Saturday, February 13, 2016

Let the Games Begin

The death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has already triggered political posturing and jockeying. Senator and Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz has come out and said that the Senate's job is now to make sure that any potential nomination is delayed until after a new (and presumably Republican) President is sworn in, while Senator Harry Reid claims that a delay would be and abdication of the Senate's duty.

All of this brings into sharp relief something that most people are keenly aware of - that the perceived job of a Supreme Court Justice is not to serve the Constitution of the United States, but to serve the specific political ideology of the party that places them on the court. In such an environment, why even have a Supreme Court? At best, it's an arm of the current political power structure and at worst it's a continuation of that power structure even after it has been removed from power - allowing it to obstruct the seated Executive and/or Legislative branches.

As Dahlia Lithwick noted some years past: "Nobody wants to hear how [United States Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor] got to a result. They want to know why she didn't get to their result. Time and again she is hectored for deciding the narrow issues before her. It's like a judicial-activism pep rally in here." The Supreme Court is moving from an institution of people whose job it is to be ultimate arbiters of the meaning of the Constitution to an institution of people whose job it is to agree that some current or former Congress has interpreted the document correctly. This, I suspect, will not end well.

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