The Supreme Court Sky Is Not Falling
Mar. 22, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — There is a massive temper tantrum going on in the Senate. The Republican leaders have decided they are not going to vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, no matter who it is. Now that he has named a relatively vanilla nominee in Judge Merrick Garland, still nothing.
It’s not that the Republicans want to deny the President a nomination, even though it is. It’s that they want the people to have a say in the next Supreme Court justice. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted out a simple message: the American people should be in charge of the next Supreme Court nomination.
Conservative activist Curt Levey was fine with Judge Garland a few years ago when discussing him as a potential Supreme Court nominee.
Mr. Levey, for example, in an email to other conservatives in 2012, said that Mr. Obama should not consider nominating “anyone to the left of Merrick Garland” to the Supreme Court, implying that Judge Garland was acceptable, as opposed to the president’s more liberal previous nominees, such as Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Things have changed. Apparently, Mr. Levey wouldn’t even support his mother for the Supreme Court now that Senate Republicans have decided not to support anybody.
“They could nominate my mother, who I have said very good things about over the years,” he said. “But this close to the election, with the balance of the court on the line, the American people should get a chance to weigh in.”
It’s nice Levy has said good things about his mother. But what kind of crappy son wouldn’t give his mom a shot at the high court? One who is completely blinded by politics. And pretty much just admitted no one goes on the Supreme Court. Period. Until the same people who have made reality TV and the Kardashians popular get their say.
Levy is not alone. The Judicial Crisis Network, which is a fancily named conservative hit squad, is betting the farm on making sure people know that this Supreme Court vacancy is a high stakes matter. Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Network and former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, is on the attack.
The Judicial Crisis Network said on Sunday that it planned to spend at least $5 million on the Supreme Court push, most of it on television. Even though Ms. Severino has gone after Judge Garland personally, the first four television ads from a campaign beginning Monday in six states focus on how issues like gun control and the regulation of the energy industry are at stake with the Supreme Court vacancy.
The political battle over the next Supreme Court justice has been framed by conservatives as nothing less than a battle over the future of our nation. They tell us a deeply divided Supreme Court is likely going to split 4-4 on every major political issue to come before it. The next justice will hold the immense power of the swing vote.
As that spot becomes allegedly more and more critical to the future of our country, the political battle over a nomination becomes more and more bitter.
Chief Justice John Roberts talked about the nomination process shortly before Justice Scalia’s death. He was not complimentary.
It was not long ago that qualified nominees coasted onto the court, Chief Justice Roberts said last month, in a speech at New England Law, a private law school in Boston. In 1986, Justice Scalia was confirmed by a vote of 98 to 0. In 1993, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3.
These days, Chief Justice Roberts said, “the process is not functioning very well.”
The Supreme Court is poised to be the latest, and biggest, pawn in the never-ending political game that has taken over our country. Once the Court falls, that’s it. The whole country will be subject to the whims of a bunch of children we insist on continuing to vote into office.
Except…there are signs that may not be the case.
Yesterday the Court issued an opinion in a Second Amendment case out of Massachusetts. Not just any Second Amendment case, either. One involving a “stun gun.” A modern weapon that could easily be distinguished from the guns typically in front of the Court. In other words, the perfect opportunity to start whittling away at gun rights now that the Court is down a justice.
On the same day the TV ads start airing, the opinion is the perfect backdrop to Ms. Severino’s commercials on how the guns are going to be taken away. Except they won’t.
So what happened in the case? Did the gun-hating hippies on the Court take advantage of numbers and go for a death strike against the right to bear arms?
Not quite. In fact, just the opposite. In a per curiam opinion, the Court unanimously adhered to its holdings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. It took some of the popular arguments for gun control and rejected them based on prior decisions. Unanimously. No dissent. That kind of unanimously.
This isn’t a Second Amendment post, so it’s not going to address the merits of the decision. Instead, let’s look at the politics of the decision.
A hot issue like the Second Amendment that is constantly debated and divides the country like few other issues. An empty spot on the Supreme Court, giving the liberals a chance to pounce. The Court in the spotlight. The country talking about the division at the Supreme Court.
All of this and the Court issues a 2-page unanimous opinion telling the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to follow the law. The law set in a 5-4 landmark opinion on the most controversial of controversial subjects. No politics. No disagreement. A little grandstanding by Justices Alito and Thomas in a concurring opinion, which just means, “we agree but want our own by-line.” But no disaster. No ground-shaking change in direction.
What does this mean? Maybe the Supreme Court is not going to get into politics. Maybe that next justice is not going to have the effect the Chicken Littles in the Senate keep screaming about.
Maybe the Supreme Court will reject politics and just do its job. What a nice change from a branch of government.