If one had to choose an object to be struck with by the founder of a nonprofit organization denounced by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group, a homemade felt "Confirm Gorsuch" pennant would probably be near the top of the list. On a beautiful spring day in Washington, with a northerly wind playing on the cherries in full bloom, the banner hits the shoulder very softly, a little vernal puff of embarrassed decency. Besides, this was clearly an accident, and Eugene Delgaudio was quick to apologize.
On Wednesday afternoon, the president of Public Advocate of the United States stood in front of the Supreme Court steps with his back to the sidewalk. To the right of him were six black-robed choristers. The maestro was getting ready to strike up the band.
"Are you going to sing the song?" one of the choristers shouted to a passerby.
"But it would be fuuuuun!"
Then Delgaudio turned with a sudden, almost theatrical flourish.
"Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, I introduce to you the Gorsuch Singing Ensemble."
He paused for a moment.
There were a few scattered cheers. Someone snapped a picture.
"How do you top a justice like Scalia?" they sang, to the tune of "Maria" from The Sound of Music. "How do you place a lion on the bench? How do you find a mind to match Scalia's? A textualist, an originalist, a mensch!"
"A Justice Like Scalia" is one of two songs in the present repertoire of the Gorsuch Singing Ensemble. The other, "We're Getting Gorsuch," is a parody of "Get Me to the Church on Time" from My Fair Lady. Delgaudio himself chose the tunes, but the lyrics were composed by a St. Louis-based writer "on permanent retainer."
"We have the song people," Delgaudio explained. "I'm flat. I'm sour. I'm not a good singer." It is possible that there will be other pro-Neil Gorsuch Broadway parodies soon. Public Advocate is holding a contest inviting composers, who must "waive all rights of ownership," to present additional spoofs of Broadway tunes. The winner will receive a $50 Chick-Fil-A gift card. Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. on April 8.
The ensemble is only the latest in a long career of what Delgaudio proudly calls "political street theater." He has fond memories of protests and counter-protests during the Bork and Alito confirmation hearings. He also has a history of getting results.
"The Ted Kennedy Swim Team wore scuba outfits over at the La Brasserie restaurant. We paraded into the Senate fountain," Delgaudio said. "All the restaurants put up signs saying, 'This restaurant does not serve alcohol to Ted Kennedy.' We were a mob, about a hundred people and we were wearing scuba outfits in 100-degree heat. That got Senator Hatch to put his arm around Senator Kennedy, and Senator Kennedy stopped driving wildly around the Hill."
Needless to say, Delgaudio is pleased with President Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. In fact, Gorsuch was Delgaudio's first choice, at least among the pool of currently serving American judges. "I was asked by the Washington Times which of the judges I would want the Friday before he made the pick. I didn't want to pick a judge, but I was kind of cornered by a reporter, and it was a tough question. So I had a look at it and Gorsuch was the one."
Delgaudio is hardly nonplussed by the controversy surrounding Gorsuch's nomination. "I don't know how to make an analogy," he said. "It's like fighting Ronald Reagan. You know Reagan is going to win. It's hard to stop a guy who has support like this among the general public." While he was encouraged by further evidence of approval for Gorsuch among Washington pedestrians on Wednesday, he also noted that it was not quite unanimous.
"We do have the left, the hard left, yelling and screaming," Delgaudio said. "The snowflakes are yelling and screaming. The snowflakes are very upset." For him, Gorsuch's foes call to mind the image of Hirō Onoda, the Japanese intelligence officer who did not surrender to American forces in 1945, waiting for a visit decades later by his commanding officer. "I conjure up in my head the guy from World War II, that's holed up in that island somewhere, like holding up for 40 years, fighting World War II in 1982.
"I don't know," Delgaudio added. "We've basically got people who are festive, people who are just average Americans, people who are tired of liberalism—they know that this is a rescue mission."