Seats Open in Supreme Court, Smashing Pumpkins

They’ve both lost key members. It’s up to two of Chicago’s finest to replace them. Nearly everyone with an opinion and an internet connection has an idea of who the replacement should be. Yes, the Supreme Court and the Smashing Pumpkins have a lot in common right now.

On the heels of Billy Corgan’s announcement that longtime Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, provider of the steady backbeat to such classics as “Cherub Rock” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” was leaving the band, news broke that David Souter, whose steady, centrist hand was the driving force behind early-nineties landmarks like Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Lee v. Weisman would be leaving the Supreme Court. All right, I’ve taken this joke about as far as I can take it, but both of these events are pretty huge deals if you’re into 90’s alternative rock or the third branch of government.

I remember when David Souter was nominated to the Supreme Court by Bush 41 in 1990, when I was ten years old. Many on both sides were certain that the quiet patrician from New Hampshire would quietly stick a fork in Roe vs. Wade. My mother, actively pro-choice to say the least, wrote a limerick about Souter to share at an event opposing his nomination, and all I remember is that it rhymed his name with “neuter” – I think that was also the occasion where I learned the meaning of the word. Her concern proved unfounded, as Souter ruled with the majority against any slashing of Roe v. Wade when he joined the majority in Casey, dealing abortion opponents a bitter disappointment similar to the one felt by Smashing Pumpkins fans while hearing their misguided 2000 release Machina/Machines of God for the first time.

Suggestions abound for who should fill each seat. Safe consensus choices like Illinois favorite son Dax Nielsen and Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor? Some say the best move is to please the base: former System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan and Chicago labor lawyer/movement progressive Tom Geoghegan would be “red meat” for hard rock nerds and left-leaning Dems. There’s also a rumor of 19 year old Mike Byrne being Chamberlain’s replacement, but some worry this may be Corgan’s Harriet Miers moment. All we can say with certainty is that the chatter will tap on endlessly until the moment these two seats are filled.

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