Peter 'Fish' Case: When separation of power is threatened, no one is safe
When law becomes partisan politics, we will be heading towards a civil war. I'm not talking about the kind of civil war that's fixed by Avengers, I'm talking about the civil war that finally allows you to bludgeon that Fox News talking point drunk uncle that you see at Thanksgiving once a year. I'm not trying to make light of the situation, rather paint a picture that you and your mom's brother could be fighting for different sides and likely to the death.
We saw the beginning of it towards the end of the Obama presidency. When Justice Scalia passed away in February of 2016, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican puppetry blocked the Obama nomination of Merrick Garland, making the argument that the Supreme Court can operate down one justice. But McConnell went on to brag about it, stating, "One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, 'You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy,'" and in 2017 he flip-flopped when he said, "Apparently there's yet a new standard now, which is not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate." Well, guess what, Mitch, they've been enduring and tolerating sheepishly right along the entire time. You've successfully deflected and distracted your red meat base to a point that they are so dumbed down they no longer understand right from wrong.
Somewhere along the way our legal system became part of the political process. When it comes to the law it truly shouldn't matter who someone picks to be on the Supreme Court. If that person is able to follow the law to the letter, then they could be a whack job liberal or a tin foil hat-wearing conservative; they consult the legal system and come up with a verdict. But let's face it, party lines were drawn by McConnell when he wouldn't allow Obama's selection for the Supreme Court. So when political affiliation starts to make decisions on cases, the military will need to get involved.
For me, this is scarier than the coronavirus (because we'll eventually have a cure for that). The path that has started to become paved is our legal system becoming politicized. Our very own Senator Leahy said, "The rising partisanship of the judiciary presents a major obstacle for the Supreme Court if it comes to be viewed mainly as a creature of politics." Leahy is a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. He said that with reference to the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, but for me, it still holds true to form today. If the country, which already believes that the highest court in the land is wrought with politics that are anything but bi-partisan, and we as Americans start to feel that our legal system is being swayed by a judge's choice on cable channel news, we've got a huge problem.
Make no mistake about it. Trump isn't running for president; he's running so he doesn't go to jail. He's running so that he might continue to swing the courts more into a conservative arena so that when the time comes to judge him for his actions, it judges him lightly. But how many 5-4 votes can this country endure? Republicans are making rumblings about mail-in voting; this will eventually, should it continue to escalate, end up in front of the highest court in the land. If that court votes along party lines and strips any facet away from people's right to vote, well it's not going to be pretty what happens next.
We're all in this state of confusion right now, waiting for another shoe to drop. We're highly distracted and vulnerable; this is when things change, and things happen. This is when we need to be diligent and pay attention. The very fact that we have to be concerned about the welfare of our legal system in that it becomes an extension of the executive branch is horrifying. We have three branches of government for a reason — to provide for separation of power — and if that final branch (judicial) is merely an extension of the executive branch, well, again, nobody — and I mean nobody — is safe.
Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at theearspoon.com. Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.
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