Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Scotus Pocus

Here's the thing with the Supreme Court: any argument, any confirmation fight, any disagreement: if you switch the parties of everyone involved, you end up in the exact same argument.

Here's the thing with Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser: I believe her, not just because that's the decent thing to do in the 21st Century, but because it really stretches credibility to me that any woman would put themselves through a mountain and a half of undeserved bullshit for something they made up. ("But why wait so long to come forward?" Well, the culture has changed. People are far less likely to be silent about things like this these days than they were in times past. Again, I find it entirely credible that this woman kept her silence on the matter and moved forward with her life as best she could, because so many woman have undoubtedly done just that.)

At this point, I don't know of Kavanaugh's nomination is going to survive or not. The cynic in me probably thinks it will. After all, Clarence Thomas survived Anita Hill and has been comfortably ensconced on the court ever since. But maybe we're not that far gone. Maybe we're better than we used to be, but I doubt it. If his nomination does go down (and I think there's a decent chance it does) then I would expect President Trump to nominate a woman- to naturally, own the libs.

The current nominee aside (and when I say 'aside' I don't mean to diminish the accusations against him in anyway- far from it) I think it's time we face up to the fact that the process of confirming nominees to the Supreme Court is broken beyond repair. In fact, there's a serious case to be made that the Supreme Court itself is in need of serious structural reform. The stakes for the highest judiciary shouldn't be so apocalyptic with every vacancy on the court.

Politics is always going to be about winning to a certain degree- especially in the current system we have. My head is full of songs from Hamilton (which we saw this past weekend) and the warnings and fears the Founding Fathers had about factionalism and political parties seem to be very prescient given the current climate today. Our current system doesn't help either. A political binary is the worst of all possible worlds for the growth of a healthy democracy and a sane and civil discourse in our society. It's either/or. It's a/b. It's the knowledge that the pendulum might swing one way, but it will surely swing back your way at some point. Nothing about our system encourages consensus or coalition building and it's absolutely 100 percent about winning at this point. If you look at Washington through the lens of 'how do we own the [cons] or [libs]?' and 'how do we beat the other guys?' it explains so much about the dysfunction of our political system.

So while the press and the circus will focus on the accusation leveled against Kavanaugh, the larger structural problem won't be talked about. We're not about solutions anymore, just how to get the most mileage out of our problems so that one of the two parties can wring the most advantage of it. I'm in favor of structural solutions. But no one is offering those- at least not in any meaningful way in Washington.

This one was out there on Medium. I like it. It's relatively simple: increase the number of justices fron nine to eleven and then have them serve one twenty-two year term on the court and stagger their terms so that one new justice is appointed to the court every two years. This plan neuters many of the political advantages that currently surround appointments to the court- each President would be able to appointment at minimum two at most four justice over the course of either one to two terms- and by increasing the number of justices to the eleven, you also prevent any President of either party from appointing a majority to the court.

This one is slightly more radical, but makes equally good points. Go big or go home, it says. Keep the nine and add fifty more, appointed by each Governor and approved by the Senate. This plan might be a little too extreme for my tastes, but it sure as hell beats what we've got going on now. It's at least a solid proposal. It's something. A solution.

Whatever you think of Kavanaugh, it should be obvious to everyone that the way we appoint Justices to the Supreme Court is broken beyond repair. I hope we're better in 2018 than we were in 1991, but I doubt it. I'm sure he'll probably be confirmed. What that says about us as a country, I don't know. Probably nothing that good. If his nomination does go down, then I'd expect the circus to start right back up again.

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