The Supreme Court sideshow


On Sept. 17, 1787 the Constitutional Convention completed its final draft. In September 2018, Americans have had multiple opportunities to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee dealing with our supreme legal legacy. It’s appropriate to celebrate the upcoming Constitution Day by comparing the Founding Fathers’ work with the exertions of the Senate’s best legal minds in the year 2018.

In Philadelphia, the debates routinely drew on precedents, comparisons and analogies from the histories of England, the Roman Republic, the Greek city-states and “early modern” Europe. We have no evidence that modern day senators understand any of that stuff, yet some among them seem to have detected hints from current events that Judge Brett Kavanaugh hates women, children, science, clean water and clean air. There were even intimations that he loves Donald Trump. These hints never evolved into debates in the senate chambers, but they were left hanging there to be seized and treasured by every pea-brained left-lurching zealot at large in the land.

Everyone who watched this month’s proceedings will remember hearing Sen. Cory Booker praising the reckless courage displayed by Sen. Cory Booker. The severity of the danger to which he exposed himself remains disputable, but some comparison of the courage on display in 1787 and 2018 can be made.

We know that many of the convention delegates risked their lives in one way or another during the Revolution, and we know that all of our senators have risked losing elections along with access to government salaries, perks, pensions, and various ancillary advantages it would be tactless to mention. But there’s no need to try balancing competing claims of courage. It’s enough to point out that the delegates agreed that the windows should be shut to keep discussions and votes secret until their work was finished. Those patriots nailed the windows shut during Philadelphia’s sweltering July and August heat. The Senate Committee members sat in air-conditioned comfort, not a single bead of sweat visible on a single forehead. No further comparisons are needed.

The restrictions imposed in Philadelphia lead us to a discussion of the public access allowed in Washington. Interestingly, we find here a rare show of agreement about the value of the on-site public participation. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) praised the noise at the back of the room as “the noise of democracy.” Many conservatives outside the hearing room seem to believe that the yelling, caterwauling, screaming and inaudible imprecations provided an educational lesson which will help their party in the midterm elections.

Participation of women attired in the manner of the cast of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is especially worthy of attention. Without their protest, few people living on dry ground away from the fetid swamps inhabited by America’s Left-Lurchers would have any idea what threat a Justice Kavanaugh might pose to our nation’s women. Their demonstrations alert America that confirming Kavanaugh may point the way to a future in which women are forbidden to read, females are forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class and girls have no chance of going to law school. Sen. Durbin has not explicitly endorsed this warning, but neither has he repudiated it.

All the delegates in Philadelphia had ambitions, but none of them had immediate presidential ambitions. In Washington, Sens. Klobuchar, Booker, and Harris all made use of their allotted time to accumulate sound bites for future presidential campaign ads. Sen. Ted Cruz manufactured some of his own with a view to his November re-election contest. None of this argle-bargle will help to improve the Court, but we can’t expect personal ambition to sleep during a congressional hearing.

The strenuous efforts by Sen. Harris to present herself as a hero of the Resistance revealed that she owns a dictionary. We know this because she told the accused (that is, the nominee) that she looked up “spoils.” Those of us who remember knowing what “spoils” meant when we were still in grade school will find this unimpressive. We don’t know if any of those men in Philly had dictionaries, and we really aren’t much interested. Much more interesting is the revelation that a former California Attorney General and member of the Judiciary Committee had never read Amendment IX in the Bill of Rights.

Some (e.g., me) will argue that the most significant difference between the writers and our contemporary guardians of the Constitution is to be found in the testimony solicited by members of the committee from witnesses Aalayah Eastmond, Hunter Lachance and Jackson Corbin. These teenagers were sworn in on Friday, September 7. None knew anything about the Constitution or its interpretation.

Aalayah Eastmond testified that she was “very concerned since learning Brett Kavanaugh’s views on guns, and how he would strike down any assault weapons ban.” She did not explain how she learned the Judge’s views on guns or why she believed he could not discover the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment. Ms. Eastmond’s authority for interpreting the guilty amendment is simple, dramatic, and maudlin.

Hunter Lachance, a 15-year-old from Maine, testified that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would mean more air pollution, asthma attacks and premature deaths for millions of Americans. Hunter’s ability to interpret the villain’s Constitutional philosophy is simple, dramatic, and inarguable, for he suffers from asthma.

Since he suffers from Noonan’s syndrome, Jackson Corbin, 13, is able to anticipate the nominee’s vile plan to destroy protections for pre-existing conditions.

No one expected Sen. Booker to neglect this opportunity for a display of empathy; he asked Eastmond about her legislative priorities. A teenager’s legislative program has no relevance to questions of judicial competence, but may have significance in the 2020 presidential primaries. To paraphrase Sen. George Washington Plunkitt, the great Tammany Hall statesman, “Cory seen his opportunities and he took ‘em.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) solemnly warned the children that they’re up against powerful and terrifying forces who want dirty air and dirty water and who aren’t afraid to parade phony scientists before the Senate to make sure people die from pollution. He also pointed an accusatory finger at the NRA, a shadowy organization of 4,000,000 members that supposedly runs the United States government.

Let me drive the contrast home. The men who drafted the Constitution in Philadelphia did not call on adolescents to assist them in their deliberations. Not one.

Shame on them.


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