Saturday, February 13, 2016
My dad, who was on the Oregon Supreme Court, and later, for the rest of his judicial career, was the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals (and whose nomination to the Federal bench got caught up in the politics of LBJ's last months in office) used to say Antonin Scalia was the smartest guy on the Supreme Court of the United States. As my dad was, in my view, the perfect example of an impartial judge and smarter than anyone I knew, I took his view seriously. Among the many things I'm sorry I can no longer discuss with him is what his current view of Scalia might have been. Smart, maybe. Still a good judge? I really doubt it.
The gods, I hope, will forgive me for speaking ill of the dead; but if Scalia was ever an impartial interpreter of the Constitution, he gave up even the pretense of it when Barack H. Obama took office. He came to making prior "judicial activism" look like a coma. I've looked: I can't find any place in the Constitution that says corporations are people or that money is speech. Nor is there, in that honored document, any defintion of marriage. (There are, however, ample words referring to equal protection under the law.) And he entirely stopped disguising his inclination to inject his religious views into the law of the land.
The same, of course, can be said of Samuel Alito.
There's no way in hell Republicans will allow President Obama to appoint Scalia's replacement; they'll pin their hopes on getting into the White House. To that end, I'm sure they'd swallow their tongues and support even Trump or Cruz. I doubt they could find anyone worse than Scalia has been in the past seven years. Well, unless it's Cruz and he appoints this piece of work, his favorite.
This is one among many reasons why electing a Republican for president in these times would be an existential disaster. One can only hope that Democrats and whichever candidate on whom they settle will make this obvious case, and make it effectively. Because it's not just the judiciary at stake: it's democracy, it's the environment, it's the planet. Seriously. It is.
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