In a shameless act of cultural appropriation, this week’s column title takes the Black Lives Matter/Antifa/ mostly peaceful protesters/Biden voters mantra “No Justice, No Peace” and applies it to the current contretemps roiling the nation, the likely replacement of the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) with the notoriously “dogmatic” (at least according to California Senior Senator Diane Feinstein) Catholic mother of seven, Amy Coney Barrett (ACB).
According to the Biden voters, if Judge Barrett (or any Trump nominee) is confirmed and seated, there will be no justice and no peace because the Supreme Court will, like every Republican President this century (at least according to the left) be indelibly stained as illegitimate and a violation of Democracy. According to the now awoken “Deplorable” Trump voters, if Judge Barrett is not confirmed and seated forthwith in time to break a 4-4 SCOTUS tie on whether or not Democrats can keep counting ballots until they have bought, manufactured, found and/or unsuppressed enough votes to defeat President Trump, the consequences of No Justice will be no peace. That is one of the reasons gun sales have been sharply increasing. (The others are BLM’s and the left’s call to defund the police and the Democrats all to evident hostility to the second Amendment)
The role reversals of hypocritical politicians plaintively whining about precedent, fairness, President Obama’s thwarted nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, the Biden Rule, the McConnell rule, Kavanaugh, Believe all women, Bork, Thomas, Abe Fortas, constitutional duty and all that bring to mind the famous scene from Casablanca where Captain Renault closes down Rick’s with the following exchange:
Renault: “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”
Croupier: “Your winnings, sir.”
Renault: “Oh, thank you very much.”
Replace “gambling” with “politics and the pursuit of power” and you have all you need to know. The increasing power of SCOTUS to make law and policy, coupled with Congressional inability or unwillingness to do the same has led to this point. The unelected and unaccountable Court, not Congress, decides policy on abortion, marriage, immigration, climate change, election process, speech, religion and more. Further, there is a judicial activism leftist ratchet effect. Liberal appointees may use judicial activism and a “living” Constitution to create new law and precedent (see Roe vs. Wade), but Conservative appointees may not reverse such precedents…ever. Thus, the Court steadily ratchets the country leftward.
The ugliness of the Kavanaugh hearings and the end of any bi-partisan support for qualified nominees if they are conservative will be repeated this time around. In the future, I expect conservatives, who have now woken to the fact that the left will not vote for a qualified conservative, will start to return the favor. Perhaps future liberal clones of mediocre ideologues like Obama appointees Elena Kagan and the “wise Latina” Sonia Sotomayor will not garner Republican support to ratchet America leftwards. I wish Senator Collins had asked Speaker Gideon if she would have voted (as Susan did) for Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. Senator Collins did get a non-answer from Speaker Gideon on the question of Chief Justice Roberts, who was qualified, has been a big disappointment to conservatives, but is probably not liberal enough to garner any Democratic votes were he to be nominated today.
The passing of RBG probably means the end for Senator Collins. Her decision to vote against any Trump nominee before the election will win her neither converts nor undecided voters. It probably will not cost her any votes either, because the prospect of being represented by Sarah Gideon and Angus King in the US Senate is terrifying for any right of center Mainer.
Jon Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias. His views are his own. Mr. Reisman welcomes comments as letters to the editor here, or to him directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.