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Why Our So-Called Judges Should Get TWICE As Much Criticism As Politicians
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on VDARE.com. See also Peter Brimelow On Judicial Imperialism In FORBES…THIRTY YEARS AGO!]

Especially with the mugging of Trump Administration’s immigration patriot Executive Order by the Left Coast’s No-Good Ninth Circuit, the spotlight this week has been on the third branch of the federal government: the judiciary.

First let me just get something out of the way: the thing I’m going to call the Fallacy of Judicial Impartiality.

There is a vague and widespread feeling that the other two branches of the federal government are a noisy, bloody, dirty arena of political conflict, where persons with opposing views about big issues kick and wrestle and scream at each other; while the third branch is a sort of quiet, stately, oak-paneled place where the truth is pursued by abstract intellection and rational persuasion.

That’s all nonsense. The judiciary is now just as political as the other branches. Anyone who’s paid attention to court decisions for a few years knows this. It’s implicit in every comment you’ve heard — and you’ve heard a couple of thousand such, if you’re one of those who’ve been paying attention — that the U.S. Supreme Court contains X liberals, Y conservatives, and Z fence-sitters. (The current balance has X =4, Y = 3, Z = 1.)

At his elegant and blessedly short speech accepting nomination to the vacant Supreme Court seat ten days ago, Judge Neil Gorsuch uttered some loftily idealistic platitudes about our judges: “Following the law as they find it, and without respect to their personal political beliefs.”

He told us that: “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.” [President Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court, By Ariane de Vogue, CNN, February 1, 2017]

I would have been spraying bourbon out through my nose in reaction to that—but for the fact that I have long since passed right through mere cynicism to the other side; to a grim resignation as to human weakness, and a calm toleration of the ceremonial idealism with which our public figures believe they are obliged to wrap their ambition, partisanship, and occasional cupidity.

Judge Gorsuch’s platitudes are the secular equivalent of the ceremonial deism that obliges a yuppie agnostic like Barack Obama to call on God for blessings on our republic.

These are agreeable and customary forms of words, that citizens like to hear, but with little bearing on real motives and actions.

It follows that the judiciary is not, and should not be, immune from partisan barbs and rancor. It never has been. Thomas Jefferson, Andy Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt have most famously shown scorn for the judicial power at some point, on some particular issue. But those are only the most famous cases.

Have we had any President, other than poor William Henry Harrison, who did not at some point deliver a kick to the groin, or at least a rap on the knuckles, to the federal judiciary?

I doubt it. That’s our system. It’s politics all the way down.

In all fairness, in fact, the federal judiciary should actually expect more vituperation than the other branches. An unsatisfactory congressman can be voted out after two years; an unsatisfactory President after four; an unsatisfactory Senator after six. But a federal judgeship is for life.

highcrimesThe only way to get rid of a federal judge is by getting Congress to impeach and then convict him for high crimes and misdemeanors: a cumbersome process, also of course a very political one, and furthermore one that congresscritters, presidents, and senators are also liable to.

The Ballotpedia article Impeachment of federal judges says that “Fifteen federal judges have been impeached. Of those fifteen: eight were convicted by the Senate, four were acquitted by the Senate, and three resigned before an outcome at trial.”

Functionaries in the other two branches are in double jeopardy: they can be voted out of office, and they can be impeached. But federal judges are in a much safer space: they can only be impeached, and hardly ever are — we have seen fewer than four convictions per century.

It follows, according to me, that a federal judge should reasonably expect double the load of vituperation that our President and elected legislators have to endure.

It further follows that the squealing and facepalming of this past few days over President Trump’s disagreements with Judge Robart of Washington State and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over his Executive Order, is just political theater.

The federal courts are not a zone of lofty intellectual purity, floating high above the dust cloud of political conflict. They are down there in the dust cloud, kicking and scratching with the rest, and working with an advantage the other combatants don’t have — lifetime tenure.

If some federal judge can’t bear the thought of a politician’s fist connecting with his teeth, he should find another line of work.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.

(Reprinted from VDare.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Hear hear!

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  2. I believe that judges and justice serve “during good behaviour,” so grounds for impeachment and removal for office have a lower thresshold than that of a President. In practice, this probably doesn’t matter. Thomas Jefferson, based on the failed impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase, characterized the impeachment threat as a “scarecrow,” and that appears to have been accurate. Mark Steyn, based at least partially on the wretched experience he is having in Superior Court in the District of Columbia, has also noted the unwarranted deference that Americans show judges, even when they do not legislate from the bench.

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  3. Is Gorsuch is angling for Strange New Respect, a speedy nomination, or just wanted independence? I can’t tell. I hope Donald at least interviewed him. As in countries where you can’t hire and fire quickly and easily, with Supreme Court Justices you want to research, fret, and research some more before hiring them as once in, they’ll be there a long, long time.

