4/4 and 44
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
"Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached." - Antonin Scalia, on executing innocent people.There are two ways to report on last Saturday's death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: One can take stock at his legacy in jurisprudence or the battle that began brewing between Senate Republicans and the White House before rigor mortis even took effect. The man, it could be said, created one Constitutional crisis after another while in life and then, as a parting volley to this vale of tears, left one more in death.
In his three decades on the High Court, Scalia had represented the majority and minority in many of the most horrible decisions in the history of this country. Relentlessly pro-corporate, Scalia's worst decisions seem bunched up after December 2000 when he took part in the infamous Florida recount ruling that essentially handed the presidency to a boob who couldn't keep dirty water out of New Orleans or put clean water back into it.
Not content with changing American and Middle East history for the worse, Scalia had shown horrible judgment both in and out of the court. After ruling with the majority on Citizen's United in 2010, Scalia and his old running buddy Clarence Thomas shamelessly took off for a Koch Brothers-funded retreat and taking full advantage of the fact that, for some maddening reason, Supreme Court justices are not held to a high standard as regards the appearance of impropriety (And what was Scalia doing, alone, in a West Texas resort hotel, on a hunting trip? And has anyone seen Dick Cheney lately?).
And I could spend five times my usual amount of space merely cataloging Scalia's seemingly endless evils from the Florida Recount to Citizen's United, to unsuccessfully ruling to gut the ACA as he had successfully helped to do with the Voting Rights Act to voting to execute innocent inmates and children under 15. But I'll leave that to better legal minds than mine to recount his toxic legacy infinitum ad nauseum.
And it's typical of the incessantly rude Antonin Scalia to give us a final flip-off as he packs asbestos underwear for Hell by leaving in his wake a Constitutional crisis created by his fellow Republicans.
'Ey, I Gotcher Constitution Right Here!
Republicans apparently think that Barack Obama's term in office runs from January 20, 2009 to February 13, 2016. Yes, the Party of Personal Responsibility that's been hounding Obama for taking too many vacation days is now saying the president should just sit this one out and not do his job. And to this end, the GOP now retroactively loves the so-called Thurmond Rule that they'd, rightfully, denied less than eight years ago when a Republican was squatting in the Oval Office.
Unfortunately, there's a pesky little bylaw called Article Two of the United States Constitution, the document so revered by Scalia, a Constitutional Originalist. This gives the President of the United States the power to nominate Supreme Court Justices as well as lower federal judges and, if necessary, make recess appointments when Congress isn't in session.But Article Two has been conveniently forgotten by the so-called senior lawmakers in the Senate. Before Scalia had finished shitting and pissing his pants, Mitch McConnell, a man who has based a very long and successful career in the Senate by being a pile of immovable shit on the road to any progress, said we should wait for the next president to appoint Scalia's replacement. Just before that night's Republican debate, Ted Cruz took to his Twitter account and said the same thing.
Because as with the plainly insane Antonin Scalia, who resorted to nonsense words and writing dissents that were thinly disguised right wing blog posts when he didn't get his way, the Republican Party in the Upper Chamber blithely think if they can ignore the law and simply obstruct every nomination the president has yet to make, they'll get their way. Of course, in an election year, this has historically proven to be disastrous for the GOP, a major political party that actually thinks, as Chuck Grassley said, that Supreme Court nominations are never made in an election year.
In fact, this is what the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said moments after Scalia's death was announced:
“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year."Yes, he actually said that, despite the fact that, to cite just one example, Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy November 1987, who was confirmed just after New Year's 1988.
An election year.
And these are the people who lambaste liberals for politicizing everything.
Denouncing #44 in 4/4 TimeAs anyone who can do basic math knows, a Supreme Court evenly divided along party lines (which ought never happen as judges are supposed to rule on matters of law, not politics) promises a lot of gridlock and this is what the Founding Fathers wanted to hedge against by creating an odd-numbered court of nine justices.
But according to the GOP, an important post such as a Supreme Court seat can just wait nearly a year on the off chance we elect a right wing president. And the GOP's manufactured hysterics and complete ignorance of the rule of law is a most transparent attempt at keeping the Supreme Court from falling in the hands of them thar ebil lib'rals. This despite Obama making two nominations for the High Court who are, at best, middle-of-the-road centrists with more than a modicum of common sense and sanity.
In Scalia's wake, the Supreme Court will be hearing a wide variety of cases of the highest import and logic dictates that many of those cases will be voted on according to party lines that, again, should never be a factor. As USA Today succinctly put it,
This was to be the term conservatives roared back after one in which the court's liberal bloc won most of the important cases, such as same-sex marriage and Obamacare. On tap to be decided in the next four months are cases affecting abortion rights, affirmative action, voting rights, the power of labor unions and President Obama's health care and immigration policies -- and conservatives stood at least a chance of winning them all.And Republicans are quite happy with risking countless 4-4 votes on many of today's most important legal and social issues simply in the interests of ideological (and racial) primacy. In other words, Republicans will once again paralyze the government or a part of it to keep the black guy from getting his way.
And in preemptively vowing to block any nominees that the president has yet to make, the Republican Party has reduced itself to a pack of rabid 5th Columnists who are hallucinating and swatting away phantom judges.