Friday, June 29, 2018

Quick points on Kennedy retirement from Supreme Court


There's a lot of fluff and a lot of fear out there on this blow to our already unstable democracy. At core, Kennedy's retirement and whatever subsequent reordering of the court follows will deepen an ongoing crisis of legitimacy of government.

Two Republican popular vote losers [Bush II and Trump] end up packing a Supreme Court that votes 5-4 in favor of a lot of things that the majority of Americans dislike. Very, very, very bad.

Marty, Emptywheel

Much of the distress will be about the near certainty that forced-pregnancy Republicans will, finally, get their dream of overturning Roe v Wade which ostensibly makes abortion legal everywhere. In practice, right wing Republicans have already made the procedure close to unavailable for less-privileged women in some states. That wise Democratic observer of politics Ed Kilgore makes a point worth remembering:

... the era of women being able to count on legal, if not convenient or affordable, abortions in every part of the country will be over in a post-Roe environment, and with it the argument that abortion policy is an annoying “social issue” that should be put aside so that politicians and policy-makers can focus on “real” issues like the economy. With one SCOTUS appointment and one decision, that could all change, and we could enter a period of abortion-policy activism unlike anything America has seen in decades.

My emphasis.

The Trump policy of baby-snatching and jailing at the border seemed to have softened evangelicals embrace of the President momentarily; the focus shifting back to a chance to end legal abortion will lock the fundamentalists and any wavering Catholics back in lock step.

It's worth noting that Anthony Kennedy was not a great jurist, merely a highly influential one, because of sitting for more than a decade as the swing vote between moderate liberals and hard line rightists. Sharp lawyers from both left and right criticize his opinions as poorly argued. Unfortunately, his rulings in favor of gay civil rights and affirming same sex marriage are among his more airy-fairy offerings. This legal weakness (all the other justices, even Thomas, have been more cogent) may make it easier for a court that is hostile to LGBT and women's rights to pick away at what equality we've won under law. They probably can't outright take away our full citizenship, but they can allow discrimination and undermine equality.

And, whoever Trump and the GOPers install on the court will almost certainly sit in judgment on whatever cases arising out of the Mueller investigation work their way to the Supremes. Trump gets to pick a judge who will judge him. That's certainly representative of a low and dangerous moment.

Resistance activists have to recognize that Democrats are very unlikely to be able to prevent any of this. Pols will almost certainly yell and scream and blunder about tactically through the process. But since the power -- the votes -- aren't there, much of this will be an involuntary charade.

Activists have to play it out, but if ever we had to resist forming a circular fire-squad over Democratic missteps, this is it. Skip it. Win in November; don't let Trumpists and bots get us mired in denouncing our enfeebled "leaders."

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

This court was the main reason to have voted for Hillary, at least for me. It covers a lot of issues and reasons why we didn't want more extreme righties-- or really even extreme lefties where they don't go by the law but instead go by politics. Why not those who value the law and Constitution.

I read though that the Supremes are unlikely to get a say in what happens with Trump. IF he is found guilty of something, a strict constitutionalist will not necessarily protect him. We though at this point don't know whether Trump did any that can be proven. I am more concerned about Civil Rights and, of course, women's right to have legal and safe abortion. (I though do not support that right for the whole length of a pregnancy-- another place I don't fit the right or the left when they go too far - in my view).

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