    Read More
  4. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Duplicate:
    Listened this (Saturday) morning Radio Derb.
    My beloved Derbyshire (no sarcasm here) is so insistent that there can be no moral equivalency
    between actions of Russia (for the last 17 years of Putin being President) and USA.
    Question:
    what is the tonnage of explosives USA delivered (read bombed) at foreign countries,
    and how large is the same parameter for actions of Russia ?
    Chechen war was awful, but it was Russian territory.
    Lady (i.e. Derb) protests too much.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill Jones
    He's just one more murderous neocon piece of filth.
  5. The Derb says, “I have long since passed right through mere cynicism to the other side; to a grim resignation as to human weakness, and a calm toleration of the ceremonial idealism with which our public figures believe they are obliged to wrap their ambition, partisanship, and occasional cupidity.”

    Just so.

    The other day I received Enlightenment. I became enlightened. And it was not what I had expected. No flood of shimmering lights racing across the Heavens; no ray of light spouting from or entering into the crown of my head. Just an “Ahha” pause.

    I’m willing to pass it on, though it will roll off the back of those who don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear.

    It’s just this.

    We’re all, each and everyone of us, myself included–and not just included, but at the very front of the line–we’re all narcissistic psychopaths.

    Just say to yourself, “I am a narcissistic psychopath”. Savor it. Let it around the tongue like a good brandy.

    There now. Doesn’t that explain a lot of your life to you? And the behavior of everyone around you?

    We’re all endowed by Nature with an irresistible drive to put ourselves first. We are driven by instinctual needs that simply must be met. All the rest is rationalization. Elaborate flummery. Even the flummery is narcissistic camouflage, more psychopathic lying.

    When we were children we threw tantrums when we didn’t get our way. Gradually we learned to suppress this urge as we developed more devious means of attaining our ends. Those who do this best become great people. That they can so cleverly manipulate others into giving them what they want is psychopathological. Just look at the promises politicians make. And don’t forget to look at the ways in which you, in your own life, manipulate others into getting what you want. Such as blogging on this site or intellectually pantsing liberals. Fortunately, for most of us getting what we want involves some reciprocity. We give and get. Economists focus on the Market as the best means of explaining this procedure.

    And here’s the answer to the question of the Ideal government, which has plagued philosophers and political scientists of all stripes through the ages.

    A good government must take into account that all people are narcissistic psychopaths while at the same time subverting some of their energy, their drive, into socially useful ends. This is why so-called “capitalism” works and pure socialism doesn’t. And why socialistic states like Denmark work and pure capitalistic states as envisioned by Libertarians won’t.

    Some selfish energy must be redirected towards sustaining the system in which the selfish individual is allowed to pursue his aims. And this without completely stultifying or stymying the narcissistic psychopath that lurks within each individual.

    It’s a tough balancing act and is not an inherently stable condition. That’s why good government is so hard to achieve and sustain.

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    • Replies: @Connarchy in the USA
    I agree, to an extent. Are we all narcissistic? Yes, to an extent. Are we all psychopaths? No. I believe the word you mean to use is "selfish." Psychopaths (those who are diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder) are not just selfish or looking to get their way. It's a much deeper condition that manifests in a lack of emotion, empathy, or compassion; an inability to "feel." A child having a tantrum is having a tantrum out of an inability to control his emotions and argue in rationality. A psychopath would not throw a tantrum. Well, unless said psychopath were faking the tantrum to guilt you into what he wanted and then he'd turn off the tantrum the moment he got his way. He would feel no rage or anger, no disappointment, nothing. He would simply be going through the motions of what he thought a tantrum was supposed to be, so as to achieve his own gratification.
    Psychopaths are more common than we think they are but not as prolific as you suggest.
    I would humbly submit that we are all selfish in our own way -- which is more likely (again, considering the pathology of what you call a psychopath requires as diagnostic criteria the lack of empathy or emotion). We want what we want and when we want it; and if we can't get it when we want it, we work until we can. Our selfishness shows in our arguments about worthy poor versus unworthy poor and self-sufficiency versus social welfare. It shows in our motivations. We don't start companies to provide jobs. We start companies to make money for ourselves. Capitalism, wonderful as the system is, promotes selfishness. This is not a political statement. This is not a slight at capitalism. I love capitalism. It is the best system in the world.
    Ayn Rand once argued for selfishness as a virtue -- that everything we do revolves around gratification, even giving to charity. We give to charity, she posited, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. (This leaves out strangers running into burning buildings to save others, of course. Many arguments to the contrary have been presented since the inception of Rand's concept)
    Psychopaths? No. Well, at least not that I can tell. That would require a few sessions in my office and a large amount of questions and diagnostic work. Selfish and a little narcissistic? Yeah, I can definitely agree with that. One need look no further than our society for evidence of narcissism: it's always somebody else's fault.
  6. The only way to get rid of a federal judge is by getting Congress to impeach and then convict him for high crimes and misdemeanors: a cumbersome process, also of course a very political one, and furthermore one that congresscritters, presidents, and senators are also liable to.

