Sonia At The Bat

May 23rd, 2013

The Supreme Court Historical Society held another recreation of famous Supreme Court cases–this time, a case that was horribly argued by former-Justice Arthur Goldberg, Flood v. Kuhn.

This case was reargued by Roy Englert and Pam Karlan, before Justice Sotomayor, who enjoyed her time in the center seat, adding “This is the first time I’ve sat here. It feels pretty good.”

NPR has a great writeup.

Karlan had some great zingers:

Sotomayor asked why the Court should “break with tradition,” thus depriving the owners of their “reliance” on previous decisions.

Karlan shot back that if the Court were to side with the owners for a third time, it would amount to something done in baseball only once before—three errors on a single play.

Sotomayor, with a straight face, opined that the Court could apply another baseball rule: three strikes and you’re out.

Karlan, undaunted, replied, “I’m swinging for the fences here, your honor.”

As did Roy:

Englert replied that “these young men are making on average $28,000…as much as Supreme Court justices.” Moreover, unlike other sports, he observed, baseball puts enormous investment into training players in the minor leagues.

Sotomayor, however, had a deeper question. What do we do “to the integrity of the court” when we let a “clearly erroneous decision stand?” And how long should we let it stand?

Do we let it stand, asked the judicial Yankee fan, “as long as it takes the Red Sox to win a World Series?”

I should note that this event began after I blogged in July 2011 that we should re-enact Flood v. Kuhn. Afterwards, Roy followed up with the Society, and made it happen. Kudos to everyone involved.

Update: Roy writes in with an update about his oral argument:

Probably my only point with any real traction was that the young staffer primarily responsible for the 1952 House Report on “Organized Baseball,” a man named John Paul Stevens whom President Nixon had more recently (in 1970) named a 7th Circuit judge, was less famous in Washington than Emanuel Celler, whose name is usually associated with the Report, but we might be hearing more about that young staffer in the future. The Celler (or Stevens) Report is quoted in the actual Blackmun opinion for the Court in Flood v. Kuhn.

You can read more about the JPS report in this Atlantic article, or in Stuart Banner’s The Baseball Trust.