WASHINGTON. The World Series begins tonight in San Francisco, but today lawyers stepped to the plate facing a different team of nine; the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, who heard arguments on a legal issue that tears the nation apart every October: Does the Constitution protect the right of male fans to watch the fall classic even if they have no rooting interest in either team involved?
Lawyers for Ray Duncan of Florissant, Missouri say yes, while advocates for his wife Lurleen say the Bill of Rights does not recognize a man’s right to watch the World Series if he is not a fan of either the San Francisco Giants or the Texas Rangers.
“Men watching sports and scantily-clad pom-pom shaking women on TV is what makes this country great,” said former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, now Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law and line judge for professional women’s beach volleyball matches.
Feminist legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon wrote an op-ed piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal urging women to support a bill sponsored by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that would require men to hand the remote to their spouses as soon as their previously-designated “home team” was mathematically eliminated from contention.
“The right of a woman to watch ballet on Bravo, while not explicity protected by the Bill of Rights, may be found within the subtext of most Virginia Woolf novels,” MacKinnon wrote.
A constitutional right to watch the World Series was first suggested in the film version of the Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nurse,” in which Jack Nicholson, playing the role of Randle Patrick McMurphy, rebels against a prohibition imposed by Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, and watches an imaginary World Series before a blank TV screen.
The right has not subsequently been recognized by federal courts, although it has been defended by law school professors with too much time on their hands and cited without authority by husbands across the country once their home team is eliminated. “Our forefathers fought and died for the right to watch baseball,” asserted Duncan, who is a Cardinals fan. “Yes my team was eliminated, but does that mean I have to watch a disease-of-the-week movie on Lifetime?”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of three female justices on the high court, has spoken critically of a right to watch the World Series in speeches. “Republican appointees on the Court who claim to be strict constructionists suddenly get all loosey-goosey when it’s about baseball,” she said in a commencement address at the Judge Wapner School of Law in Burbank, California, last spring. “Whenever I want to watch ice skating the Chief Justice takes the remote away from me.”