WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Every year around Christmas time, adorable little Virginia O'Hanlon, eternally 8 years old, sends us an e-mail with the same question. And every year, with apologies to the late, great New York Sun, we answer:
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no U.S. Supreme Court.
Papa says, "If you see it on United Press International, it has at least a reasonable chance of being true."
So please tell me the truth, is there a Supreme Court?
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Virginia, those ugly little brutes, your "little friends," are lying through their baby teeth. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe anything except what they see.
Your little friends think there can be nothing except what is comprehensible to their little minds.
Speaking of little minds, Congress seems to share their affliction of believing only what it can see. Every once in a while, the legislative branch appears to think it has the power to force the judicial branch to smile and say, "Cheese." Hence, the "Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011," introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, now being considered in the U.S. Senate.
For their part, the justices say they would rather be forced to listen to another of President Obama's State of the Union lectures than permit cameras in the courtroom, especially TV cameras, which have become the only cameras that matter.
Individual justices say TV might cause other justices -- "Not me, the other guy!" -- to grandstand and spout sound bites during oral arguments. If that happened, it might cause the chief justice to say a bad word.
But all minds, Virginia, whether they be men's, women's or children's, are little when compared to the intellect of a Supreme Court justice. In this vast universe of ours, man is merely the grubbiest insect in his mind as compared with the highest court in the land, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Supreme Court.
A high court that this term is going to rule on whether healthcare reform can survive, going to decide what redistricting map Texas can use -- one that favors Anglos and Republicans or one that favors Hispanics and Democrats -- and that is going to tell Arizona whether it and the 49 other states can have an illegal immigrant policy different from the federal government's.
It exists as certainly as laches and stare decisis and vacatur exist, and you know how they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Supreme Court! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no poetry, no romance, no childlike faith in corporate political money to make tolerable this existence.
We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which lawyers and courts fill the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in the Supreme Court? You might as well not believe the cops read Terry vs. Ohio before they hit drunks over the head with their nightsticks, or read the Constitution before they arrest protesters at a Mitt Romney rally.
You might get Papa to hire men to watch all the televisions on Christmas Eve to catch the Supreme Court, but even if they did not see the Supreme Court on cable news, what would that prove? Nobody sees the Supreme Court, again because the justices don't allow cameras in the courtroom and they hide like bedbugs outside it, but that is no sign the Supreme Court is not on Capitol Hill working to make this country behave, not naughty, but nice.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see six old men and three women of a "certain age" in black robes dancing like fairies on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive of all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. Just clap your hands, Virginia, and believe.
You can tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering some of the Supreme Court's most puzzling decisions that not even the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.
Only faith, poetry, love, romance, and, yes, a good appellate lawyer, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this litigious world there is nothing else so real and abiding.
No Supreme Court! Thank God it lives and lives forever.
A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, it will continue to make glad the hearts of law school graduates.