The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, September 21, 2020

RBG and the New Rules

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (a.k.a. RBG) served the nation well as a Supreme Court justice for more than a generation. To do so, she overcame many gender-based obstacles as she rose to the SCOTUS. Her rulings were always well-reasoned, even if one disagreed with them on ideological grounds. Donald Trump's comments on RGB celebrate her legacy well:

“... our nation mourns the loss of a legal giant, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Her landmark rulings, fierce commitment to justice, and her courageous battle against cancer inspire all Americans. … She was an inspiration to a tremendous number of people, I say all Americans.

“Justice Ginsburg’s close relationship with a friend of ours, a friend of mine, Justice Scalia, is also a powerful reminder that we can disagree on fundamental issues while treating each other with decency, dignity, and respect. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

When RBG was nominated to the Court, the politics of our nation were entirely different. The "old" Democratic party, slightly left-of-center, represented no threat to our rights and freedoms. The media, although it leaned left, was a moderating force, calling out excesses whenever either political party got carried away. The deep state did not evidence the partisan slant that we see today. Academia, although always left-leaning, wasn't a hot house for hard-left ideas and at the same time, a repressive entity that literally silenced dissenting voices. Entertainment and the arts were not ruled by political correctness, nor did they self-edit their stories out of fear of cancel culture.

Today, all of that has changed. The "new" Democratic party is hard-left in its view of both domestic and foreign politics. The media has become their Praetorian guard. The deep state  aggressively works to defeat any person or party that even suggests policies that conflict with their aims. Academia is now as much a propaganda tool as it is a learning/research institution. And entertainment (all of the arts and sports) care only about presenting a product that fits the prevailing leftist "woke" narrative.

There was a time when I strongly believed that SCOTUS should be balanced ideologically ... that it should reflect a diversity of opinions and ideologies, and that justices would rule on the law and the constitution. I still believe that. 

But my faith in "balance" has been shaken by the imbalance that we see in the media, the deep state, academia, and arts and entertainment. Those entities consistently deliver an imbalanced left-wing message. And because those entities have enormous influence on public perception, a rogue political party can now suggest policies and pass laws that are antithetical to the collective freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech) that we have enjoyed for hundreds of years. SCOTUS can act to correct that imbalance.

The replacement battle for RBG's seat on the court will be brutal. The new Democratic party—afraid that the SCOTUS can act as a check on their power—has already suggested that the president's clear right to nominate a justice (as Obama did in his final year as president) is somehow wrong. They now want to stand on "principle."  

Yet the new Democratic party forfeited any right to argue about principled stands after their vicious and mendacious treatment of a series of SCOTUS nominees over the past three decades—Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and then, Brett Kavanaugh, in the middle of Donald Trump's first term. They and they alone decided that SCOTUS nominations would be played using new rules—created by the Dems and intended to guarantee a court that they wanted.* The new rules indicated that anything goes—that opposition included extreme parliamentary maneuvers, unsubstantiated claims of judicial bias, and the politics of personal destruction. The Democrats had over those years adopted their new mantra—by any means necessary.

It looks like the GOP is about to use those same new rules, hopefully without the viciousness and mendacity, but the new rules nonetheless.  Funny that all of sudden the Dems don't like the new rules one bit.


*  For those progressives who argue that the GOP has done exactly the same thing—uhhh ... no. The editors of WSJ provide a little history:

No Democratic nominee has been borked, to use the name that became a verb. Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose left-wing legal views were obvious upon her nomination, received a respectful GOP hearing and was confirmed 68-31 with nine GOP votes. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3, Stephen Breyer 87-9, and Elena Kagan 63-37.

In each of the cases noted, the GOP acted like adults, expressing concern over ideological differences, but never trying to destroy the nominee (a la Bork, Thomas or Kavanaugh). In fact, more than just a couple of GOP senators voted for the Dem president's nominee in every case. Can the same be said for Dems?


Miranda Devine provides a few examples of how leaders of the new Democratic party handled the new rules when they are applied to them:

“Let this moment radicalize you,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a social-media video, claiming democracy and the climate were at stake. “I need you to be ready . . . We can and must fight.”

Barack Obama hubristically declared that RBG had left “instructions” on her deathbed that Donald Trump not fill her Supreme Court slot.

Hillary Clinton urged a “fierce” response if he tried.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday refused to rule out impeachment to stop Trump getting his third Supreme Court justice.

“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when he suggested impeachment.

If anything, Biden was even more hyperbolic Sunday.

He drove 40 minutes from his basement to a hall in Philadelphia to read a rabble-rousing speech off a teleprompter.

Like Obama, he demanded the Senate heed RBG’s purported death-bed wish and warned of “action and reaction. Anger and more anger.

“That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path . . . a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss . . . irreversible damage."

Dem's fury over next SCOTUS pick mainly betrays tremendous historical ignorance.

POTUS has the constitutional obligation to choose new justices, and if he has a majority in the Senate, his nominees can be confirmed. And please, spare me comparisons to Merrick Garland. Barack Obama did not have a majority in the Senate, so his nominee was rejected, not through the politics of personal destruction as the Dems have done, but simply by ignoring the nomination.

That's political hardball when its played within months of an election, but the "new rules" indicate that hardball is the way the game is now played.


All national politics is hypocrisy, and we see it in spades as the Ginsburg replacement battle looms. In this case, both sides (the GOP and the Dems) are being hypocritical, but it's really all about political advantage, masked in solemn words about the "constitution" or "precedent" or RBG's "dying wish."

Charles Lipson comments:

All of them [GOP and Democrats] are hypocrites. They have flipped their positions, and their justifications (then and now) are nothing more than cloaks for political advantage. They don’t care about consistency or even logic. They are fighting to win control of the Supreme Court and defeat the other side in November. They will say whatever helps their cause and hope voters forget whatever they said last time.

Roger Simon seconds that opinion with this:

But before I go further, lest I be thought of as a partisan hack, neither side comes off here in anything close to shining armor. For all the hoity-toity talk, Supreme Court nominations and confirmations are fraught with hypocrisy, everyone claiming a high ground that doesn’t exist.

Precedents come and go and are revised again. Leaders say the opposite of what they said a year or two ago.

Meanwhile, The Constitution says nothing about timing—only that presidents nominate the justices and the Senate confirms. Even lame duck presidents have nominated justices on several occasions. It all comes down to power. If you have it, in this game you take it. 

This will not end well.