Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Republican Kennedy

We may get a worse Supreme Court justice than Anthony Kennedy was. He wasn't a zealot and he seemed to have acquired a healthy attitude toward gay marriage, possibly from his clerks, and resisted the efforts to get rid of Roe v. Wade. That's about it for the positives. He was responsible for Citizens United and all the wretched reactionary decisions we have seen come down in the past week.

Kennedy was a privileged man from old-time northern California so he never had a need for a union and as a result, distrusted and probably despised them. He signed on to John Roberts's disgraceful conclusion that the Southern states and others which had discriminated against African Americans had changed their ways so we didn't need voting rights clearance of their repressive steps to disenfranchise minority citizens.

Kennedy's Supreme Court, on which he was the only remaining occasional swing vote, also has been perfectly happy to let the Republicans do everything they can to make it harder for people to vote. As a conservative, he's a bit like Potter Stewart, who was also quite conservative, but not a brilliant nut case like Scalia or a sleazebag like Thomas. 

It's taken all these years and the #metoo movement to demonstrate that Anita Hill was telling the truth and that the defenders of Thomas, including himself and his outrageous wife who demands apologies from those who insisted on not forgetting his fraud, and that includes the holier-than-thou former minister, Sen. John Danforth of Missouri. Some of us still hold Joe Biden responsible because he let the Republicans run rings around him. I tend to let him off because he's done a lot of good since then.

The Supreme Court is not exactly a great aggregation of legal stars. Most revert to their political backgrounds, as O'Connor and now Kennedy have done, making sure a Republican president gets to replace them. Alito made it through confirmation with the help of some misguided colleagues on the Third Circuit who broke judicial impartiality by testifying for him, led by a nasty little man named Ed Becker. Of course, Gorsuch has been forced on us by the hypocrite Mitch McConnell and is just a down-the-line right winger like his mother, who stood out as an extremist in Reagan's day.

I can't say we have a lot of greatness on the other side either. Most of them are far from being true liberals. They seem progressive only in comparison with the five reactionaries. It seems like we have Van Devanter, Butler, Sutherland, and McReynolds there insofar as the right-wingers are concerned. But we lack the truly progressive and impressive minds of Douglas, Rutledge, Stone, Brandeis, and yes, Earl Warren, who showed you could be a Republican and care about this country, pace Lincoln, and who himself grew as his career moved forward, or Robert H. Jackson, the lawyers' lawyer and justice, who was a conservative Democrat.

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