TV comedy pioneer Carl Reiner, five years shy of 100, is urging Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to keep the robe on. “The country needs justices like you,” Reiner pleads in a New York Times opinion piece written as an open letter to Kennedy, who turns 81 later this month.
Beltway rumors about a Kennedy retirement were stoked recently by media reports that several of the justice’s former law clerks have floated the possibility.
The prospect of Kennedy’s retirement makes for a convergence of Reiner’s crusades: Not only is the Dick Van Dyke Show creator fiercely anti-Trump, he’s also become something of a spokesman for working nonagenarians. His most recent book, Too Busy to Die, was followed by a central role in Danny Gold’s HBO doc If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast last month.
In the Times article, online now and to appear in print editions tomorrow, Reiner writes, “I feel it incumbent upon me to urge a hearty octogenarian such as yourself not to put your feet up on the ottoman just yet. You have important and fulfilling work ahead of you.”
“The country needs justices like you who decide each case with fairness and humanity,” writes Reiner, “and whose allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States of America, not to a party line. You have always voted your conscience, and defended the rights and liberties of all our citizens.”
Reiner, who notes that at Kennedy’s age he had just finished a role in Oceans Eleven and “was gearing up for Oceans Twelve while also writing another book,” beseeches Kennedy to consider the ramifications of leaving an open seat for President Donald Trump to fill.
“Imagine if you retired from the bench,” Reiner writes. “What would your days be like? Here’s a scenario: You revisit your carefree years, rent a red Volkswagen and travel through Europe, stopping in Paris for coffee and a croissant on the Champs-Élysées, then on to the Amalfi coast, where you’ll sail to the waterfalls of Marmorata and the Emerald Grotto.
“How would you feel, while reading your newspaper, seeing a headline that read ‘Roe v. Wade Overturned’? Do you see how this could ruin a good meal? A good life? A great country?”
Signing off, Reiner finishes the letter by turning his attention to another task. “I am going upstairs to my computer to tweet out my thought of the day, because I can. I have the freedom to do that because of people like you who are committed to protecting our liberties and our Constitution.”