SCOTUS Operandi

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By Bill Maher

Asked what keeps her hopeful, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle – it is the pendulum. And when it goes very far in one direction you can count on its swinging back.”

That’s certainly true with elections – in 2008, Republicans were as powerless as Democrats are now. Ten years later, they own everything. But the Supreme Court is different. It swings much more slowly, and isn’t democratic. Brett Kavanaugh is set to give right wing Republicans a solid 5-4 majority on the court, and he’ll likely be there for generations. What’s especially maddening is that, if it weren’t for the stupid, antiquated Electoral College, liberals would actually have a 8-1 advantage on the court – Kavanaugh would be one of four justices appointed by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote (two in Bush’s first term, two for Trump so far).

Even if we elected a blue wave of liberals to the House, a Democratic Senate, and President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, no matter what legislation is enacted – Medicare for all, a carbon tax, raising the minimum wage, restoring the Voting Rights Act, public financing of campaigns, gun control laws, protecting women’s rights – five right wing Republican men sit in waiting to dismantle it. Republicans used to rail against “legislating from the bench.” Now it’s their favorite hobby.

We’re in an era now where Democrats wait for Democratic presidents to retire and Republicans wait for Republicans. The only exception is the fluke of death. Anthony Kennedy’s son was a close business associate of Donald Trump’s. This is no way to run a democracy. A Supreme Court seat carries too much power for too long, and appointments are not fairly allocated. Jimmy Carter didn’t get any Supreme Court vacancies. Trump got two in less than half a term. Plus, it’s gotten ageist, because presidents try to appoint teenagers so they’ll be there forever.

I’ll say something I don’t say often: Rick Perry had a good idea. He proposed 18-year terms for Supreme Court justices, so every president would get roughly the same number of appointments, and ideologues couldn’t hoard power for too long. Then the same adviser who gave him that idea told him what the Supreme Court was. Shouldn’t we do that?