Happy autumn! Herewith a few odds and ends from my notebook.

Un-packing the Court

As I write this, the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is still up in the air. Whatever my preferences and my views of the current uproar, I have my doubts about the ability of 51 Republicans to agree on anything in this environment. So suppose the first Monday in October arrives with only eight Justices. Then what?

Not a constitutional crisis, if the period between the death of Antonin Scalia and the commissioning of Neil Gorsuch is any indication. Would it be better for an appellate court to have a full bench? Sure. Perhaps with only eight justices, the Court would slow the pace of its decisions in order to avoid tie votes. Perhaps certiorari would be denied in more cases. The people whose cases are past the Circuit Court of Appeals stage and who are seeking a SCOTUS hearing have reason to be concerned.

I’m curious to know if any case dear to the hearts of anti-Kavanaugh forces is in the pipeline. I don’t know the answer, but I wonder if delay in confirming a ninth justice might have unintended consequences for someone who now considers an open seat a victory of sorts.

“Gosnell” Film Opens October 12

During the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington, I attended a pre-release screening of the feature film “Gosnell,” which will premiere in theaters on Friday, October 12. This is the dramatization of the story of Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell, sentenced in 2013 to life in prison for the deaths of a woman and three born-alive children.

The movie is outstanding. Find it, watch it, and tell your friends about it. The film’s producers had a hard time getting a distribution deal. Even now, theater operators are apparently finding themselves under pressure not to show the movie. The list of premiere theaters had two Massachusetts listings a week ago; that list is down to one.

“Gosnell” is about the police and investigators who stumbled over evidence of Gosnell’s crimes. Some were pro-choice, others not, still others had no strong feelings about abortion one way or the other. What they all agreed on was that homicide was a crime, and that Gosnell had a trail of bodies behind him. The film shows how they saw the case through.

An Upbeat Book: “Turning Misery into Ministry”

And now for something completely different. Tony Agnesi is a Catholic writer and speaker whose “Storyteller’s Guides” feature short essays about putting belief into practice. His newest guide, subtitled “Turning Misery into Ministry,” is refreshing and edifying. Easy reading, real-life stories, practical advice: a nice change from politicsTony Agnesi. Here’s my full review. Check out Tony’s web site as well.