    This is incorrect. Congress has nearly absolute power over the federal judiciary, and can remove or rework all of the inferior courts, for whatever reason. With a simple majority, given the cooperation of the President, or 2/3s vote, in its absence.

    I think it’s high time Congress wielded this power, but being full of cowards and traitors, I doubt it will do.

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  7. Is Gorsuch is angling for Strange New Respect, a speedy nomination, or just wanted independence? I can’t tell. I hope Donald at least interviewed him. As in countries where you can’t hire and fire quickly and easily, with Supreme Court Justices you want to research, fret, and research some more before hiring them as once in, they’ll be there a long, long time.

    The left is mobilizing to defeat Gorsuch’s nomination, and they think they have the public support to back them up. I don’t like his odds, personally, as 8 Democrats will be needed to confirm him, and he has a “fascism forever” club in his past, along with being, well, literally Hitler. He’s in for the fight of his life, and he knows it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sgt. Joe Friday
    He doesn't need 60 votes. Clarence Thomas was confirmed with 52 votes.
    , @Forbes
    The fascism forever "club" was a joke, an inside joke, that the ankle-biting media took literally at face value. Heaven forbid that a high school senior exhibits any tendency toward humor, sarcasm, poking fun at others, or at one's own expense. We can't have any of that.
  8. anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Judges are lawyers who played politics so of course they’re political; that’s how they got there. People generally become lawyers because they’re interested in making money and having a high standard of living. They’re not missionaries who’ve taken vows of poverty. There’s no Albert Schweitzers there. No point in making them out to be what they’re not.

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  9. Why do you use the term Congressman to refer to a member of the House of Representatives?

    The Congress is composed of two bodies, the House and the Senate.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Of course it was
    Because it's, well, conventional? What else would you call them? Members of the House of Representatives? An eleven syllable mouthful every time you want to describe one?

    Call him a Congressman if he's in the house. If he was a senator you'd call him a senator. Just like you don't call Prince Phillip a duke, even though he is one.
  10. Any literate person can read the constitution and know what it says. But only nine people on earth can know what it means? The Supreme Court is an abomination from it’s inception. It should be replaced by a jury.

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  11. Americans such as Germans worship and revere : Judges, Doctors, Attorneys, Clergy, Professors, Psychologists,Psychiatrists,Bankers,”Artists”, etc.
    In other words they worship the most underhanded grifters and scoundrels within society, and no wonder then that the situation in the US has become so pandemoneous.
    In Italy the expressions “Professore” or “Dottore” are used as a friendly or sarcastic form of greeting as in “Bon Giorno Professore” to a non-professor, in Germany noone would dare “Desecrate” these hallowed titles, and Americans are just as crazy when it come to titles, and therefore Americans, as least until now, have been hesitant to question even the most obvious lunacy put forth by these BSers.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member of forty-plus years and pro jazz artist.

    Read More
  12. @Bill Jones
    Why do you use the term Congressman to refer to a member of the House of Representatives?

    The Congress is composed of two bodies, the House and the Senate.

    Because it’s, well, conventional? What else would you call them? Members of the House of Representatives? An eleven syllable mouthful every time you want to describe one?

    Call him a Congressman if he’s in the house. If he was a senator you’d call him a senator. Just like you don’t call Prince Phillip a duke, even though he is one.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill Jones
    Asshole?
    Works for me.
    , @Autochthon
    Or you could call them "representatives." (Do you also call senators "members of the senate?")
  13. I reread a book recently, “Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls” by Edward E. Leslie, a fine, bracing read. It’s about an exclusive club whose membership—far more restrictive than any of those in NYCity, Boston or SanFrancisco—is made up of those who, shipwrecked, were compelled by dire circumstances to eat their fellow travelers.

    Though the prospect of cannibalism may not be daunting to head hunters in New Guinea or to the former Kings of Equatorial Africa, it is definitely a deep seated taboo to the Europeans who made up most of the gourmands and entrees discussed in this book.

    Naturally, some survived else there would have been none to tell the tales recorded in the book. And when the folks back home learned that the survivors had resorted to eating their less fortunate castaways, they were duly shocked and demanded that the transgressors be brought before the bar. Now the truly interesting thing was, the English maritime and criminal courts who tried the cases would ultimately find the gourmands innocent of murder if the selection of the victim had been the result of a chance lottery—such as drawing straws. But if the victim were selected by any procedure in which they stood no chance, in which they did not participate fairly in the decision making process, then the courts were harsh.

