Sunday, April 18, 2010

Supreme Court Insanity

For years now, the nationalist right has approached political issues surrounding the Supreme Court with an utter detachment from sanity, which has only grown worse with time. Because the court appointees essentially serve for life, maintaining a degree of control over the court is central to any political movement. During the Great Depression, the Supreme Court was packed with appointees from various earlier presidents, whose efforts reduced the efficacy of the New Deal. Similar limitations have been placed on the Obama Presidency's reforms by the Bush-appointee Chief Justice, John Roberts. Lasting change in the United States requires a prevention of any strategies to undermine Obama's placements to the court or limit his options in that regard.

The people who want to change this country with the President, to usher in an age of responsibility, compassion, and justice (in other words, precisely what was lacking under our previous President) need to take on a hateful subculture which prayed for sitting justices in a still recent court to die and continues to use bigoted tactics in its "war" for America.

Given the speculation that President Obama might attempt to nominate a lesbian or gay justice to fill the coming vacancy, the American Family Association immediately stepped up an offensive against the potential nomination of the first sexual minority to the court. Earlier this week an AFA correspondent wrote:
Sen. John Cornyn has regrettably opened the door to the possibility of an openly gay Supreme Court justice, saying he'd "have to think about" it, and adding, "As long as it doesn't interfere with their job, it's not a particular issue."

The problem with Cornyn's position is that a gay judge's sexual preference will, without any question whatsoever, "interfere with their job." It's not possible for it to be otherwise.
The commentary in the second paragraph is surprisingly insightful. This AFA correspondent is so insulated (from the larger, secular, sexually-pluralistic culture that has come to dominate the United States in the past two decades) that he cannot conceive of a gay or lesbian or bisexual or otherwise sexually atypical judge having a political career and ideology outside of their sexuality and the perceived cultural trappings of it. He thinks that any of us Americans who register as less than a Kinsey one live entire lives oriented around that sexual difference. This is a degree of "othering" so profound that it's patently ridiculous.

Even more shocking is the emphasis placed on sexuality as an ultimate litmus test for a nomination to the Supreme Court. This religious arm of the larger surge of American nationalism has made a name for itself as moral arbiters who seek to return America to a purer, safer, better time. But this reveals that this branch of the nationalists unsurprisingly thinks of morality in exclusively sexual terms. Thus, the actual job (according to the AFA) of any Supreme Court Justice is not to rule on constitutionality and illegality but morality. "Immoral" laws are to be struck down. "Moral" provisions are to be prescribed. All of this pseudo-theocratic judgment occurs only regarding the issues the AFA concerns itself with (the rights of historical scapegoats of theocracies, women and sexual minorities) making a natural alignment between anti-populist economic groups (the Republican Party donors) and one-issue socially conservative voters (the Republican base).

The article continues on past this revealing bit of hopeful wishing for theocracy to the dreadful idea of retroactively reinstalling Sodomy bans:
If we elevate an open homosexual to the Supreme Court, we will be elevating someone who freely admits that he (generic use) engages routinely in behavior that was still a felony in every state in the Union as recently as 1962 and a felony in the other 49 states until 1972.
Or, if we're playing a numbers game, 14 states in 2002. Funny how it going for more recent data suddenly makes the AFA look like it's out of touch with the majority of state laws.

Meanwhile the article plugs onward into oblivion:
Sodomy is still a felony in the criminal code of about a dozen states. The Lawrence decision of 2003, an egregious act of judicial activism, prohibited enforcement of these laws, but the fact remains that 25% of the states in the Union still regard it as criminal behavior.
Those laws are still in the criminal code in the same sense that Jim Crow is still on the books where it was struck down by Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, womens' suffrage is not extended in all states. The proponent of this argument either does understand how federalism works, or actively seeks to undermine how it works.

The rest of the article (about the remaining half) dumps these previous arguments in favor of a bitter argument in favor of
A fundamental requirement of a judge is impartiality. He is to be as impartial as an umpire or a referee. His responsibility is to take rules written by others (including and above all the Constitution) and faithfully and neutrally apply them without bias or favoritism, and without changing the rules in the middle of the game to give the advantage to the team he happens to like best.

Tim Donaghy, an experienced NBA referee, was recently banned for life when it was revealed that he placed bets on games he himself officiated. He eventually plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges and is in prison as we speak. You just can't have a referee - or a judge - who has a built-in bias towards one team or the other.
In short, straight people have no biases, unlike those gays.