We Have Lost Something Sacred in Today’s Judicial Nomination Process

John Jay (1745-1829) was the first Chief Justice of the United States.

By Jim O’Neal

The Supreme Court was created in 1789 by Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which stipulates “the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court.” Congress organized it with the Judiciary Act of 1789.

John Jay of New York, one of the Founding Fathers, was the first Chief Justice of the United States (1789–95). Earlier, he was president of the Continental Congress (1778-79) and worked to ratify the U.S. Constitution by writing five of the Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote the other 85-plus essays, which were published in two volumes called “The Federalist” (“The Federalist Papers” title emerged in the 20th century).

Nearly 175 years later, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy nominated Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White to replace Associate Justice Charles Whittaker, who became chief legal counsel to General Motors (presumably with a nice salary increase). Whittaker had been the first person to serve as judge at all three levels: Federal District Court, Federal Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court (a distinction matched by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor).

White was the 1960 Colorado state chair for JFK’s 1960 presidential campaign and had met both the future president and his father Joe while attending Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship in London when Joe Kennedy was ambassador to the Court of St James. This was after White had graduated from Colorado University Phi Beta Kappa, where he was also a terrific athlete, playing basketball, baseball and finishing runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He is unquestionably the finest athlete to serve on the Supreme Court.

He continued mixing scholarship and athletics at Yale Law School, where he graduated No. 1 in his class magna cum laude and played three years in the National Football League for the Pittsburg Pirates (now the Steelers). He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

Judge White was in the minority on the now-famous Roe v. Wade landmark decision on Jan. 22, 1973. Coincidentally, there was a companion case that has been virtually forgotten called Doe v. Bolton (Mary Doe v. Arthur K. Bolton, Attorney General of Georgia, et al.) that was decided on exactly the same day and on the identical issue (overturning the abortion law of Georgia). White was in the minority here, too.

White’s nomination was confirmed by a simple voice vote (i.e. by acclamation). He was the first person from Colorado to serve on the Supreme Court and it appears that one of his law clerks … Judge Neil Gorsuch, also from Colorado … most likely will become the second, although it is unlikely he will receive many Democratic votes, much less a voice vote.

Times have certainly changed in judicial politics and, unfortunately, for the worse … sadly. Advise and Consent has morphed into a “just say no” attitude and we have lost something sacred in the process.

Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is president and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

In Super Bowl’s Afterglow, Let’s Remember All-Time Great Paul Hornung

1957 Topps Paul Hornung #151 PSA Mint 9
This 1957 Topps Paul Hornung trading card #151, PSA Mint 9, realized $15,535 at a November 2015 auction.

By Jim O’Neal

Super Bowl I was played on Jan. 15, 1967, in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum (yes, I was there) and the Green Bay Packers (NFL) defeated the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) in a lopsided game, 35-10.

The only player on the Green Bay roster who did not play was the all-time great Paul Hornung, due to a pinched neck nerve.

Hornung was an all-around player that Coach Vince Lombardi had labeled “the most versatile player in football.” He played halfback (primarily), but also quarterback and placekicker (field goals and PAT).

In 1960 (the last year of 12-game seasons), he set the single season scoring record of 176 points … a record that lasted 46 years until 2006, after the league had extended the season to 14 games. The following year, 1961, he set the NFL record for most points scored (19) in an NFL Championship game.

Later in his career, he became the oldest player to score five touchdowns in a single game (29 years and 354 days old).

But it all really got started at Notre Dame, where he also played basketball. In 1956, he won the Heisman Trophy despite playing on a mediocre team. Mighty Notre Dame was 2-8 that year and Hornung was the only player to win the Heisman with a losing team. Many consider Hornung the greatest all-around player in Notre Dame history.

The Heisman Trophy was named in honor of John Heisman, who was a coach at Georgia Tech when the team beat Cumberland College 222-0 in 1916. In that game, kicker Jim Preas had 16 straight point-after-touchdowns, a single game record. Sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote, “Cumberland’s finest play was when halfback Allen circled right end for a 6-yard loss.”

Back to Paul Hornung. As a player, he was the first (only?) to win the Heisman, be drafted first in the NFL, win the NFL MVP, and then be inducted into the High School, College and NFL halls of fame.

He also had a great sense of humor. He often said, “Never get married in the morning. You just never know who you might meet that night.” However, he did get married in the morning and when asked about it replied, “Well, if it didn’t work out, I didn’t want to blow the whole day.”

P.S. Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for a year in 1963 for alleged gambling. Commissioner Pete Rozelle ran a tight ship.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].