    That English sense of fair play asserted itself even at the far edge of civilization.

    By their ruling the courts acknowledged that when push comes to shove, when the veneer of civilization has worn thin, then people are not expected to behave as anything other than narcissistic psychopaths. The survivors had put themselves first and Devil take the consequences.

    Imagine being cornered by the other occupants of the lifeboat as they closed in on you, knives in hand, eyes wild at the prospect of a hearty meal—you—and you will stand face to face with what confronting the psychopath in another human being truly connotes.

    The same wild-eyed glint lights up the faces of the anti-Trump protestors in the streets. The wild mob howls for blood and for witches to burn at the stake. Inside every Dr. Jekyll there is a Mr. Hyde and just possibly, the most dangerous psychopathology is in those who, blinded by their own sense of rectitude, won’t acknowledge their own.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steel T Post
    I and some friends were once in the "Donner Party," as they called us. But that's just because I told the host at St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis that my last name was Donner. :)

    Sadly, the Donner Party were in the middle of a pine grove, a veritable Garden of Eden of quite edible pine nuts. And the Paiute Indians had given them acorns and pine nuts to eat. But who wants to eat what them filthy Injuns eat when you've got rawhide, leather, and Sir's Loin? Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon, as Jared Diamond points out in his text Collapse. Sometimes the veneer of civilization is thin; other times it is suffocatingly thick.
  14. haha, I love it :P lets get rid of judges who doesn’t hold my views and get ones that do. that would make it “just” “fair” I can’t stop cackling at that thought process.

    Read More
  15. @Svigor

    Is Gorsuch is angling for Strange New Respect, a speedy nomination, or just wanted independence? I can’t tell. I hope Donald at least interviewed him. As in countries where you can’t hire and fire quickly and easily, with Supreme Court Justices you want to research, fret, and research some more before hiring them as once in, they’ll be there a long, long time.
     
    The left is mobilizing to defeat Gorsuch's nomination, and they think they have the public support to back them up. I don't like his odds, personally, as 8 Democrats will be needed to confirm him, and he has a "fascism forever" club in his past, along with being, well, literally Hitler. He's in for the fight of his life, and he knows it.

    He doesn’t need 60 votes. Clarence Thomas was confirmed with 52 votes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    I understand that it is still possible to filibuster against a SCOTUS appointment unless there are 60 votes to override the filibuster. But the rules can be changed by simple majority and the Democrats set the precedent for that in 2009 so will presumably be reluctant to use the filibuster against any nominee who is not completely outrageously unacceptable.
  16. @ThreeCranes
    I reread a book recently, “Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls” by Edward E. Leslie, a fine, bracing read. It’s about an exclusive club whose membership—far more restrictive than any of those in NYCity, Boston or SanFrancisco—is made up of those who, shipwrecked, were compelled by dire circumstances to eat their fellow travelers.

    Though the prospect of cannibalism may not be daunting to head hunters in New Guinea or to the former Kings of Equatorial Africa, it is definitely a deep seated taboo to the Europeans who made up most of the gourmands and entrees discussed in this book.

    Naturally, some survived else there would have been none to tell the tales recorded in the book. And when the folks back home learned that the survivors had resorted to eating their less fortunate castaways, they were duly shocked and demanded that the transgressors be brought before the bar. Now the truly interesting thing was, the English maritime and criminal courts who tried the cases would ultimately find the gourmands innocent of murder if the selection of the victim had been the result of a chance lottery—such as drawing straws. But if the victim were selected by any procedure in which they stood no chance, in which they did not participate fairly in the decision making process, then the courts were harsh.

    That English sense of fair play asserted itself even at the far edge of civilization.

    By their ruling the courts acknowledged that when push comes to shove, when the veneer of civilization has worn thin, then people are not expected to behave as anything other than narcissistic psychopaths. The survivors had put themselves first and Devil take the consequences.

    Imagine being cornered by the other occupants of the lifeboat as they closed in on you, knives in hand, eyes wild at the prospect of a hearty meal—you—and you will stand face to face with what confronting the psychopath in another human being truly connotes.

    The same wild-eyed glint lights up the faces of the anti-Trump protestors in the streets. The wild mob howls for blood and for witches to burn at the stake. Inside every Dr. Jekyll there is a Mr. Hyde and just possibly, the most dangerous psychopathology is in those who, blinded by their own sense of rectitude, won’t acknowledge their own.

