Ivory Tower
The Very Important Judge
Once upon a time, there was a very important judge who went by the initials A.S.; to save a syllable, we’ll call him Ass.
Chief Justice Crow was receiving treatment for karmic cancer and thus was not present for the picture
As a member of the United States Supreme Court, Ass had made a career of coupling what might generously be termed nostalgia for an older social order with extremely clever rhetorical maneuvers. For example, one time a state amended its constitution to bar laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination. Ass became angry when his fellow justices called this law unconstitutional. A master logician, he pointed out that theirs was an error of analogy: homosexuals should be classified under the law not with racial minorities and other traditionally oppressed groups, but rather--and this was purely a legal point and not in any way an indication of his personal views--with murderers and animal abusers. The key is that justices shouldn't insert their personal views on morality into their legal decisions.
One day, a very special Ivory Tower decided to invite Ass over for a visit. More specifically, one of its many oft-read publications desired to honor him for his great contributions to the interpretation of law.
The controversy began at the afternoon's question and answer session. It is here that we first encounter our hero, a student named Eric.
Eric, the Hero
Eric asked Ass about a case called Lawrence v. Texas, in which the court struck down a law that criminalized homosexual sex. Ass dissented in the case, and, prompted by Eric's question, was dismissive of the liberty and privacy interests of homosexual couples. In response, Eric decided to act out what law professors like to call a counterfactual. Reversing the roles that Ass had envisioned, he asked, "Do you sodomize your wife?"
Genteel jaws dropped. The ears of the pure burned with shame. Monocles sprung from see-no-evil eyes. A woman fainted. A child renounced Christ.
"Did he just say 'sodomize?'" queried one student, his world of professionalism collapsing before him.
"Has he no respect for the robe?" Wondered several students and administrators.
Lost among the murmuring: one student, suffering from a rare form of color-blindness, mistook the black robe for a white one, and expressed his sincere confusion.
"I am not going to answer that," said Ass, his face reddening.
"Well, it appears from your response that you do value privacy," Eric continued. "So why do you want to send the cops into my bedroom?"
Later in the day, Eric joined other agitators to make noise outside of the ceremony honoring Ass. And not just quiet noise, far away from the ceremony, but loud noise, close by!
Luckily, the administration was prepared, and sent in its favorite goon, Vice Dean Clay, or V.D., for short.
V.D. approached the rabble-rousers and, through violent gestures and schoolmasterly reprimands, attempted to bully their putative leaders into moving the group to the law school's courtyard.
Let me be very clear with you, young man. This is a public sidewalk. We want you back behind the cordoned-off area in our courtyard immediately. Do you understand me? Where is the professionalism at this school? We had a deal! You winked when you told me you couldn't promise anything!
The wagging finger of the condescending schoolmaster did not work for you? How about the chop?! Did I mention that this is a public sidewalk? In loco parentis! IN LOCO PARENTIS!!! [Ed: note the handsome gentleman in the blue hat]
The protestors ignored his demands. When all was said and done, Ass had received his honors, but not without disruption.
The Very Special Ivory Tower Strikes Back
Many future professionals--their necks still red from violent collar-loosening maneuvers, their sensibilities still offended from having heard the word that was written in the opinion being discussed--expressed their disapproval.
"Utterly classless...I think that a Supreme Court Justice deserves a modicum of respect," wrote one. Another suggested that the heads of all the student groups sign a letter apologizing to Ass--and then get together to mow his lawn.
Perhaps swayed by this outburst of indignation, Dean Ricky, usually a vocal opponent of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, weighed in with a curious e-mail.
What would Paul Simon, er, John Sexton do?
He said that Eric's question contained "offensive and insulting language" (no word yet on whether Lawrence will be excised from next year's textbooks) and that his friend Nadine, who was there to honor Ass, said that the protestors were not within their First Amendment rights.
My donors say money=speech!
Like a bridge over troubled water, Ricky clarified that he would be mowing Ass's lawn as soon as the weather warmed enough to require it. V.D., on the other hand, would wait in the car and work on the following: 1) fabricating agreements that he could later accuse students of breaking; 2) writing a letter of apology to U.S. News and World Report; and 3) designing an obstacle course to be completed by progressive groups that seek funding for symposia. Finally, Ricky announced the law school's new motto:
Note to NYU Law Students:
Join Dean Ricky Revesz, Vice Dean Clayton Gillette, and the Annual Survey of American Law in presenting posthumous honors to the Plessy v. Ferguson court for its contributions to American jurisprudence. The ceremony will be held in Greenberg Lounge.
For those offended by this ceremony, a protest area has been set up in Mercer Pub.
Keywords: Antonin Scalia, Nino