A Reddit meme found its way into a supreme court confirmation hearing

You might think that when a country’s elected officials are scrutinising a candidate for a supreme court vacancy, questions would be strictly limited to bipartisan legal matters. Oh, my friend, you have far too much faith in democratic processes.

Neil Gorsuch is Trump’s pick to be a supreme court justice, filling a position that has been vacant since Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. What kind of tough questioning did he have to face during his confirmation hearing?

After batting away a joke question from Ted Cruz about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Gorsuch faced a much tougher query: a Reddit meme.

“My family’s been texting me throughout this process asking me to ask questions that they would ask,” begun Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican representing Arizona. In a case of double-outsourcing, his teenage son turned to Reddit for inspiration, and the unedifying result was Senator Flake asking the next supreme court justice whether he’d rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck.

No, really.

“I’d never heard it either, apparently it was a question on Reddit a while ago,” Flake added without half as much shame as he should have, as Gorsuch shook his head in bafflement.

“You can tell him that I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but you got me,” responded Gorsuch. Excellent politician’s response – he’ll go far.

He’s not the only politician to avoid answering the question, of course. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama ignored the question during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), although according to Buzzfeed, the former president’s staffers were more forthcoming with answers:

“In the days following, staffers debated the answer. Most immediately chose the 100 duck-sized horses— they would be easy to stomp on and were, generally, a reflection of the usual day-to-day conflicts in life. A danger to the shins, but possibly manageable. ‘Ducks are not exactly teeny-tiny – so 100 duck-sized horses (as opposed to duckling-sized horses), while smaller than a miniature pony, are still probably clocking in somewhere around ten pounds each,’ one Obama official argued. ‘That’s a lot to kick/throw/battle.’”

Be thankful that so far the only low-ball internet questions regularly thrown at British politicians come from Mumsnet users, who routinely ask serving MPs what their favourite biscuit is. Most go for Hobnobs (correct) or Jaffa Cakes (incorrect), but special credit should go to Andy Burnham, who somehow managed to subvert the question by answering “beer, chips and gravy any day”.

Image: Brian Gudzevich used under Creative Commons

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