Preparing for a big day of minor explosions tomorrow, the PostScript bunker has itself a pretty sharp red, white and blue asbestos suit and three packages of raw hot dogs that we will not cook because fire is scary and raw meat is good for the immune system. And that is all now patriotic, because PostScript’s health is now a national concern! (Hey, delicious cookies raising PostScript’s BMI, why do you HATE AMERICA?)
But we digress.
Michael Gerson’s column today raises another national concern — that the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding Obamacare was politically motivated rather than constitutionally inspired. Gerson argued that Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing not only in his vote but in the idea that the Supreme Court should be working for social justice rather than upholding the intent of the Founding Fathers, as expressed by them in the Founding Documents. (He also awesomely quoted “The Simpsons’ ” jokes about Earl Warren along the way.)
Commenters, however, wondered a bit at Gerson’s trashing of the memory of Warren. (Yes, it is true that Eisenhower regretted the nomination — but that doesn’t mean Ike was right.)
cbl55 remembers Warren fondly:
I remember the thousands and thousands of people who came to see Earl Warren’s body lying in state after he died. The “spectre of Earl Warren” held an honorable place in our public life and memory.
and chaos1 argues that the Supreme Court’s decisions for social justice were pretty important and necessary:
Yes, like that gosh-darned Brown v. Board of Education decision. Whatever happened to states’ rights, eh Gerson?
And they also think this is hardly the first example of politics interfering with court decisions.
joachim1 doesn’t see how we could expect anything different, given our appointment process:
Supreme Court justices should not be “sure things” to either side of the political divide, yet this is what the entire nomination and confirmation process has come to. Nominees are coached to lie about their true beliefs to get confirmed, and once on the bench, are expected to repay their sponsors with predictable rulings. Sadly, this flies in the face of the independent judiciary envisioned by our Founders, whose thinking is so often cited by politicians, and the SCOTUS itself.
outofthebox1 finds three reasons why Roberts did what he did, all of them political:
Clearly the danger here is that the Court loses credibility every time it tries to make up rules to get the result it thinks it’s supposed to get, for whatever reason, left or right.
So Roberts took the course he chose, and I think for three reasons. One is that the recent history of Court decisions in challenging cases, all with the same groups on each side of 5-4, gave the appearance that the Spoils System from the 19th century had returned, so Roberts wanted to break that pattern. In truth, this case is actually the exception that proves the rule. If it’s so shocking that Roberts would take the liberal position, isn’t that a clear indication that we all know he’s a bought and paid for conservative?
The second reason is that I think in the short term, this decision helps the GOP raise funds from its base and activates its true believers.
The third reason is that in the long term, health care reform will become very popular, and Roberts wants his legacy to reflect his fine upstanding willingness to exercise judicial restraint to have allowed it to move forward.
All these factors really make the Court look weaker and more like a political body than the respected, sober institution we’ve traditionally thought it was.
We think that was well-reasoned, but a bit cynical, so we won’t end with it. We're going to try and be apolitical now: Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Happy America! If you get a chance, stand up next to yourself and defend her still today. And eat some unwashed produce.