    I and some friends were once in the “Donner Party,” as they called us. But that’s just because I told the host at St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis that my last name was Donner. :)

    Sadly, the Donner Party were in the middle of a pine grove, a veritable Garden of Eden of quite edible pine nuts. And the Paiute Indians had given them acorns and pine nuts to eat. But who wants to eat what them filthy Injuns eat when you’ve got rawhide, leather, and Sir’s Loin? Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon, as Jared Diamond points out in his text Collapse. Sometimes the veneer of civilization is thin; other times it is suffocatingly thick.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill Jones
    Grammer Nazi repoting for duty
    "I and some friends"

    Some friends and I....
    , @El Dato

    Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon,
     
    Hungry sea people not eating fish?

    Sounds far-fetched.
    , @Bad Parrot

    Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon
     
    In other words, poaching the food of their Inuit neighbors. If the Vikings had done that relations between the two peoples would have quickly turned hostile.
  17. @Svigor

    Is Gorsuch is angling for Strange New Respect, a speedy nomination, or just wanted independence? I can’t tell. I hope Donald at least interviewed him. As in countries where you can’t hire and fire quickly and easily, with Supreme Court Justices you want to research, fret, and research some more before hiring them as once in, they’ll be there a long, long time.
     
    The left is mobilizing to defeat Gorsuch's nomination, and they think they have the public support to back them up. I don't like his odds, personally, as 8 Democrats will be needed to confirm him, and he has a "fascism forever" club in his past, along with being, well, literally Hitler. He's in for the fight of his life, and he knows it.

    The fascism forever “club” was a joke, an inside joke, that the ankle-biting media took literally at face value. Heaven forbid that a high school senior exhibits any tendency toward humor, sarcasm, poking fun at others, or at one’s own expense. We can’t have any of that.

    Read More
  18. @Of course it was
    Because it's, well, conventional? What else would you call them? Members of the House of Representatives? An eleven syllable mouthful every time you want to describe one?

    Call him a Congressman if he's in the house. If he was a senator you'd call him a senator. Just like you don't call Prince Phillip a duke, even though he is one.

    Asshole?
    Works for me.

    Read More
  19. @Anonymous
    Duplicate:
    Listened this (Saturday) morning Radio Derb.
    My beloved Derbyshire (no sarcasm here) is so insistent that there can be no moral equivalency
    between actions of Russia (for the last 17 years of Putin being President) and USA.
    Question:
    what is the tonnage of explosives USA delivered (read bombed) at foreign countries,
    and how large is the same parameter for actions of Russia ?
    Chechen war was awful, but it was Russian territory.
    Lady (i.e. Derb) protests too much.

    He’s just one more murderous neocon piece of filth.

    Read More
  20. @Steel T Post
    I and some friends were once in the "Donner Party," as they called us. But that's just because I told the host at St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis that my last name was Donner. :)

    Sadly, the Donner Party were in the middle of a pine grove, a veritable Garden of Eden of quite edible pine nuts. And the Paiute Indians had given them acorns and pine nuts to eat. But who wants to eat what them filthy Injuns eat when you've got rawhide, leather, and Sir's Loin? Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon, as Jared Diamond points out in his text Collapse. Sometimes the veneer of civilization is thin; other times it is suffocatingly thick.

    Grammer Nazi repoting for duty
    “I and some friends”

    Some friends and I….

    Read More
  21. @Of course it was
    Because it's, well, conventional? What else would you call them? Members of the House of Representatives? An eleven syllable mouthful every time you want to describe one?

    Call him a Congressman if he's in the house. If he was a senator you'd call him a senator. Just like you don't call Prince Phillip a duke, even though he is one.

    Or you could call them “representatives.” (Do you also call senators “members of the senate?”)

    Read More
  22. He doesn’t need 60 votes. Clarence Thomas was confirmed with 52 votes.

    Big Media fed me a lie? I’m shocked.

    Read More
    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    He needs 60 votes for cloture to start and stop the full Senate hearing on confirmation and take a vote which only needs a majority. That is unless McConnell invokes the nuclear option that Reid used to get Obama's nomination's for the lower courts through.
  23. It is noteworthy that even as Britain has removed its highest appellate jurisdiction from the House of Lords, in which it was formerly vested, and created a new supreme court, the U.S. Supreme Court has come more and more to resemble the British House of Lords, which is now a venue where superannuated politicians are given lifetime sinecures.

    The Lords-like character of the U.S. Supreme Court has long been developing. To my knowledge, no one has commented on the similarity of FDR’s 1937 court-packing episode to the way in which the Parliament Act of 1911 was passed.

    Roosevelt threatened to enlarge the Supreme Court because it had overturned several pieces of New Deal legislation. Rather than allow Roosevelt to install a new majority, the Court acquiesced in “the step in time that saved nine” (i.e., nine justices), and allowed subsequent measures giving Federal agencies greater regulatory powers over the economy to stand. Similarly, the Lords, who had rejected the “People’s Budget” of 1909, were induced to pass the Parliament Act of 1911 under threat that the Liberal ministry would create enough new peers to force it through.

