In a surprise move, sources close to the White House say that President Bush will soon announce that he wants FEMA head Michael "Brownie" Brown to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. Conservatives are cheering the decision, maintaining that Mr. Brown’s experience overseeing judges at horse shows will suit him well once he joins the highest court in the land.
A legal background—and a reputation as an enforcer
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush calls him “Brownie,” and if Mr. Bush gets his way, the nation will soon be referring to FEMA chief Michael Brown as “Justice.” Sources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush could announce his selection of Mr. Brown to replace retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as early as next week.
A wealth of experience
In many ways, Mr. Brown seems a logical choice for a life-time appointment to the highest court in the land. He has a legal background and has distinguished himself in every position in which he has served. But it his experience overseeing judges that fans of the Oklahoma native say makes him an ideal candidate to don the black robe of the Gang of Nine.
Judging the judges
Between 1991 and 2001 Mr. Brown accrued the sort of legal experience that makes nominee John G. Roberts Jr. look like an amateur; he served as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association—the appellate court of the horse world. There he was charged with 'judging the judges,' enforcing the rules administered by judges at the horse association’s 300 annual horse shows.
A tough enforcer
While in his important role, Mr. Brown earned a reputation as a tough enforcer of rules—and intolerant of horse-related judicial activism of any kind. Fans of the former head horse judge say that when it came to interpreting the founding constitution of the International Arabian Horse Association, Mr. Brown was an 'originalist'—and unwilling to be swayed by whatever trend was sweeping the horse world at that moment.
The 'originalist' of the horse world
Case in point: the bitter debate over horse appearance and identity. Influenced by a coarsened culture, a growing number of riders sought to use glitter on or in the mane, tail or hair of their horses. But Mr. Brown stood firm against this trend, noting that the founders of the IAHA had never intended for horses to be adorned in such a way.
"Michael knew that the founders had had a very clear vision," says one source close to the likely Supreme Court nominee. "Horses must wear a long, natural, unbraided mane--with or without clipped bridle path--,and a natural, unset, ungingered tail. That’s the traditionalist view in the horse world and Michael believed that his role was to enforce traditionalism."
A dream job
Friends of the potential Justice say that he has long dreamed of a job in Washington DC, and is particularly enthused about a position that comes with a life-time appointment. "He's really looking forward to a place where he can just be himself and he doesn’t have to worry about getting fired, then going through that whole hassle about updating his resume and lining up references. Michael’s really had it with all of that," says a confidante of Mr. Brown.
Wanted: a quick confirmation
Legal analysts say that they anticipate a relatively quick and painless confirmation hearing for Mr. Brown, whose reputation for hard work and attention to detail has won over lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Do you agree with the Swift Report that Michael Brown is the best choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court? Talk back to Deanna Swift.