Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Supreme Being

Merrick Garland is clear testament to its ill effects. So too is the very ascendancy of Donald Trump. And we pray daily for long life for Notorious RBG because of it. It is far past time that we deal with the elephant in the room. Lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court should be Constitutionally prohibited.

What would Mr. Trump suggest is his biggest accomplishment in office? Likely that with his second nomination to the highest bench looming, he will bend this nation's arc for decades to come, long after his small hands have been taken over the steering wheel.  Why should we as a nation permit such an outcome, left or right? How can we square limited duration terms for the legislative and executive branches and yet find no compulsion to put time constraints on the power wielded by the judiciary? 

This is, to be certain, not the mark of other democracies, where defined lengths of stay or mandatory retirement ages prevent power remaining firmly entrenched in one's grasp until death, or at least the right successor, do them part. 

We have long since rid ourselves of the fiction that permanent seat on the highest court assures independence from the political winds. In fact, the glee with which one party treats an opening and the gloom of night descending on the other is now maybe our most compelling demonstration of the clearly contemplated entanglements of this position.

If you believe that the extended vacancy on the bench after Justice Scalia's death was intended to allow the voice of the people to be heard that November, I have a bridge to sell you. 

And if you think that the warp speed with which Mr. Trump will thrust his replacement for Justice Kennedy upon us is not direct response to keeping even the possibility of the voice of the people from being heard this November, well I may be able to locate a second bridge for you.

I fully understand the futility of contemplating a Constitutional Amendment in this toxic environment. That the weight of our political wars will surely sink this ship before it leaves port. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the damage lifetime tenure is doing to the very fabric of our democracy.

Maybe in the days and years to come sanity can be restored and we can begin to seriously consider and act upon what is now a clear stain upon our nearly 250 year old experiment. 

        For the sake of the long term health of our nation, lifetime elevation to the Supreme Court should die a Constitutionally mandated death.  


Anonymous said...

Yes, we are in a fix. The Constitution is outdated. The presumed qualities of our elected leadership no longer match the ideals of those who framed the rules. But all is not lost. The Constitution does not specify the number of Justices, as you know; they have been greater in number on several occasions. As FDR tried to do ("stack" the Court) that is a resort that we may eventually get to if desperation leads us there. It only requires the right voice to speak up. Let us hope that voice is found.


Anonymous said...

Please explain the term limits on U.S. Senators and Congressmen and women to us???????

Anonymous said...

I am really curious to know, over the course of history, how many Supreme Court judges "surprised" their political party by voting their liberated conscience, and ignored the "political winds". I would like to think a judge's opinions could be just as influenced by the young clerks that work under that judge. It is a dynamic that I know nothing about, but it is a hope that the best laid political plans are undone by the human element.--RE