    The increasing conflict over appointments to the Supreme Court is not a cause, but rather an effect of the way in which that court has ceased to exercise a simple judicial function, and instead functions as a legislative body superior to those provided by the Constitution.

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  24. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I tend to disagree. Before Obama arrived, I think the American judiciary was, on the whole, a pretty decent institution characterized by far more good decisions than bad ones. The problem is, along came the worst US president ever, a man who regards this country with real malice and disdain, and Obama’s had eight years to appoint judges to the bench. His choices are exactly what you’d expect from someone who basically despises traditional American culture, law, and customs, indeed everything good created by white society. There are perfectly sensible judges out there waiting to be appointed who can undo the work of Obama’s picks, if Trump can get at it.

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    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    There are plenty of examples from the past of down-right stupid and illogical decisions from the Supreme Court to provide cover for bad legislation. One such example was the Miller case about the 1932 National Firearms Act. Miller was a loser who got caught with a sawed off shotgun crossing state lines. He based his defense on the Second Amendment.

    The court contorted itself into some stupid drivel about the defendant not giving evidence to the lower court that the weapon in question was of militia use since the court was trying to keep the law alive by using the militia clause and ignoring the main body of the amendment. Anybody with an ounce of brains knows there is no such thing as a militia weapon or any way to classify weapons as such. Everything from pikes (glorified spears) to cannons have been used by militias.

    The case was never resolved as the case was sent back to the lower court but Miller never came back to fight it.

    This was simply a case of the SCOTUS wanting to keep the law in place even though it had no Constitutional underpinning. At the time the idea that the courts could declare your Constitutional rights limited (like Scalia said) was probably not well accepted as a reason to uphold the law.

    There are perfectly sensible judges out there waiting to be appointed who can undo the work of Obama’s picks, if Trump can get at it.

    Don't be so sure about that. The court generally operates under a principle of stare decisis. It takes a lot for the courts to overturn past decisions.

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Stare+Decisis
  25. @ThreeCranes
    The Derb says, "I have long since passed right through mere cynicism to the other side; to a grim resignation as to human weakness, and a calm toleration of the ceremonial idealism with which our public figures believe they are obliged to wrap their ambition, partisanship, and occasional cupidity."

    Just so.

    The other day I received Enlightenment. I became enlightened. And it was not what I had expected. No flood of shimmering lights racing across the Heavens; no ray of light spouting from or entering into the crown of my head. Just an "Ahha" pause.

    I'm willing to pass it on, though it will roll off the back of those who don't have eyes to see or ears to hear.

    It's just this.

    We're all, each and everyone of us, myself included--and not just included, but at the very front of the line--we're all narcissistic psychopaths.

    Just say to yourself, "I am a narcissistic psychopath". Savor it. Let it around the tongue like a good brandy.

    There now. Doesn't that explain a lot of your life to you? And the behavior of everyone around you?

    We're all endowed by Nature with an irresistible drive to put ourselves first. We are driven by instinctual needs that simply must be met. All the rest is rationalization. Elaborate flummery. Even the flummery is narcissistic camouflage, more psychopathic lying.

    When we were children we threw tantrums when we didn't get our way. Gradually we learned to suppress this urge as we developed more devious means of attaining our ends. Those who do this best become great people. That they can so cleverly manipulate others into giving them what they want is psychopathological. Just look at the promises politicians make. And don't forget to look at the ways in which you, in your own life, manipulate others into getting what you want. Such as blogging on this site or intellectually pantsing liberals. Fortunately, for most of us getting what we want involves some reciprocity. We give and get. Economists focus on the Market as the best means of explaining this procedure.

    And here's the answer to the question of the Ideal government, which has plagued philosophers and political scientists of all stripes through the ages.

    A good government must take into account that all people are narcissistic psychopaths while at the same time subverting some of their energy, their drive, into socially useful ends. This is why so-called "capitalism" works and pure socialism doesn't. And why socialistic states like Denmark work and pure capitalistic states as envisioned by Libertarians won't.

    Some selfish energy must be redirected towards sustaining the system in which the selfish individual is allowed to pursue his aims. And this without completely stultifying or stymying the narcissistic psychopath that lurks within each individual.

    It's a tough balancing act and is not an inherently stable condition. That's why good government is so hard to achieve and sustain.

