Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Til Death Do Us Part (Again)


("End the Poisonous Process of Picking Supreme Court Justices")

Today's Op-Ed  in the New York Times echoed virtually every thought I laid out in a letter to the editor nearly two years ago (October 7, 2018 blog post). I now post it again for those whose may have a vague recollection of my words, or who may have "missed it" first time around.

My tongue firmly in cheek question is if I am entitled to co-authorship credit

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"A Better Way to Confirm a Justice" -

I suggest that the premise of your question is wrong, putting the cart before the horse. It is not, or should not be, the hearings that are tweaked but rather the process itself that is in DIRE need of radical reform.


Til death us do part. 

If there was one lesson to be taken from the Garland to Kavanaugh fiasco that played out over these past two years it was that the time has come to face head on the ugly reality of lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.

Our founding fathers lived in a universe markedly different from ours. It has been a near quarter of a millenium since the birth of this nation and death has receded farther and farther from our collective being with each new medical advancement. We stay healthier and fit longer and our capacity to be productive, or destructive, members of society has lengthened with each passing decade.

Term limits for our highest office in the land were codified in the 22nd Amendment, passed by the 36th state (There were only 48 states at the time) in 1951, in clear response to the only President who ruled for more than two terms in this nation's history. Concerns  on the length of power of the presidency were voiced from the time of the framers of our Constitution forward. But it was only the reality of FDR's tenure that spurred this nation to action.

We are now at such a point in history regarding appointments to the Supreme Court. On the next occasion sane people are in position of power, the first order of business should be to call for a constitutional Amendment for an 18 year term limit for a Supreme Court Justice. Come Hell or Mitch McConnell during each four year presidential term there will be two new appointments to the highest court (and with its effect, the current Justices would be unseated in FIFO order). 

The bloodbath we have recently witnessed will thus never be repeated, the urgency to rule this land in perpetuity having been muted. 

We stand at one of the lowest points in the arc of this nation. If we do not treat the disease now infecting us with immediacy and urgency it will continue to fester and make us sicker and sicker.

Til death do us part.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. I agree - whether it's 18 years or some other term, and however it's rolled out, term limits would moderate both the initial appointment politics and the work of the Supreme Court itself. And it would be an easier push than the dreaded "court packing." OTOH if Democrats take back the presidency and the Senate, and they add seats to hit back at McConnell, they shouldn't limit it to the 2 SCOTUS seats that he stole. McConnell also held up many more of Obama's federal district and circuit court nominations, so Trump could appoint ideological hacks, and as you well know, the circuit courts ultimately can have bigger sway than the Supreme Court because they handle so many more cases. So, whatever the number of lower court seats the Republicans blocked during the Obama years, Congress should add that number going forward. And to be fair, some of the initial seats could be given to term-limited Supreme Court judges serving out the balance of their lifetime Article III appointments.

Your blog is great. I scrolled back through a few months, and you offer a more succinct and persuasive take than most of the NYT's op-ed writers. I'll be adding you to my beacon-of-sanity reading list for sure. (On the other hand, Alexandra Petri offers more comic relief in the WaPo- e.g., her take on your Sept. 2 "Don't Tell Me of the Reluctant Trump Voter" piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/15/i-cant-believe-youre-forcing-me-vote-trump-which-i-definitely-didnt-already-want-do/