27 Comments

  1. It’s a satire on government voting and law-making. In games, whoever gets the most points wins (golf being an exception). But governmental bureaucracy makes laws that say ‘must win by 75%’ or other conditions.

  2. Nine serious people in black robes? They are Supreme Court justices, not legislators. Might be a subtle dig at the large number of very consequential rulings that have been on 5-4 votes lately.

  3. Strange. The table tennis players are also in robes. And SCOTUS operates under strict majority rules, whereas Congress has the funny 60%, 2/3, etc. rules.

  4. No one else has stated this, so maybe my experience is unusual, but whenever we play pingpong, the rule is the winner must won by 2 or more points. Typically we play an 11 point game, i.e., the winner is the 1st player to reach 11 points, but if the game becomes tied at 10-10, the required winning score moves up to 12. And if the score reached 11-11, 12-12, or even 19-19, the respective winning scores become 13, 14, 20, etc.

    I’m not sure what the joke or commentary in the comic is, but it looks like the artist wondered what the Supreme Court would be like if, like pingpong, the winning side had to win by 2.

    (BTW, the ancient Israelite Sanhedrin (their Supreme Courts) was not allowed to convict in a capital case with less than a majority of 2 and non-unanimity. A majority to acquit, a majority of 1 to convict, or a unanimous verdict of conviction and the defendant went free. The latter was because they believed that if the defense would have been effective at least one of the 23 or 71 judges would have voted for acquittal.)

  5. Come to think of it… “winning by two” seems to be the rule for racquet/paddle/net sports, but ONLY for racquet/paddle/net sports.

    Maybe they all evolved from the same game?

  6. Curiously, the closer player looks a lot like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but there are nine people at the bench, and none of them look like Clarence Thomas. I don’t know whether RBG has any known habit of kicking off her shoes, but that is what it looks like here.

  7. I also tried to see the seated panel as specifically representing the actual SCOTUS, but couldn’t make any good matchups. (Also it might be from a couple years ago?).

    The leftmost seated person (probably the one the dialogue is addressed to) could be meant as Chief Roberts, I thought. But then why isn’t he in the middle?

  8. Here is the current official group portrait:

    And here is a picture from 2010 (includes Scalia and Kennedy, instead of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh):

  9. This 2010 group portrait is a better picture of that configuration of the courts than the 2014 one in my post just above (may not be visible yet when you see this one).

    Boise Ed makes a valid point, that none of the seated Justices in the Dd drawing could likely be meant as Thomas. But still, that doesn’t keep us from trying out a matching generally.

  10. Then from that 2010 portrait, one attempt to assign them in the cartoon:

    1) Scalia (glasses, dark hair)
    2) Alito
    3) Sotomayor
    4) Roberts (almost center seat)
    5) Kagan
    6) Kennedy
    7) Thomas (glasses, bald on top, some hair on sides)
    8) Ginsburg (female, straight hair)
    9) Breyer

    My description for (7) is probably a better match for Breyer than Thomas, come to think of it. But I doubt any minor adjustments will make this slate actually work out, anyway.

  11. No matter how trivial the issue, these judges feel compelled to offer a ruling after the Constitution.

  12. I believe the operative factor in games that require a two-point margin for a win is not that they use a paddle or racquet or net, but that they involve serving and volleying. Let’s say you have two very evenly matched sides. They can just trade points back and forth all day. If you don’t require a win by two, then whichever side serves first has an advantage because the other side will always be playing catch-up. A win by two requires that at some point you win on an opponent’s serve.

  13. Going back to what is happening in the comic, I think that it is trying to analogize sports to the Supreme Court. There are 2 ways to look at this comic in this manner:

    1. What would a table tennis match be like if it was judged/refereed like a SC court case? There would have to be a line-up of nine judges who would enforce the rules as the Founding Fathers intended. Rules would never be allowed to change unless one could show that the Founding Fathers intended the new rule.

    2. Alternatively, the cartoonist is depicting a Supreme Court case as a ping pong match. The two sides send “vollies” to each other while the SC rules on their arguments based on the way the Founding Fathers expressed it in the US Constitution.

  14. Sorry, Powers, but in pickleball at least, you keep serving until you lose one. I had one game a few months ago in which the opponent never got to serve. (That’s very rare, though.) Ping-pong is in sets of five and I don’t remember what tennis does. Racquetball also has to win by two, and has no net, which supports your “serving and volleying” point.

  15. So, in tennis as in pickleball, if you run the table the opponent never gets to serve.

  16. I probably didn’t explain well enough. With tennis, in game 1, player 1serves each point. In game 2, player 2 serves each point. And so on. If you win the game you serve, it’s called “holding serve”. If you win when the other is serving, you “break serve”. Whether you win or lose an individual serve doesn’t matter. You can’t take serve from the opponent.

  17. Not disagreeing, Brian, but to complete the picture, within a game once the players have reached 40 all (tied at 3 actual points), the score is expressed as “Deuce” (tied) or “Ad” (advantage to one or the other player) — so amounting to a win-by-two rule as in the other games, within this situation only.

  18. So, to win a tennis game, you don’t necessarily have to win on an opponent’s serve, but to win a set, you do.

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