    I agree, to an extent. Are we all narcissistic? Yes, to an extent. Are we all psychopaths? No. I believe the word you mean to use is “selfish.” Psychopaths (those who are diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder) are not just selfish or looking to get their way. It’s a much deeper condition that manifests in a lack of emotion, empathy, or compassion; an inability to “feel.” A child having a tantrum is having a tantrum out of an inability to control his emotions and argue in rationality. A psychopath would not throw a tantrum. Well, unless said psychopath were faking the tantrum to guilt you into what he wanted and then he’d turn off the tantrum the moment he got his way. He would feel no rage or anger, no disappointment, nothing. He would simply be going through the motions of what he thought a tantrum was supposed to be, so as to achieve his own gratification.
    Psychopaths are more common than we think they are but not as prolific as you suggest.
    I would humbly submit that we are all selfish in our own way — which is more likely (again, considering the pathology of what you call a psychopath requires as diagnostic criteria the lack of empathy or emotion). We want what we want and when we want it; and if we can’t get it when we want it, we work until we can. Our selfishness shows in our arguments about worthy poor versus unworthy poor and self-sufficiency versus social welfare. It shows in our motivations. We don’t start companies to provide jobs. We start companies to make money for ourselves. Capitalism, wonderful as the system is, promotes selfishness. This is not a political statement. This is not a slight at capitalism. I love capitalism. It is the best system in the world.
    Ayn Rand once argued for selfishness as a virtue — that everything we do revolves around gratification, even giving to charity. We give to charity, she posited, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. (This leaves out strangers running into burning buildings to save others, of course. Many arguments to the contrary have been presented since the inception of Rand’s concept)
    Psychopaths? No. Well, at least not that I can tell. That would require a few sessions in my office and a large amount of questions and diagnostic work. Selfish and a little narcissistic? Yeah, I can definitely agree with that. One need look no further than our society for evidence of narcissism: it’s always somebody else’s fault.

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  26. I don’t have any respect–and certainly no “reverence”!–for the U.S. Supreme Shysters, those nine unelected, unaccountable, ethics-free megalomaniacs.

    Put lipstick on a pig, and he’s still a pig. Put a black robe on a lawyer, and he’s still the same flawed, biased human being he was before.

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "I don’t have any respect–and certainly no “reverence”!–for the U.S. Supreme Shysters, those nine unelected, unaccountable, ethics-free megalomaniacs."

    Unless, of course, they decide a case that favors one of your positions. Then they are well-grounded in the rule of law.
  27. @Orville H. Larson
    I don't have any respect--and certainly no "reverence"!--for the U.S. Supreme Shysters, those nine unelected, unaccountable, ethics-free megalomaniacs.

    Put lipstick on a pig, and he's still a pig. Put a black robe on a lawyer, and he's still the same flawed, biased human being he was before.

    “I don’t have any respect–and certainly no “reverence”!–for the U.S. Supreme Shysters, those nine unelected, unaccountable, ethics-free megalomaniacs.”

    Unless, of course, they decide a case that favors one of your positions. Then they are well-grounded in the rule of law.

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  28. @Steel T Post
    I and some friends were once in the "Donner Party," as they called us. But that's just because I told the host at St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis that my last name was Donner. :)

    Sadly, the Donner Party were in the middle of a pine grove, a veritable Garden of Eden of quite edible pine nuts. And the Paiute Indians had given them acorns and pine nuts to eat. But who wants to eat what them filthy Injuns eat when you've got rawhide, leather, and Sir's Loin? Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon, as Jared Diamond points out in his text Collapse. Sometimes the veneer of civilization is thin; other times it is suffocatingly thick.

    Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon,

    Hungry sea people not eating fish?

    Sounds far-fetched.

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    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    "Hungry sea people not eating fish?

    Sounds far-fetched."

    And not merely far-fetched, but pathologically narcissistic in its blindness.

    Sitting on my bookshelf is a book issued by the Danish Museum of Commerce and Maritime History called "Danske badtyper", "Classic Danish Boats measured and described" by Christian Nielsen.

    Inside are descriptions and pictures of boats and their accompanying fishing gear from every creek and bay in Denmark, each a Darwinian-type adaption to the local sea conditions and prevailing type of fish for which the boat was designed. The book aims to capture the lines of the last of the old traditional types which are fast disappearing in this age of standardized fiberglas boats made out of production molds in a centralized factory.

    Fishing was the point in virtually every instance. To imagine that the Greenlanders starved because they didn't know how to or refused to fish is simply insane; another instance of a Harvard-educated Middle Easterner's ignorance of our northern European ways.

  29. @Svigor

    He doesn’t need 60 votes. Clarence Thomas was confirmed with 52 votes.
     
    Big Media fed me a lie? I'm shocked.

    He needs 60 votes for cloture to start and stop the full Senate hearing on confirmation and take a vote which only needs a majority. That is unless McConnell invokes the nuclear option that Reid used to get Obama’s nomination’s for the lower courts through.

