As the year draws to the end, I have been thinking about 2019. I give you, the readers of Simple Justice, the discerning bunch that you are, my take on the top ten things that made me laugh, made me happy, made me crazy or made me sad during 2019. It is up to you to determine which category applies. Without further ado, here is my top ten.
Ten: The Senate Majority Leader pushed through a lot of smart new judges, albeit slaves to the Federalist Society’s schizophrenic program of promoting judicial restraint and judicial activism at the same time. Thus proving, I suppose, that one ought to buy stock in whatever big pharma manufacturers long-lasting Haldol.
Nine: The American Constitution Society once again proved that irrelevance is virtuous while evoking fuzzy and warm feelings in the members as they kiss each other on both cheeks between chants of “Justice.” Mingling while consuming mass quantities of wine and cheese might nominally be optional, although it is required if you desire to get a judgeship when the worm turns.
Eight: CATO for promoting a fascinating mix of libertarianism and shits and giggles.
Seven: Our son becoming a lecturer (the equivalent of an associate professor) at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia after spending several years as a post-doctoral research fellow at another Australian university. He studies both freshwater and saltwater fish which is unusual as most PhDs study one or the other. In a stunning coincidence, our daughter will become the head of an international school for expatriate children in East Timor this next school year. The school is in the capital city of Dili.[i] My daughter and son, their spouses and our six grandchildren will be only an hour away from each other by way of Air Pterodactyl. Far better than the long flight between Hong Kong and Melbourne.
Six: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have allowed federal judges from around the nation to officiate at weddings in New York. On December 23, 2019 I married a fantastic former law clerk and his beloved, a gifted lawyer in her own right. Why does the word “petty” come to mind when thinking about the Governor’s veto?
Five: After cancer surgery to my face in late 2018 that made me look like a pirate, in early 2019, I underwent thirty-two doses of focused beam radiation while bolted to a table by virtue of a mask made especially for me.[ii] Now, lawyers often leave my office somewhat more shaken than normal. The mask sits on the end of my conference room table and serves as my alter ego. I require the lawyers to address their remarks to the mask so that I can doze.
Four: Chris Seaton for his Friday Funny posts. Amazingly, he also finds the time to engage in the hands-on experience of making sure that creatures like dogs and cats cannot reproduce. For a small fee, he also offers that service to male lawyers.
Three: Skinkfest 2019. Don’t ask! I only remember bits and pieces.
Two: Thinking about liver, fava beans and a nice chianti.
One: Still reflecting on 2018 and signing my name to the order that allowed Nebraska to execute a man and then reading the newspaper describing how the fellow went quietly into that good night. Wondering whether 2020 will force me to confront a similar situation in my Arkansas case that has been languishing for years.
Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)
[i] The shortest flight time for us to get to Dili is 58 hours and that means leaving from Omaha, a one-hour drive from our home in Lincoln.
[ii] The surgery and the radiation appear to have worked. I am checked every 90 days by my surgeon and will be for at least the next year.