Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Supreme Court

Actually, it was a scary thing.  Back in November of 2011, three Justices of the Supreme Court attended a fundraiser dinner sponsored by the Federalist Society, a self-styled association of conservative and libertarian lawyers, that is trying to overturn President Obama's health care law (Affordable Care Act).  They were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas  and Justice Samuel Alito.  Makes one wonder how impartial the Supreme Court justices are.  Bob Edgar writes, "This kind of activity by members of our highest court undercuts any claim of impartiality in the health care litigation by the justices involved. Worse yet, it clearly violates the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, a set of ethical standards the Supreme Court helps enforce on lower federal courts but has refused to impose on itself. The Code warns judges to abstain from speaking or serving as the guest of honor at any fundraising event." (Huffington Post, 11/14/11)

The Nine Justices of the Supreme Court

As to issues concerning legislation, Supreme Court Justices tend to vote along partisan lines, in favor of the President who appointed them.  After all, we've been through this before in the 2000 elections, when recounting in Bush vs. Gore was stopped by the Supreme Court by a partisan vote.  In the case of Obama Care, all eyes are on Justice Kennedy who will cast the "deciding vote", which means the battle has ended before it began. Where is the blindfold that these Justices are supposed to wear? What steps must we take to preserve the system of checks and balances.  First of all,  I think Supreme Court justices should have a term of service.  They seem to sit like glaciers on our legal system for billions of years.  Next, they should not be political appointees but rather, elected by a legal board comprising representatives from all the states.  Knowing Congressmen and Senators and hobnobbing with them should be considered a disqualification--the judges should don a judicial "purdah".

Hopefully, the Supreme Court justices will make a decision that promises vision and changes the way people think about health care. A consistent 5-4 split is not justice, it is a mockery of it.  Remember that Brown vs. Board of Education returned a unanimous verdict.  "Today Brown is a nearly universal icon of social progress, while Roe remains an object of great controversy. But, for better or for worse, both cases represented efforts to change the everyday reality of American life. With Brown, the justices were tearing down barriers to racial equality; with Roe, the justices were eliminating laws that prevented access to abortion."(Cohn, The New Republic, 3/29/2012)
This bipartisan politics is only obstructing the growth of revolutionary ideas. America needs to change the way it conducts business.

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