Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court has died. Don’t be sorry.
He was on a hunting spree when it happened. He was taking a freebie at the dude ranch of a buddy who’d been sued for discrimination. He’d refused to hear the case against his pal and was enjoying the payola. Corruption? Nah, couldn’t have been.
It’s high time it had a bench of 18 and a quorum of nine. One death would not then cause chaos.
He was disliked by Chief Justice Rehnquist, another Republican, who never gave him opinions to write. But when he got his hands on the pen, he never missed a chance to suck up to America’s moneyed class. He was a big fan of binding arbitration, a secret system of corporate-friendly kangaroo courts that routinely rule against working Americans.
He loved gun manufacturers. The Second Amendment had always been interpreted as granting “the right of the People to bear arms” only to a “well-regulated Militia” in each state. But in the Heller case, Scalia severed the connection between the militia clause and the arms clause. Hence, the Second Amendment now gives unlimited access to assault weapons to loonies such as Cliven Bundy’s “patriots” with their “checkpoints.” That grinding noise you hear is the Founding Fathers turning in their graves.
He loved the death penalty. He held (In Re Davis) that a defendant’s scientifically proven innocence was no defense to even a sentence of death: “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” Translation: “OK, so the lower court found that the DNA proves you’re innocent. But the evidence came three days too late. Too bad the prosecutor hid the exculpatory evidence. No habeas corpus for you, buster. It’s the chop.” Cruel? Unusual? Nah, couldn’t be.
And he supported cases that permanently changed politics, economic justice and women’s rights for the worse, such as Bush v Gore, Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, Wal-Mart v Dukes, and Burwell v Hobby Lobby. He pretended that his decisions were based on a strict interpretation of the “original intent” of the Constitution. Sharper Focus (“Guns Are People,” 4/3/14) has already exposed that myth:-
“Where, precisely, is it written in ye olde handwritten Constitution that ye Supreme Court can dream up new constitutional provisions, strike down laws it doesn’t like, and elect the president? Answer: Absolutely nowhere. Yes, I’m aware that Marbury vs. Madison (1803) is supposed to have created judicial review. But that’s NOT in the Constitution. In its ‘original intent,’ beloved by conservatives, the Constitution decreed that Congress passed statutes and the president approved them. It said nothing about the Supreme Court meddling with them. The court was merely supposed to hear interstate commercial disputes (replacing the Privy Council in London).”
FDR tried to fix the absurdity of unelected, lifelong judges meddling with democratically passed laws. He was accused of “packing the court” and failed by one vote when someone died.
But where does the Constitution say the Supreme Court must have a bench of nine and a quorum of nine? It doesn’t. Congress decides the court’s makeup. It’s high time it had a bench of 18 and a quorum of nine. One death would not then cause chaos. And an expanded bench would reduce the chances of political meddling posing as neutral decisions, since entrenched 5-4 majorities could not happen.
The Constitution (revered by Republicans when it suits them) clearly says the president “shall” nominate a successor, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. But Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has made it clear that any nominee is DOA. Republicans gleefully cite some loose words from Vice President Joe Biden in 1992. Yet, since 1975, all nominees have been confirmed within an average time of 67 days. And, in all our history, no nominee has ever been totally ignored.
Even Ronald Reagan (revered by Republicans when it suits them) said, concerning a Supreme Court appointment in his final year, “It’s time for all Americans to join together in a bipartisan effort to fulfill our constitutional obligation of restoring the Supreme Court to full strength.”
The Constitution is now being trashed for cynical partisan gain. America has a constitutional crisis because someone has died. Third World countries are run better! Again, that grinding noise you hear is the Founding Fathers turning in their graves.
But the last laugh could come from President Obama. He will stay in office until Jan. 20. But the new Senate must begin work on Jan. 3, per the Constitution. If the Democrats regain the Senate, 17 days is ample time to confirm a liberal justice by a simple majority. And if Democrats keep the Oval Office, the new president could nominate President Obama as the next justice. That would be … poetic justice.