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Are SCOTUS Justices 'Front Row Kids'?

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 31, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A recent opinion piece poses the rather loaded question of whether the U.S. Supreme Court justices are 'front row kids,' and suggests that the judiciary will forever be run by these 'front row kids.' If you are asking yourself what that even means, you are probably not alone, but it'll soon feel like dork deja vu.

In short, a "front row kid" refers to the students in a classroom who sit in the front row, do their homework, raise their hand, and are un-liked by the students who sit in the back of the classroom. Basically, it's a pejorative term referring to society's "elites." Recently, political pundits have used the front row/back row kid analogy to describe the disconnect in partisan politics.

Supreme to a Fault

The SCOTUS justices have been called front row kids because of their educational pedigrees, which are undoubtedly supreme. It notes that the prospects of a SCOTUS justice without a law degree are rather slim, but posits that a justice without ivy league credentials, or experience on the federal appellate bench, could actually be better for the country. The idea being that a non-ivy league judge that had to get elected for a state court judgeship will be more in touch with the people, and therefore be better for the people.

However, the opinion piece seems to have failed to really research who the SCOTUS justices really are beyond their ivory towered educations and allegedly "liberal elite" values. It doesn't get much more back row than Clarence Thomas's favorite place to park his RV -- the Walmart parking lot. And if RV camping in a Walmart parking lot isn't back row enough, Justice Sonya Sotomayor grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn that was troubled by gangs. And even though Scalia is gone, Justice Elena Kagan is still a hunter.

Unless you want Judge Judy or Justice Joe Brown on the Supreme Court, it's probably best if we all drop this front row kid nonsense.

Failing at Analogies

The back row / front row analogy just seems to fail. Front row students become the "geeks" and "nerds" that actually benefit the world. It's not about politics, it's about caring about what you're doing. Just thinking about the analogy generally, a front row student is engaged, while a back row student is trying to duck the professor while surfing the web on their laptop and texting emojis on their smartphone.

And if you still need convincing that front row kids should be praised and thanked for their devotion to learning, imagine you're about to have major surgery. Do you want a front row kid, or a back row kid, cutting you open?

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