This is so pitifully stupid. Either Democrats are desperate for attack lines against Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, Trump’s nominee for the Fifth Circuit, or Leahy is so out of touch after 42 years in the Senate that he can’t recognize goofball humor when he sees it.
Here’s the genesis of Willett’s “controversial” bacon analogy:
I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon. pic.twitter.com/HKPW6tE4H6
— Judge Don Willett (@JusticeWillett) April 30, 2015
If you’re surprised to find a state supreme court justice tweeting jokes, you’ve never read Willett’s feed before. Take the opportunity to scroll through. He’s more famous for his social media habit than for his judicial opinions, although he’s a respected jurist. It’s unusual to see someone at the top of his profession tweeting so lightheartedly day after day, especially when that profession is as self-serious and culturally distant as the judiciary. But that’s Willett and he does it well, having collected more than 100,000 followers in the process. His Twitter avatar captures his sensibility perfectly — it’s an image of a judge in a cowboy hat riding the Twitter birdie icon rodeo-style. I wonder if part of the reason he landed on Trump’s judicial list is because POTUS respects a man with Twitter game.
The bacon tweet is perfectly in keeping with the day-to-day tone of Willett’s feed, or at least it was until he went quiet after being nominated to the federal bench so as not to run into needless controversies. It’s a testament to how inoffensive his humor is that the best Democrats could do after scouring his social media for “problematic” tweets was a jest about his, and America’s, love affair with bacon, which is an Internet genre unto itself. I don’t think Willett’s meaning with the bacon tweet went any deeper than seizing on something topical at the time, the Supreme Court’s deliberations on gay marriage, and turning it into what might politely be called a “dad joke.” If you reach, you can infer by omission that he might not support a constitutional right to gay marriage, but you don’t really need to reach. He’s a Texas Republican who’s been scrutinized by Trump’s conservative judicial vetters. It’d be surprising if he *did* support a right to gay marriage.
What makes this stupid, though, isn’t just Leahy’s lame attempt to turn a genial joke into “divisiveness.” It’s that he doesn’t even have his facts straight. The tweet wasn’t sent the day after SCOTUS’s decision on gay marriage, it was sent months earlier, after oral argument in the case. The Supremes hadn’t ruled on the matter yet, in which case Willett’s tweet obviously couldn’t have been a commentary on their decision. Willett himself must have forgotten the timeline because he accepts Leahy’s false claim that he tweeted after the decision itself, not oral argument. But Leahy’s wrong, in addition to being a humorless tool.
A sad note: Willett said today at his confirmation hearing that if/when (i.e. when) he’s seated on the Fifth Circuit, he’ll stick to tweeting about civic education to the extent that he tweets at all. Twitter mourns.