Politicians In Robes



The most recent controversy engulfing the Supreme Court is the revelation that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife sent text messages to Mark Meadows urging the overturning of the election. Many adjectives can be used to describe Ms. Thomas’s actions (actions which her husband voted to keep hidden): disgraceful, anti-democratic, inexcusable, etc. Yet, there is one adjective neither I, nor anyone else can use: surprising. 


This is due to the fact that the American people are beginning to understand a troubling fact; the once great Court, whose towering Greek columns stood for impartiality and sober, unbiased rationale are crumbling under the bulldozer of frank partisanship. Today, Justices find themselves cast in the starring role of The Emperor’s New Robe; they cannot see that their black robes are translucent, we can all see the respective red and blue underneath. Thus we must ask ourselves, how did we get here, and more importantly, how shall we proceed now?


If any one year can claim to be the start of the Court’s descent into ignominy, 1973 is it. Roe v. Wade might not have been an effect of the Supreme Court’s prejudice, but it was certainly a cause. It sparked the flame of evangelical Christians, and with their alliance, the Republican party launched an all out war on the American Judiciary (Seen largely through court packing, a phenomenon demonstrated best by rejection of Garland from consideration due to the upcoming 2020 election, which then of course bothered Republicans not one wick when it was pro-life darling Barrett’s term).


This is not written as a denigration: evangelical Christians have a right to their religious and moral beliefs and I broker no issue with their faith. Still, the Republican intention, which has been bolstered by said evangelical support, to overturn a Supreme Court decision supported by 6 in 10 Americans has led to 6 in 10 Americans disapproving of the Court. When our Senate is choosing the ruling before the Justice, demanding trust from the American people is an insult.


Of course, the other issue is how un-democratic the confirmation process has become. Indeed at every step, corruption is apparent. Justice Roberts was nominated by former-President Bush, who lost the popular vote. Justice Gorsuch was nominated by former-President Trump, who lost the popular vote. Justice Kavanaugh was nominated by former-President Trump, who lost the popular vote. Justice Barrett was nominated by former-President Trump, who lost the popular vote. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett were all confirmed by senators representing a minority of voters. Our Justices govern without the sanction of Americans; they have no need for impartiality because they have no need for our trust.


If we consider this a medical report, then we have clearly identified the patient (the Supreme Court), the illness (partisanship), and the causes (Republican court packing and an un-democratic confirmation process). So, what medicine should be prescribed? There are several, all with their own side-effects. 


Expansion has been considered, though not seriously and it only serves as a short term solution. The question of term limits has also been broached. This idea is significantly better, but unlikely to be implemented; dead on arrival. So our last option is to rethink our illness all together. The issue isn’t partisanship, it is the obscuration of it. Justice Barrett says that “[t]his Court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” Justice Thomas lamented how, “the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference.” I cannot speak for all Americans, but when someone acts as though I am blind, I lose faith in them. 


Until our Justices can learn to not underestimate the intelligence of Americans, there will be no faith in the institution they purport to protect. If impartiality is not possible, if decorum is not possible, then we must recognize the obvious: our Court and our confirmation process are unable to set aside politics in favor of the judicial good.


Why continue the charade?