For the past couple of months, Democrats and their pundit allies — apparently expecting to lose on ObamaCare in the Supreme Court — have been engaged in a campaign to delegitimize the high court in the eyes of the public. In a related development, Taliban spokesmen threaten to end polio vaccinations in areas they control unless the United States stops drone strikes.So, the Democrats are just like the Taliban! So far, so good.
How are the actions related? They’re self-destructive and futile — borne more of frustration than of any deep thinking.
The idiocy of the Taliban approach is self-evident. But so too is the idiocy of the Democrats’ approach, given even a moment’s thought.OK, I've thought about it a minute. And no, I don't see how it's unwise for Democrats to attack the Supreme Court, because its credibility has steadily eroded since Bush v. Gore and since it keeps handing down hugely unpopular and noxiously right-wing rulings.
Anyway, Putz -- go on.
Normally, a political party attacks the Supreme Court when it’s a pillar of the other party’s positions. Thus, President Franklin Roosevelt, having won Democratic control of the White House and Congress, attacked the court as the last redoubt of laissez-faire capitalism at a time when, he said, events had proved that laissez-faire capitalism didn’t work.Yeah, I'm failing to see how a Court that's dominated by right-wingers like Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas are a pillar of liberalism.
Blowback from his failed court-packing scheme aside, that worked pretty well for FDR. In fact, from his time to the present, the Supreme Court has been a bulwark of the Democrats’ policy platform. Unpopular decisions — ranging from Wickard v. Filburn, to Miranda v. Arizona, to Roe v. Wade — have all been supported by reference to the court’s prestige and legitimacy. Even those who believe the court’s decisions unfounded have been encouraged to go along as part of the “rule of law.”
But what if the Democrats’ campaign succeeds — that is, what if Americans are persuaded that the high court is illegitimate? What if its prestige is driven as low as that of Congress? And what if a Republican president decides to take on the court?Yes, it's so incredibly likely that President Romney is going to take on the Roberts Court. Is he serious with this crap? It's almost as though he thinks Earl Warren is still Chief Justice.
Yet Supreme Court decisions are the source of much of the liberal legal infrastructure for today’s society. So a weakened court might well mean major losses for liberalism in areas like abortion, birth control, criminal procedure and more.
And if, as seems increasingly possible, the next president is a Republican with a Republican Congress, the new administration will be in a stronger position to make sweeping changes without worrying so much about the courts. Might we revisit efforts to ban partial-birth abortion? Limit the rights of criminal defendants? Pass a new, tougher Patriot Act?Yes, of course they will do these things -- and more. And they'll do them because they've got a right-wing majority on the SCOTUS, because they handed Bush the presidency in 2000 -- not because Democrats said mean things about it.
Wingnuts have been attacking the SCOTUS for decades over everything from Miranda to Roe. This idea that it's somehow politically unwise for Democrats to criticize the radically right-wing Roberts Court because it's protecting the pillars of liberalism is more than a little nutty.