Antonin Scalia considers the meaning of golf (idea)
Scalia may be the only one of the current batch of Supremes who can write clearly. Whether you agree or disagree, you know exactly what you're agreeing or disagreeing with. You're not left scratching your head, saying, "Well, if he is saying this, I agree. But, if he's saying that, I don't."
You can almost hear Scalia, through his writing, saying, "Justice Stevens, that ignorant boob, says...." just before he offers us his version of no bullshit "Don't Be an Idiot" rulings.
This case interested me because it brought Scalia and golf together, and those are two of my favorite topics. I saw Casey Martin play in a Buy.Com event where I live a few weeks ago, and it solidified my position on this issue as I stood there right next to him. I'm sure most of you know the story by now, but here it is in a nutshell. He has a degenerative disease in one of his legs. His prognosis is not good. He is a very good golfer, but it hurts him too much to walk 18 holes, so he's using a golf cart on the mini-golf tours, such as the Buy.Com Tour. The PGA told him that would not be allowed on the PGA Tour because it gives him an unfair advantage over the other players (it does). Opinions of current Tour members vary, but it would be safe to say that he's not going to be very popular in the locker rooms after this. The lawsuit was filed under the ADA. The ADA is, IMHO, a huge legislative mistake. It's another well-intentioned idea by liberals which winds up making lawyers richer so they can buy more votes and pass more laws which can make them even richer.
Anyway, as Scalia so brilliantly said, in plain language, if the PGA Tour had a lick of common sense, they would have made an exception in Martin's case and just said, "OK, this one time." But, since they seemed to feel as if more lawyers with more money was a fair tradeoff for fighting the honor of their game, they did the stupid and vastly unpopular (among non-golfers, which is most folks) thing.
Earlier, in the argument phase of the case, Scalia questioned whether a ruling for Martin would force the modification of the rules of all professional sports.
Is it essential to the game of baseball that the pitcher bat? Is it fundamental that the strike zone go from the shoulders to the knees? All sports rules are silly rules, aren't they?
In the written part of his argument after the dust had settled, Scalia wrote this:
It is as irrelevant to the PGA Tour's compliance with the statute whether walking is essential to the game of golf as it is to the shoe store's compliance whether pairness is essential to the nature of shoes. If a shoe store wishes to sell shoes only in pairs, it may; and if a golf tour (or golf course) wishes to provide only walk-around golf, it may. The PGA Tour cannot deny respondent access to that game because of his disability but it need not provide him a game different (whether in its essentials or in its details) from that offered to everyone else.
Just as you might have been getting all weepy over poor Casey and his withered leg, Scalia shines the light here and tries to make you see that this is just not the issue at hand. The PGA should have said, "To hell with it," and let Martin ride in a cart. That was an error on their part. But it's just not the matter at hand. The matter at hand is how to play golf. And then he gives us his usual "Don't Be an Idiot" answer:
I am sure that the Framers of the Constitution, aware of the 1457 edict of King James II of Scotland prohibiting golf because it interfered with the practice of archery, fully expected that sooner or later the paths of golf and government, the law and the links, would once again cross, and that the judges of this august Court would some day have to wrestle with that age-old jurisprudential question, for which their years of study in the law have so well prepared them:
Is someone riding around a golf course from shot to shot really a golfer?
The answer, we learn, is yes. The Court ultimately concludes, and it will henceforth be the Law of the Land, that walking is not a fundamental aspect of golf. Either out of humility or out of self-respect (one or the other) the Court should decline to answer this incredibly difficult and incredibly silly question.
The common sense of it is breathtaking.