When it comes to selecting Supreme Court justices, Donald Trump was correct in stating that next to going to war, it is probably the most important decision that a president will be called upon to make. It is, after all, the decision that will extend his influence for years, even decades, after he has exited the White House, leaving the key under the mat.
All one has to do is look at Barack Obama’s so-called legacy items. Trump has already freed us of the Paris accords and the Iran nuclear deal and, in spite of John McCain’s betrayal, gotten rid of the most odious portion of ObamaCare. What Trump can’t do, however, is fire Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
It is fair to say that liberal presidents seem to do a better job of placing like-minded jurists on the Court. But part of the reason for that is that once ensconced, judges who appeared to be of a conservative bent sometimes trend leftward, whereas the reverse never seems to happen.
So, whereas Bill Clinton placed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Court, and Obama was responsible for Kagan and Sotomayor, neither has ever had reason to second-guess himself, the Republicans have had plenty of reason.
Nixon had good luck with Warren Burger and William Rehnquist, but he was certainly blindsided when Harry Blackmun wrote the majority decision on Roe v. Wade, which, however way you feel about federally mandated abortions, was poorly reasoned. By insisting that abortions are constitutionally guaranteed on the basis of privacy, when privacy is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, we got to see judicial activism at its worst.
Ronald Reagan could brag about Antonin Scalia, but what the heck was he thinking when he nominated Sandra Day O'Connor? He also appointed Anthony Kennedy, who, on social issues, seemed to take his marching orders from Tip O'Neill.
George Herbert Walker Bush did just fine when he managed to squeak Clarence Thomas through the confirmation process by the skin of his teeth, but then he blew it by seating David Souter.
His son did better, appointing John Roberts and Samuel Alito, although Roberts blundered badly when he defended ObamaCare by claiming it was a tax and therefore legal, even though Obama’s lawyers had vehemently argued before the Court that it wasn’t a tax.
Personally, I believe that the reason that some seemingly conservative judges drift leftward after getting a job from which they can’t be fired isn’t because, as liberals would argue, they have come to their belated senses or grown wiser as they’ve grown older. Instead, I believe that, like members of Congress, they are not impervious to the political climate in the uberliberal nation’s capital. When their hometown newspaper, The Washington Post, along with The New York Times and the chattering class at DC cocktail parties are constantly ridiculing conservative policies, it takes a very stalwart character to remain impervious to the endless pressure and propaganda.
Before moving on, I hate having to refer to those on the Court who subscribe to the belief that the Constitution is meant to be interpreted through its own well-written words and not to be reinterpreted every few years based on the latest fad in political thought. I prefer calling them constitutionalists or originalists, but it keeps getting harder and harder to avoid partisan terminology when the members of the Senate base their confirmation votes strictly through litmus tests and along party lines.
I must confess I was amused when the anti-Trump demonstrators showed up in front of the Court on the day Trump was scheduled to announce his decision, armed with picket signs that indicated the nominee’s name with XX or a blank space they were to fill in as soon as a name was announced, fully prepared to oppose anyone he named.
My regret was that I never got to see those signs until the next day, by which time they had been professionally printed, paid for no doubt by George Soros, with the nominee’s name spelled correctly. I’m sure I would have had a good laugh when these chowderheads had to fill in the blank space with Brett Kavanaugh, which is not the easiest name in the world to spell correctly, particularly by people who have trouble spelling c-a-t and d-o-g.
Bob Gorrell summed current events up nicely in a four-panel cartoon in which the Democrats are symbolized by a talking donkey: “We can’t let just anybody in. Some of those seeking entry might seek to do us harm. We need extreme vetting. For Supreme Court nominees.”
A reader, knowing my affection for George Orwell, reminded me that in his dystopian novel, 1984, he wrote: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and state building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
In a book written in 1949, 59 years before Barack Obama was elected president, Orwell foresaw a man who kept every aspect of his early life under lock and key and a mob that sought to tarnish the reputations of the nation’s founders by dismissing them as old white slaveholders; besmirch Christopher Columbus as an oppressor of indigenous people, who were themselves, often slaveowners and cannibals; and, for good measure, topple the statues of men like Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson.
Something I will never understand about Donald Trump, a man who became famous for firing people off a TV show, is why he took so long to fire James Comey and Scott Pruitt, two creeps who wouldn’t have lasted a week on “The Apprentice.”
It figures that in movies and on TV, certain conceits are required, either as plot devices or to avoid unnecessary interruptions. In motion pictures, the most blatant inevitably occurred in James Bond movies. For two hours, Bond would be busy preventing the archvillain from achieving his evil ends. Finally, the bad guy would capture Bond and instead of simply shooting him would set up an elaborate way of getting rid of his chief nemesis, be it in a shark tank or by a huge band saw. But he never stuck around to watch his handiwork. Instead, in order that Bond would live to fight another day, the villain would have to race off, as if he could conceivably have more urgent business elsewhere. No doubt he suddenly remembered there was a tuna fish sandwich somewhere with his name on it.
On TV, the conceit is that nobody ever locks his front door, at least not on sitcoms such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Friends,” and even “Seinfeld,” which was set in New York City, where most apartment dwellers have double and triple locks and would have a moat if it could possibly be arranged.
Because the producers and directors didn’t want to waste time having their characters constantly answering the door, they simply pretended that every show was set in Mayberry.
A few readers took me to task for applauding the firing of Scott Pruitt. Their thinking seemed to be that simply because the liberal mob wanted the chiseler gone, he deserved to stay. Wrong. By his own greedy and arrogant actions, Pruitt handed his opponents a shovel, and he can’t therefore complain that they used it to bash in his head and then bury him with it.
We compromise our own principles when we defend those whose behavior we’d obviously abhor if they were Democrats.
When I wrote about my misadventures in public school, even my wife asked me if I had made up the part about being throttled by “Fingers” Bailey in carpentry class. I assured her it was all true and that, for reasons known only to himself, he was convinced that my name was Vyshinsky.
I did clarify that it wasn’t exactly a carpentry class, as the only thing I ever recall being made was a one-foot-long book holder, perfect, I suppose, for the person with only five or six books in his library.
Woodshop, like the other shop classes in junior high, seemed like a holdover from a much earlier age. I remember wasting an hour a day in something called printshop, which would have prepared me for a career setting type by hand if all those dang-blasted machines hadn’t already been invented years earlier.