The extremist Republican Supremes now in control have been busy denying that they are a bunch of partisan hacks. Too bad they actually are!
Ralph Waldo Emerson told about a dinner guest in his home who spent the entire evening prattling on about his belief in virtue, honesty and his own integrity: “The louder he talked of his honor,” Emerson wrote, “the faster we counted our spoons.”
Today, America has not one, but six guests in our national home babbling about their integrity. They are the extremist Republican Supremes who now control the Court, and they’ve recently been loudly proclaiming the purity of their judicial impartiality. For example, their newest cohort, Amy Coney Barrett, had barely donned her black robe of judicial authoritarianism when she suddenly blurted out at a public forum in September that “this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”
Whoa — better count our spoons!
In fact, each of the six were installed on the court by right-wing Republicans specifically because they had proven to be devout partisan hacks. Interestingly, Barrett made her unprompted and strained assertion of judicial integrity at the McConnell Center in Louisville, Kentucky — a hall named for Mitch McConnell, the rabidly partisan GOP senator who pulled a fast one last year, getting Barrett nominated by then-President Donald Trump and rushing her onto the bench just before Trump was defeated and Republicans lost control of the Senate. Indeed, the person who introduced her at the McConnell Center was old Moscow Mitch himself, grinning proudly at the pure hackery of his partisan protege.
Another hardcore partisan on the court, Justice Samuel Alito, whined in October that critics accuse the GOP majority of being “a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its way.” Well golly, Sam, yes, we do think that, because again and again you partisans sneak up on the Constitution and We the People to twist the law to fit your political biases and personal whims. If you don’t want to be considered political hacks — stop being political hacks.
Really, what is so supreme about the Supreme Court?
Yes, it is housed in an imposing marble building; it’s the final stop on America’s judicial train; and the nine members get to look photogenically authoritarian in those full-body black robes. And, yes, its existence is written into the Constitution — but so is Congress, and no one thinks of it as anything supreme.
Yes, we 330 million Americans are told we must obey “the law” as defined by a half-dozen unelected lawyers on the court. Why should we democratic citizens do that? After all, these legalistic elites have no actual power to force their personal beliefs on us — there’s no Supreme Court army and they have no taxing authority. In fact, their sole source of power is one that is intangible, extremely fragile and easily frittered away: Public trust.
We should go along with their rulings only as long as they appear to be fair and honest, not based on personal whim or partisan ideology and not meant to extend plutocratic power over the people. As Justice Elena Kagan rightly put it, “The only way we can get people to do what we think they should do is because people respect us.”
That’s where the present majority of far-right-wing appointees have failed so abjectly. Rather than meeting a lofty standard of judiciousness, all six have pulled the Supreme Court down into the mire of crass Republican politics. These Republican Supremes have corrupted the system and jiggered the law to decree that corporate campaign cash is “free speech,” that the state can take over women’s bodies, that the Republican Party can unilaterally shut millions of voters out of America’s voting booths … and so awful much more that enthrones the few over the many.
Respect? Trust? The Republican court is already down to 40% public approval rating, surrendering its legitimacy as a governing authority over us.