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  30. @Anon
    I tend to disagree. Before Obama arrived, I think the American judiciary was, on the whole, a pretty decent institution characterized by far more good decisions than bad ones. The problem is, along came the worst US president ever, a man who regards this country with real malice and disdain, and Obama's had eight years to appoint judges to the bench. His choices are exactly what you'd expect from someone who basically despises traditional American culture, law, and customs, indeed everything good created by white society. There are perfectly sensible judges out there waiting to be appointed who can undo the work of Obama's picks, if Trump can get at it.

    There are plenty of examples from the past of down-right stupid and illogical decisions from the Supreme Court to provide cover for bad legislation. One such example was the Miller case about the 1932 National Firearms Act. Miller was a loser who got caught with a sawed off shotgun crossing state lines. He based his defense on the Second Amendment.

    The court contorted itself into some stupid drivel about the defendant not giving evidence to the lower court that the weapon in question was of militia use since the court was trying to keep the law alive by using the militia clause and ignoring the main body of the amendment. Anybody with an ounce of brains knows there is no such thing as a militia weapon or any way to classify weapons as such. Everything from pikes (glorified spears) to cannons have been used by militias.

    The case was never resolved as the case was sent back to the lower court but Miller never came back to fight it.

    This was simply a case of the SCOTUS wanting to keep the law in place even though it had no Constitutional underpinning. At the time the idea that the courts could declare your Constitutional rights limited (like Scalia said) was probably not well accepted as a reason to uphold the law.

    There are perfectly sensible judges out there waiting to be appointed who can undo the work of Obama’s picks, if Trump can get at it.

    Don’t be so sure about that. The court generally operates under a principle of stare decisis. It takes a lot for the courts to overturn past decisions.

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Stare+Decisis

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  31. Your discussion of the Miller case is accurate as is your characterization of stare decisis. But the Supreme Court is more willing to overrule previous decisions in matters of constitutional jurisprudence. It’s also possible to “limit a case to its facts,” a way of effectively overruling a previous decision without explicitly saying so.

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  32. @El Dato

    Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon,
     
    Hungry sea people not eating fish?

    Sounds far-fetched.

    “Hungry sea people not eating fish?

    Sounds far-fetched.”

    And not merely far-fetched, but pathologically narcissistic in its blindness.

    Sitting on my bookshelf is a book issued by the Danish Museum of Commerce and Maritime History called “Danske badtyper”, “Classic Danish Boats measured and described” by Christian Nielsen.

    Inside are descriptions and pictures of boats and their accompanying fishing gear from every creek and bay in Denmark, each a Darwinian-type adaption to the local sea conditions and prevailing type of fish for which the boat was designed. The book aims to capture the lines of the last of the old traditional types which are fast disappearing in this age of standardized fiberglas boats made out of production molds in a centralized factory.

    Fishing was the point in virtually every instance. To imagine that the Greenlanders starved because they didn’t know how to or refused to fish is simply insane; another instance of a Harvard-educated Middle Easterner’s ignorance of our northern European ways.

    Read More
  33. Does Diamond know that native Americans often “seasoned” their fish by burying it for a month or so and then digging up the maggot infested corpse and feasting on it with relish? Perhaps the Vikings found this so repulsive that they simply could not develop a taste for it. This may be the source of his confusion.

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  34. @Sgt. Joe Friday
    He doesn't need 60 votes. Clarence Thomas was confirmed with 52 votes.

    I understand that it is still possible to filibuster against a SCOTUS appointment unless there are 60 votes to override the filibuster. But the rules can be changed by simple majority and the Democrats set the precedent for that in 2009 so will presumably be reluctant to use the filibuster against any nominee who is not completely outrageously unacceptable.

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  35. @Steel T Post
    I and some friends were once in the "Donner Party," as they called us. But that's just because I told the host at St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis that my last name was Donner. :)

    Sadly, the Donner Party were in the middle of a pine grove, a veritable Garden of Eden of quite edible pine nuts. And the Paiute Indians had given them acorns and pine nuts to eat. But who wants to eat what them filthy Injuns eat when you've got rawhide, leather, and Sir's Loin? Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon, as Jared Diamond points out in his text Collapse. Sometimes the veneer of civilization is thin; other times it is suffocatingly thick.

    Reminds me of the Greenland Vikings who ate their cattle, dogs, themselves, and then starved rather than eat fish that their skraeling Inuit neighbors grew fat upon

    In other words, poaching the food of their Inuit neighbors. If the Vikings had done that relations between the two peoples would have quickly turned hostile.

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Limbaugh and company certainly entertain. But a steady diet of ideological comfort food is no substitute for hearty intellectual fare.
Once as a colonial project, now as a moral playground, the ancient continent remains the object of Great Power maneuvering